bunt sign

Tuesday, February 20, 2001

So yesterday I had four things on my to-do list, and by 6:00 pm I had accomplished exactly one of them. Four simple tasks, scribbled on the back of a day-at-a-glance calendar page the night before, and the only one I could get done was my journal entry. Which doesn't exactly put extra virgin olive oil in the sauté pan, if you know what I mean.

I'd made it pretty easy on myself, too. Item 2 was to write my own paycheck for last week. I shouldn't need much incentive beyond the aforementioned olive oil to drop everything and do that, should I? Taking it easy on myself didn't work, though.

Whenever I'm trying to do eight hours' work in two, it's inevitable that the bank statement won't balance, and the errors (one mine, one the bank's) will take forever to find. I can go up and down those columns of numbers three or four times without my head starting to swim, but after that I can no longer tell one number from another. When you keep making the same mistakes over and over, it's a sign that you should walk away from the problem for awhile.

Here's something predictable: The day I dedicate myself to getting something done in the office is the first day in two weeks the Boss is back at his desk. The fax line was burning up all day today, and it seemed every time I'd really get going on one of the big financial spreadsheets he's so anxious about, the phone would ring and he'd ask me about something inconsequential, like time card formats or yellow pages ads.

Why is that he can be gone for so long and have nothing more important to think about on his first day back? We've had the same ad in the yellow pages for years, and he reviews the bill we pay every month. All of a sudden, when I'm trying to balance a delicate worksheet that will help show us our whole financial picture, he's into analyzing something that can't even be changed until the new phone books come out.

Out of the blue. Or rather, out of the gray, if it's the sky we're talking about. Out of the dingy, dank gray sky, I have to answer a question that has nothing to do with anything else I've worked on all day. It's hard enough to get interested in doing this financial work. It's even harder to get my momentum back once it's been interrupted for a downshift to trivial details.

But hey. That's my job, right? I'm the guy with the answers, except when I'm not. I'm the guy who keeps everything organized — everything except the one bit of information someone needs Right Now.

It's not as if I have room to complain here. I've been taking long breaks and putting off this major spreadsheet work for weeks. Now that the due dates are coming up I can't expect to get it done without putting in some extra time. And I definitely can't expect it all to go smoothly and easily, just because I need it to.

This is the side yard, where I've decided not to feed the birds any more. This is the area where the starlings have been spotted, and where the access to the area above the laundry room is, for any creatures enterprising enough to find the hole in the wall.

side yard

Any birds who can't come around to the garden area in front of the house can just eat worms, is how I feel about it. I've never seen a starling in the garden.

The Boss's answer to the yellow pages problem is to advertise in more of them. We're not even listed in any phone books, because the Company doesn't have its own number. My home phone, in my name, a residential line, is the main number for the whole corporation. Now that he wants to put big, splashy ads in books all over Northern California, I can expect even more business calls, at any time of day or night.

I already turn off the phone and turn down the volume on the answering machine when I go to bed. Otherwise, I'd be awakened every morning at five o'clock, when the east coast wrong numbers start fumbling their way through the day. It must be really difficult to look up a number and dial it correctly, because I get calls from every state in the U.S. and every Canadian province, always surprised that they've made contact with a construction company and not an insurance company or an ice machine repair service or a hotline for one social problem or another.

At least if we're listed, the new callers will be more likely to know what kind of business they're dialing up. But that doesn't mean I want to talk to them while my pasta is getting cold. And if they call on Tuesday nights during Buffy, I don't answer the phone anyway.

Naturally, the Boss has a solution. At first he wanted to put another line in the house. This way, friends and family could phone me, while the machine picked up the business calls. I suggested that a cell phone would be a better answer, and he allowed as how the company might be justified in paying "at least half" of the cost. So I'll be looking into that, some day. I don't expect much action on yellow pages ads that haven't even been printed yet, so I have some time to work out the details.

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