austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

I even tried that nine to five scene

The next workday --- Monday --- when it came was anticlimactic.

It started dramatically enough, with my getting as I logged in for the day a rambling e-mail with many paragraphs and no sentences from the owner who was upset about ... I don't actually know. I'm not seriously exaggerating by saying there weren't any complete sentences, and can say honestly that I could not figure out what the message was meant to be. The closest I can figure is he was upset that some documents you had to load before you could print them, which makes so little sense as an objection that I must be missing something, and cannot guess what. In response though I started tinkering trying to anticipate spots where the process could be streamlined, and realized the half-hour before going up to show things off to the client was not the time or place to do it, and I thought I put everything back in order, although on the drive up I began to worry that I might have broken something.

The owner had insisted we arrive at least a half-hour ahead of the scheduled presentation, so we all got into work a half-hour early, and it turned out we got at the client's site a full hour early and everything was easily set up and instantly ready. And nothing I had done that morning broke anything. Everyone who was expected to use my project thought it looked good, even if they didn't get their hands on it, and the only nagging questions were from two people who weren't quite getting that we were not doing anything to fix bad data even if it was created by this systematic flaw in the client's procedures. The owner did show up and we didn't really talk except for my answering some questions about the details of the way it all works.

Afterwards we got back to the office, where one of the first-floor people was celebrating her retirement by making lunch for everyone and we were in time to have some. The owner popped in but didn't, apparently, go to lunch or talk with me. The next day we had company-purchased pizza and a little farewell party featuring the owner giving the retiree a bicycle (I never heard the reasoning on this, or information that suggested she wanted one) and useful accessories like a truck mount and a flashing-light seat. Again, while we were around each other for about an hour we didn't actually say anything either. The rest of the week went without his noting my existence or work at all that to my knowledge.

Trivia: Among the management problems of the merged Penn Central railroad were computer system incompatibilities: while both the Pennsylvania Rail Road and the New York Central had used IBM computers to record freight movements, the Pennsylvania fed printouts and punched tapes to computers and used a Teletype inquiry system; the Central used punch card input and a cathode-ray TV setup. The Central also had a random-access disc for reading data, updated quickly, while the Pennsylvania's disc system was not and was only periodically updated. Source: The Wreck Of The Penn Central: The Real Story Behind The Largest Bankruptcy In American History, Joseph R Daughen, Peter Binzen. (They don't specify the computer systems more exactly; they probably couldn't have in a 1971 book for popular consumption.)

Currently Reading: A History of The Middle Ages, 284 - 1500 Sidney Painter.


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