Monday, November 24, 2003

The fates were kind to me...and then they weren't

As I climbed the stairs to the 4/5/6 subway platform at Grand Central Station much too early this morning, I noticed some color newsprint pages fluttering on the floor. I picked them up, and there he was: My dear Opus, in all his full-color, half-page, gorgeously-painted glory. I think the actual pages of the News Sunday comics have gotten smaller since I was a kid, because the strip still looked tiny to me. And it wasn't great, either, but it was a sweet welcome back and a nice reminder of why I was really into penguins in junior high (now I'm all about bunnies, but that's a story for later). Shortly after reading the strip (along with The Far Side which I didn't realize was still being reprinted, and I got really confused about what decade it was for a minute), it dawned on me that I had just picked a day-old newspaper up off of the floor of one of the most heavily-trafficked subway stations in the world, and how gross is that?

So I got to work and washed my hands, and headed to my desk. I'm working in a department I've worked in before, so I know the ropes and it should be a pretty easy three days. The guy I'm filling in for is a little eccentric (which was, in fact, part of what I'd planned to blog about today), but extremely organized, and he left me a very thorough packet with instructions for everything and passwords for voicemail and the computer.

...Only the password for the computer doesn't work. And this company likes to fancy itself as very secure, so you need a password to access even the most basic functions of Windows. So I found myself stuck in a painful bureaucratic feedback loop, as IT told me that they could only reset the password on instruction from the proper user (but wouldn't the correct user know the password?) or human resources (not the proper user's manager?); human resources told me to call my temp agency manager. My temp agency called IT, and was told that she was even more useless than I was as she doesn't work for this company, and called me back and told me to call internal HR again. Internal HR doesn't know who I am, since I don't technically work for them. Meanwhile, I suspect this is all due to a typo in the number at the end of the password (since they make them change their passwords with irritating frequency here, so people usually just increase the number on the end by one) but I can't test my theory as I'm now locked out of the system due to too many wrong attempts...which I was instructed to make by IT...who can't unlock the system for me because I'm not the proper user.

I'm covering the receptionist's lunch hour now, and am overjoyed to have this brief bit of Internet time.

I'm certainly not going to complain about getting paid what I get paid to do nothing at all. But eight hours is an awfully large chunk of the day to not be able to do anything productive at all, either for yourself or on behalf of your employer. And again, getting paid for that time, so I'm happy to show up, but I had lots of stuff to do online today. There's banking to do, Chanukah gifts to order, and of course blog posts to write and read. I can't even write offline, or play solitaire as I can't get into anything.

I've had worse days at work, and other people have had worse days than I've ever had in my life, but it's frustrating. I was doing fine until the red tape tried to strangle me, really.

Then I tried to run an errand at lunch, and after waiting 15 minutes for the subway (it was nearby but too far to walk), I realized I wouldn't make it back in time for my reception duty, so I just got food and came back to the office.

I should have known: If something goes well so early in the day, it must all be downhill from there. If this is the karmic price I have to pay for reading Opus, I'm content to never see the strip again.

Fortunately, I brought magazines.

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