Monday, September 26, 2005

Why The Fuck Is Love So Complicated???

I am very lonely, and I've made several choices lately that reflect it. I'm not going to whine and cry about how unfair life is like I usually do though. I'm supposed to be a man, so I'll take the results of my actions and move on. I will say that for someone being mature and not sulking over things, I sure still feel like a big loser.

"Laurie" has been very hard to find since she canceled on me a couple of weeks ago. She said that she had major money problems and was basically bouncing between staying at her niece's house and hotels until she could find a place to live. I sent her another $50 and told her that I would be there for her. She told me that the weekend of Sep. 24, last weekend, would be ideal for me to visit because her niece would be out of town and we could use her house and boat on the lake. But every single time I tried to call her at work, she wouldn't speak for more than twenty seconds before hanging up and promising to call me that evening using the free minutes on her niece's cell phone because her phone is still cut off. (When I call Laurie's cell phone, I get the following message: "At the subscriber's request, this phone does not receive incoming calls." That's the exact same message I got when Cassandra had her phone cut off for a week because she lost it, so Laurie's phone may not be off after all, she just may not be taking calls.) But she never called me. Not at night, not on the weekends, not at all. She doesn't leave me e-mail or IMs either, although almost every day she checks in to the MSN site where we met. It's like I'm a dick on layaway, waiting to be used when she's damn good and ready.

So hell is where I've been mentally all month, wondering just what Laurie is doing up there in Detroit that she can't keep in contact with someone who has loaned her $250 but she can leave little cute messages to everyone and their mother at the MSN group. I patiently tried to wait on her, but my patience isn't as strong as I had hoped. I put a personal ad on the first Sunday of the NFL season a couple of weeks ago. The ad wasn't for a date or a fuckbuddy, but for someone to do what I wished I was doing with Laurie that day: Watching football while making out. It was a very specific ad, so I knew that if anyone responded, it would be an aroused female football fan, and someone finally responded two days later. "Crystal" wondered if I was for real, a guy that preferred cuddling on the couch to smoky bars while watching football, and I'm thinking, what guy wouldn't prefer that?? She lived several blocks from me, and she was chunky and white, so combined with her love of football, she was exactly what I was looking for. So my curiosity was piqued and my expectations high for the coming weekend, as well as for the Thursday night that we agreed on for a first meeting.

Predictably, she canceled. She postponed our date 45 minutes while she got ready, then she called back and told me that a friend was having domestic issues with her man and that she didn't want to abandon her in her time of need. I think she came to her senses and realized that normal men don't put out an ad to make out with a total stranger, even if watching football is the premise the man uses, and that normal women don't agree to meet those kinds of men. She left an e-mail apologizing and asking me to get in touch with her so that we could reschedule, but I haven't called her since that night. I think we're both waiting for the other to make the next move so that we don't feel like the more desperate of the two, but the fact that I put out that ad and the fact that she responded to it pretty much blows mutual respect out of the water, in my honest opinion. So we'll probably never speak again, each taking pride in not having to stoop that low for a date. I still have her phone number saved in my cell phone, but I can't imagine a circumstance where I'd dial it. Drunk dialing is not an option for me, since I never get drunk.

That leaves me still out on an island where I can't see Laurie and I have to wait for her to decide to contact the island and let me know that she still wants me in her life since I can't contact her. One problem is that I had heard from her so infrequently that I made the decision to put that personal ad out there not as a piece on the side in addition to her, but as a way of looking for a piece period. I really don't see how I could be "cheating" on Laurie since there has been no agreement of exclusive dating, simply a request by her a while ago to inform her if I do get with someone. So that's what I did. I called Laurie at work the day of my date with Crystal, and I calmly told her that I was (or so I thought) hanging out with a chick that night and watching football with her that weekend. Her response: Sort of a laughing, nervous accusation that I was fooling around behind her back. My response: Sort of a nervous, laughing denial that I had anything but honorable intentions. She actually apologized the next day through IM for thinking that I was going to get some, before she found out from me that Crystal and I didn't meet and that I didn't get any. But I'm still very, very confused. If Laurie and I are an exclusive item, she sure acts funny for someone that's supposed to be my girlfriend. I never hear from her. I can't come see her anytime I want. I was prepared to go last weekend, and I told her this as early as last Monday, but she told me that instead of the weekend that her niece's house and boat would be available to us, she would rather me come up this coming weekend because she had a chance to work overtime last weekend. If this weekend comes, and a) she gives me another excuse why I can't come, or b) I don't hear from her at all, that's about the end of my patience. For good. Crystal or any other backup plan be damned. Enough is enough.

