Work has taken a bit of an upturn, incidentally. On a most unsuspecting mid-morning the manager poked his head in my office and asked if I was free for a couple minutes, as he wanted to have me at a meeting. I was able to find a spot of free time in reading the Reuters Oddly Enough news, and made my way to a conference room that I didn't actually know was there. I had assumed it was another office, from the way it looked from the hallway. It starts as another office, but a wall on the obscured side is missing and it opens up into a conference room, complete with an oval table, a whiteboard with the company name written in what I hope is dry-erase ink, and a computer projector pointing directly at the television set.
Once there I was introduced to several people, one of whom works for the company when they pay to bring him out of retirement and two others who work for someone ... else, somewhere. The outside folks described the outline of a plan to do some things to interact with a product they had developed. Over the course of the meeting another person came in to write down notes, and the server guy came up to give his opinion that things were perfectly straightforward to do once the appropriate people decided it was worth doing, then left. Meanwhile I was asked no questions that were not related to how I was doing and how long I'd been working there, and I was assigned no specific or even general tasks.
Afterward I had a brief chat with the retired guy, who explained that there really wasn't much to do on this company's side, so he'd do it and then let me see the codes so that there'd be somebody on site who knew what was going on. Describing me as a person who will ever know exactly what's going on seems very generous to me. And it meant I went back to my office without any responsibilities for anything. My brother advised me that meetings are the heart of corporate work, and I should write up a log of the meeting so that I can, if ever asked, produce it on short notice. I'm not sure whether he's joking.
Trivia: W H Smith (booksellers) began as a newspaper vendor at Euston railroad Station in London; in 1848 he began renting books to Birmingham-bound passengers at a penny a book. Source: Time Lord: Sir Sandford Fleming and the Creation of Standard Time, Clark Blaise.
Currently Reading: The Age of Napoleon, Will and Ariel Durant.