Monday, May 9, 2011

The First Day Back

Huhzuhwha wha’d I miss?!?!?

The above phrase is one that my wife and I came up with when we were getting to know the little guy in his earliest days, as it seemed to describe his apparent state of mind when he would twitch himself awake and stare at us with his huge blue eyes. His sister does the same thing, although somewhat less frequently (but still enough to have gotten the phrase back into the regular lexicon rotation). At the very least she has reminded me that one of the things I love about newborns is the humorous potential of projection, whereby I can assign impossibly complex and nuanced meaning to the absolutely random facial expressions and limb flailings to which they are prone. It makes it easier to keep a grip on sanity when actively soothing an high-maintenance infant who simply will not sleep without said soothing, if I let myself imagine that the infant is desperately interested in engaging with this brand new world and hates the thought of losing even a moment’s experience to slumber, rather than simply a still-developing jumble of uncontrollable, raw nerve endings.

And as it happens, “wha’d I miss” applies equally well to the strange, semi-disoriented state of mind in which I find myself today as I return to the office and to the blog after a longer-than-originally-planned-on absence.

Wherever you go, there you are.
So yes, now we have a little girl in addition to the little guy, and she is wonderful though not without issues to navigate, and I will get into all of that and the latest on her mother and her brother and how we all spent the past four weeks together all in good time, but it would be a bit much to tackle right off the bat, so for now I’ll just start by talking about today and we’ll work our way backwards as best we can throughout the week.

Thus, my return to work, which started off adhering reasonably close to plan (or the latest revision of the plan, at any rate). Since the agency went and moved offices without me while I was away, I had only a vague idea of where exactly I was supposed to report for duty, but that was solved via a quick bit of interweb searching. More definitively, I knew I would not be able to get into the office suite on my own, but my client-boss had given me her cell phone number to call when I arrived and thus arrange a way in. Assuming my boss was working more of a normal schedule than my usual early-in, early-out routine, I had decided to get to the office around 9 a.m. That actually let me sleep in a little, and help get the little guy up out of bed and make sure everyone was as provided for as possible before my departure. (This includes myself, as I left the house with matching socks and a shaved face and, as my wife happily pointed out, no spit up on my clothes at all.)

My only misgiving about that was whether or not I’d be able to get a parking space so late in the morning at the VRE station, but those fears proved unfounded and the train ran on time and sure enough I got to the new office building at about 9:05. Whereupon I called my boss, and got her voicemail. I left a message and waited. Called again about fifiteen minutes later, hit voicemail again, and hung up without leaving a message. Waited twenty more minutes and called yet again, and that time I got through and told my boss I was waiting at the guard desk if someone could please escort me. She said she would be down in a minute.

Which stretched to another twenty or so before I called again and got voicemail again and left another message specifying that I was at the entrance by the chocolate shop in the building lobby. I assumed this was the main entrance because it was the exact location my Googled directions had indicated. (I say Googled but these weren’t Google Maps turn by turn or anything; I had used the search engine to find what looked like an official page from a website about the building complex which explained how to find it in Crystal City’s Underground.) And I waited and waited and waited, pacing back and forth near the shoe shine stand until the guy who worked there started helpfully suggesting I should just head home. The thing about a client-boss is you can’t call them 12 times an hour asking why they haven’t come down yet. I honestly thought my boss had gotten caught up putting out (metaphorical) fires so urgent she hadn’t even had time to delegate the task of escorting me upstairs or call me to ask me to sit tight. So I just waited.

In the end, a little after 11 a.m., my boss finally called me back and it turned out to be a combination of factors. There are multiple entrances and guard stations for the new building and the one I had been waiting at was the most opposite-of-main of them all. My boss had come down around 9:40 and looked for me at the two other entrances, then gotten pulled into an unmissable meeting, then returned to trying to track me down after that. Ah, well, after four weeks away from the job what’s a few more hours, right?

And that turned out to be the biggest snag, with everything else going surprisingly smoothly. I have a place to sit, with a functioning phone and computer, the latter recognizing my log on and giving me network and interweb access right from the get-go, which is incredibly refreshing. My work e-mail inbox is of course overflowing with a month’s worth of messages and given my foreshortened day today I haven’t even had a chance yet to physically unpack my paper files and other physical office supplies, but I daresay it’s all downhill from here. Even the snag itself probably has a bright side. Since I stubbornly stayed just beside the guard station where my directions had led me for a little over two hours, and then eventually entered through that checkpoint as a legit person with business within, I’m fairly certain all the guards who work that post know me on sight now. And since that’s the most convenient entrance for me to use on a regular daily basis, as well, I should be able to sail in unmolested every day (or until they hire new security officers).

Also, as snags go, today’s wasn’t even the biggest I saw in the previous four weeks, either. But I’ll save the story of the one that tops it for tomorrow.

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