As for the rest of my life...the job still sucks, although I'm no longer seated next to the woman with B.O., but now we are tallying our output upon orders from the vice-president every day despite a worldwide acknowledgement that the system we use slows down drastically or completely crashes every time the full number of computers is in use...the classes are going ok, I just turned in a paper for social science and breezed through a quiz for lit today...I won the Central Division for the second year in a row in the franchise mode of MVP Baseball for PlayStation2 (but I play the Yankees in the first round of the playoffs), and my Madden team started 3-0...a woman from Connecticut I've never met but I've had phone sex with a couple of times keeps calling me and telling me how much she'd like to meet me (not gonna happen)..."Torrie" told me that she needed to change things for some unknown reason, so she's now blonde...and I've at least taken advantage of not having anyone to make out and watch football with by working overtime hours the last two Saturdays. I'd like to, you know, hang out with someone who cares for me like a normal human instead of going to a place I hate immensely, but that's not an option. They relaxed a lot of their silly little rules because it's the weekend, however, so I was able to work with headphones on, and it made things much more enjoyable because I was able to do what I am very, very comfortable with doing: Isolate myself from everyone else in this cruel world and be all by myself. I'm way too used to it, but I seem to be powerless to change it.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


No big political or social vent, just plain old-fashioned stank. Had to sit next to a woman for EIGHT HOURS today who smelled worse than street bums. And she liked to exhale long and hard and often cause she thought she was working so hard, and every time she stood up or exhaled I thought I was going to pass out. I mean we sang every funk song we could think of, "Git The Funk Out Ma Face" by Brothers Johnson, "Bustin Out" by Rick James ("We're busting out on some serious FUNK..."), "Make It Funky" by the Godfather...and she didn't get it at all, just kept blabbing away about her seven cats or some shit. Just nasty. And just to fuck with me, I bet they put her there again tomorrow right next to me. The lesson of the story, kids: You shouldn't have to hand out clothespins for people to put on their noses just to sit next to you. AAARRRGGH!!

Monday, September 12, 2005

A Fellow Temp's Sympathy

My workplace has a reputation. Last week I described to my literature teacher the circumstances of my job--shitty people, ignorant higher-ups who don't know what the fuck's going on, one person telling you one thing and someone else telling you the exact opposite--and apparently I was overheard. Ten minutes ago, when I left said lit class, a classmate who I've never met before stopped me in the hallway and asked if I still was dealing with the crappy temp job. I said yes, and it's getting worse. He told me that he's had success and better jobs with his temp agency, Lakeshore. I told him that we have some Lakeshore people working with us. Then he startled me by saying, "You're not at CEDA, are you?" I sheepishly smiled and showed him my CEDA badge, which he couldn't have previously seen because I put that thing deep in my pocket when I come to school because I'm embarrassed by it. He informed me that he used to work for CEDA in a prior temp position (probably the exact same one I'm doing, now that I think about it) and that was why the job sounded so familiar when I described it. But I never said where it was or who by name I was with. This random guy out of the blue simply heard a description of a really fucked-up gig and figured that it must be CEDA. How pathetic is that? Well, I told him what I told my temp agency, Smart Resources, when I went there to drop off my timesheet last Friday--if they can find me another job, let me know ASAP. I'm ready to get out of there already. And to think, this is only the beginning of the week. God, please, just kill me now.

