Thursday, April 22, 2010

Fighting Ennui....

I'm very glad it's Friday tomorrow. I know I say that every week but this, by far, has been the longest work week in a while.

The problem is that while I no longer feel seething resentment towards my job, it's also stopped being as busy and hectic as it has been for the past two months. I have a project I'm working on and I like it. It's just...boring. I don't mind having the project to work on during downtime and slower periods but it's the kind of project that when you work on it for eight hours a day, you start imagining different ways to beat yourself repeatedly in the head.

I've been working on this project for three days without any other projects rearing their heads to give me a welcome distraction. Yesterday, I honestly felt I was going to split in two with insanity and start running through the office, waving my hands above my head and speaking gibberish. I felt as though I were trapped in a cage and there was no escape.

Of course, the end of the day came and I did escape. It was fine until today. I didn't feel so insanely trapped today but I felt the waves of ennui start to sink in and I found myself finding ways to distract myself.

I can't surf the internet like I used to before we became a CORPORATION. When we were a not-for-profit, owned by the university, we had freedom. These days, they log our internet useage and block a lot of sites. Last week, I googled for an answer to a Microsoft Access/SQL query question that I had. I clicked on one of the sites that came up and I was given a blank screen with "This site has been blocked because it contains pornographic content."

I found myself having the urge to shove myself back from my desk, stand up and put my hands in the air and yell, "I'M SORRY! I WASN'T LOOKING FOR PORN, I PROMISE!"

Apparently, I'm not the only one. Two other coworkers have had the same experience when searching the internet for a work-related issue/question and they, too, had the same response.

Anyway, with messages like that when searching for Microsoft Access information, it does add a certain level of control over us humble employees because you never know when you're accidentally going to find a site that contains pornographic content.

So, because my time to surf is limited/curtailed, I'm having to find other ways to amuse myself when I simply can't work on My Project any longer. My Blackberry comes in handy. I can access the internet on there. I've noticed that several coworkers are bringing in their little mini laptops to surf/do web-stuff. I could do that except my Dell Mini currently lacks memory and if I try to do anything, it crashes and refuses to let me. I need a new memory stick for it. It's on the 'to buy' list when I become a wealthy woman.

Since that's not likely to happen in the near future, I have to do away with the Dell Mini idea and rely on the Blackberry. This is a fine way to surf the web except it's quite hard to be subtle with it. Of course, I often walk in on my boss when he's playing with his phone under his desk. I don't quite know why he plays with his phone by holding under his desk so we can't see it since, you know, he is the BOSS. However, I have to admit, a couple of times I've walked in and he has his hands under the desk and he's fidgeting and, looks like he's doing something else. Use your imagination. If it goes to the right place, you should be getting a "this site contains pornographic content" type of message. other way of amusing myself is through our time-tracking system. It's a newfangled device my boss and fellow programmer modified that pops up every 20 minutes and says "So [Captain Monkeypants], What are you doing now?"

It's supposed to be a way for our boss to see how much of our time we devote to the different areas of our job. We enter in issues that we're working on or, in my case, components of the software I'm testing or documenting.

Except, my boss should have known not to put a program on the computer that says "so, [Captain Monkeypants], what are you doing now?" Because, I tell it. Oh, yes, I do.

Most of my coworkers enter in mundane things like "testing issue X" or "Working on documentation for X software."

Not me. I tell the software, named Time Buddy, exactly what I'm doing at that time. Not every day but, on days like today when my brain is leaking out of my ears with ennui, I do.

Today's entries contained things such as "Hi, Time Buddy! I'm currently pondering why they just posted a placard featuring a picture of a fire extinguisher above the real fire extinguisher because, well, it's baffling me. Also, I'm working on X".

And, "Time Buddy, you are very glad you don't have ears because they're currently sawing so much that my teeth are hurting and it turns out they're sawing to make a hole to put up a placard that features a picture of the fire extinguisher. Also, I'm still working on X."

I use Time Buddy as my outlet. Today, I told it that I was annoyed because it always asks me what I'm doing but I never get to ask it a question. I said "Knock Knock, Time Buddy!"

Time Buddy, obviously, did not answer.

I feel bad for my boss if he ever logs into the web site to where my entries on Time Buddy are fed. Some days, I seem like a normal employee and other days... I have days like today. Sometime,s I tell Time Buddy what I'm currently drinking- usually coffee, tea or a soft drink. Sometimes, I share the music I'm listening to on my iPod. Sometimes, I tell it that I just walked down the hallway in a zombie pose- arms outstretched and a lurching gait- which is, actually true for the record. No one noticed. It felt right, somehow. I did feel like a zombie. I walked like a zombie today.

I don't think my boss is likely to read my Time Buddy entries. If he does, I think he'll probably be rather entertained. I did warn him that I could be quite literal so if Time Buddy asks me "what I'm doing now," I will tell Time Buddy.

It's not like I don't tell it the work I'm doing. I also share some of the other things that I have going on because I'm big on multi-tasking. For example, if it comes up while I'm eating my rather naughty once-a-week breakfast of a Chick-Fil-A chicken biscuit, I'll tell Time Buddy what my thoughts on the sandwich are. Note to anyone- don't leave a Chick-Fil-A breakfast sandwich wrapped up in it's foil package for long because the heat from the chicken tends to steam the biscuit and make it go soggy.

Time Buddy knows this because, well, I told Time Buddy. It was bothering me and, well, Time Buddy did ask what I was doing then. Since I was internally grumbling as to the dampness of my breakfast sandwich, I made sure that Time Buddy knew it.

I have a feeling my ennui may stretch through tomorrow. I think tomorrow, I will continue my overly-honest answer to Time Buddy's question.

Hey, if it doesn't want to know what I'm doing at that moment, it shouldn't ask...right?

Happy Friday and have a good weekend!

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