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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Last night

My final night of work made me kind of glad it was my final night of work.

My commute started off undramatically.  I left the house early, and made good time to just past the point where Montage Mountain traffic merges onto Interstate 81.  For the past few years this has been a bottleneck, particularly during Christmas shopping season and during the frequent periods of construction.  But for the past month or so traffic has been remarkably free-flowing through there - until yesterday.  Traffic slowed to a crawl just past this merger.  I checked my dashboard clock:  5:35.  I had twenty-five minutes to go about ten miles.  Traffic continued to crawl along the Cemetery Bridge construction zone and almost all the way to the exit for the Central Scranton Expressway, at which point the congestion mysteriously vanished and cars were free to move at highway speeds again.  By then it was about 5:45.  I had traveled about one mile in ten minutes.

I made it to work on time, but later than I would have liked.  We were operating with a skeleton crew.  Many of our systems were down, including the ones I have been regularly working on.  I was assigned to four very fast systems that I have worked with before.  These systems usually run trouble-free, unlike my usual systems, but require constant attention to unload the discs that are being made.  Unfortunately, last night three out of four of them had small orders, meaning frequent stamper changes.  Even with plenty of help from other people (including the tech and assistant group leader from my dream the other night) for which I am extremely grateful, I still ran my ass off.

By the end of the night I was exhausted, emotionally as well as physically.  But I never slacked off.  That's not my thing.  I never really received closure for the night:  it was already after 6:00 when I realized my relief had not showed up, so there was no one to give a turnover to.  But at that point I was no longer an employee of the organization, and it was time to go.

People have been making their goodbyes for a while, knowing that with the rolling layoffs any day could be the last day we were seeing each other.  There were plenty of goodbyes all around last night.  I punched out at 6:05, by which point most of the people who had been there were gone.  I used my badge to swipe through the turnstiles out of the building, then handed it to one of the guards who wanded me to make sure I hadn't stuffed my pockets with DVDs on the way out.  Then I was done.

I headed to my house, brushed my teeth, washed my face, changed my clothes, and collapsed into bed.  I awoke about six hours later to the sound of a soul being tortured in the deepest pit of Hell, which turned out to be an opera being broadcast on the NPR affiliate that I use as my wake-up music.  I got out of bed and eased into my slippers to make the trek down the hall to the bathroom, and suddenly realized that last night's adventures had crippled me to the point that I couldn't walk.  This is not an unusual situation, but is always worse when I have had a particularly strenuous night.  It can sometimes take five to ten minutes for me to get onto my feet.  Unfortunately I had an urgent issue that needed attending to at the far end of the hall.  I contemplated crawling there, but was able to force myself to my feet and lurch along the hallway wall, hoping that I wouldn't crash through the century-old plaster.

The good news is, I made it.  The bad news is, my feet still hurt.  As I write this I have my feet in one of those heated foot massagers I got for Christmas a few years ago.  The pain will go away in a day or so, maybe even overnight.  But until then it will be a reminder of what fun I had on my last night of work.

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