bunt sign

Wednesday, June 6, 2001

If only every day could be like today — mid eighties, with just enough breeze but not too much — I'd never ask another favor from whoever it is that controls these things (and don't even tell me it's Al Roker, or Lloyd Lindsay Young, or Lex Luthor or the Cassidines).

It's probably because I'm in a better place (mentally, at least), but what would have been a major aggravation earlier this week was just a minor inconvenience today. I could have been upset that the county chose today, when I had extra errands to run, to work on my street and stop traffic in both directions for long periods.

Late this afternoon they made it to my end of the road, and (as most people who drive official vehicles do) they parked one of their service trucks at the entrance to my driveway, closing me in. This happens so often that it doesn't even bother me any more (especially when I have nowhere to go anyway).

A couple of Saturdays back I walked out late in the day to get my mail and found a limousine blocking my driveway. The driver was apologetic and offered to move, but I didn't make him do it. He said he was just a bit too early to pick up the kids down the street for their prom, and he appreciated the use of a shady spot.

In the old days, when I lived in town, I guarded my personal space much more jealously. I lived in a duplex then, and I'd peek out through the bedroom blinds at every strange sound. Any vehicle parking in my driveway would have me stomping around, slamming doors and punching the wall.

That seems so long ago now (it's been barely a year), but I've changed a lot, living in the country. Of course, I had reason to get angry with my inconsiderate neighbors back in those days, because they were forever blocking me in (or out of) my own garage. I tried everything to get them to stop. I asked nicely. I pleaded forlornly. I tried to sound tough. I complained to the landlord.

I can't believe I'm the same person who used to let such things get to me. Oh, I still let little things get to me sometimes, but I'm better at stopping myself and redirecting my energy now. Besides, I can shout at the unmerciful heavens without restraint, and there's no one out here who can hear me.

The second of the two bids the company is turning in this week was due today, so I had to make a trip this afternoon to get the bid form notarized and send it by overnight to Sacramento. This was the one I had to do all the disabled-veteran solicitation work for. It wasn't just phone calls and faxes to comply with the requirements, but documenting it all in the format demanded by the state.

All the Boss had to do was estimate the entire scope of the project and try to put all the best prices together and end up with a cost that we can submit that's low enough to get us the job but high enough to cover profit and overhead. I'm not sure which of us has the more difficult job. But I know I couldn't do his part, and he would go crazy trying to do mine.

After all my complaints about the endless affirmative action documentation, it turned out that on this particular bid, we were able to use a disabled veteran firm to supply some materials. So I guess the mandatory rigmarole does some good after all. I just wonder if it has to be quite so complex and convoluted, with all the burden going in one direction.

If the suppliers who wanted the work had to put forth a little more of the effort, meet the contractor at least partway, it would seem more fair and I'd have less to complain about. The stress of making sure all the commas and apostrophes are in place, not to mention the time it takes to do it, keeps me from getting anything else done for days.

It's all a big political and bureaucratic game, and I'm forced to play it. I do the best I can to follow all the rules, mainly because (a) I don't want to give the state any excuse to reject our bid, and (b) I don't want to give the Boss any reason to think I've made a mistake that will cost us work. Oh, and (c) it probably really does do some good, despite my whining.

Trying to run all aspects of a small office while going through these mindless exercises is one of the more frustrating aspects of my job. Unfortunately, it's the only way to make sure I'll still have a job, next month and the months after that.

in the corner

To keep me in as good a frame of mind as possible today, I put some Van Morrison on the CD player. I played the earliest album I have by him, from the early sixties when he was a 19-year-old blues singer from the streets of Belfast (and front man for the group Them).

But then I played the two most recent CDs in my vast Van collection: Back On Top from 1999, and You Win Again (with Linda Gail Lewis) from 2000. Great stuff. His voice has mellowed over the years, and the tones are richer, and his blues are bluesier. I can't be stressed out when Van is singing cheerily that "precious time is slipping away."

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Even my best friends, they don't know
That my job is turning lead into gold.