Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Famous Business Trips Pt. 1
I've been sent to Washington D.C. to help fix a File Room Emergency and I think my hotel room is haunted.
I'm not sure which is harder to believe: that there are ghosts in my hotel or that my company keeps having File Room Emergencies (FRE) that require me to travel. I'm not knocking it, but the reality is that you should never have an FRE in the first place. A file room is basically just a giant horizontally-layered pile of alphanumeric order. It should never be a cause for alarm or last-minute panic- but I am learning that it very often is.That's where I come in.
The records clerk in this office is quitting effective Friday and no one else seems to understand the file system except him, so I've been sent to learn the system before he quits. They don't have a replacement for him yet, so I'll have to retain the knowledge until they hire someone, at which time I'll come back and train that person. To me, this plan smacks of ill-planning and desperation, but hey; it's in my favor this time.
I took the 6am train to get here and when I arrived, the guy who was supposed to train me had called in sick and my new boss was "in a meeting", so the receptionist ushered me into the file room where I sat and waited for my new boss to appear.
Strangely, I found the train ride up to be quite enjoyable, watching the sun rise while the train rocked steadily north had a certain clean and timeless quality to it, but there was no such special quality to the file room. I looked around a bit and saw a lot of color-coded alphanumeric order, some dusty old computers and a few hand-held code scanners. Whee.
Eventually my new boss arrived and introduced himself. He was a fat, cheerless appendix of a man and I immediately disliked him. I don't like bosses in general and I especially don't like being told what to do by fat bosses. I'm the one who should be telling him what to do and what I'd be telling him is :stop eating food that has passed through windows and start doing some fucking push-ups.
He explained that he didn't know how the computers worked ( duh) but he would call IT and see if they could help. I didn't tell him the computers were fine and I had been fucking around on-line for a couple hours,I was starting to cop an attitude and didn't want to save him the trouble of looking stupid to IT.
Boss had a brilliant plan. He would call Absent Guy and have Absent Guy train me via speakerphone. AG answered the phone accompanied by the sound of crying infants and Sesame Street TV. Boss shouted his plan at the telephone and the telephone yelled back affirmatively. Babies wailed. Big Bird sang. Hope sank.
"OK, you're all set", said Boss, fleeing the room.
"I see why you quit", I quipped to Absent Guy. "Are you coming in tomorrow? This can wait, we can't do phone training for this. Anyone with any sense would know that."
This would be some easy overtime, I thought. Not much to do though...luckily my old radio pal Andrew lives up here now and we met for a long lunch and caught up on news, after which I got lost walking back to office and wound up wandering aimlessly around Georgetown. After a couple of hours it started getting cold so I hailed a cab back to the office. All told I was gone for almost five hours which wasn't quite long enough because I forgot to miss a conference call about some remote FREs that I imagine I'll have to go deal with soon. That's not so bad, really. I have job security because of it.
After the call I got bored and caught a cab to the hotel where I killed some time the old-fashioned way, which made me hungry so I went out for Mexican, carefully adding the receipt to my new but already impressive collection.
Including travel, it was an eleven-hour workday and I didn't actually do anything except sit in on a conference call that I could have attended in-person if I'd stayed at home. A great deal of money was spent, some of which I got to keep, but absolutely nothing got done. From a business viewpoint, it was a total fiasco, but from my point of view it was an all-expenses paid travel vacation day. Hooray for that!