I am back in the tech industry. I am a Swiss army employee at a national finance software firm. From 8:30 to 6 pretty much every day, with an occasional lunch sprinkled in for variety, I am either at a computer, or at a coffee pot, and if remote desktop could connect to the coffee pot, I'd probably just stay there. The carpet between my desk and the kitchen is developing a pronounced groove.
I spend my days, all of my days, helping develop new things for people to destroy or fixing things that people have found new and interesting ways of destroying already. And this might sound very similar to my job at AT&T, or parts of my job at Scholastic, except at AT&T, if I decided not to do my job properly because you were a wanker and demanding restitution because a free feature isn't working that you never had in the first place, I blew up your SIM card and you had to drive to the store and get a free replacement. Whereas now, if I decide not to do my job correctly, millions of dollars are no longer in balance. And then a man in a suit's head explodes, and if you blow up a head, you've got to spend the rest of the evening mopping it up yourself.
So...you know, a low stress environment.
Point being, by the end of the day, I don't want to touch a computer anymore, unless it contains aliens or orcs that I am killing in the face until they die from it. I have a set ration of thoughts I can have per day, and by lunch I'm exceeding quota. People who get me after 3 PM are lucky I don't tell them to cover their general ledger in mayonnaise and plant it out back until it grows money.
This hasn't done much for my writing. Although it could. There is so much I could vent about at this job. At Scholastic, that was practically how I filled these pages. Partially because, at a monthly magazine, there was a week and a half out of every month where my job was to try not to consume oxygen that was being reserved for executives. And, partially, because I was in so close with the IT department that monitored web usage that I could probably have hosted a torrent site from my cubicle and no one would have "noticed."
Neither of these things are the case now. If I get a chance to pee during the day, I really feel like there must be something I'm forgetting to do. But I am learning a lot, and knowing is half the battle. Things like:
- People are bad at the maths: If the people working in some of these offices are indicative of the product of the last generation of public education, then 50 years from now, addition will be a college level course, and elementary students will cover a full semester of "not eating lead paint chips," followed by a supplementary course called "Dammit, I told you not to eat those!"
Please don't think I'm being judgmental, everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses and I have known plenty of absolutely brilliant people that would rather perform their own major dental surgery than try to attack an algebra problem. What I'm saying is, is that if math is your weakest subject or you have a natural and totally understandable difficulty with it, then maybe finance is not the place for you. I deal with everything from banks to loan offices, and much like Mulder, I want to believe that as an adjunct to your career choice, you have an understanding of division. However, also like Mulder, I end up being forced to admit that there is very little evidence to back up my claims. And then an angry, smoking, white man in a business suit tries to kill me. The parallels are eerie.
There are a thousand things I am supposed to be doing. I am a server admin, I manage a SQL database, I fix problems at our clients' home offices that involve major data manipulation, we serve something like 1200 offices and I am one of three people on active calls that is authorized to remotely connect and make the good stuff happen.
"This loan is for $1000 and they're supposed to pay it off over 10 months. How much is that a month?" See that? That right there? That's not a technical question.
Ugh, too frustrated to go on. We'll continue this discussion later. Class dismissed.