Thursday, June 01, 2006

A Job By Any Other Name

Once upon a time—a little over five years ago, in fact—hubby and I left glorious Kansas City for even more glorious San Francisco. In Kansas City I’d been a tech writing manager for a software firm. In San Francisco, at the end of the dot com busts, I was one of thousands looking for work in the computer arena.

Jack said not to worry about finding a job. After all, how often would we find ourselves living in the middle of one of the country’s most wonderful cities?

“So true,” I said with an enthusiasm that might have worried him if he’d taken a bit more time to think about it.

And we did have a fabulous time. When we left San Fran for South Carolina (after a temporary stint in Virginia), we didn’t think we’d be there long enough for me to find a good job, so I didn’t look. That’s when I started writing, and since then, erotic romance has been my “work.”

However, a couple of weeks ago, someone called and asked if I’d consider a position as a proofreader. Proofreading, I thought. That’s a job?

The money offered was pretty good and the distance to the workplace wasn’t too great, but I wasn’t convinced. “I don’t know if I should interview. What if I can’t do the work?”

“Are you kidding?” Jack snorted a laugh. “It’s right up your alley. Proofreaders have to be picky and you drive people crazy with your pickiness. You’d be fine.”

“But the hours are so long. When would I have time to write?” I wailed.

Jack looked at me with disbelief. “Let’s see. How many games of Solitaire did you play yesterday? How much time did you spend reading?”

Most of the time I feel like the luckiest woman in the world being married to my best friend who knows my heart and my mind.

Other times I just want to slap him.

“Look on the bright side,” he said, sporting an encouraging smile. “Maybe they won’t like you.”

Thanks, Sweetheart.

Okay, I started the new job Tuesday. My supervisor didn’t have a desk set up yet (not through any fault of hers), so she sat me at a counter in a file/storage room. A high counter, that could only be reached with a high chair.

Now, I’m not high. (I mean… Oh heck, you know what I mean.) The air couldn’t be let out of the chair until I could get on it. Every time I tried to boost myself up, the damn thing took off on its wheels across the floor. Finally I braced it against a file cabinet and squirmed on. I let out the air. Too much. The only way to pump it up again was to get off. I slid off and added air. Too much. I got on and let it out. I got off and pumped…. Half an hour later, I found about the right height for the counter, but the wrong height for the rest of me. Keeping my feet on the floor was impossible, and using the chair rail meant tucking my knees under my chin.

So there I perched, feet dangling until my ankles swelled like grapefruit, trying to concentrate on learning a new job. Was it time for lunch yet?

Now, while I know I’m not a genius, I don’t think I’m the dimmest bulb in the chandelier, either. But it seemed like every time I found an error noted in the proofreader’s procedural manual, the example I’d chosen to highlight was an exception to the rule. In fact, mostly what I’ve learned so far are exceptions. I’m still not sure I know any rules.

I’d never given a thought to all of the products lining the shelves in our stores, and what it takes to package them. Every word on every box, carton, bottle, can has to be proofread as to accuracy and claims. Just think (as I do now), how the box of a septic system product might read without a proofreader: Instead of “Use SEPTIC HEAVEN and you won’t spend your weekend mucking about,” you might see, “Use SEPTIC HEAVEN and you won’t spend your weekend fucking about.” Or on a box of poison for mice, instead of “Promises to kill all household pests,” you might see, “Promises to kill all household pets.” Oooh! Bad!!

So, this I is the reasoning I’m using to keep me going back. Today I had a cube space and a chair blessedly close to the floor, but (I’m ashamed to say) I spent the afternoon dropping off. Literally closing my eyes and wishing I was here at home curled up in my recliner. Or writing. :) Anyway, I’ve made it two whole days! It's not easy going back to work after five years! (Do you feel sorry for me yet?) Good! Then...

Help me stay awake! Make me laugh with your funny office stories, or even squirm over a few office fantasies. Lots of people I know met their significant others at work—bet some of you did, too. If you did, your time at work had to be more exciting than mine is proving to be, so help me out.

Unfortunately, I have no computer at the office—yes, this is a job from the dark ages, all done on hard copy—so I won’t be able to answer anyone’s comments until I come home tomorrow night. But don’t let that stop you! Let me hear all… Your office experiences will help get me through what's sure to be a long Friday!

