Monday, November 22, 2010

Salad Spinner

One of the current projects at work is a big writing project, which would be great if I could just sit and write the words, but it isn’t up to me. Said project has a team of historians allegedly researching and writing content that I would edit. Ha! Their team leader told them the content was due “mid-November,” which was last Monday, according to my calendar (and a couple others I checked just to be sure). Apparently, the historians, being rooted in the past, are having a hard time dealing with the present, because one week beyond the due date the content is still missing. As a result, my boss, the head historian (whose team seems to have hung him out to dry) and I are spending insane hours in the conference room attempting to explain Clarksville’s role in the Civil War in 50 to 75 word sound bites. And when I say “insane hours” I mean a minimum of three and as many as six hours at a stretch. It now appears certain that by the time this is done, the hours logged in preparing the copy will equal the total hours of the actual Civil War.

The conference room incarceration is killing me. The problem is not spending that much time on a task, especially writing, which I love to do. Spending focused time on one project is a luxurious change from being at my desk, where I am interrupted approximately every 2.7 minutes. The problem is being trapped in one spot for that long, butt growing roots to the chair.

Working at my desk, I get up a lot – speed walking to the printer for a report, to the kitchenette for water, to someone’s desk with a question. (Why amble when you can race?) But there is nowhere to go in the conference room. Running laps around the table would be fun, but there’s no space for it, and I am usually trying to type, which is a horror story in itself. I am a crappy typist under the best circumstances. Add an audience witnessing my abominable typing skills on a gigantic flat screen, and the stress of trying to keep up with three people spewing sentences at the same time while flipping through notes to answer a question from another end of the table and it’s quite a recipe for fun.

The conference table surface is too high for typing for any duration, and my shoulders end up hunched to my ears. Elevating the chair prevents the arms from fitting under the table and trades hunching with hyperextension. The alternative is to curl one leg under me and sit on my foot, which raises elevation and works great for the whole ten minutes until the foot goes numb, soon followed by the attached leg. Then there are the contortions involved in angling to see the computer screen some 90 degrees over my shoulder. Setting the keyboard in my lap and facing the screen directly didn’t really work much better.

Water deprivation and being rooted to one spot is tolerable for roughly three hours and then I glaze over and hit the wall. I can literally feel my system shutting down as my ears start ringing, my head gets swimmy, my shoulders scream with tenseness, and my typing gets even worse. By the four hour mark, I get snappish and feel like I need to lie down. Lips dry, head pounding, fingers shriveling with dehydration. It’s like being run through one of those salad spinners that whip the water out of the just washed lettuce. By the time we stumble out of there, I can barely function.

That is how I spent 5.75 hours of my 10.25 hour Monday, and at least three hours each day last week. Thank goodness I remembered to bring my roller derby league fundraiser candy to the office today – five chocolate bars were sold just to get us through the rest of the meeting. Tomorrow looks to be much of the same, with a meeting on the calendar from 12-3, (because who needs lunch, anyway?) and then back with the historian at 3:30 for hopefully the final marathon. I better keep the candy box handy.

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