Wednesday, April 15, 2009

19 hours

For those of you mailing in your dear taxes, there are about 19 hours left in the Central Time Zone where you may avoid penalty just by receiving the right date on your mail.

People like me know "a lot" about stamps and dates and made-up rules.

This year — which strikes me as rather late, considering that some of the protesters' issues (deficit spending … passing huge-ass bills with far-reaching consequences without reading them) came about during a time when I did not stop paying my taxes nor go protest an institution that "conspiracy theorists" consider unConstitutional — people are gathering about for Tea Parties.

Taxation without adequate representation may have been the founding argument, but the practice did not go away with King George. I was not in support of my country's budget surplus' being spent 100 times over* to fight a war and dictator equal to many others in the world but who happened to be easy (ha ha) to link figuratively to an act of war perpetrated by another nation and by other kind of nation for reasons of revenge, money or something else.

Anyway, a few of my 7 p.m. colleagues are still stamping away, taking advantage of the 2 hours' nightly overtime offered … Friday all day … no, thank you. Though I may be wasting valuable work or sleep time by blogging, heaven save those of us such as myself who are not sure whether their accountants are going to make the deadline, I just can't spend more time there.

I think it would be $18 an hour.

It is tempting. It is half-sinful and indulgent, in fact — but only because of the fact that it is certain. If someone says there is work, there is work; and they always pay for it, and they do it with direct-deposit.

It is a well-known fact that choices made out of avoidance or as ways to run away from something else are fatally flawed. There is a little bit of narcotic effect in having accrued 8 hours of vacation time and established a retirement fund, however miniscule … health insurance would be on the horizon, perhaps next tax season — our department is some kind of "career track" one, for some unfathomable (to me) reason, and so those of us who are "fully successful" and make our quotas and keep our 97% "high quality" accuracy are in line to be recalled automatically for January.

I have other things to do.  They are creative, less secure, more fulfilling.

The chatty — professed shy — conservative is in a nearby department, having shifted Sunday to a higher-paying (but temp-status and shorter-lasting) position. The remainder of us, including the 16 people recalled after that fortnight of furlough, are starting to show true colors of pettiness.

Let the record show that it took 4.5 weeks and the pressure of a full set of desks and the anticipatory tension of peak season (there were a million pieces of mail in the organizational inbox today, so to speak) to get people contriving against one another.

In the hallway, while we were all waiting around for a computer tech who did not show (had the wrong time down or something; no, managers don't call in advance, but apparently there is really less planning and accountability going on than touted), I listened to a couple of women from the back-from-layoff set say mean things about a number of people at their desk (behind our set, so I kind-of know who they were calling names about … at this point, I don't remember what they said, only that they expressed exasperation for having "crazy at this end (of the desk) and crazy at the other one").  Yeah, some of the people have weird personalities or low IQs, but the fact that there is a need to take sides and not live-and-let-live baffles me. It's only full-time for 5 months of the year!

When the fellow who is very competent and has been there longer than I have, probably years, did not know how to follow directions on a computer screen for taking the survey (when we went back down later**), I was back to my old community college computer lab support instructor mode. He talks fast and said he has a third-grade education more than once. He repeats other things and seems to be in his 40s but looks from far away like he must have in his 20s.

I digress, but later, the whole crew got a stern talking-to at another meeting to discuss the way some people, "you know who you are; if you don't, you have nothing to worry about," have been hoarding trucks (of work to stamp and file) or using other strategies such as holding them for others or signaling to friends when certain ones are up for grabs or going on break after delivering a finished truck of work to the end-center in order to wait for someone else to take the next to-do-truck in line — that happens to be full of 2,900 pieces (instead of the usual 1,450 for 1040s), or prior-years chunky with attached envelopes proving postmarks by which to calculate penalties, or exceedingly-itemized returns that can be up to three inches thick each and require the splitting of buckets and other physical wonders.***

It's funny; I am one of those people who was "breaking the rules" by going off to the restroom after delivering a truck, but I do it only because it is more efficient / forms a circuit instead of a path of retraced steps. The same trucks are ready and waiting when I return 4 minutes later. And, I thought it was a bad idea to take a truck and then leave it sitting there by your desk while you are not working it. Funny, yes? Personally, even though CC complained about prior years, EZs (not as easy as he thought, even though they are flat and consistent and require no manual flipping of stamper numbers between file-sets), and everything else, in fact, besides smallish 1040s, I find all trucks to present equal challenges.  (They are all fine, and they all suck.)

