Thursday, August 28, 2008

Job offer 

I call my daughter a drama queen, but after yesterday, I have to think she comes by it naturally. Actually it started Tuesday night. Just before heading to bed, I discovered that I had an e-mail from Buster, my old boss at Wombatsch. It was very straightforward--we want to hire you now because were drowning in work. My first reaction was, "Crap. Why now?" You see, a number of weeks ago when I was facing my tenuous finances and inadequate salary, a mail like this would be a sign from God. I had decided that even though my current job seemed heaven sent, it was probably time to move on to something that paid better. Of course, after a few discussions with Noodles, that included the idea that I start moonlighting, we decided the best idea might be for her to start easing back into the workforce. So she's been applying and interviewing for a number of part time teaching positions. She's grown to like the idea and really wants to begin working on her second, er, third career. (Or is it fourth? Nah, she never used her first degree. Not professionally, anyway.)

So now this job offer turns up. We still could use the money, because for all of Noodles' efforts, she isn't pulling in any income yet. Work at Yoyodyne has been rather slow and boring, and going back to Wombatsch would mean more challenging work, even if I get hired as just another grunt in the catalog department. On the other hand, there is that commute out to Eastside. And it would probably mean a switch to second shift. Oh, yeah, and I dimly recall being quite dissatisfied with the place some three, four years ago. I figured I'd wrestle with all this overnight and give Buster a call on Wednesday afternoon. As an afterthought, I decided to ask Noodles if she had any thoughts on the matter. Surprisingly enough, she did.

While she liked the idea of a higher salary as much as I did, she was less tempted to have me make the change. A second shift job out on the Eastside essentially ties me to the car. That would tie her hands if and when she manages to find a teaching gig. Plus the whole reason for her embarking on the job search was to bring in extra income. If she starts bringing in money, that reduces my need to chase a higher salary. Noodles also cross-examined my boredom with Yoyodyne. Even as I explained my ennui, I realized that the excitement of a job change would be fleeting at best. (Overtime, however, springs eternal.)

So after a half hour or so of conversation, I headed to bed. Come the morn, my attraction to Wombatsch had pretty much vanished. My mind no longer whirled with pros and cons--rather my thoughts were awash in the dread of having to actually tell someone "no". Actually, I wasn't quite 100% on the side of refusal yet. I figured I should see what the day brought while the question simmered on the back burner. Give God some time to give me a divine revelation and all that. When I got to work I shot off a quick reply to Buster to tell him that I was thinking about it. When I later peeked at my personal e-mail, I saw that he had sent a quick, hopeful response. This caused the pot on my back burner to boil over and fill my brain with the aromas of anxiety. I ran through all sorts of scenarios, thinking of what excuses I could give and what kind of arguments I might have to fend off. Buster was quite explicit about the need at Wombatsch. What if he asked me to moonlight? I had to double check the employee manual to confirm that it was forbidden. I even had the (fleeting) idea that maybe he could contact my current boss-man, John Emdall, and set up some sort of sub-contractor situation where I could do Wombatsch work for a Yoyodyne paycheck. I so dearly wanted to help out! To offer some sort of hope or comfort as I so callously served my self interest and refused the job, after stringing poor Buster along for all these hours.

Eventually my shift ended and it was time to make the call. Oddly enough, my day was quite busy--including a job that gave my layout muscles a stretch. Was this the heavenly sign I sought? I doubt it, but I decided to turn Buster down anyway. When I reached home, I screwed in my courage... or is that screwed up? Whatever the metaphor, I made the stupid phone call. Part of me was hoping for a voice mail, but I was fully ready for a voice-to-voice conversation. Good thing, too, since Buster was at his desk and answering his phone. Following his example, I got straight to the point and told him I was turning him down. Buster said something along the lines of, "Oh, well, it didn't hurt to ask." Then he asked how things were going. I stammered out that things were okay. He made a joking reference to my fainting spell, and I recounted my only near encounter. He again asked how I was doing and I again couldn't say more than "okay". A sales pitch I was ready for; small talk threw me off guard. Buster then stated that I was always welcome to try to re-apply at Wombatsch and then got back to work. I hung up the phone relieved and feeling a bit foolish.

In retrospect, I think I should have known better. When it comes to the busy season at work, Buster's correspondence has always verged on hyperbole. Back when he was asking everyone to work "as much as they can stand", I'm sure he expected that many folks would only be able to stand an hour or two of overtime. Likewise when he said they needed me to come work, he knew it was a long shot. I, on the other hand, take his messages too darn seriously. Ah, well. It's nice to know that I'm wanted, even if folks can live without me just fine.

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Monday, August 18, 2008


I got an interesting political ad in the mail this weekend. If I were to judge it from the photographs alone, Barack Obama is running for the office of Governor for the State of Washington. He will be helped by Chris Gregoire*, who is either his wife or his personal assistant.

Politics. Gahk. I'm tempted to throw away my vote on a third party or something.
* for you out-of-towners, Chris Gregoire is the current guv. For some reason, Dino Rossi** thinks he's running against her for the office.
**Dino Rossi is the guy who was sort of elected governor in 2004 but then we had a few dozen recounts and... oh, heck, just go do a search on the Wikipedia

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Friday, August 08, 2008

Going for the gold 

I'm watching the Olympic Opening Ceremonies as I type this. It's a politeness thing. If, in the next couple of weeks, any of my Chinese acquaintances e-mail me and ask if I've been watching the Olympics, I can honestly say yes. I'm assuming they'll all be tuning in during the games, as the Olympic hype was already going on back when we stepped off the plane in 2005. Of course, it could be that nobody back in Yunnan is watching--that they're going to be watching some other channel. My watching the show will have been for naught.

Well, not exactly. I could really care less about the Olympic games, but I am enjoying the spectacle. Real time interruption: Hmmmm, cool. The athletes aren't marching in according to Western alphabetical order, but rather in order of the number of strokes in the first Chinese character in the country's name. Anyway, I have to confess that I'm enjoying the show. Once again: Hmmm, the Taiwanese athletes got a real rousing reception by the stadium crowd. Of course, they were following the Japanese... Anyway, I'm not writing much. I could have written during the last annoying commercial break, but I ran upstairs to get a Pop-Tart. Hmm, and now I have another annoying commercial break in which to write. It's been a while since I've endured network TV. Anyway... I find that I'm getting a bit excited over this. I know the politically correct thing to do is to be wearing a frowny face and hoping that Hu Jintao will spill his beer or do something else embarrassing. But when I think about China gaining face over these Games, I don't think of the government that deserves a lot of criticism over its actions, I think of the kids I met in Yunnan who can bask in some national pride. So I'm hoping everything goes well.

Anyway, I'm going to shut up now. I don't know if I'll be able to stay awake during the next commercial block.

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