Lucky Me!

// December 15th, 2005 // archive

Yesterday was the office holiday lunch. Well, I say “office” kind of loosely, because it’s an old loft building. It doesn’t feel very officey (can be good) but it also doesn’t feel very functional either. There’s extra computers set up on the conference table. Also there are power cords strewn all across the room. A pool table in the middle of the room, next to a swanky couch are covered in boxes, packaging and designs in the works. My desk is a table made from plywood and duct tape (and the duct tape is winning). The legs are pieced together from plumbing pipe. It looks great and would look even better if I could have better lighting. Ironic because I’m working on the website for a Tech Lighting company. I have a lamp that plugs into the mass of extension cords beneath my desk, but the plug is the size of a coffee mug and keeps falling out of the socket. Also the office chairs are less than perfect and keep switching on me. I had one day where I had the perfect chair. Then when I came back, I had a loose one again. The other day, I distinctly heard a screw or a bolt fall from my chair. There’s been no other sound or movement from that area, so I think I’m OK. I can’t see below my knees anyway.

Aaaaaanyway, yesterday was the office holiday lunch. Well, I say “lunch” kind of loosely because I don’t actually know what went on. We were told to take a 2 hour lunch because their office was closed for 2 hours. No, we couldn’t stay and do work (which there still was a lot of). We had to go outside and walk amidst the unshoveled sidewalks looking for a close place to eat. There’s a Subway and a Starbucks (good for me, but bad because of the piled up snow and slush).

So I walked to the Subway and had a good lunch. I got a wrap and ate well. The restaurant was very brightly lit, a plus for me. I brought my laptop, intending to work for an hour on some other freelance projects. It’s nice to be busy. After eating, I packed up and decided to go to Starbucks and work.

I arrived, asking for my usual (large coffee, sugar-free vanilla). I am so predictable. I’m glad that there’s a Starbucks near this office (I’m glad of anything near this office). As I go to pay, I realize… I don’t have my wallet! I am stricken. The girl tells me not to worry, gives me the coffee and tells me not to worry about it. I’m too stricken to think clearly and I grab the coffee. I don’t even think that I’m going to have to trudge over snowy sidewalks searching. I grab it and go.

All along the way I am searching the ground, the snow, the slush, the gray stuff that could be ground, snow and slush together. I’m looking for a black wallet in a Chicago winter. Good luck!

I make my way to Subway, the coffee in hand, not realizing that I have flown accross this terrain without hurting myself, spilling my coffee or ramming into anyone or anything.

I first go to where I was sitting and ask the woman there if she’s seen a black wallet. Neither of us looks under her chair. I go to the counter and ask 2 people if they saw a black wallet. They haven’t but suggest places where it might have fallen or been kicked under something. Then I go back to where I was sitting and look underneath it. There’s the wallet that neither of us could see before. I’m safe! The entire store is telling me how lucky I am. I agree with them!

I go back to the Starbucks and pay the girl at the counter. I told her I found it. She looks at me briefly as if I have 2 or 3 heads. “You didn’t have to come back!” she cries, admonishing me. I thanked her again.

Then I finally go to a table where I can do one of my favorite things: work in a cafe and drink coffee. Plus I have about 40 minutes left before I have to walk 5 more blocks to work. That’s when I notice Jeff, one of the other freelancers. He’s also here, banished from the office. “Killing time, too, huh?” he laughs. We pick a table to sit at and instead of working, I chat with him for 20 minutes. We work next to each other but not on the same thing, so we barely say two words to each other. So now we’re actually getting to talk. But in the back of my head, I’m thinking about work and how much I need to do.

After 20 minutes, he starts to read and I just set up my laptop to try to get something accomplished at this 2 hour lunch. I manage to answer a few e-mails, open a few files to check them but on the whole, not accomplishing much. Furthermore, I need to walk 5 more blocks back to the office, lugging my laptop.

I start moving, walking behind Jeff. About 2 blocks in, during our daring traverse down 100 N. Morgan, I lag behind severely. Another pedestrian is walking in the other direction. There is not enough room for 2 people on this path. A shovel’s width of cleared snow and slush is between us. I try to step aside, but there is hardly enough footing. She squeezes past. I breathe a sigh. I can continue, though my reserves are nearly out. I debate about setting up camp here, but decide to move on.

Jeff is waiting for me. “I was wondering what happened to you!”

“One man paths. Dangerous!”

We move forward. Without further incident, we reach our goal. Thankfully the door is unlocked, because there’s no one in to buzz us. There’s an elevator, but Jeff climbs the stairs. I do the same and by the end of this, I know why I never take these stairs.

When we finally reach the office door, I’m ready to take my coat off and unpack my bag. I set down my coffee (yes I had it all the time, didn’t you know?) and prepare to open the door.

Unfortunately, it’s locked. There’s another freelancer waiting by the door. I think he’s been here a while. He’s seated on the steps. I at least can take off my coat, which helps.

There we wait for about 10 more minutes for the regular office staff to get back.

I don’t mind that I missed the party/lunch. I’m going to plenty of parties in the next few weeks (and I’m looking forward to them). I would just rather get back to work, not to mention finish the deadlines. Were they afraid that I’d start taking things from the office? How? I couldn’t walk off with equipment. I’d be too concerned of tripping over power cords.

In fact, I was scrambling to finish this example of a work in progress before the weekend, thinking that there was some monstrous deadline. Instead, when I send it off, a co-worker said he wouldn’t get to it until Tuesday. Then it hit me. The last two holidays I wasn’t necessarily working through them. This holiday, I’m busy, following up leads and working on 2, perhaps 3 projects. I’m lucky.

So I put down my coffee and get back to work. There’s stuff to do. And I’m lucky!

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