Barnes & Noble cafe, with coffee and cheesecake from that Factory where they make Cheesecake.
Why doesn't the "Factory" thing clue me in a little? Tastes just like a factory.
Wearing an earwig for my phone has turned out to be a really good thing. I can better hear the person I'm talking to, and they can hear me. On the other hand, having Tom D saying "You've got something in your ear" over and over gets a little wearing...
The Last Depot September 11-17, 2007
A long time to be on the road. Nice people, all of them: Tom D, Robert W, Gail G and Mark S, with a Special Guest Appearance by Chris S (AKA, the Big Boss).
I arrived on the anniversary of the Big Bang in New York City. I'm not sure why but my flight was full. I was hoping a few people would stay home, but no such luck. I arrived before my teammates and began my work, unboxing what seemed like an endless parade of dumb terminals and big printers.
While we all hang around outside a building that would have considerable difficulty in catching fire. Concrete, steel, metal studs and modern drywall. Oh, yeah... the Desks. Big Goddamned Desks. Crammed up against walls so that it's impossible to find the ethernet jacks.
Not without getting a shiny new hernia, anyway.
Desks made of thick, solid wood. Excellent burning profile. So I guess, don't smoke at (or under) your desk.
Back to unboxing. For all of my company's attempts to be and do Green, everything I unpack is made stable with lots and lots of Styrofoam. Enough to fill a 6' x 6' x 8' dumpster.
Once I'm done for the day, I go to the hotel to await my comrades-in-nerd. Dinner is at Chevy's, a mildly authentic Mexican chain. The beers take for-f**king-ever. The food is acceptable. Road food. What is it, exactly, that makes us choose the restaurants we do? The food almost invariably seems canned (even the rice).
The Wednesday From Hell
Everything going relatively smoothly, though I've misled myself about how many terminals I have to deploy. We thought we had world enough and time, but found ourselves at 5:15 PM (45 minutes from when we said we'd be done for the day) with issues out the kazoo. We end up working until 8:20 PM (nearly 14-1/2 hours), which put us at 9 hours between meals. And Chris S is just arriving, so we wait for her to join us in this new food adventure.
We go to a restaurant called Texas BBQ. As soon as I get past the blare of country-western music (yep - both kinds) at the door, across the floor with the used-peanut shell coating, I was presented with what looked like a butcher's case. Row after row of steaks.
We didn't talk too much. Too tired. Chris S was subjected to Tom D and Robert W's drinking habits (endless Coors Light). I'm usually annoyed by my cow-orkers' insistence on drinking cheap, weak beer. But Gail G had something I'd only read about in horror novels - the Red Beer. Beer and tomato juice.
That's just wrong.
Thursday in the Cold
Work, work, work. I'm the only one crazy enough to work in our refrigerated buildings without a jacket. I dunno, they're bulky, they get in the way, and I tend to overheat in them, which makes me sweat, which freeeeeeezes to my body. Lots of workstations, and it all comes together pretty quickly. We eat breakfast at the International House of Carbohydrates. And again, I think about why we eat where we do on these trips. In this town, the choices are admittedly limited, but surely there must be something better...
Wound up at 6 (on time) and everyone wanted to go to the Olive Drab Garden. Italian food created by a marketing department trying make Italian food more "acceptable." Less "unusual."
You know - bland.
I begged off.
My cow-orkers are mystified by my antisocial behavior on these trips. Part of this has to do with the restaurants that seem to be popular with everyone else, but a big part of it is my own peculiar psychopathology. As I've told every therapist I've ever been to, my feelings about this are based on a joke by Groucho Marx: "I would never want to belong to a club that would have someone like me for a member."
Funny, but also sick.
It's not like I feel like I'm above these people; snobbery is only called for when you can look down on someone. And I only get really condescending when I'm drunk (on really good beer). I am in awe of people who do the kind of work we do and gain a measure of satisfaction from it. You plug the cable into the switch and the light changes from off to yellow to green. Happiness!!!
Which I do feel, but for such a fleeting moment it's not enough to base a career on. I meet people who've been working at my company for over twenty years, and are moving very slowly up the food chain. I used to think it would be easier for me to do some sort of menial job for a straight eight-hour workday, so I could free up the little grey cells for the creative stuff after work. I'm usually so wasted after that kind of day, that all I can think about is beer, food and TV.
Friday, Near the Edge of Done
Again strange food.
The work moves along smoothly, not much for us hardware folks to do. I feel a bit bad for the boss, as until the network is perfect, the hardware part is as far along as it can be.
She leaves after lunch. And I'll I can think of is "nap time."
Dinner at Texas again. More meat. And this time, bourbon - Woodford Reserve, gotta get me some.
Got it all Did
Saturday morning cleanup. Spent an hour and a half, carefully moving one cable after another to create a neater appearance and better organization in a network hub called an IDF box. I still don't know what that stands for.
Intermediate Data Fuhhhhhhh....
No food til noon.
As soon as Tom D saw the PBR tap, he knew this was the right place. We waited for a table. Waited for beer. Waited for beer. Waited for beer. Got wings. GOT BEER. Got wrong food. Everyone else got right food. Stopped waiting. GOT RIGHT FOOD. Tom D was not going to have another beer. Neither was Robert W. Robert W orders more beer for him and Tom D. I order more beer.
Everyone else leaves.
Nothing much to do do until the next morning. Play on the internet, nap, watch bad cable. Bought a bottle of Woodford Reserve, but won't open it until I get home.
Resident Men In Evil Black Blade 2
Work on Sunday lasts about four hours. Lots of cleanup, lots of packing. Back to the hotel, and on to Barnes and Noble. Which is where I write this diary up. Off to a very good, bloody movie, called 3:10 to Yuma. Terrific performances from Russell Crowe and Christian Bale. Dinner at a brewpub in Manteca (Lard?) California, called Kelley's Brewery. Lightish beers and lightish Fish & Chips. Not terrible, just not much to write home about.
Monday starts at 6. Ends at 6. Including a flight home, more cleaning, and an epileptic seizure in the airport.
Just like every other day.