I gave myself a new writer’s challenge today — take something mundane and write about it. Sounds simple, right? Then I added a caveat for myself: try and do it in a way that makes people actually want to read it. With that project in mind I am proud to present “A Day in the Life”.
Friday, May 21, 2010
5:05am: I become aware of a slight buzzing in my right ear. I try to ignore it and hope it goes away. I fail and it doesn’t. The buzzing continues, now followed by some sort of hokey melody. Slowly my mind enters a state of consciousness. Ah crap, it’s my iPhone, laying beside my head and partially buried under a pillow. I open my eyes and see the screen flashing. It is my alarm app letting me know it is time to face another day. “Sleep Cycle” uses the iPhone’s accelerometers to measure your sleep pattern with the idea that, somewhere within a 30 minute window of the time you select, it will sense when you are naturally waking up and trigger the alarm so you awake more refreshed. Bull. Despite going to bed nearly eight hours earlier I am no where near refreshed, likely because I spent a large portion of the night tossing and turning thanks to a sore throat I developed the day before.
5:07am: Now in a state which passes for fully awake I sit up on the edge of the bed and cancel the alarm. There is silence around me. Despite its best efforts, my iPhone failed to stir a reaction out of Shirley off to my left or Tucker the dog who is still sound asleep in his crate next to the bed. Perfect, the longer I can avoid dealing with other animate objects the better. I swallow, trying to judge the status of my throat. There is some small protest of pain, but I am successful in this endeavor. Damn it, despite not feeling great I am no where sick enough to call in sick to work, especially on a Friday before a long weekend when no one would believe me anyway.
5:09am: Shower. Hot as I can stand it. I am hoping the humidity from the steam will help with my throat. I lean against the corner of the shower feeling the contrast of the hot water splashing off the front of me while the tile is cold across my back. In the space of four minutes I have achieved my first goal of the day — I am awake and will not be falling back asleep.
5:25am: I emerge from the bathroom. My eyes are immediately drawn to the bed. The covers on Shirley’s side have been tossed to the middle and she is no where to be seen. The door of the dog crate hangs open; the rest of the family is also up and our day has begun in earnest.
5:35am: I find myself in the driver’s seat of the car. I have skipped breakfast, prefering instead to get into work early to catch up on what I have missed while attending my First Aid course the last two days. My laptop is on the backseat, secured in its case. Beside it in a re-useable grocery bag are two dozen eggs, which I am delivering to some coworkers. I fumble with my iPod, connecting it to the interface cable. Shirley is not working today so I am commuting solo which means I have full control over my musical selection. That can wait, for now I’ll start with talk radio — AM770 to be exact. I listen long enough to get the forecast for the weekend — cool, cloudy and possibly wet. Glad I’m not going very far. Before I reach the highway I have engaged the iPod, turning my “Road Trip” playlist into shuffle mode. Thanks to the sore throat, there will be no singing in the car today, I will simply have to settle for tapping out the rhythm with my feet while cruise control handles my speed for me.
6:09am: I have arrived at the parking lot. I made good time today — it sure helps when most people are taking today off. I don’t actually park on campus, instead I use a parking spot at Shirley’s building a couple blocks away. I have a parking spot on campus, but I sublet it to yet another coworker — technically it’s a violation of the rules, but I doubt anyone cares. Maybe if President Weingarten hadn’t decided to put up a new building on every decent parking lot on campus we wouldn’t have the parking woes that we do.
6:16am: The walk to my building is extended slightly thanks to construction blocking my normal access route. I detour through the ICT Building and its sterile concrete floors and walls. Ploughboy’s has closed permanently and Good Earth isn’t open yet. The wire mesh tables in the common area are all vacant and campus has the feel of a ghost town. My footsteps echo as I trudge to Earth Sciences, the building I have called my work home since 1999.
I decide I am sick enough to skip my routine of taking the stairs. Instead I punch the button on the one bank of elevators which is actually functional; the other set is out of commission due to construction, what else?
6:20am: I have reached my desk. The lights in the office are off but there is enough sunlight coming in the windows I don’t feel the need to turn them on. My coat goes on the rack and the laptop slams into the docking station. I power it on and while it boots I grab my bottle and wander to the water cooler to fill it. I never drink as much water as I do when I am in the office, not sure why.
