Main Nerdy Geotechnical Guy wants to know when the indexing job will be
finished. "Looks like you're cooking right along," he says,
looking over my shoulder at the spreadsheet I've got displayed on my
computer monitor. "Guess you'll be finished by ... when? Wednesday?
smiles at me hopefully.
is the first time that The MNGG -- or any of my Dirt Company
co-workers, for that matter -- have spoken more than ten consecutive
words to me all week. ("Hihow'sitgoing" ... "How's your back?"
"I think we're out of coffee filters.") I can't really blame
I know what's going on here. They've probably seen me sitting here at
the front desk, hunched over my keyboard ... blearily typing row after
row of teeny-tiny numbers into a massive Excel spreadsheet ... and
they're afraid that interrupting Secra may prove hazardous to their
may be right.
"TODAY is Wednesday," I reply. And I fix The Main Nerdy
Guy with my sweetest, sunniest, scariest smile. Run,
says. Run while you still can, and you may yet live to
Copying Job From Hell has morphed, over the past week or so, into the
Sorting/Collating/Hole-Punching (and now) Indexing Job From Hell ...
and there still doesn't appear to be any end in sight. The original
five cartons of documents that I photocopied two weeks ago -- one
excruciating, back-breaking, double-sided/triple-stapled/11" x 17" page
at a time -- have been magically transformed into an impressive set of
identical black three-ring binders. Placed end to end, they stretch the
entire length of the production room table ... like the world's most
comprehensive (and boring) set of encyclopedias. Each massive binder is
three inches thick and crammed full of documents, figures, charts,
photos, fax transmissions, handscribbled notes, coma-inducing technical
articles from various professional journals ... every piece of
documentation ever created, basically, relating to this stoopid
earthquake-damage legal case that we're supporting.
Now that the
copying portion is done -- a job that took more than a week (and two
trips to the emergency room) to complete -- I've been asked to index
everything. This means going through each binder, one page a time, and
entering each individual document into the spreadsheet.
-- McClamrock Consultants -- No author noted -- (2) Residential
distress observations, contact list -- document faxed and mailed
- 05/11/1995 -- Torgrimson, Lambe, LLP -- Author:
Torgrimson -- (1) Summary of responses from plaintiffs, 18 pgs. --
- 05/14/95 -- No company noted -- No author noted
Job Memorandum, re: briefing Goodman Drilling on location and logistics
of horizontal boring, 5 pgs. plus figures -- no distribution history
on and on, ad nauseum, until my little indexing fingers are curled into
The main problem is that half the time I have no idea what the hell I'm
looking at. I'm a SecraTerri, not a geonerd. Is this big
squiggly bunch of lines a preliminary schematic? A contour map? A
geologic cross-section? (A preschool fingerpainting?) If I can't puzzle
it out on my own, I'm left with two choices: I'm either forced to track
down a technical person and get their opinion, or else I'm forced to
wing it. ("Preliminary geologic contoured cross-section, as
by kindergarten student.") Either way, it bogs the process
considerably. As for the typing itself, although it's not as tough on
my back as the photocopying was -- it was immediately after I finished
the copying that my back problems kicked in: I wound up bringing in a
doctor's note, excusing me from standing up for the rest of the week --
it's still a big bunch of dull, repetitive, mind-numbing gruntwork.
I've been doing nothing but indexing for the past seven workdays solid.
I come into the office at 8 a.m. and open up the spreadsheet ... and
nine hours later, I'm still plugging away at it. This has been going on
for a week.
on Binder #4 of 32 at the moment.
Main Nerdy Geotech Guy has the good manners to look
chagrined when he realizes he's being ridiculous and unrealistic. This
whole Job From Hell is *his* baby, after all: he's the one who made the
executive decision to have all of the reproduction done in-house,
rather than shipping it out to a copying service (who would have
probably charged us four thousand bucks, but would have had the
whole damn thing done in 48 hours). This way he gets the job done on
the cheap, no doubt about it.
But he also gets it done on
*my* schedule. And he knows it.
he says, "let me know when you think you might be getting close to
finishing, OK?" And then he adds the kicker: "The attorney is starting
to make noise again."
OK. THAT'S going to inspire me to rev it up: the
idea of some
cranky overpaid attorney cracking the whip because *I'* am not typing
fast enough. I lean back in my chair -- the twinge in my lower back has
gone from polite applause to an Oakland Raiders pep rally, in the space
of the past four or five hours -- and as The Main Nerdy Geotech Guy
waits for my response, I leisurely uncap the ibuprofen bottle.
Realistically, I tell him, I'm not going to be able to get all of the
indexing done this week. Even if I did nothing but type -- even if I
didn't also have to answer the phones and sort the mail and distribute
the faxes and scour the burned spots out of the bottom of the coffepot
and chase off the unctuous unsolicited salesmen and take care of all
the 43,897,621 Dirt Company shidt jobs that are mine and mine alone --
we're still looking at the middle of next week.
I casually suggest, "YOU want to take a couple of
and help do some of the indexing?"
The Main Nerdy Geoscience Guy is around the corner and halfway down the hallway
quicker than you can say Preliminary geologic contoured
cross-section. "Just let me know when you're done, OK?" I
shout, as he disappears into his office and slams the door. With a
sigh, I turn back to my spreadsheet. Four binders down ... another
twenty-eight to go. This is going to take a while.
wait till he gets my bill.
* * * * * *
couple of quick personal notes:
#1 arrives in town tomorrow night for her first Bay Area
2003. For obvious reasons, I plan to spend as little time in front of
the computer as possible while she's here, so we should all probably
consider *FootNotes* to be on unofficial temporary hiatus until she
goes home next week. (In other words: sporadic bsuiness as usual.)
is my incredibly groovy mother's birthday, and in
becoming something of a birthday tradition, I would like to invite you
all to read my favorite Mom-related *FootNotes* entry. You can find it here.
Happy Birthday, Mom ... and
thank you for being such a source of inspiration, reassurance and
support, for all these years. I love you very much!
I'm looking for *support-our-troop* links to post
*FootNotes* ... preferably links to websites that provide ways to send
messages and useful gifts (phone cards, postage, etc.) to our men and
women overseas. Operation
Dear Abby" is the only one I've been able to find
so far. If
you've got any others, please send them along and I'll start posting
them when I get back to the website next week.
then, take care, treat each other well, don't lose heart ... and have a
great weekend. I'll be back soon.