Monday, February 10, 2014


Yesterday was the first Sunday after the Super Bowl, so my wife and I took advantage of the complete and utter lack of anything worth tuning in to on live tv (sorry, Olympics!) to get back to watching Downton Abbey last night. By which of course I mean we fired up our Blu-ray copy of Season 3, starting with the first episode, because we are way behind. That’s nothing new, of course, and I think I may have mentioned that we are such laggards that we’ve already had monumental plot developments (read: character deaths) spoiled for us in unlikely ways, because we’re not just an episode or two off-schedule but well outside the window wherein polite society tries to keep the leakage to a minimum. If I’m misremembering and haven’t mentioned that, it’s probably because it’s honestly not that big a deal; the best pleasures derived from following the soap opera of Lord Grantham’s family and servants are mostly in the little moments of restrained so-very-British facial reactions and passive-aggressive one-liners (the vast majority of both of which are delivered by Maggie Smith, of course).

At any rate, Season 3’s premiere is a fairly Branson-heavy episode, with much made of his and Sybil’s visit to Downton for Mary’s wedding and the continuing cultural and political clash. I’ve always liked Branson, while recognizing that he’s very much that guy, deeply invested in a controversial cause and a bit too adamant about shoving it down other people’s throats. But above and beyond all that I often found myself relating to Branson when he was still the family chauffeur, because he so perfectly encapsulated how my own job feels on a regular basis. I’ve looked and looked online (unsuccessfully, obviously) for a screencap of Branson leaning against the roadster in the garage and reading the newspaper, because that specific image is in fact exactly how my job feels. Branson hangs out off by himself with nothing much to do and reads. Clearly when someone needs to be driven somewhere, he drives them, but long stretches of time go by where no one needs a driver, and so he waits idle and collects his paycheck. That’s totally me: when a server issue needs troubleshooting or a custom report needs generating &c., I swing into action. But those kinds of things don’t happen every day (or even every week). The rest of the time, I’m surfing the web. It seems crazy, because my employer is not an English earl concerned with some combination of noblesse oblige and keeping up appearances while being caught between the worlds of yesterday and tomorrow, but rather a government contractor with profit margins to protect and shareholders to answer to every quarter. And yet, here we are.

Meanwhile, speaking of crazy, I have a decent lead on a potential new job, which I applied for and got a response asking if I would be willing to come in for an interview. I expressed not only willingness but the utmost flexibility in scheduling said interview, and was told that they would be back in touch with me once they determined what date and time worked best for them. That was weeks ago (it will be four weeks tomorrow) and I still have not gotten that interview scheduled.

I have touched base with the company more than once in the interim, assuring them that I was still interested in the position and eager to meet with them in person, but haven’t gotten much in response beyond some appreciation for my patience and assurance that they’re doing what they can to move the process along on their end. I have a bit of inside info on the job because a buddy of mine already works there, and he has confirmed that they are always like this and suffer from an institutional problem with filling open positions quickly. Partly it’s because their model is to schedule multiple consecutive one-on-one interviews between a candidate and various employees all on the same day, and it’s the difficulties of cross-coordination that slow things down. I understand all that, and from what my buddy has conveyed to me it sounds like a great place to work once you clear those entry hurdles. But it’s frustrating to be halfway on the hook with no ability to wiggle things in the right direction myself. For a while there I was avoiding talking about it here on the blog because I didn’t want to jinx things, but enough of that already. I will keep you all posted when and if things develop.

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