My main thought at any time is: oh, variety.

Anyway, I think that with the departure of CC, who, for all his flaws, is really just a lonely and sincere guy from Chiagoland who started life as a government employee, got used to fun with a private-sector set of gigs (after being screwed by the union, I was narrated) and who likes his boat and other aspects of his newer-life (50s) lifestyle, I must stick to the rules of my father. Dad gets so little credit, and I have already quoted him to both CC and other-John, who was back today, too: "I've already violated the rule about 'never discuss politics, religion, or money at work.'"

After the fact.

Obviously, I have no such rules about this place (blog).

Anyway, now, to be frank, now that the man who literally said, "Would you like a Squishee with that," in an Indian accent 4 times in 4 weeks as I bowed and shook my head while saying, "no, no, no," (instead of "hey, would you say that to someone who is Indian? … then, see, it's inappropriate;" yes, I know; it was on my "next time he does it" list) is gone, I am only flanked by people whose accent**** I can't quite get.  We have other things in common, and I shall concentrate on those.

I am still, with all my co-workers in the place where people are afraid of germs and never shake hands, as with everyone else on the planet, only an approximation of myself and thus most of the time an embarrassing speaker of silliness and blushing hand-gestures … the fact that someone who's known me less than a month said something that I've heard from loved ones of years says plenty.

The fact that many have already said things referring to my smile, gait (speed), socks, spunk, or speak-to-easiness is something else and kind-of gross and depressing.

*Statistic made up for figurative reasons. Literal calculation is yours to make by looking up the war-spending ticker and comparing it to the original surplus left to George W.

**The survey ended up getting us a free hour on our time sheets (administrative hours are not counted against our production time in figuring the quotas), all because of incompetence. PS, I kind-of miss teaching things that I know well, like English or how to use a computer to perform basic academic tasks.

***Wonders include but are not limited to: lifting more than 500 pages of paper in one (girl!) hand, over the head or below the waist or anywhere in between; flexing triceps and other assorted arm muscles approximately 5,000 times a day, 5 days a week (alternating arms because that's how I am — weak and seeking balance), wielding a metal tool that weighs about 1 pound over and over and over and over, pushing paper-full trucks (metal carts of 29 buckets each) around, dealing with ubiquitous pop and chip and candy and donut and Lunchables and burrito machines and a food-service cafeteria that serves chicken strips until midnight, avoiding being tempted by a smoking area in the coolest part of the no-public-access outdoor space, and figuring out who is not my enemy (including the ones who talk about how you have to watch your back in this place).

****Really it is only a matter of unfamiliar tonal value-range added to my hearing and people's projection. I think, as I do with CC's inability to understand Indian telecommunication and account customer service workers being a matter of exposure and familiarity, that my failure to get more than 85% to 90% of what some people are talking about may have something to do with ear training. It is something I've already talked about re: riding the bus. I don't understand it. Apparently, we are drifting further apart. I can handle the replacement of "they" for "their," and most of my childhood, my mom had to keep correcting me out of saying the convenient "ain't" that I now I hear all the time, but the fact that I can't even repeat to you (remember at all) the phonemes floating around my head all night long and always just a little bit out of earshot (white people are soooo much screechier, aren't we?) is disturbing to me. This is one of the reasons I am t/here.

1 comment:

hearmysong said...

wow. seriously. start keeping notes. you have a book on your hands. in fact, write a pitch for it and circulate it to agencies. they will lap it up, especially in this economic downturn. it's the right subject at the right time. i can't wait to read (or edit :)!) it!