Saturday, September 10, 2005


Short post today, I'm tired. Not only am I still adjusting to working every day, but Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday I came to work at 7A, meaning I woke up just after 5A all of those days. Showering when it's dark outside is not fun. Hell, it actually reminded me of Saturdays showering before I left the house at 5P a couple of winters ago to take a Metra train to Kenosha, WI, to date this girl named "Karen" that I was crazy about. Bad flashbacks. Not all bad, actually; we had some fun back when I thought she was an honest person, and she was the first woman I dated since becoming an adult, so that was significant. I'm rambling. Anyway, CEDA kept bouncing schedules and telling us one thing and then another, and that's why we wound up working at 7A. They told us all to come in Wednesday from 7A to 3:30P, the same eight hours that we agreed to when we were hired but at a different time. But when we showed up Wednesday, they tried to say that now they wanted us to stay until 5P, which would be a ten-hour workday. Most people stayed just to get the extra money, but I had classes Wednesday, and I was already beat, so I lied and told them that I had an appointment at school scheduled and I had to leave at 3:30 like we were told we could. Again, just the principle of the thing. I'm not agreeing to shit like staying longer hours when there's nothing in it for me. A bonus and/or a possible promotion, sure. The same bullshit payrate we're getting anyway? Fuck no. When I came back Thursday, my co-workers told me that at the end of the day Wednesday, everyone was given a choice of working 7A to 3:30P or 8:30A to 5P. Having more time after work to set up my fantasy football teams was more important than sleep, so I decided to come in at 7A yesterday. But I'm leaning towards taking the original 8:30A-5P shift next week. Waking up that early is just ungodly.

So I was sitting on the can earlier starting to feel sorry for myself again. I wasn't supposed to be home this weekend; "Laurie" targeted this weekend a while back as the weekend she would come meet me for the first time, and I was going to rent a room downtown because I'd rather not host her at my small, dingy apartment. But she told me Monday that she wouldn't be able to come because she's still having trouble finding a place to live, and her money is short again, so short that her phone has been cut off, and her father in Florida is sick and she might have to go there. She also said that I could come see her in Detroit, but if she's still staying at her niece's house in a couple of weeks, I might want to wait until then because her niece will be out of town and we could stay there on her niece's boat. She told me on IM Monday night that she would talk to her sister and niece that evening and figure out exactly what's going to happen this weekend and she would let me know. That's the last time I've heard from her, but she has been posting messages at the MSN site where we met all week, so she has computer access at her job, she just hasn't seen fit to e-mail me and let me know what the fuck is going on. So I'm feeling down, thinking that I could be there with her this weekend but I'm not, and I could be hanging out with a Mexican hottie at work that is a sports fan and loves the White Sox and wants to make football picks with me (um, can you say my dream woman???) and is single and lives not far from me, but it's up to her if she wants to hang with me because I gave her my phone number but she hasn't called, and I could be hanging out with friends but I don't have any, and I could be getting ready to go to the club tonight and find some companionship there, except I have zero confidence that I would have any it's going to be another weekend all alone watching sports and getting fatter. Woe is me, cry, whimper, cry...and then a thought bubble came over my head that said, "Hey, you can catch a flight to New Orleans and see what tough living is REALLY all about." So there's a little perspective. Whatever I'm doing this weekend, it's lonely, it's pathetic...but as an alternative to being with a loved one, it's what I want to do. At least I have a choice of doing leisurely things. I don't have to pick up the pieces from a storm that ruined my life. I don't have to look for housing. I don't have to worry about not getting a paycheck due to my worksite being destroyed. I don't have to worry about my loved ones getting robbed or raped by hoodlums with no fear of police since they know the cops are busy with other tasks. I don't have to worry about the health risks of dead bodies floating in the water, contaminating everything with E.coli and other bacteria. How sad to think about what's going on down there. I've never been to New Orleans, but I worked with a couple of guys who have attended Mardi Gras, and the stories and pictures they had made me vow to experience that town just once. It sounded like New Orleans was just one big party. A sports columnist who was there when a Super Bowl took place at the Superdome with his favorite team wrote an article wondering if New Orleans would ever be the same. If it won't, boy am I sorry I missed it. Here's hoping it will, not just for the future partying tourists like me but, most importantly, for the locals whose lives were uprooted.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Livin' For The Weekend

