Saturday, 11 October 2008

I saw the most curious thing the other morning as I was walked to work

There I was waiting to cross 72nd Street at Lexington Avenue and a young bloke in a suit rode by me on a unicycle!! A unicycle!!! Do you think he ran away from the circus to take a job in finance or something? If that's the case he didn't chose his moment well did he? Just as I am thinking that I didn't choose the best of times to start a monthly direct debit to invest in a mutual fund – not to mention the ones that my pension is invested in – what with banks failing left, right and centre. I’m down 21% so far, not that it's not exactly a humungous heap of cash - don't invest what you can't afford to lose eh - and I keep reminding myself that I am in it for the long term so maybe, just maybe – she says with her fingers tightly crossed - this financial calamity will ultimately reveal itself to have been an excellent buying opportunity to get some good quality shares at a bargain price. Let's hope so!!

Otherwise not much is going on other than work, work, work and more work. Quite frankly I'm a basket case after a stressful couple weeks and I was almost in tears in Boss Man's office the other morning when my client, Elmer, decided he wanted to increase the amount of my time that he pays for from 25% to 100% until the end of the year. Ugh!! I know I should be happy about this, to have 3months worth of job security, especially with the economy tanking, but in the 6months I've been working with my client I've grown to absolutely hate him. He's nit picky, unreasonably demanding and loves to exert what tiny amount of power he has over the agency by setting these last minute, overly abbreviated and completely arbitrary deadlines just to make us run around like headless chickens, however should there be so much of a whiff of a complaint he's very quick to play the 'you know I've been a great advocate of the agency and provided you with a lot of revenue generating opportunities' card. It's very irritating, because while I agree that he has been good to us, it’s frankly coming at the expense of my mental health. In an effort to buck my spirits Boss Man sent me this note the other night…

"Thanks for all the hard work and dedication. They had their budgets slashed today but still will spend an incremental 136k with us which again is testament to the great work you and the team have been doing this year. I know it's not always easy and the client can be very demanding but if we get through the rest of this year we will have a great foundation for further growth in 09. And I will make sure I will always have beer and wine in my fridge in case you need a drink after a stressful day!"

Hmmm. I know he means well and I appreciate the thought, but I've seen my wine consumption skyrocket in the 6months I've been working on this client – I'm particularly fond of the cheeky little Gouguenheim Malbec, a snip at $12 a bottle from my local liquor store/off license, which is the same price that I pay for a glass of the stuff around the corner at Caffe Notte - and I don't think a descent into alcoholism/liver failure is the answer.


Am I feeling a bit too sorry for myself do you think? I know some people would be happy to have my problems and I'm definitely letting my client get to me and Boss Man advised me to shrug him off, but that's easy for Mr. Mellow to say. He's so laid back I sometimes wonder if he's fully appreciates some situations, but I think calm demeanour is implicit in his genetic chemistry and unfortunately I'm just not made that way. It’s led to my questioning my career choice a lot over the past few months – my timing is amazing isn't it, unemployment being on the high side. Of course I'm not stupid enough to quit my job, it has its benefits, but I've definitely been finding myself craving a more simplified life right, perhaps even – heaven forbid – outside of New York. It's a thought I've been rolling around in my head recently, whether I could I seriously consider leaving NYC or if this is just a temporary disgruntlement that could be solved by gainful employment elsewhere. If I did leave I'm not sure where I would go. I don't think I would go back to England right now since the last time I was there I didn't feel like I quite fit, and if I'm honest I suspect if it came to the crunch I'll find I'm not quite ready to throw in the towel in NYC, but if it does turn out that I end up leaving in the next few years then I know I will be able to pinpoint 2008 as the beginning of the end.

Boss Woman not being here in the US doesn't help, especially as each time I reach out to her for help she responds by giving me more work to do. Boss Man recruited Boss Woman about 3months ago to help take a load of his shoulders and oversee myself and Emma. She’s British – in fact she used to be my friend Miles’ boss who speaks very highly of her. I like her a lot – except for the whole workload thing - however she's working from London at the moment, which isn't the best since the majority burden for her accounts tends to fall to me because I'm physically present in the office. I can't help occasionally resent the fact that she's probably making double my salary and getting to leave at 6pm every night while I'm stuck working 12hour+ days to support the NY based account teams.