I return to my desk and logon. While waiting for Windows 7 to load my desktop I put the eggs into the bar fridge I keep behind my desk. I shuffle some papers and create some semblance of order. The iPhone gets connected to its cable, Tweetdeck is launched and I bring up Outlook so it can start loading whatever email has come in since last night when I last peeked in my Inbox.
6:28am: Exchange seems really slow today, it is taking forever to pull in new email As I contemplate whether or not we have a problem with the system I see email start to flow in. Cool, while it does that I open Facebook and update my status for the first time. I have nothing witty to say so I just slap in some mundane comment about being at work. It sucks and I know it — I expect it will generate almost no comments, which is how I judge whether my updates are successful or not. Hey, I’m 30 minutes early, I haven’t eaten yet and I’m high on Contact C, what do you want from me? With that done I move on to seeing what email I have to deal with.
6:58am: There, the Inbox is clean again. Nothing exciting, the standard mix of Viagra spam, bulk messages sent to various campus email lists and the odd request from clients who are supposed to know better than contact me directly anyway. It’s all good — with the long weekend approaching I know we’ll be down in staff so I don’t really want anything out of the ordinary anyway.
I decide my biggest priority of the morning should be prepping for job interviews. We have an open Sys Admin position and I still have a number of candidates who need to have their interviews scheduled, plus I need to develop a list of questions to ask. Coming up with job interview questions is tough because I don’t want to use the same lame questions everyone uses such as “So, where do you see yourself in five years?”
8:05am: Wow, that took longer than expected. I’ve lined up another series of candidates to interview and come up with my questions. I ended up with lame questions, just worded differently: “What are your long-term goals for your IT career, say five years down the road?”
I bring up iTunes. I’m not planning on listening to music, rather I launch iTunes University. There is a series of podcasts I have been listening to called “What Great Bosses Know.” As I listen I make some notes in a Word document I keep updating with the tips I learn. It’s not the greatest way to learn, but it’s as close to having amentor as I get. I work my way through a number of three minutes segments before it is time for morning coffee.
8:45am: Ah, coffee. The majority of the coffee crew is off today so it is just Wendy and I. We wander outside and over to Mac Hall, which is what everyone calls the building formally known as “MacEwan Student Centre”. The line up at Tim Hortons is short so before long we have taken our normal seats near the pillar in front of A&W. I wander over to “the ‘dub” to order the breakfast I didn’t eat at home. The fella behind the counter knows me well enough that he is already punching in “classic breakfast, over easy, brown toast” before I reach the counter.
I’m sure we are often criticized for our morning coffee breaks because of their length. I justify it by saying we never take breaks in the afternoon, plus most of the coffee conversation usually deals with work anyway. More valid communication happens during that morning coffee break between the various groups in the department than at any other time.
9:30am: Back in the office. I dive into email once again. Let’s see, some questions about whether our Administrator account has been locked out, some minutes to review from meetings I didn’t attend, and more bulk mailing list stuff. Delete, delete, reply, delete, file, delete. I open Remedy to look for any tickets sitting in our queue which are unassigned. Crap, I spot one from Social Work which I dropped in there a couple days ago — I guess no one else had time to look at it. I assign it to myself and mark it as “In Progress”. Just as I start to figure out what is being asked of us it is 10:00am and time for my meeting with my boss.
10:00am: Joseph’s office. We have a couple items to discuss, nothing serious. About 20 minutes in we appear to be done when I make the mistake of asking about a report I had prepared last week regarding how we allocate our time. A lively discussion is set into motion as I explain my rationale and my interpretation of the numbers. We debate back and forth over how this report could be used. The meeting which once appeared like it was going to be short actually runs long. When will I learn?
11:11am: Back at my own desk. I work to pick up where I left off. I need clarification so I send an email to the client. Much to my surprise she writes back right away with an explanation. The more I read the more confused I get. Crap. I pick up the phone and dial her number. Some things are just not meant to be done in writing. She explains what she wants in terms of security on their network share. I listen, I make notes, I offer some suggestions. In the middle of this conversation my Windows Live Messenger starts blinking — crap, almost time for lunch? I hastily type a reply: “Yeah, see you at The Den as soon as I am off the phone.”