I am very tired as I sit here typing this entry. I had forgotten how hard it is to wake up early in the morning and, instead of lounging around in the bed until the urge to use the bathroom becomes immediate, have to get up and start my day. As a result, I was technically "late" my first two days on my new job. I showed up three to five minutes after the 8:30A starting time. Of course, it has not been a big deal yet because this place is so disorganized, we did absolutely, positively NO work our first two days, then lost the second half of yesterday to a crashed computer system. All I can say is, I now understand why there was practically no interview process when I went to the agency that hired me for this job Monday. They just want warm bodies. You, the reader, could send a 4-year-old up there to bang around on the computer, and he or she would be asked if an actual paycheck would be fine or whether direct deposit would be preferred. (And the agency failed to tell me that they were charging a $1 processing fee for direct deposit--I read it on the brochure way after the fact--or else I may not have chosen that option.)

As I said, I was a few minutes late arriving for my first day Wednesday, but I caught the group of temp workers as they headed up one flight of stairs from the 19th floor, where we were told by our temp agency to come, to the 20th floor. Once there, we were led into a snazzy-looking conference room, where we sat in stone silence for about a half-hour. Someone named Janet informed us that the training materials were still being worked on and that we would start training shortly. But we would not be trained for the data entry position that we all thought we were there for.

My attempt at a brief description of what this place does: It's called CEDA, and I don't remember what it stands for, nor do I give a fuck. It's located on the 19th and 20th floors of the Federal Reserve Bank building, 208 S. LaSalle, a block and a half from CBOE, my place of employment for ten years. It's a place that gives out assistance to low-income and disabled people in Chicago. They have two programs. One is called a cooling program for people who don't want to go through a Chicago summer without power. The counter to that, the heating program, just started this past Thursday, September 1, and will last through the end of December. In both cases, people who want assistance provide proof of income, proof of Social Security numbers for everyone in the household, proof of disability if they're disabled, and a current energy bill, and those that fit whatever the requirements are receive credit directly to their People's Energy and/or Commonwealth Edison accounts. I only put the monthly income into the little boxes on the computer, I have no idea what the cutoff is as far as how much income is too much.

At least that's what my job is supposed to be. This place is tremendously understaffed, which was punctuated by the several long periods my temp group had sitting in the conference room or the lunchroom waiting for someone to come speak to us about the importance of the program, which is all they could do because, since the computers were not ready, we couldn't do any actual work. But when Janet finally finished preparing our training packets, she explained that we were being trained to do intake, which means we were being shown how to take the applications of those wanting assistance, which is not what we were hired to do. She explained that some people may be asked to do intake instead of data entry, and of the twenty or so temp workers in the conference room on Wednesday, she was even taking two of us with her to the emergency intake area, which is where people who have not paid their energy bills for so long that they have been cut off go to bitch and moan about such lovely things as why they can't get assistance because their proof of income is not acceptable. (One woman was chosen to go to emergency because she spoke some Spanish; I don't know who else was chosen, but I was doing data entry yesterday with everyone else, so thankfully it wasn't me.) Janet also explained that we had to pay attention to the intake process because we needed to know what to look for to verify the applications before we put them into the computer to be processed. That's what made up the bulk of the training packet--different examples of paychecks, Social Security proof, official income all seemed like a lot for temp data entry workers to have to learn, and it was. We learned from other temp workers that worked there before that this was the first year that they were asking data entry clerks to verify before they entered the applications; verifiers in the past were separate workers, and the data entry clerks would receive the apps only after they had been verified. So they combined those two jobs this year to save a buck, presumably. Hey, they can't get too upset with me screwing a file up while I try to verify it; they only gave me a two-hour training session on what to look for, and not only that, but many scenarios came up yesterday when I actually received some apps to put into the computer that were not covered in the training, and it was hard to find anyone in charge to ask what to do because they were all busy running around performing other tasks. And even then, some advice from those "in charge" was different than what other people "in charge" advised.

