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March 13, 2000

This would happen on a Monday.

I keep a phone by my desk, of course, but since there's no phone jack there it's on a long line cord connected in the back room. Yesterday, for no apparent reason, the phone stopped working. I tested the phone set and the jack and determined that the cord was the problem. I borrowed one from Mom that looked as if it would work, but it wasn't nearly long enough to reach my desk.

So today, every time the phone rang, I had to get up and trot to the back of the house to answer. I kept putting people on hold and shuffling back and forth between the phone and my desk. It was the only way I could answer their questions or give them the information they needed.

And of course this was the day the Boss was just down the road in Rohnert Park, working on writing up a specification for a new project. That meant a bunch of faxes back and forth so that I could type what he'd written and he could revise it. But it also involved no small number of phone calls. And since it was a Monday, and since the calls from his regular office in Nevada were also being forwarded to my number, I had a good workout just from answering the phone this morning.

The first chance I got I ran out to Rite Aid and picked up a twenty-five foot cord. It also turns out to be shorter than I need, but adequate for now. The fifty-foot cord I've been using is too long. It gets tangled and twisted, and I'm always tripping over the excess cordage. Thirty-five feet would be about right, but I've never seen such a thing. Life, as we know, is full of compromises.

So in anticipation of meeting the Boss for lunch today, I tried to get to bed earlier than usual last night. I thought if I could read until I fell asleep, at least I'd be lying down instead of rushing around thinking of more and more things to do. Then I remembered that I was supposed to write a message to my cousin Sherry in Iowa, as I always do on Sunday nights. When I miss a day, she calls me on it, so I was up at 1:15 in the morning composing something incoherent (but no less lucid than her messages to me). This took about fifteen minutes, and then I had to start the sleep cycle over again. I think I fell asleep earlier than usual even so, but it wasn't restful. I would startle myself into awareness from time to time throughout the night, so when I got up and around this morning I was stumbling and babbling even more than on a normal Monday. I did get some work done, but I kept feeling as if I were about to plunge face-first into the keyboard.

Lunch with the Boss was blissfully uneventful. He wanted to meet with me to go over the Big Project I've been pouring my time into for the last three months, but when we got to the restaurant he decided it was too distracting to try to do any work there. So he took it with him and we'll do it, as we do almost everything, over the phone.

He also asked me when my last raise was, and when I told him it was over a year ago, he asked what it would take to make me happy. I couldn't tell him the truth — that nothing he might do could make me truly happy — so I just sort of mumbled that I'd recently had a rent increase and that I was hoping to move soon. Then he came up with the idea of putting money away in a special savings account, in the Company's name, for me to draw from to pay for moving, whenever that should happen.

I'm not sure how this is going to work. I did expect the Company to pick up part of the rent after I move, but I also need more money to live on. And fifty dollars a week would be a good enough raise, but it's less than I'm looking for to pay the Company's share of the rent. So I don't know that I'm any better off than I was before we talked.

Anyway, I'm glad to have this lunch meeting behind me, because you can never tell what the Boss is thinking or what hare-brained idea he's likely to come up with. He loves putting people on the spot, as he did with me today. I don't know how to answer questions about my salary. He knows that I don't talk about it well, so he was able to carry the discussion and take it in the direction he wanted it to go. Now a decision has been cast in concrete, and when I want to make a change I'll have to find a way to bring it up again.

I came home from lunch physically exhausted and mentally drained. I'm so grateful I don't have to play office politics on a daily basis, as I did for many years. When someone has that much power over me, I don't know how to handle myself. If I had him watching me work every day, I'm not sure I'd get much accomplished. He told me again today that he values my work, but I know that he considers my salary part of the Company's "overhead" expenses, since I make no direct contribution to putting work in place. Is it any wonder we have this schizophrenic relationship?

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