I return my full attention to the client. We hash things out a little more. I finally understand exactly what she wants so it’s up to me to work my “IT magic” to make it happen. No problem, I make a promise to get it done for her before I leave for the weekend.
11:55am: The Black Lounge Ah, the campus pub. Nothing makes me feel older than hanging out in the student pub. Actually, I notice today it isn’t too bad — many of the patrons are employees like myself and the number of students is quite low. Wendy and I are joined by Dave and Kevan. Seeing as how I am not climbing any stairs today I decide to eat as light as I can — Diet Pepsi, buffalo chicken wrap and a salad. I stare with envy at the bacon cheddar burger and fries that Kevan is eating. Oh well…
1:25pm: Wow, lunch ran long. I guess that’s what happens when you start talking shop. I return to my desk just in time to grab a resume and cover letter from the candidate we are interviewing for our open position. Joseph appears at my door and we are off to the conference room to conduct the interview.
2:12pm: Back at my desk. I think the interview process went well, even if I did steal most of Joseph’s questions. I turn my attention back to the ticket I am working on for Social Work. My work is interrupted three of four times with different people coming to my desk asking questions on various topics. I try and answer each one with a smile and send them on their way. In addition my Windows Live Messenger pops up a couple times with more questions. I finally complete my work on the network share security and I hope like hell I got it right with all the distractions. I guess I’ll know on Tuesday if I didn’t.
2:41pm: My mind officially goes into “long weekend mode”. I take one last look in the queue of tickets to see if there is anything which is truly critical. Not seeing anything I use the opportunity to scan my email, update Facebook and start powering off my laptop.
2:49pm: I sneak out of the office, only getting caught by one person who wishes me “Have a good weekend!” loud enough for the entire office to hear. So much for stealth. I wind my way through the maze of cubicles to the elevator. Before I reach the ground floor I remind myself I was in the office early today so I’m not actually leaving THAT early. I perk up.
3:00pm: I reach the car. The laptop gets tossed on the front seat with my jacket. I fumble through the pockets until I locate the iPod. I turn the key and listen with satisfaction to the exhaust note emitted by the 3.5L engine. Frick, I love this car.
I back out of the stall and turn my sites southward. It’s about 14 degrees, so not warm enough to fully open the sunroof, but certainly warn enough to pop the glass up anyway.
At the first set of lights I stop and don my sunglasses. I assume my “coolest guy in the world” position — one hand on top of the wheel, the other resting on the door. My fingers drum along with the beat of the music. Have I mentioned how much I love this car?
The commute home follows the exact same route as the one in, with one exception. I observe a RV turning onto 37th Street SW from 146th Ave. Seeing how slow he is traveling, I opt to stay on the gravel portion of 146th and take it out of the city before heading south and joining up with 22X. I don’t know if it saved me any time, but it got me away from the traffic which NEVER travels fast enough for my tastes. I mean, c’mon people, let’s rock here!
3:40pm: I pull up the driveway at home. I observe a large tree branch laying across my path, right in front of the garage. I press the button to open the garage door and then carefully drive over the branch. In fact, I am so careful and paying so much attention to the branch that I fail to notice whether the garage door is all the way up or not. When I finally turn my attention to it I am shocked to see that I didn’t miss clipping it by much. Whoops, I’ll blame the meds!
3:50pm: Having greeted Shirley and the dog I find myself laying on the couch. The sun is streaming in and I doze slightly. Shirley is baking salmon for dinner. Nona comes and lays on me. Life is good.
4:10pm: Coming out of my haze we decide to watch last night’s episode of “The Office” which we PVR’ed. Skipping commercials means it is over in no time at all, right around the time the beeping coming from the oven indicates that dinner is ready.
4:32pm: Salmon on our plates we once again fire up the PVR, this time turning on last night’s CSI. Nothing like a good gory forensic drama while you’re eating, you know?
5:15pm: I disappear downstairs into the “man cave”. Shirley has no idea what I am doing, but she likely knows she won’t see me for a couple of hours. This is my time to listen to some more music, check my social media sites again and, in this case, compose a very lengthy blog entry.
7:24pm: Current time. Blog entry ready for posting. Sure, it’s not quite an *entire* day in the life, but you get the idea. (It’s not like anyone is actually going to read this whole thing anyway!)