Sunday, February 21, 2010

Chapter (N+1)

Were I writing the autobiography today, I wouldn't have any idea where yesterday would fall, chapter-wise.  I do know that tomorrow will be the first line in the next chapter.


Entries have been scattered recently, which is not something I particularly care to have happen.  There is a good reason for this even-more-atypical sporadic feel: I'm in the process of starting a new job.  Tomorrow morning is the first day of the job proper, though I already worked two eight-hour days last week.  Those previous days were shadowing the employee I'm partially replacing.  But let's start a bit further back.

A few months ago, I signed up for a Google Voice telephone number.  Among other benefits of this service, it allows me to send and receive SMS text messages (typically found on phones) for free.  If I had a compatible phone I'd find them there, but it's also accessible on the computer.  It was mostly a gimmick, though I was able to comminicate with someone stranded who had used the last of their minutes.  That made it feel useful, though in truth it's mostly a toy.

About two weeks ago, I received a text message offering me a job.  Keep in mind that SMS messages are 160 characters or so, at the most.  A host of myriad details as might be found in a typical job offer can't be placed into a text message.  It's a good thing I check that account, I guess, or I might have missed it.  I'm of two minds about how that revelation makes me feel.

I'll be working as a sort of office manager for a instrument repair and construction shop.  I say "sort of" because having the title of manager of anything makes it sound like I'll be in charge.  As my responsibilities most often will involve performing diagnosis and triage of incoming instruments, I'm more of the charge d'affairs.  I'll be the one who talks on the phone, swipes the credit cards, disassembles the simple horns, and dips them in the cleaner.  I keep the records of what horns need what, where they are, when they should be finished, etc.

Last Thursday and Friday were spent at the elbow of the outgoing guy.  As the definition of "my duties" is rather nebulous, every time I turned around it was something new.  It's the complete opposite of a well-organized and differentiated corporation like Best Buy or Starbucks.  At the Bread Company, for example, everyone got an itemized list of exactly what the responsibilities were concerning whichever of the eight positions you were working.

Complicating things is that I can't "replace" my predecessor -- he was rife with skills I do not possess, such as ... you know, instrument maintenance.  And playing certain kinds of trombones.  I know that sounds fiddly -- after all, I have two degrees already for "trombone".  But these are the wrong kind.  They're small, with no valves!  What am I supposed to do with that?

So, there will be a period where I discover the holes between the two of us.  There's plenty of people to ask questions which should relieve a lot of the pressure.  One of my first paid assignments is writing a florid blog entry, so I'm definitely in familiar ground there.

And just because things aren't ever simple when they might be, I'm not the only person named "Andy".  There's only five or six employees and everyone works within earshot of each other, so trying to refer to a certain "Andy" has already become confusing.  Many nicknames were suggested, but all are comically and coincidentally unusable.  My middle name is Jacob, for example, but I can't use "A.J" because the other Andy's middle name also starts with a J.  I can't even use my last name, because they had a previous employee with that name.  Confusion abounds.  The most likely candidate to emerge so far is "Black Andy", after my last name (schwarz is the color black in German).  Even that is confusing, since I both AM and AM NOT a schwarz.  I may end up being "Andrew", which may or may not be different enough from "Andy".

Another issue: the place is a Mac house.  Things like being able to share music wirelessly over the house stereo isn't a big deal:: I can get along with whatever everyone else chooses. But when I can't use the same software and (worst of all) when I can't use the network to access the printer, it's a big frustration.  I don't have much experience with cross platform networking, but if I can use the WIFI to access the internet, shouldn't I be able to access a platform-agnostic printer?  It's on my list of things to work with.  I'm not thrilled at the possibility of spending $1,000 (the minimum Mac laptop entry price) to get a laptop that "just works" at work. 

I hate to be mercenary, but it is such a relief to have another source of regular income.  At least, it will be when I start depositing checks.  I'll try my best not to get canned for incompetence.   Shouldn't be too hard -- I almost understand what I'm doing, the people are great, and I may get to use some of my knowledge and skills here and there.  Updates may be more infrequent until I settle in.


  1. CONGRATULATIONS! And I bet learning to "cross platform" will be a delightful challenge (needless to say, more delightful than spending $1000+ on a new computer!).

  2. Congrats! You'll do well, I'm sure. How about using Dr. Andy.....since that is your name....and the other guy is just