punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,

Good Feelings - Early Morning Work

I have this paranoia that when I am in a good mood, things will go horribly wrong because God puts me in a good mood to prepare me for some oncoming disaster. How screwed up is that? But today I am not worried about exams, layoffs, health, or money ... at least as I am writing this. In an hour, who knows? So I thought I'd list some good memories to remind me I have them from time to time.

One of my happier retail memories occurred when I worked at Cargo Furniture at Tyson's II Galleria. This would have been... 1995 or so. Yes, that store was dull, rarely made quota, and days would go by (literally, I had days of $0 in sales, and saw no one) between customers. But sometimes, I'd arrive to work early, like about 2 hours before we opened. The store would be all neat and clean. Sometimes, I had money for breakfast, so I'd go to the other end of my floor (the top floor, I think floor 4), where the food court was. Burger King was the only place open that early. I'd get 2 Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Crossandwiches, a huge Orange Juice, and small hash browns. This particular BK had a stack of newspapers every morning, so I'd pay 25 cents for a Washington Post. I'd go back to my store, sit at out dining room table display, spread out the paper, eat breakfast, and read the paper. Store wouldn't open for a while yet, and since this was a dead mall, no one would pass by except other mall employees. The sun would come in through the mall's skylights, and warm my face. It was very peaceful.

In fact, working in a mall has some good moments like that. I recall how peaceful, clean, and crisp Springfield Mall was before it opened. Most people see malls as crowded places with a lot of hustle and bustle. But if you work at a mall, or just arrive there way before it opens, a mall can be very calming. There's usually plants and skylights in today's malls, and since they usually have a night crew clean everything, the mall smells nice and fresh. What few voices you hear are guards and other store employees echoing in the distance. Malls echo a LOT, which you don't think about when it's filled with people. Some mornings, there'd be "Mall Walkers," a bunch of senior citizens who would speed walk through the mall in clumps. Some would have a coach who'd stop them every now and again to stretch. Malls are great for walks like that, since they always are the same temperature, and never rain, which make it even better for older folks who have trouble getting around outside.

I probably a carried that over into the tech world. My first tech job was 3pm-midnight, which while worked great with my sleep cycle, wasn't so good for my family life. Next, I worked 10 to 6, which was okay. Then I worked 6 to 3, which at first was very tiring, but I got hooked. Office buildings, while not nearly as pretty or calming as malls I have worked in, were still pretty peaceful until people started to come in at 9. I was also on call 24x7, though, and HAD to be at the hotline from 6 to 3 on weekdays, so I didn't care for those total job hours, no sir. I could have worked a problem from 8 at night until 2 in the morning, and then had to do the hotline from 6 to 3, and then I might get paged again ... ugh. I lost a lot of sleep. The next job was midnight to noon, which was odd, because now I was in a locked down office building at like 3am. We couldn't go very far because doors were locked, no restaurants were open that late (except one local diner), and our building is sort of down in a hole, so when you looked out of the windows, all you saw was sloping grass. I wouldn't say it was so peaceful, because my sleep cycles were so ruined by then. I was usually wandering around where I could wander, passing by empty pods, quiet conference rooms ... like some sort of sea of nothingness where our Operations Center as an isolated island of activity in a quarter of the building. The rest of the building was as quiet as an ancient ruin.

Then I got this job. I started with International, so I had to work from 6 to 3 to make sure I was awake during European business hours, and then when my job got shifted to domestic, I was perfect to be in this hour set because all our systems would have been done by 6am, and start reporting. My main job is to check some 300 systems and make sure they all are working. There's usually a few which are not, and I have to follow up with the people that maintain these machines, and generate a report. "Machine 705 is having network problems," or "The test running on 211 is generating blank reports." By the time people get to their desk at 10 or so, I am their "Good morning. Here are last night's results." Morning here is pretty dead, and people come in late a lot (usually because they know they have to stay late). The morning is peaceful, calm, and while I don't have a newspaper and Crossandwiches, I have the Internet and free coffee.

Good times.

This entry was originally posted at http://www.punkwalrus.com/blog/archives/00000199.html
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