Then there's the flak over hours. Janet, who's not really in charge of anything but was our trainer so she tried to tell us what she thought was going to be the deal, said that 8:30A to 5P sounded correct, which is what we were told by the temp agency, Smart Resources. Everyone else that spoke to us, even the vice-president, a Botox-looking blonde, said not so fast, it all depends on what kind of production was happening and what was desired. Vice-president means only one person in the whole organization is over you, right? So you should know small things, like, I don't know, what hours and days we're working. But when I asked her as late as 10A yesterday morning if we were working Monday, Labor Day, she told me that she didn't know and that there should be an answer to that question hopefully by midday. About an hour later, a woman who spoke to us Wednesday and was recognized as someone employed full-time by CEDA but who isn't really in charge of anything announced to us while we attempted to do our best to enter these boxes and boxes of apps that, according to the vice-president, we were being told to work longer hours today (Friday), until 10P(!), and that we were to come to work the next day, Saturday, from 10A to 4P, and that all of this was "mandatory." I laughed. CEDA does not employ me. Smart Resources does, and they told me 8:30A to 5P Mondays through Fridays when I was hired. I knew that I was leaving at 5P and that I wasn't showing up Saturdays, no matter what CEDA thought, and I knew that if they had a problem with it, they would have to speak to Smart Resources about it. A fellow temp worker actually called Smart Resources and confirmed over the phone that 8:30A to 5P was as long as we had to stay there. CEDA passed around two sheets of notebook paper, one for how long people were going to be able to stay Friday on such short notice, and one for how many hours people would commit to the "mandatory" Saturday workday. I put down 8:30A to 5P for myself on the Friday paper. I didn't put my name on the Saturday paper at all.

My thing was this: CEDA seemed to be so hungry for bodies that they would walk all over and ignore someone's special requests if that someone tried to be cooperative and give them extra hours. And I don't have Mondays and Wednesdays to give them because my college classes are at 5:30P on those days. So I'm not going to cooperate at all. It's the principle of the thing. They don't need to know that I had extra hours to give them yesterday and today. They appear to be the type to take advantage of the knowledge that I have no life and I have extra hours to give them. And if I allow them to take advantage of me on such short notice once or twice, then I run the risk of them assuming that I can do that for them at any time. I don't want to tell them about my school hours because then they can assume that I'll be available to them for all other hours, and that's my time to chill. I am not giving these people 60 or 70 hours a week. They don't seem to be the type to appreciate it. And because they don't employ me, I don't have to. There's countless single mothers in there as temp workers that have to run home and take care of their kids. They don't have those hours to give. But it's okay because they were irresponsible and fooled around and got knocked up, so let them go, they have to take care of the little ones. But because I'm responsible and I'm not having kids until I get married, I should suffer and take the extra hours? FUCK THAT. Pretend I'm a slut that got knocked up and I have to go home when I was told I could go home, at 5P like I agreed to when I took the damn job. Pretend that I don't have extra hours to give because my choice of a baby daddy is an asshole who was hot when I met him at the club, but he doesn't give a fuck about the kids, so I gotta run and get them at the time that I said I would because he won't. Do not punish me because I chose not to have those responsibilities until I was ready. And anyone who takes offense to that can go to hell along with their baby daddy.

The Botox blonde vice-president was not there to annouce these new hours, but the woman announcing them said that these orders came from the vice-president, which made them mandatory. She did say that Monday was a national holiday and that the place would be closed, but I just know that if the place were open it would be "mandatory" that we would be there for that as well. Whatever this woman was in charge of, she was also the person to go to in the morning and evening to sign in and out. But it was a long day for her yesterday, so long that when those of us who intended to leave at 5P lined up to sign out, she eventually yelled, "Everyone just go! I'll sign all of you out! Just go!" What would worry me about that is, if I'm staying after 5P, how can I be sure that she didn't sign me out as leaving at 5P, robbing me of my extra hours of salary? Is everyone that didn't sign out at whatever time they left going to be assumed as leaving at 5P? And if that's the case, what would have stopped me from leaving at 10A if I'm being signed out at 5P? That's the kind of place this is--poorly run, disheveled, desperately in need of people who care about such things as organization and order. As for the mandatory Saturday, literally seconds before we 5P'ers left, the skinny white woman in charge of the data entry area announced that the computer problems that resulted in no processed applications by me the last three hours I was there were going to be worked on all weekend by the programmers in downstate Springfield, and as a result, working Saturday was not only not mandatory but not an option anymore. Enjoy the three-day weekend after all. By the way, I can't label the girl in charge of the sign-in books as the tall, tattooed black girl because there are many tall, tattooed black girls working for CEDA, some of them in "supervisor" roles. Take that for what it's worth.

