Так мое слово становится камнем

Time Lapse

I'm home alone, absorbed in the Internet when I have other things to do while my wife is out doing... something. It's November 2, 2000, and I've just been relieved of a job in a struggling Vancouver, WA PC shop. I'm looking for work--or at least, I'm supposed to be.

I'm avidly reading the various reports. As a freshly graduated poli-sci major with no hope of ever being involved in the field--indeed, almost no desire to do so--I'm eating this stuff up. FL is big news, but not (yet) the only news. I lurk in web-based chat rooms at, seeing what sorts of nonsense today's youth is spouting when they should be doing homework. My sweetie comes home, but I'm still reading, making bets with myself, laughing, enjoying the spectacle. By 11, I'm tired, and there's nothing really new to see. George W. Bush has been declared the victor by most everyone, and I'm heading to bed.

Fast forward a few days. I'm still absorbed, but this time by the radio, not the web, as I listen to arguments before the Supreme Court, and periodically to Rush--can't be beaten for spoken word entertainment, short of Bill Cosby. I still don't have a job, but I don't blame that on the incumbent.

***

And neither do I give credit to the incumbent now for my current employment, though some would say I should.

***

November 2001. I'm working again, but have already gone through a job in the last year. Right as the election is being decided, I'm hired to provide internal support at HP Vancouver. It's a good job, working with good people, and a valuable learning experience, but it doesn't last, and now I have just started a new position back closer to home, in Port Ludlow.

September 11th is still a fresh wound, of course. The day of the attacks, I was interviewing at PLA, and now I'm working there. Still uncertain--I'm a temp-to-hire, but Kurt likes me and wants to keep me. Sure, I'm using a Pentium without a mouse and my desk is about 4 feet square, but at least I'm not bored. Still, it's hard, signing a lease when I don't know whether I'll be employed after the new year. I do not blame the President for my woes.

***

November 2002. I couldn't tell you a thing about November 2002. I'm working at PLA as a real full-time employee--for the first time in my life. Work is... interesting. I have a lot of frustrations. None of them are the President's fault.

***

November 2003. It's been a big year.

PLA dries up suddenly in March, not quite a year after I was hired on full-time. Kurt feels horrible, but there's nothing he can do. For the next few years I will regret not guilting him into cohosting this server on his unmetered T1.

In April, still unemployed, I answer my country's call and enlist in the United States Army National Guard. My scores give me any field I want. I choose intelligence. It's an 8 month waiting period to go to basic, so I still need a job.

In June, I'm hired to do deskside support at Subase Bangor. It looks good on paper. By day two, my new coworkers are cheerfully confirming my voiced conclusion that the entire operation is held together by us, the overstressed techs, who are to work tirelessly for the remainder of the year without proper tools, parts, or instructions until they lay us all off. Greatly amusing work ensues. Our parts room is re-dedicated to screaming and breaking stuff, since there are no useful parts to speak of.

By November 2nd, I'm counting the weeks until I can go active duty and quit my job. I'm back to talking in my sleep, a sure sign of job stress for me, and my attitude could use a lift, but I'm still swinging, still trying to hang things together for my coworkers who don't have my escape route. I document processes by myself for their benefit. I act as queue manager for weeks because I'm the only one who has ever used Remedy before, and our actual queue managers are too busy attending meetings.

Two weeks later, I will be fired for, among other things, "not being a team player" and "not following process." All unofficial, since they are unable to provide a single shred of documentation to suggest that they ever even mentioned these nonexistent problems to me. I will spend the remainder of 2003 working on my 2-mile run and playing X-Box.

***

My firing? Sucked--sort of. But definitely not the president's fault.

***

I'm home alone, absorbed in the Internet when I have other things to do while my wife is out doing... something. It's November 2, 2004, and I've been active duty since January 5. Right now I'm doing homework--or at least, I'm supposed to be.

In a few hours, I'll get tired and switch off. For better or for worse, we will have a president selected for the next four years, and whomever it turns out to be, hopefully wise advisors and congressional oversight will keep him from mucking things up too much.

Yeah, I know. It's a dim hope. But I gotta believe. I swore an oath.

And no, that was not the president's fault, either.

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