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Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Failure To Recycle

Work has a phrase that just reminds you of how much of a cog you are in the machine: recycled.  If you fail to qualify for grading an assignment you get recycled into another assignment.  If your assignment finishes early you'll be recycled into another assignment.  Last Wednesday our team finished grading all the math exams so we were recycled into new training for 8th Grade Social Studies.  If I thought the math exams had some fuzzy standards on how to grade them, it was nothing compared to the truly nebulous standards of review I was learning now.  Not quite arbitrary and capricious, but not too much better either.
Work also has a rule of only allowing you two chances to qualify for grading.  If you fail to qualify you will hopefully get recycled if there is work to be done elsewhere.  Today was my second and final chance to qualify.  To give you proper perspective on how difficult this assignment was, the first group of 23 people qualified zero individuals.  To find the 6 members of the original social studies team, it took the attempted qualifying of over 60 people.  In contrast my math team qualified 5 out of 6 people and we got done a week and a half early.  56 new trainees started last Thursday.  The strategy was simple: train everyone available, weaken the standards a little bit, and get as many people qualified so the assignment will end on time by next Tuesday.  12 people qualified the first time on Monday.  The rest of us attempted to qualify again today.  I don't know how many failed, but I was among them.
To make it even worse, there are no new assignments coming up.  I was under the impression that this place was pretty busy year round.  I was wrong.  By next Tuesday everyone would be out of work as the assignment finished; the next assignment wouldn't start up until early October.  Great, as a law student I can handle a job for about three and a half weeks before being let go.  I really needed this job, or at least any paying job for the summer.  Perhaps a job at Wal-Mart or Target is in order?  Do I need to tell them that I only want the position until mid-August?  Hey, if I were hired by the end of the week, then got through the pee test and training would it be almost time to give 2 weeks notice?
This is truly the frustrating thought: I am a responsible adult who has gotten himself into a situation where I have so little control over my own lifeI have put myself into a position where fairly ordinary life events now have major impact upon my life
This has been one of the higher prices paid to be in school.  I am at the mercy of events beyond my control and I no longer have a safety cushion to fall back upon.  I've been laid off numerous times before.  Though angry at those times I wasn't very worried because I always had a rainy day fun set aside for exactly that purpose.  My rainy day fund was exhausted almost two years ago to pay for books, pay off debts, buy a laptop, etc.  I despise being in a position where I have to ask my family for the money to pay for summer classes because the school suddenly had no money available for summer students, unexpected E.R. visits, broken differentials, leaking bathroom pipes, or just the damn phone bill! 
This has been the summer of one step forward, four steps back.  Even the smallest victories seem to have been such a struggle to achieve.  The minor defeats so ultimately frustrating.  The major defeats so utterly devastating.  The sad thing is that adding all these problems together still results in a moderately small amount.  The money cost of the problems are not that big in the grand scheme of things.  Many people would kill to have my problems.  There are people dying in civil wars, suffering from cancer, getting called up for active duty, living through a tornado, getting beat with alligators, or having their bedrooms flooded in the monsoons!  Yet it is all about the feeling of control.  I can't control cancer, war, the weather, and domestic violence.  I used to have some control over the problems in my life and now I don't.  I decided to go to school so I could chart my own course in the face of the wind, yet as many of us are discovering now, the wind still controls us.
Tomorrow is a new day.  I'll see if I can salvage anything from today then.  I think I'll start off with dumping some things in the recycling bin.

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