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Monday
Feb092009

This Baby Takes the Morning Train, Really, Really Badly

I’m a week into this now, and I’m sitting here at a weekend distance from beginning my sentence at the Department of Government Governmenting, attempting to assess the uberhighlight of the past five days:

-It could be the sad, slow realization that my life is now a Sheena Easton song.

-It could be the moment I asked my orientation trainer on Monday when my official start date was, as I was told that I wouldn’t have to report until my background check was complete, which I assure you had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I filed it at the rate of approximately one keystroke per day, and she answered, “Oh, today. Today is Day One.”

-It could have been that each of the triplicate documents I processed which were filed in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.

-It could be my most recent application of the Get Ahead in Life by Telling the Whole Terrible Truth life rule, which apparently is how one gets ahead as a government employee. We went around the table full of Day One employees, introducing ourselves and why we were there:

“I’m going to be a curator at the new Nixon Presidential Library,” one said.

“I was promoted from another agency,” said another.

“I didn’t tank the interview enough,” I said.

-It could have been the moment when I was herded into the security office to be—fittingly—printed and mugshot.

-It could be the evening I checked our community center’s exercise class schedule to find out which workouts would fit into my new non-freelance life, and discovered that the very first one of the day, which commences at 5:45 AM, still ends too late for me to catch my train.

-It could be that every single time I introduced myself to one of my new co-workers and answered the inevitable “Are you a transfer from another division of Government Governmenting?” question with “Actually, I’m a freelance writer,” the reaction, to a person, was “Oh… no.” At least two of them said, “I kind of have a book done, but…” This was then followed by a trailing voice, rounded shoulders, and a defeated expression. The Office of Government Governmenting, it seems, is an abortion mill for literature of both fiction and non-.

-It could be the morning I challenged my to-date best off-the-field athletic feat, which was The Great Jim The Child Nephew Driveway Save, in which I heaved aside the enormous box I was carrying and ran many yards through grass in high heels to stop my godchild-on-a-push-toy from rolling ever faster down a driveway and into the street. Since I grade papers on the train, I was carrying a calculator in my coat pocket, as totaling the points from a ten-point rubric is well outside the envelope of my ability to add. As I bent to pick up my bag to board the train, I heard something plastic hit the metal guardrail of the platform, then strike the ground below. As I welcomed the excuse to avoid an hour of subjecting myself to such sentences as “The Author guy did a really nice job on this essay you could really understand where he/she was coming from?” I decided to retrieve it when I returned to the station that afternoon, and leaned over to check its position, only to discover that it was not, in fact, my calculator, but my cell phone, which had somehow slipped out of the magnetic casing on my purse. As the last passenger in front of me was climbing aboard, I flipped myself beneath the railing, grabbed the phone, placed it between my lips, and hauled myself back to the platform just as the engineer was in the process of hitching the door. This was also accomplished, I must add, in high heels, but the Russian judge screwed me on the artistic portion anyway.

-It could be the realization that I put a one hundred thousand dollar education to work organizing a filing cabinet.

-It could be the day I glanced at my train seatmate’s reading material, in the process discovering that it was a book entitled The Foreskin Diaries.

-It could be the morning I opened the closet to decide which part of my Office Barbie wardrobe would come to work with me that day, only to realize I’d already worn the entirety of it on Day One.

-It could be the day the toilet in my train overflowed, sending a cheery stream of sewage down the center of the car. However, I officially disqualified this candidate when I saw the guy across the aisle from me drop his Backberry right in the middle of it. It splashed and everything.

-It could be the afternoon one of the tech specialists summoned me to announce I had been assigned a login and password for the department software, but not one to permit me to boot any of the computers.

-It could be the moment I paged through the directory of the federal government and learned that I will work approximately four months out of the year to fund the likes of the New England Fishery Management Council, the Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board, and the United States Ambassador to Moldova.

-It could be the evening I disembarked from the train and paused to check that my laptop was secured well enough inside my bag. As it happened, it wasn’t, because it was still on board. I suck at commuting, you guys.  In the first week, I have somehow managed to screw up getting on and off a train I'm not even running.

But to my rescue came the same conductor who had witnessed the Calculator Flip Spectacular, and by now understood the depth and breadth of my blondeness. He has since learned to hold the train until I’m well out of sight or on it for at least seventeen seconds. After that, I’m on my own.

THE TWO-OUNCE CHASER: Against my better judgment, I weighed myself on Sunday, terrified that a week of comfort food and the presence of an Auntie Anne’s Pretzel stand in the train station, all ingested without the mitigating presence of a single workout, had taken its toll. Instead, I had… lost two ounces. Well! Who knew tears weigh so much?

commuting at:  mbe@drinktothelasses.com

tip the bartender

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Reader Comments (8)

Welcome to Union Station!!! I took the Marc from Halethorpe to Union Station every day for a year. Thank goodness I never had to utilize the Metro, since my job was actually right outside the station.
Good luck to you! Don't worry, in your new job in the DGG, you will have PLENTY of time for freelancing. Heck, even if you do your job, you'll still have plenty of time to kill. I nearly lost my mind! All the GSers are gone half the time anyway - working 9-2 is hard work. hahaha
After I year, I had to get out. I couldn't stand it anymore - but I had tons of time to plan my grandmother's surprise party, in the mean time. I even designed the invitations and printed them at work... don't tell anyone!

February 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKris

P.S. Once you get the hang of the train, it will get easier. I was really nervous at first, but in the end, I loved it, as it was the only quiet time I had to myself - guilt free time to read. In a year, I think I read 150 books! Most excellent. Get acquainted with your ipod - everyone else is - and you can filter out all the annoying people and creepy men who will inevitably try to chat you up.

February 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKris

I know it's grim, but think how much blog fodder you'll have. You're walking through the Valley of the Shadow of Endless File Cabinets -- take notes.

At least you're not in California (she says, from California).

You're one in a million, MB. Hang in there.

February 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterlynD

[...] Sheena E Post Tuesday, February 10th, 2009 | Uncategorized | morningworksmedia Mary Beth struggles mightily to choose the very, very best moment of the week past.  Calculators and burros are involved. [...]

"The Office of Government Governmenting, it seems, is an abortion mill for literature of both fiction and non-. "

I foresee your shall be the exception that confirms the rule.

After all, a writer needs pathos as fuel for its writing. Even if that pathos is the seemingly hopeless void of commuting routine—can you tell I went to see Revolutionary Road this past weekend?

February 10, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterred pill junkie

Your cellphone escapade made my day! I couldn't stop laughing and my boss walked over to say something. But when I pointed out your blog entry, she sat down to read it and loved your writing. Now you can add a +1 to the MB fan club...and I'm not even in trouble for reading a blog while I'm supposed to be doing important *adult* work ;-)

Thanks, MB!

February 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCollegeGal

Oh! Thank you so much for risking your job on my behalf. But your boss is clearly way cool, with excellent taste, so that helps.

February 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMB

[...] MB Today the first documents relating to the stimulus bill (heh, stimulus) came rolling into the Department of Government Governmenting.  Let us safely conclude that this guy will be in work for a long, long [...]

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