I love my job. For those of you who don’t know, I lucked out and got one of those university summer jobs that is the next best thing to unemployment. My most taxing responsibility is checking the temperature in the server room to make sure that the massive computers aren’t about to burst into flame. This could, hypothetically, turn into a very exciting and adrenaline-inducing job if the display ever read high than the proscribed danger zone of seventy degrees, but since it hasn’t ever even hit sixty-five, my action hero plan of running like lightning to phone the boss with the ever-so-dire news may have to wait.
I love my job, but the problem with being responsible for absolutely nothing of importance is that the small things you are in charge of start to seem important. For instance, we open at nine in the morning, unless I in my infinite generosity choose to unlock early. Not 8:45, not 8:57, and heaven have mercy on the insolent fool who dares to be so rude as to KNOCK on the door before I’m ready to open it. Especially given the fact that it’s generally too hot for my morning cup of tea right now. No tea + not enough to do = exploding head when an over-privileged undergraduate decides to make a habit of pounding on the door early to beat the masses to the big, comfy study rooms.
I am also in charge of periodically counting the number of students who use the center. During the summer, I wouldn’t need to take off my mittens to keep track. My thumbs usually suffice. I suppose it is possible that all four or our regular summer patrons could come by at the same time, first thing in the morning, demanding a comfy study room. Who am I to judge another person’s paranoia?
And yet, I do, because what on earth else am I going to do with my time? Writing a novel and many cover letters does not actually crowd out the mental space that irritation with stupid things occupies. In fact, I think it almost justifies dwelling on such nonsense, because I sit around wondering how I can lampoon these people in writing and then it feels like I’m almost working. The cleaning and packing frenzy I have been indulging in at home is actually a pathetic attempt to redeem my sanity, which scares me a little.
Of course, there is a grain of legitimacy to my annoyance, and therein lies the rub. Paranoid-Knocking-Guy is arrogant and rude, even if this particular rude request is not so outrageous. Likewise, people who change the desktop images to pictures of boobs or anatomically impossible anime characters are crass and inconsiderate of other users, even if it doesn’t take me much effort to restart the computer when I find the backgrounds in the morning. And my co-worker who sent out pseudo-personal emails canvassing for support on what was intended to be an anonymous vote is sleazy and unethical, even though the contest is only for a few thirty-dollar prizes that I don’t care about.
It’s not what they’re doing or how it affects me that drives me nuts. It’s the principle of the thing, which I have way too much time to spend caring about right now. Unemployment is not good for my self-righteousness gland or my indignity nerve.
In this frame of mind, I get to take the train out to Norwood to deal with our electric-company-to-be in person this afternoon. My hopes are not high that all will go smoothly, because my experience with utilities companies has shown me that those who answer the phones and keep the records suffer from the same lack of important things to occupy them, only they have the power to turn off the lights. Not a promising combination.
Cross your fingers that the woman on the phone gave me an accurate list of all the documents I need to bring in. My poor skull is pushing the limit of its ability to contain tiny “it’s the principle of the thing” brain explosions.
P.S. If you didn’t get the title reference, watch this. Then go out and rent Pirates of Penzance.