The future is now


Power Plant Sunset, by Peter Kirkeskov Rasmussen on Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons

The future was when I stopped waiting for the email to come in to HR stating that my work email could be activated. It was supposed to come at noon. It may have arrived at 12:05. I should not have gotten to HR early. After that, I had to take a form to one office to get my email activated but still had to trot across campus to get my ID card. This is how a career restarts – not with a bang but a round of bureaucratic errands.

Have I done work? I have redirected a few people lost in the stacks, because that is what my office looks out on:


That isn’t what I was hired to do, of course (contrary to what a lot of people think library work consists of). But in a library it’s never a bad idea to be helpful, even if that essentially involves reminding people the order of the letters in the alphabet. Repeatedly.

I did finally get email and reach out to the people I’m supposed to be helping (students and faculty). I got a couple nibbles right away, which was good, even though one of them seems poised to turn into a cautionary tale. Today I will meet with a professor of economics who is poised to unleash 48 of her students on the library with a need for 30 years of time series data that may be impossible to find. I get to convince her that won’t be a good use of anyone’s time, in a way that doesn’t sound like I am primarily concerned about the well-being of the library staff they’ll hound to death if they are given this impossible assignment. My office doesn’t look out onto an outside view, but hers is in a basement, so my empathy is already summoned.

Speaking of basements, the college where I am working has a fun network of underground tunnels that get you from building to building without encountering the elements. (I should ask my colleagues if the tunnels were originally intended for civil defense.) Yesterday in the tunnel I passed someone who is on the faculty now, but years ago taught some great gym classes I took at my former place of employment. She remembered me right away. She encouraged me to go to fitness classes. I hemmed and hawed. It’s my first week. I don’t even have a babysitter yet. I’m just here for the semester.

The fact is I probably should do something physical. It’s only been four days and I already can feel the parts of me that are prone to seizing up doing so. I don’t always sit at my desk in an optimally ergonomic way. What I have been doing, however, is trying to shed my very poor habits acquired after years at home with kids: too many snacks too often, large portions of food, “why-not?” intake of cookies. There is a water cooler I’ve  made very good friends with already (though its function is functional, not metaphorical – I have yet to run into a colleague there).

What I haven’t been thinking about at all is cancer. Which means I haven’t listened to this all the way through yet. I will at some point. Maybe after my next scan.

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