Thanks for visiting with me today—



Blogger LISA WILLIAMS said...

Good for you Dee! I am in the same boat...I have been staying home with the kids the last few years and I am scared to death of what will happen when I get back in the workforce. Such a big change again. Good luck in the job!

9:21 AM  
Anonymous lsb author jan darby said...

Oh, boy. A day job. I've been out of that routine for so long now, that I just couldn't do it again. The politics, the getting up before noon (and going to bed before 4 am), the stress on my spoiled cat who is used to me being home all day.night ....

Nope, couldn't do it.

You're much braver than I am.

11:22 AM  
Blogger Bonnie Dee said...

Wow, it sounds so primitive. Proofreading copy not on a computer screen? I can't fathom it.
My secretarial job is part time and not at all busy so I have plenty of time to write a passage here and there at work. The perfect job!

11:41 AM  
Blogger Meljprincess said...

"The only way to pump it up again was to get off. I slid off and added air. Too much. I got on and let it out. I got off and pumped..."


My office stories all have to do with drugs or meeting famous people. This was a long time ago of course...*snicker*
Good luck with the new job!

Hi Bonnie!

11:49 AM  
Blogger Vanessa Hart said...

I quit my day job and started writing about 11 years ago. First, I published non-fiction articles, then I discovered romance. Three years ago, I tried my hand at erotic romance. You know the rest. But I can't badmouth my earlier career because that's where I met my soul-mate, love-of-my-life guy! We were an office romance, very hot, fuel for much gossip. But now we're living our happy-ever-after story.

Oh, did I mention that you earn money on a job?! **LOL** That I do miss.


3:15 PM  
Blogger Dee said...

Hi all.

THREE DAYS DOWN!! I talked to my mom last night and she asked excitedly how the job was. I kinda moaned. She gave me words of wisdom: "Don't think of it as a job, think of it as money, every hour." OKay, I can deal with that.

Thanks, for all your support! I told Jack I wasn't sure this was "me," and now that I have the word of other writers who say they just couldn't go back to the grind, I feel so validated.

But I still can't quit the job.

Actually, when I interviewed, the boss-lady asked if I'd be available until the end of the year if they needed me and I (seeing those dollar signs mom talked about) said, "Oh, sure." Someone just shoot me.

And Mel, you have a very naughty mind--which is why I love ya so much!


6:37 PM  
Blogger April Martinez said...

lol, Congratulations on the job! Even though you're feeling ambivalent about it. I have WAY too many stories from my day job days. In fact, I think I've had my fill of day jobs for at least five or ten years, maybe even for the rest of my lifetime.

I do have a few stories to share with you, though, to help you get through your Friday. But first, a little tidbit specifically for proofreaders everywhere:

Okay, and now for the office story:

7:39 PM  
Blogger Vanessa Hart said...

those are great, April. *LOL*

8:30 PM  
Blogger snowflake said...

Good luck with your new day job, Dee. Keep your eyes peeled for surreptitious movements, covert gazes, sly whispers, locked doors; there may be surprises in store for you, like a dungeons with all sorts of gadgets...

10:26 PM  
Blogger Dee said...

April, both the proofreader's poem and the office story are great. Especially the story--I'll definitely be thinking about that one tomorrow as I try to stay awake until the weekend--officially starting at 5 PM!

Jennybrat, thanks for stopping by. I'm watching everyone for strange and wild behavior that I can put in a book, heh, heh, heh. So far, everyone is so NORMAL, it's somewhat disappointing, but I can make up something, lol. Maybe I'll get with Mel and borrow some of what sound like debauched stories!


12:04 AM  
Blogger Meljprincess said...

"Maybe I'll get with Mel and borrow some of what sound like debauched stories!" LOLOLO!
Ask away, Sweet Dee. You know I'll give you the dirt.

"Won't you please let me lay ya down
(down, down, down, ...)I really get a dirty mind (mind,
mind, mind, ...)Whenever you're around..."
- Prince
Lyrics to DIRTY MIND

Love you too, Babe! xo

9:47 AM  

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