Technically this is until she gets her visa sorted - which should be anytime soon since she had her interview at the US Consulate in London last week and the type of visa she will be on is usually issued within 2weeks after the interview – however there is also the issue of her elderly dog to consider. She can't bring him with her as the stress will likely send him off to that great big doggie kennel in the sky and since she hasn't had any luck finding someone she knows and trusts who can take him in and can't exactly have him put to sleep on a whim, we are in the unfortunate position of having to wait until the dog pops his clogs before she can move over and start taking the reins on the clients she's been assigned to.


In non-work related news it was Open House New York last weekend and Melissa managed to snag us a couple of tickets – 5,000+ people entered a draw for one of 700 tickets - for a tour of the highline, a disused railway line that runs above ground from Gansevoort St in the meatpacking district and 34th street in midtown. I found out from our tour guide, Joshua - one of the co-founders of Friends of The Highline, an organization that campaigned to save it from demolition – that a building where a few of my friends used to live used to be a refrigeration warehouse and the train line used to run through it and unload inside. You can see it in the pic linked

We walked on the bit between 30th and 34th street, one of the last stretches that's still owned by the railway company, CSX who apparently donated the stretch below 30th to the city in 2005 for park use. The last train to run on the highline was in 1980 with a cargo of frozen turkeys – it was close to Thanksgiving – and the first section of the park is set to open at the end of this year, with the whole thing scheduled for 2010. It was great to get a new perspective of the city. Here are some pics snapped by Melissa.

The fate of last 4 blocks - the bit we walked on which is still owned by CSX - is undecided at the moment since it depends on what happens with the Hudson rail yards. There's a proposal to develop the rail yards, but as the Long Island Railroad needs to remain fully functional it will mean spending an estimated $2bn to put a platform over the top of the rail lines so that they can build over the top of it. This may mean that the last section of the Highline may not survive the renovation, but Friends of the Highline are campaigning for it to be preserved. Whatever happens I am sure CSX will make a whole pile of money from it.


Lady Di Tn said...

I will tell you like I say to my son, who is in his third year of College. You only have to spend this part of your life with a certain teacher and be thankful you do not have to live with them forever. Same could be applied to Elmer. I call his type LITTLE BIG MEN. Only let him ruin the part of the day he appears and forget him when he is not present. Grow some duck feathers and let his attitude roll off like water on duck feathers. Peace

Kitty said...

love the Highline photos!

well, I wish the economy weren't so iffy. I would recommend you look for another job because that's the one way to get a pay raise and refigure your working schedule.

Once you start off on more normal footing, it's harder for someone to get you to work insane hours. On the other hand, if you're working insane hours, and that's the menality of the office, it's hard to get to normal unless you put your foot down and force yourself.

I think offices in general are putting the stress on their existing employees now. The younger workers are expendable and everyone else has to make up for the short-handedness.

Really hope you can get a reprieve. You're already working much more than your share! And a lousy six-pack can't be enough incentive!

Blur Ting said...

Oh dear, you poor thing. That client of's almost worse than being married to him. I mean he's on your back all day and we spend more time at work than at home.

I hope work gets better for you and that Boss Lady comes over quickly to relieve you (but of course not at the expense of her dog's life). I know how it is with a pet. You can't just leave that poor fella to fend for itself. I'm kinda in the same shoes right now.

Blur Ting said...

Oh, and it's funny how I saw one young man riding a unicycle yesterday when I was out running. It's a pretty unusual sighting here too.

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Hi Lady Di, you are right, but I've maintained a good attitude about him for 6months now, so I think I just needed to flip out last week when he was being more obnoxious than usual.

Hi Kitty, wish I could take credit for the Highline photos, but they are Melissa's work. I love them, especially the one of the LIRR trains. I'm dithering about looking for another job, because to be honest I am not doing what I want to do, so why move to do what I don't want to do elsewhere where with unfamiliar surroundings and people to get used to. The tricky bit is working out what I would like to do instead. Phew!!

Hi Blur Ting, I think unicycles must be all the rage as my friend Miles saw one in London the other day. Sorry to hear you are having your own doggy dilemmas. It's a tough one!!

Spandrel Studios said...

Maybe your upcoming hols will provide the time away you need to decompress, and decide what to do in life? Sometimes, it's hard to see the forest for the trees when big decisions are looming - and having time to hike around someplace new, while taking in a change of scenery, can be just the thing to help focus on what you want.

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Hi Spandrel, thanks for your words of wisdom. I am hoping my hols will refresh my perspective. I'm definitely feeling the need to shake things up.