Remember those Warner Brothers cartoons from the 50’s and 60’s, featuring a sheepdog and a wolf?
They would turn up every morning, first thing, holding their lunchboxes and punching a time clock. “Hello Ralph.” “Hi Sam.” A couple of working stiffs. Their workday consisted of the wolf trying to steal a sheep, and the sheepdog preventing this. At day’s end, they’d clock out and head for home.
“Another day, another dollar.”
It’s a little like my work now. Except there are no time clocks.
As a kid, I really had no idea how my father spent his day. He drove off to some mysterious place in the city called Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith. (The name sounds like a barrel falling down stairs.) He came home each night, with his 60’s suit, hat and skinny tie, and poured himself a bourbon with water, over ice. What did he do all day?
Now I work in an office. And I have in inkling of what it was like for my dad, who once took us to his Mad Men-like place of work. It’s not a bad life, just not what I thought I’d do back in Junior High.
My day starts at the ungodly hour of 8:00 a.m. If I could change this I would. It takes my brain and body until roughly 8:30 or later to wake up, so I use this time to scan email and check the day’s headlines.
My coffee is consumed by 8:45, so I’ll pick up yesterday’s unfinished projects around then.
What I do all day is called Data Collection, but in fact the data has been collected already. We just have to process it and massage it into a format that makes sense. And then enter it into our database. Then check to see if it still makes sense. Make sense?
This is not all I do, but mostly it is.
The people around me (the ones not goofing off or chatting about politics) are doing the same as me, staring intently into their computer monitors. I might talk to them, and I might not.
Break time comes at 10:15. I might walk outside if the weather is nice. The office park is huge, with lots of choices. There’s even a pond.
Lunch is a godsend, and lasts from noon to one o’clock. I normally brown bag it and read at my desk, then take another walk around the premises.
It’s hard to come back at one, but we all do. Three and a half hours to go. I’m fully awake now. I usually pick an especially tough project to work on, and power through until it’s done, by God!
Afternoon break is at 2:45. I might go outside again, or find a small room off the hallway to read in. Or just sit in my car if I’m really tired that day.
Quittin’ time comes at 4:30. The office comes to violent life as we all gather our things and stampede to the doors. The parking lot is a busy place as well, with some people warming up their cars for the long ride home. Mine’s only five minutes, so I turn the key and take off right away. My comfortable home awaits.
Such is the life of a research analyst. Goodnight, Sam. Pleasant evening, Ralph.