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Thursday February 22, 2001, 18:12

The office is stifling.

Really on so many levels other than the fact that he woman behind me won't stop singing and the dumpsters right under my window are constantly being either filled or emptied. In fact, if I'm here late at night, I suspect that they come by in a very large truck and fill it back up again, just so that there's something empty when they come by the next day.

It is also incredibly hot in here, and if when I open my window I am in constant fear that my office mates will turn around and pelt me with little rubber erasers and other office detritus until I lean over and close the window again. My office mates were all aparently born on the sun and do not like anything vaguely resembling "the cold."

It's snowing now and even I'm getting cold, but I can't turn around and close the window for fear that they will see this as a sign on weakness and will, forever again, remind me of the day that I closed the window when they didn't ask me to, meaning that I do prefer the swealtering heat of the blast furnace they have running in the ductwork feeding into the office to the cold but somewhat refreshing outside air.

I decide to close the window to no more than a crack. Just enough to make an office political statement but not enough to freeze my nipples off, which is what the near-arctic conditions outside are doing to me now.

I don't really remember anyone saying anything about the snow, but then again I listen to NPR in the morning and not any useful news station. It is all part of my attempt to feel a bit more well-rounded and worldly (by listening to reports from the BBC and their ilk) while still maintaing some semblance of indie cred (which is more of a lie as I never had any indie cred to begin with).

Actually, now that I think about it, there was some talk of snow during this morning's report, but I was still in bed at the time of the report, reminscing about a time when snow meant that I would stay in bed waiting for the radio to announce that my school, about midway through the "C"s in the local listning, was closed, and it inevitably never was, which I always thought was a conspiracy against me personally until I realized that it was actually a conspiracy against my parents who would then have to deal with me for those extra days at the end of the school year that would have had to have been taken up with actual school days to make up for the ones that had been cancelled because someone in the district didn't want to lug their sorry ass out of bed on a snowy morning.

I never said that I made any sense in the morning.

Right, so this morning I lay in bed, thinking I was 10 years old, and heard someone mutter something about snow, at which point I turned over and went back to sleep, only to find myself late for work an hour later and completely ill prepared to face the snow that would be waiting for me when I left the office that evening.

Of course I really have nothing to complain about as the most complicated part of my day is when I have to decide if I'm going to order up lunch or if I will make the trek to the basement cafeteria to partake in some subsidized sandwiches and coffee products. I had a job description once, but in the restructuring and subsequent downsizing that recently occurred (and as a sidenote, I have never been able to properly spell "occurred" on the first try - it is a triumphant day indeed) at my place of employment I am now biding my time until I too return to my desk one day to find that my workspace has been stripped of its computer and phone, leaving me only my Dilbert Day-At-A-Time calendar and a sternly worded note informing me that if I do not leave the premises immdediately, corporate security will be called and I will be forced to spend the evening in the corporate detention center.

Or at least that's what I dream it will be like. In all likelyhood, there will be a meeting with coffee, donuts, and finger sandwiches (variety being the spice of life, as all good managers know) during which time I and all the other hapless soon-to-be-ex-employees will be thanked for our service doing whatever it is that we all did but that our jobs will be outsourced to a team of monkeys in the Congo (thanks to the global power of the Internet!) and that we should expect a t-shirt sporting our corporate logo and the slogan "I Was Laid Off When My Company Failed To Turn A Profit" in lieu of our final paychecks.

Which is fine because I've already begun looking for other jobs and have found that I am not qualified to do anything now that companies are once again looking at qualifications and not only looking to fill seats in the office to convince investors that they are working hard to monetize whatever it is that their business plan had said they were going to monetize.

So I spend my days researching unemployment benefits instead of doing anything useful to the future of the company, since there really is not future of this company.

So I guess the real question I'm going to have to start asking myself is whether I will take this opportunity to find a job that I really like, find something for myself where I will be proud to wake up every morning, proud to tell people what I do, or if I'm going to going to do what I did last time which was submit my resume to a temp agency and land a contract-to-hire position with another company that sucks the life-giving creativity out of my very soul and leaves me a broken shell of the person I once was.

Actually, the question I'm really going to have to start asking is:

"Would you like fries with that?"

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