I started a new job on Wednesday. For the next month (it's only a temp job) I will be a filing clerk at the University's Development Office.
My job is to "weed" the files which the Development Office keeps on all its fundraising prospects -- individuals, companies, university departments, etc. This
consists of going through folders full of paper documents and looking for any which say "bin 2003" (or earlier). I take them out of the folder, and check that there's no note in the Raiser's Edge database which refers to them. If there is, I stick a post-it note on the document and give it to my supervisor so she can delete the note (I can't delete the notes myself as I only have read access to the database). Otherwise, I put the document in the bin. If a document has neither a "best before" date written on it nor a red spot (which means it is to be kept forever), I stick a post-it note on it and pass the folder to my supervisor so she can assign it an expiry date or mark it for keeping. When I've finished checking through a folder, I mark it as "reviewed" with the date and my initials.
So far I and my fellow clerk have gone through 8 filing cabinets and about 10 lever-arch files full of folders. We get quite excited when we find a document with a "bin date" on it, because it relieves the tedium of looking through files which consist entirely of "red spots". The rest of the time, we either check through files in weary silence, or try to carry on some kind of conversation. My fellow clerk is not the most sparkling of conversation partners. Nor, for that matter, am I. After an hour or so my fingers feel papery and dusty, and my brain switches off.
It's surprising how fast the time actually goes. We walk down to the room where the filing cabinets are, pick up an armful of folders, and carry them back to the little office where we work. We each make our own piles of folders containing queries (which go to our supervisor), documents to be checked and then either passed on or binned, and folders which have been checked and can be replaced. We're both going through the same motions, but of course we get out of phase, as we work at different speeds. It's like watching two lights blinking at very slightly different rates. On, off. Down the stairs with an armful of files to replace; up the stairs with an armful of files to check. I mark off the distances the way I always do -- whether I'm sorting through files, or walking down a long street looking for a particular house-number, or reading a long and boring book -- mentally subdividing the remainder of the distance to be travelled even while I'm moving forwards, tricking my mind into concentrating on this task so that by the time I've finished the calculation of how long the remainder will take, the goal has got a little closer, which necessitates a recalculation... and so a little more time has passed. ("It would have passed anyway." --"Ah, but not so rapidly.")
Occcasionally I take breaks from my own private Xeno's Paradox Re-enactment Society, and do something routine-breaking like making a coffee, or ... making a coffee. There's precious little else to do, really. Oh, except make tea instead. The kettle never takes quite long enough to boil. The coffee never tastes of anything. I marvel at the fact that you can buy teabags in bags of 1100 -- what a peculiar number to choose. (No, geeks and geekettes, it isn't binary. I have seen the oceans of teabags within.) I stare out of the window at the sky.
I am marking off the days on the wall. I am worth £6.06 per hour.
The rest of the time, I've tried to keep busy.
I had my first karate lesson of the year on Tuesday, and acquitted myself well considering that I'd done no practice whatsoever during the break. I learnt two new kicks, both of which involve doing slightly implausible things with my legs; despite this, I didn't ache at all the next day.
The first Portfolio Singers rehearsal of term was the usual laid-back affair; we sang a few songs, talked a lot, drank a lot of tea, ate chocolate finger biscuits, and drank some port (in my case only a little as I was driving). The singing is the point of the occasion, honest. Although I have to admit that being introduced to the concept of sucking port through a chocolate finger (having first bitten off both ends to expose the biscuit) came a close second. (It tastes like trifle. Try it!)
The Cambridge Concert Orchestra term started on Wednesday. I appear to be co-leader of the second violin section, owing more to the reluctance of the rest of the section to take a front seat than to any real talent on my part. We sight-read through most of the new pieces, and did some more concentrated work on one or two of them. By far the silliest of the new pieces is the Beatlecracker Suite, by Wilkinson, Tchaikovsky, Lennon & McCartney. Yes, that's Beatles songs arranged in the style of the Nutcracker. Completely and utterly hatstand.
Thursday night was the usual Carlton social. I felt somewhat out of it for most of the evening, and ended up drinking a lot more than I should have done. The less said about the resulting emotional state, the better; though sion_a was lovely and looked after me well.
It was lovely to see lnr for lunch on Friday, I do wish I saw more of her -- although I felt guilty for crying on her at such length. Being able to talk about stuff did help though. ... I do seem to have done an awful lot of crying recently.
Yesterday night I worked my usual shift at the Carlton. It was busier than usual; I started eating my dinner (a tuna baguette -- I decided this was less likely to suffer from going cold than my usual portion of chips) at about 7:30pm and finished it at about 10pm, grabbing bites between working. Got home just after 11:30 and then stayed online talking to hoiho until about 3am. Talking helped a lot.
Today I worked the afternoon shift at Oxfam; I'm responsible for pricing computing books now as I'm the only one who'll admit to knowing anything geek-related. Unfortunately this means that I am by extension responsible for maths books, as "it's all the same thing"; and today it was decreed that I probably knew more about Business Studies than any of the rest of them, so I could price those books as well.
I was dragged to the pub by some of the other volunteers after the shop closed; I'd never been to the Eagle before, and now I see why. I made my excuses and left when Kate Jeary and Ecological Steve (I don't know his surname) started the Great Atheism Debate, although the amount of smoke in the air and the distinct lack of decent beer would have driven me out before long anyway. When I got outside I thought for one horrible moment that my bike had been stolen, but fortunately my initial reaction was to look panicked and stand there flapping; this meant that the bouncers noticed, asked what was wrong, and when I explained they did at least tell me that they'd moved it across the street (it was only locked to itself) because "it was blocking a fire exit". It was leaning against a stone wall, but apparently the entire street is "a fire exit" for the pub.
I have an interview on Monday for a job at UCLES (I don't know exactly what job, but it sounds interesting), and an interview on Thursday for a job at the University's Management Information Services Division (the position is Web Publishing Assistant, and it sounds from the description as though it's pretty what I was doing at ProQuest -- but for the University, better-paid, and with more training and development opportunities).
I keep thinking that my luck has to change some time. Maybe this will be the time. Just maybe.