Sunday, June 13, 2010

About my job, cont'd

I usually leave for work around 6:30.  I get in just after 7, which is really too early.  But my intention is always to minimize the hours in the afternoon I'm in a cubicle.  I have to drink more coffee than I want to make it through this early start without becoming the amusing head-bobbing-as-he-nods-off-seven-times-a-minute guy.

I sit in a cube in the middle of a small-ish area (say 20 or so cubes) and I have no windows or natural light.  I sit directly below a paging intercom.  I do not enjoy this.  We have mobile phones, SMS and two flavors of voicemail.  The pager routine may make sense on the shop floor, but it's silly in an office.  Maybe it's a regional thing.  But I digress... I have a small cube with just my chair.  No visitors chair or B.S. table.  No one in my immediate vicinity works with me, but that's OK.  They're all nice.  As always, I keep a pretty sparse workplace.  Was a time I thought it'd be nice to surround myself with all sorts of personal effects to humanize the cubicle, but I've never gotten to that spot with a job.  Where I identified with that desk as my place.  Even when I've held a spot for three years, it never has that comfort.  And I think I'm OK with that.  Maybe if I had an office.  Ooo now I'm dreaming.

Until recently most of my work was at my desk, researching and documenting software to control this burner contraption I described last time.  Lately I've been returning to my old familiar role as lab-rat.  Around the corner from my cube is the lab, which consists of five engine test rooms (dynos) a couple of sophisticated gas-flow labs, and a bunch of "acoustic" rooms with the weird traingular sound-absorbing things surrounding you.  I just deal with the dynos.  And also the prototype vehicles we develop for the customers for this burner contraption.  Being a lab rat means getting computers to work properly, wiring and re-wiring, doing mechanic work (since we really don't have any) and a host of troubleshooting.  It's the sort of stuff that takes up all your time when it gets going, so all the brainy-yet-boring desk work I was into back in April is basically gone.

There's no place nearby for lunch.  We're surrounded by hayfields, two farms and a lake.  Two miles down at exit 150 on the interstate there's a Mobil Station with a Subway.  So... I bring my lunch every day.  I usually make peanut butter and honey on wheat bread.  Because I like it.  May not sound like much, but it's something I look forward to every day at 11:30.  And I think it's moderately nutritious.  When I'm cooking a lot I bring leftovers instead which is more exciting and showy.  (leftovers!)  Lately I'm not doing dinner at the house so much.  I eat lunch at my cube to minimize my lunch time to, again, get out of work as soon as possible when possible.  And there's the added incentive of less lunchtime = more $$, but we'll cover that another time.

Every day at 12:00 I go for a walk with Tom, usually Gary and most of the time Eric.  We walk on the 1.2-mile test track behind the building most of the time.  Or...when conditions are favorable we hike about the same distance on a two-track clearing through the woods and a corner of a hayfield to the lake.  Which is nice because the lake always smells like summer to me.  Tom and Gary and another guy in my group worked together previously at Visteon, a big bankrupt supplier towards Detroit, before taking the ever-so-common "package deal" to leave.  They're both a good bit older than me, but working together and b.s.'ing as we walk it's never really noticeable.  I consider myself well-versed at being middle-aged, at least between the hours of 7 and 3:30.  Tom's a pretty committed motorcycle commuter, which I have respect for.  He has an old Kawasaki sport-tourer with almost 100k on it - basically if it isn't icy or pouring when he leaves in the morning, he's on the bike.  Gary is an amateur beekeeper.  Turns out bees are pretty interesting.  Eric's the boss, about halfway between my age and the other guys.  He's pretty cool.  He took this job just days before interviewing me so he's the new guy also.  He had to leave a managing job near his home when the company relocated to Canada.  So now he drives 90+ minutes each way from Oxford to work here.  Tough stuff, but he's been a great boss for me so far.

Anyway, that's my work life post-GM in a nutshell.  A rather plain and unsalted nutshell.

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