18½ months of my life seemingly disappeared this morning as I once again found myself working for The Paper. It was a very normal experience, which was the oddest thing about it. If it weren’t for the fact that The Paper changed locations after I quit in the fall of 2004, I’d honestly wonder if I had ever left. (And when I tried my old email password on a whim and found hundreds of emails spanning my entire 18-month absence, I realized they weren’t too sure I’d left either.)
The day started relatively slowly. I was intimidated by the prospect of what I wouldn’t know or wouldn’t be able to remember. Changes come quickly at The Paper, so a year-and-a-half can do a lot of damage. They started me on email customer service, allowing me time to re-familiarize myself with the system. My greatest challenge was the infinite list of codes—pricing codes, subscription codes, complaint codes, comment codes, log-in codes—many of which had long since been retired. And, of course, being in a new building meant that the various baskets in which various forms were to be put had to be learned anew. But nine hours later, I’m practically a pro.
There are many goods and evils of my new old job. Being comfortable with the job and the people is obviously a great advantage, but the new building itself brings a fair share of perks to the table. The break room is extravagant compared to the old place, for example, with refrigerators, microwaves, toasters, and vending machines galore. When it comes to the work area, employees now have their own designated workstation, which will ultimately provide stability and comfort. And the restrooms are light years ahead of the dungeon pits we used to be stuck with when The Paper was downtown. I’ll take automatic paper towel dispensers over cockroaches any day.
On the downside, we’ve lost any access to free, cold water. There are no water coolers or fancy water fountains to be found. Just regular old drinking fountains that I’ll probably do my best to avoid. And the extravagant lunchroom comes at a cost, as the soda pops that were once only $.75 are now $1.00. I guess that’s still cheaper than a gas station, but it’s a misfortune nonetheless. Then, of course, there’s the new location, sans the improved building that rests thereon. I’ll have to get up by 4:35 a.m. every day to make it on time. But perhaps the most disappointing aspect is my lunch schedule. Because I start at 5:30, I’m forced to take “lunch” at 9:30. This seems rather absurd to me, but if I’m ever jonesin’ for an Egg McMuffin for “lunch,” I guess I’ll be pretty happy. Sadly, I also have to take a full hour for lunch, when I’d much rather start (or leave) work a half-hour later (or earlier) and only have a 30-minute lunch. But that’s workplace politics for you, and I guess I shouldn’t complain.
Probably the best thing about working for The Paper is that I feel no stress regarding job performance. Because they already know I’ll be leaving by the end of July, it’s hard to worry much about making mistakes or maintaining phenomenal stats. Not that I’ll intentionally sabotage the place, but I’ll be fine with mediocrity. My experience, intelligence (compared to my co-workers, anyway), and integrity will collectively insure I’m one of the better employees regardless. But it’s nice not to worry about winning anyone over for the long haul…