Monday, January 21, 2008

Life Is Sometimes Like An Overpriced Tuna Salad Sandwich

Day off today, Marty King Day, after five full days last week at AB, working in their institutional research department, responsible for going over all kinds of different investment analyst reports. Think it's working out pretty good so far, I know for damn sure that they're getting a very high quality proofreader for their end of the bargain. It's a job that I am eminently qualified for.

So imagine my chagrin and outright confusion when I got home last night and switched on my computer to check my email, etc. I always check the craigslist Writing/Editing Jobs classifieds first out of habit, and there was the very job I had started on Monday still being posted via another agency, something called Tiger Info. But make no mistake: it was the exact wordage found in the job outline sent to me by my own freelance/temp agency, known in encrypted acronym form as SWP.

It wasn't quite like seeing your own obituary in the local paper, but it did give me a Kafkaesque jolt, leading me to question whether I indeed existed in other than spectral fashion. Did I not just start last Monday in that very same position -- or was that my cursed doppelganger? Why are they still running the ad? Did I wear out my welcome already? Are they hiring another proofreader? You see the tricks my mind is playing -- stoking my own natural reservoir of paranoia? I wish I had never seen the stupid ad. I wasn't even gonna check craigslist that night, that's how much I thought I was gonna like working for AB ... what with Purity of Heart being to will one thing and all... I emailed my contact at the agency over the weekend and told him about the job still being posted, but I haven't heard back from him.

Anyway, another thing that sucks about being a freelancer is you have to get your time card filled out and sent to the agency, always gotta worried about getting it in on time for different agencies. Last Friday my supervisor was out, and he was the only guy apparently in the whole damn company who was authorized to okay my hours, sign the card, etc. So now I have to worry about getting paid this Wednesday. The first two days last week I get there early, only to have to wait in the lobby for like a half-hour because Security can't find my supervisor to get the okay to let me up. Finally I got an ID photo badge thing going on day 2. But I don't really deal with the supervisor during the day, who's the production manager. Instead I work closely with the other proofreader, a laid-back but quite reserved black guy. His door is always shut, and so as a new proofreader whenever I have a question, which is fairly often, I have to go through the ritual of knocking my knuckles on the door until I hear the requisite Come In.

I also interact with the 4-5 editors who work with the analysts to create these reports; the editors are all women, some working at home for at least part of the week, and so far I've got nothing but positive feedback from them, albeit in piecemeal fashion to say the least.

What I like about this job is it's busy in the morning, but there's tons of downtime in the afternoon. I'm all about the downtime if it's there, although of course time does tend to drag when you're not busy. I still don't have the computer in my office up and running, that's another thing I'm waiting on my supervisor for. Last week whenever my in box was empty and there was nothing else to do, I literally read over every back issue of their research reports that was in my office, probably 30 to 40 volumes cover to cover. In that way I used my time wisely, and now I am really up to speed on the kinds of things expected of me, and suffice to say I found tons of not only inconsistencies in these reports in terms of what their own style guide directs, but outright mistakes and errors. Let's just say they're quite fortunate to be acquiring my services when they did, with nary a moment to spare.

I have a small office all to myself. Everybody seems to keep their doors closed in my little wing, so you're constantly having to knock on peoples' doors; there are also a few desktop operators, outside our offices, who sit at cubicles and print out the stuff we read over, then make corrections based on our edits. It's all very low-key and quiet. There is a nearby kitchen pantry which is stocked with sodas, juices, bottled water, coffee, etc. That comes in handy, especially when you consider what happened to me on Thursday.

For lunch, I decided to check out the corner diner on 54th & 6th, goes by the name of Astro Diner. Well, I can tell you the prices are something out of the future, because when I ordered a mere tuna fish salad with swiss cheese on rye with lettuce and tomato to go, I was shocked to find that the bill they handed me along with the sandwich was for the atmospheric sum of $8.50, with another $0.70 tax added on for good measure, boosting the already overpriced item to $9.20. I did yet another double take on my way to the cash register, then decided I wasn't gonna encourage this sort of price gouging. I returned the sandwich to the waitress at the counter, and asked if there was some sort of mistake: surely the '8' was a '4' and the bill should read $4.50.

No, she said, it's $8.50, to which I responded: "Well, that's disgusting; even if I hit the Lotto I wouldn't pay that much for a tuna fish sandwich."

"You should have checked the menu first," she said as I exited the premises with a righteous sense of indignation. I guess other people don't bat an eye at paying these prices. I know the retail leases in Manhattan are absurdly high, but someone has to take a stand. I have no problem with it being me.

Anyway, back to the new job. Once I do get the computer operational, there are some other components to the job I will be expected to master, but it's nothing too complicated or beyond the scope of technical acumen; it's along the lines of spell checking a document for last minute quality control, attaching a set of disclosures to the end of a report, posting articles to the company hard could it be?

I'm waiting for another small check from yet another agency, that check is already late and there's no mail today, so that sucks.
One good bit of news is that I completed a project over the weekend for that Astoria research report that I found on craigslist last month. The first document was 90 pages, I picked it up Thursday after work, then spent 3 hours reading it that night, another 2 1/2 on Friday night after work, and then Saturday finished going over it again and then making the corrections online before sending it back. Worked hard on it because I thought James needed it back as soon as possible, but it took me until today to arrange dropping the hard copy back off, and I did get a nice check for my 7.5 hours of work, but today all the banks are closed, even the check cashing joint, in honor of the afore-referenced MLK Jr.

So I've been busy, and there's supposed to be another document ready to proof as soon as tomorrow. If I could do even 2 or 3 such documents a month, that would be some nice little extra income on the side if you dig where I'm coming from...and I know that you do. If I do say so myself, I did a terrific job on the first one, catching stuff that only the most eagle-eyed of your proofreading class would even have a remote chance of finding. It's what I do. Thank god I use my powers only for good or else think of the havoc I could be causing...

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