Saturday, August 13, 2005

Where's the sun?

Here in Atlanta it has been either boiling hot or raining. On the MARTA trains people step out of the wet and shivver if the train car has air conditioning or let off light wafts of steam from their drying clothes if the car is hot. The train platforms are miserable because none of them have air, but at least they are mostly dry.

The train service on all lines has been cut back a bit, so the officers have given up on trying to stop people from loitering. There's no telling if someone is loitering, or just waiting for a train that is running later than it used too. The trains used to run ever 5 to 10 minutes during rush hour. They now run about every 15 minutes, and this has led to general ill-will, as the normal delays mean that trains *really* run every 20 to 30 minutes, depending on what the hold-up is on any particular day.

I wish someone would fix our transit system. Things really are getting quite difficult here in the city, and there's no relief in sight. The beltline project is at least 10 years into the future (supposing it goes forward, which I hope it will), and in the meantime we lose our train service and bus services by inches...

The only unpleasent thing about starting my new job in September is that I will have to drive 20 minutes each way. I resent this. I have lived in Atlanta now for two and a half years relying on public transit, and I've been pretty proud of that. Now I will have to drive. There is no public transit from my home (near a major retail center) to my new place of work (a small-ish academic place just off of I-75).

Ok, I admit that my resentment stems from the fact that I will be working in Cobb County, and I know Cobb had a chance to get train lines approved a decade ago and they chose not to have them. And now I have to drive. I hope every morning and afternoon my car sits right in front of someone who voted against the trains. I want a bumper sticker that says "I would be riding the train if you had one".

Friday, August 05, 2005

Calling in Sick

As some of my long-time friends will tell you, I did not know how to call in sick to work until I was nearly 26. I come from a family where you never, ever skipped work. You must be deathly ill to call in sick to your place of employment or school. It doesn't matter if you have a cold, or a headache, or a queasy stomach or a sore throat. You get up in the morning, and you go to work. I'm pretty sure this ethos helped me spread strep throat to everyone in my fifth-grade class when I was a kid.

I didn't grow up in a family that went to the doctor a lot. Doctors are expensive, and taking a child to the doctor means that you have to miss a day of work. You have to be nearly dead yo get a doctor's appointment out of my mom. Likewize, a broken bone was nearly unprovable to my father. He once almost lost a finger once because he refused to admit it was broken. Luckily, my mom always drove us to get needed x-rays for that sort of thing. For anything else, I was SOL. I used to throw up just before the first day of school every year, and every year my mom would have a variation on the same reply:

"Do you really think that will get you out of going to school?"

So I was in my mid-twenties before I realized that calling into work was normal and sometimes necessary. It was Dust that taught me how, back when we were both working for Waldenbooks. Before I met Dust, I once went and worked a 10 hour shift at the mall directly after having a root canal done. Dust, on the other hand, counted "sick" as meaning "I'm sick of waking up on time every morning, and therefore too sick to work today."

I was astonished at his (then) lack of work ethic. How would his bills get paid?

"Elizabeth, we have a number of paid sick days."

"But then other people at work will have to cover your shift! It's not fair to them!"

"You have to think about yourself first, sometimes. Don't worry about the other people."

I was mortified. But gradually I realized he was right. You do have to think about yourself sometimes. And the germ phobias of others. I have worked with people who will cover their mouths and noses with their hands when in the presence of someone with a cold.

Yesterday and today I am home sick. I have a little stomach bug or something that's just making me queasy and my sinuses are draining down the back of my throat. The idea of riding the train in the Atlanta August heat makes me certain I'd vomit. But still, I feel bad about calling in sick. I only have three weeks left at my job, and I *know* how this has to look to my supervisors. It's got to look like I'm faking sick, using up all my days before I leave. I have a huge number of sick days stored up, because I almost never use them. When my husband found out how many paid days I had, he was just amazed.

"You need to use every one of those days before you leave." he said, folding his arms, angry.

I made a face. "I can't. I have too much to do."

"You certainly can use all those days! When I think about all the times I've seen you go into work when you were sick - you went in last month just two days after surgery!"

"It was only a half-day. I came home early..."

He threw his hands into the air. Every once in a while, the husband will use a sick day to stay home and play new video games. I don't think there's anything wrong with that, but my job is usually just too fast paced to take a day off for no damn reason. If I call in sick and I'm not really sick, it usually means I have something critical to do that I don't want to tell people about - like going to traffic court or something. And I haven't done that but a very few times. I have so many sick days built up that I could, if I wanted too, just go into the office for one or two days before leaving altogether. Of course I won't do that. The husband is off on the idea of me using all my sick days.

I'm home ill - legitimately ill - and I have guilt over that. Sick, eh?

Monday, August 01, 2005

Numbered Events

Controlled chaos by the numbers

1) My 17-year-old sister came to live with me. For pants, she owned two ragged pairs of jeans, the kahkis I bought her last fall, and the suit pants she wore to prom. She was afraid to wear the kahkis because what if she messed them up and then had nothing for job interviews? Since she moved in, we have slowly begun to build her an adult life. She will be 18 in three weeks.

2) Andrew and Tony, two of my best friends, came to visit just over a week ago. I call them best friends not in that immature elementary school way, but in the grown-up sense. We don't hang out that often, but when we do, it's nice. We try to be there for each other when the chips are down. We're all hard workers. Andrew helped me organize my kitchen a bit. He pointed out that when most people get new kitchen things, they get them one at a time and make space for the new stuff as they go along. I went from having practicly nothing in my kitchen to having a $10,000 kitchen from Williams-Sonoma (thanks to the wedding gifts). It's more confusing than you'd think. When he realized I hadn't even had a chance to use the mandoline yet, I thought he might cry. Then I resalized I might cry, because I've always *wanted* this stuff, and damn if I haven't had time to use it.

3) I'm really regretting not just giving the current employers two weeks' notice and leaving. Instead I got caught up in my weird sense of obligation, guilt, and duty. I could have spent this last month at home learning to make waffle fries with my mandoline. Instead, I'm waking up with stomach cramps because I have a huge federal report due before I go. Sure, the money's nice - we need the money - but I could be at home making waffle fries. Or learning to cut fancy salad bits. Instead, my mandoline sits in a cupboard with the directions still attached. Sometimes I realize I have badly misplaced priorities about life. I have 3 weeks left to work at this job. My blood pressure is 5 points higher than it should be, and I have gained 15 pounds in the past year, chiefly because I bribe myself with sweets to go to this job.

4) The husabnd and I spent 24 hours (nearly exactly) at my Grandfather's this weekend. That was just about the right amount of time.

5) I had dinner with my grandmother twice while I was in Savannah to work this week. That was not nearly enough time at all. I miss my Grandmother.

6) I know that when I resort to lists, I'm doing too much. I need to spend one night doing bills, two nights cleaning the house, and one day this weekend trying to do as little as possible so I can relax. Oh, wait - my mother is coming into town on Saturday...

7) I'll have three weekdays off between my new job and my old job.