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Monday, September 23, 2002

There's a lot to be said for working at home, with no one to look over my shoulder. As far as anyone else in the company knows, I'm here to do their bidding, no matter how obscure the request and no matter what the hour. This situation has more pros than cons, but it gets frustrating on days like this, when I'm the middle man.

The Boss's office is in another state, and I've never seen it. Our shop and warehouse are far from where I live. We've moved the shop twice in the last five years, and I've never been to any of the three locations. I don't know how important it is for me to know what the crew does, or to have an idea in my mind of what the working conditions are. Sometimes, though, the question comes up.

Our insurance agency is much closer to me. Too close, in fact, because once in awhile I'm asked to travel the fifteen miles to pick up a form or deliver a check. I try to avoid any circumstances where this might occur, because the fifteen miles inevitably becomes fifty, what with my poor sense of direction.

If their office were on a main road I'd probably have less trouble, but it's in an industrial park on a side road that you can only get to by going on other side roads, and by the time I've gone through the maze a couple of times I realize I'm never going to find my way out. I've had to call them when I'm halfway there to get new directions, because I've gone so horribly astray. Once I called only to be told I was a block and a half away. I had no idea.

They're all nice people and everything, but lately I've been thinking they're trying to drive me nuts. I don't know what the object would be, except to have a little fun at my expense, but I keep getting requests for information that I have no way of having.

It all started when our old insurance company dropped us and the agency went looking for a new carrier for us. They found one, but the premium is more than double what we paid last year, and they seem to have taken a personal interest in making my world even more frustrating than I make it myself, when simply left to my own neuroses.

The new company has inspected our premises, even the ones I've never visited. They have questions. I have to track down somebody with answers, and that's not always possible. Our crew is on the road a lot, and even when they're in the shop they're too busy to take the time to look for a serial number on a tool we've had for fifteen years. That's the kind of question I keep getting.

Today they wanted me to write a letter telling them that all combustibles are kept away from the building. I can pretty much assure them that the guys don't want anything to blow up, but I'm not going to make a personal inspection, and I'm not crazy about signing my name to a statement like that.

So I dumped it in the Boss's lap. He's more than happy to rattle cages. I think he'll probably work on the insurance company, trying to get them to back off, before he'll turn the shop upside down for them. For one thing, he's working on getting other quotes, so he's hoping not to have to stay with these overpriced nitpickers much longer. For another, he just likes to stir up trouble.

Writing letters of protest gives him great pleasure, even when he's the only one in the world who thinks he's right. The causes he takes up aren't noble, just self-interested. Maybe there's some nobility in that, but it tends to grate on people at the other end of his letters and phone calls. He knows I won't do it, so he uses up his valuable estimating and engineering time to try to make others as miserable as he makes himself.

It's not the most efficient business model, but he's been doing it long enough that I really have no good argument against it.


The shed at the corner of my yard, with the blackberry bramble in front and the walnut tree behind.

Anyway, if I've seemed a little grouchy lately, that's part of the reason. I'm spending so much of my day spinning my wheels that I only get deeper and deeper in a rut. All of the commotion makes me want to turn off the phone, the fax and the computer, and just listen to the quiet. Since I can't do that, the frustration builds up and I knock over chairs and slam doors.

That helps, but only because I feel so badly about it afterward that I force myself to calm down and focus on what I need to do. That's when I'm most productive, when I use my job as a kind of penance for not being as good a person as I'd like to be.

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Latest recommendation:

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