For the last couple of months I’ve been gainfully employed at a downtown insurance company. I work in the Agent Communications department, where I turn templates of articles into web pages for the Agent News bulletin, copy edit and proofread articles, upload videos, and update the homepage amongst other things. The job is more engaging and informative than you might imagine. Like most people, I regarded insurance as both essential and incredibly boring, but as a result of reading many articles and transcribing interviews, I’ve learned that there is much in the industry that goes unnoticed. Fear not, I’m not going to bore you.
The office is on the 16th floor and surpasses many of my previous places of employment by having windows. In the interest of ergonomics I have an adjustable desk that gives me the option of standing, should I so desire. Being a lazy bastard I never understood why someone would stand when they could sit, but having tried it, I really appreciate the option. Standing also affords me the opportunity of admiring the view: If I look straight ahead, I can see the Sound and the various vessels plying their trade. To my left I can see what was once the tallest building on the west coast and the baseball stadium. Between these lies a view of the dockside cranes and docked container ships. Funnily, though, I have yet to see any containers being loaded or unloaded.
I’ve enjoyed the routine of the commute, dressing in something other than tee shirt and jeans and being around other people, particularly people who are interesting, intelligent and who actually talk – I think I mentioned during the entire 12 months at my previous job, there were two co workers who NEVER talked to me. Not one word, despite seeing them on a daily basis.
The swag has been much better as well. My last place had nothing better than cheap shopping bags that were one grade above disposable and crappy earbuds with the acoustic quality of a soup can telephone. Not long after I joined the department, a major relocation took place – we all had to move to different cubicles to allow for the arrival of staff from two other floors undergoing refurbishment. This also meant the loss of some storage space. Our location was occupied previously by the Marketing team, who simply abandoned all their stuff when they were laid off. As a result, in the space of a week I scored two portable speakers, one of which is Bluetooth enabled, a tote bag with a built-in speaker (yes, that’s a thing), a picnic cooler in the style of a backpack, an official U.S. Men’s Olmpic ice hockey team shirt, a scarf, a travel mug, a signed photo of Kelsey Keller and good quality earbuds. Not bad, eh? Mind you, our unofficial family motto is “If ever you are offered something for nothing, take it. And what you can’t carry, you drag”, so none of you should be surprised by my eagerness to haul away as much buckshee merch as possible.
Now for the flip side. Early last week I received an email from the agency that found me the job which opened with the greeting”All is fine!” It informed me that due to a reduction in funding for support staff in the 2017 budget, starting in mid January my hours would be cut by 50 percent. This is some strange meaning of “fine” that I’ve never heard before. You can imagine my consternation. Rather than walking away, I agreed to stay on for the remainder of my contract, as any money is better than none.
Not all was lost, though. My supervisor offered me the option of working from home, which would save me the expense of commuting and also the need to wear trousers during the day. Of course, I accepted her offer, although the cut in hours felt more like being laid off than anything else. You can imagine my distress at the change in circumstances as I really enjoy the environment in the office. My colleagues are all very charming people, the free coffee is drinkable and there is a genuine sense of teamwork.
My first day working from home is election day, and that’s probably a good thing, as I don’t fancy having to dodge flying bricks, automatic gunfire and Molotov cocktails as Trump’s supporters react to the inevitable defeat of their beloved Fuehrer. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for post – apocalyptic urban hellscapes as long as they’re in the movies and not a part of my commute.
Of course, my changed circumstances do have an upside: I can start looking for another job while working, and my supervisor has told me that she understands absolutely if I need time to attend interviews, etc. Twenty hours a week doesn’t even cover the rent, but at least I have some forewarning, my resume is up to date and the received wisdom is that it’s easier to find a job when you have a job. I just hope I remember to put trousers on before I head off to an interview.