01/31/2005: "uh-oh, the feeling"
Today I got The Feeling. I've known pretty much from even before the first day that this job I now find myself at wasn't going to be a long-term thing, but today was the first time that I actually started to look forward to something else. The job hasn't changed at all, nor have the co-workers or the workplace or anything like that... It's just that I found something out today that really turned me off. Call it the nail in the coffin, if you like.
First off, the company I'm working at is a Japanese-owned company. You may remember that a couple of jobs back I was working at another Japanese-owned company, and found the work environment and office culture rather wanting. There was no comraderie, no real friendships, nothing but plain, simple, unadulterated work. Well, this place I'm at now makes my previous job look like a carnival.
First off, my previous job was much like any other work environment, in that it had desks arranged into cubicles, with walls separating neighbouring desks. It wasn't a formal cubicle farm, and some desks had more walls around them than others, but some modicum of privacy was given. At the new place, I'm working in one enormous, open room with nearly another 2 dozen people. No cubicles, just desks, drafting boards, and power drops. Everything in open, and everyone can see everyone else.
What's even stranger, it's more quiet than any other workplace I've been. Talking either doesn't happen a lot, or it's done at a much lower volume. Perhaps both. It's almost eerie working with so many other people, and to not hear much of... well, anything. The one server sitting in the corner is louder than virtually everything else that happens in the room.
This alone wouldn't be so bad, but there is one person - one of the upper-level Japanese - that makes the whole situation seem even worse. It's not that he doesn't smile, it's not that I've almost never heard him talk, it's how he walks. Calling it "walking" is really doing a disservice to walking - what he does it much closer to a death shuffle than anything. He very ponderously, slowly, unexcited shuffles around. If his feet leave the floor, it's not very long. I can hear him coming from across the room, the soles of his feet scuffing at the low-pile industrial carpeting. No smiles, no hint of any sort of urgency, just a slow shuffle. Ugh.
He's not the reason I got The Feeling, however.
The first few days weren't so bad, as I was learning quite a bit and keeping myself occupied with something other than looking for work and chasing my daughter around the house. Of course, since then my interest has waned, and there are times during the day that I find it hard to concentrate on the work at hand. I decided that one way to get around this was to somehow stimulate myself. I figured I had two options: food or music. While food would be tasty, I'd simply gain weight. So, music is it.
I looked for my headphones the other day, and it appears as though we got rid of them. We still have my portable CD player, but no headphones to use with them. I could have gone out and purchased some headphones, but as I'd just received a nice birthday cheque (32 last week) and now have access to the wonder that is a new Apple Powerbook with iTunes, I thought I'd go and get me a new iPod Shuffle. I put one on order from our local authorized Mac dealer, and was just waiting.
Today, however, I found out that I'm going to have to cancel that order. I was talking to another contractor, and he jokingly asked me if I'm managing to stay awake. I told him that I'd put an iPod Shuffle on order to combat the at-work sleepies, to which he replied, "Don't even bother." Uh-oh.
It turns out he's worked at this place previously. During this previous stint, he too decided to stimulate himself with music, and bought himself a Panasonic MP3 player for the purpose. Shortly after that happened, the Japanese cracked down, and made is perfectly clear that personal music devices were not welcome in this work environment. In other words, I can't have any music to ensure that I keep focused to remain productive.
So - dead work culture, eerie quiet, uninspiring work, and no music allowed. I'll be glad when this contract is up and I'm off somewhere else. Perhaps somewhere permanent, with friendly people, cubicles, and something other than an efficient Japanese work ethic. Sigh.