Some other points of interest about my new workplace:

  • Someone in charge of giving all of us temp workers our own user I.D.s and passwords for when we log on to the computers took all of our names down for that purpose Thursday afternoon, but we still didn't have our own I.D.s yesterday, so we were all signing in using the I.D.s and passwords of people that were employed by CEDA but happened to be absent yesterday. I was Adam Grenier along with about four others. They better get our own I.D.s ready soon; how else will they keep up with the 100 apps that each of us is expected to process per day according to Janet?

  • This goofy fat black guy who's dressed every day in shorts even though the dress code is supposed to be business casual came into the conference room late Thursday asking all of the men to volunteer to show up at 7A Friday to help move boxes. He heard Janet talk about me, Andre, being one of the men in the room, and noticing that I was big, he waddles over to me and puts his hand on my shoulder and bellows, "Well Andrew here can show up I'm sure." I looked him right in the eye and said, "I can. But I won't." That made the room chuckle. That was an easy decision for me to make. I could make a lot of money as a mover, more than the shitty $10/hr I'm getting now. But I'm not a mover. That same goofy guy was in charge of taking everyone's pic for their I.D.s a few hours earlier. Some hot girl had her pic taken right before me, and he was so busy staring her ass down as she left that he didn't even notice me line up for my pic. When he finally did look at me and my expressionless face, he lined up the shot and muttered, "There's always one." I have no idea if that was referring to the hot girl or my ugly mug, but if he was talking about me, he had absolutely no room to talk. He walked into the lunchroom where everyone had been funneled after the pics were taken and informed a white fellow temp guy that his name was illegible, and when the guy rewrote his name, the goofball checked it out and, satisfied, raised a fist and told the white guy, "Peace out" and left. I stuck up a fist and sarcastically yelled out, "Word to your mother," eliciting another laugh from the room. Yes, I'm getting a kick out of being the class clown. No, I don't like the goofball black dude.

  • The men's room...what can I say. It's a motherfucking 10K run to get to it. You have to go out the door, make a left, go down a hallway that's only about 30 feet long, no biggie, then make another left and go down a hall that seems to be a city block long, and I'm not exaggerating. You also need a key from the front desk to get in, and all day yesterday, that key was missing. The women's bathroom is right outside the door. I made the walk twice yesterday without a key. What did I think was going to happen when I got there? I don't know, maybe I thought I could magically make a key appear with my mind? Maybe I hoped the door would be unlocked? Maybe since I couldn't go to the women's bathroom, I just went to the men's room with no plan whatsoever and hoped for the best? Anyway, it worked out both times. Someone with his own private key who worked for one of the other businesses on the floor happened to be standing there the first time, and he opened it for me. The second time, someone was already in there and I caught the door as he left and snuck in. The toilets are not made of gold. The building is very accessible, to be sure, but it's the 20th floor. It's not like bums are going to pass the word to go to this place on the 20th floor that has great bathrooms. Why the fuck does there have to be a lock?

At least I got some good news financially this week. My financial aid could be processed by the end of the month, meaning I could get reimbursed for my classes. That's assuming that they accept my declaration for my income this year, which did not include the severance I got from CBOE. I actually intended to show them that severance check stub and hope for the best, but that stub got caught between my notebooks when I took them out of my bag before Thursday, and I didn't discover that it was missing before I went to the school, so I just decided to lie and tell them that I had declared all of this year's income instead of having to come back up to the financial aid office at a later date. I don't know if they have a way of finding out that I was lying, but I do know that the woman processing me almost gave me a heart attack by bringing up the $2,000 I have in my savings account, which she knew because it came up on her screen when she tried to send my application through. Guess I'll find out what they know soon enough. Cassandra met me Thursday morning and gave me $200 of the $1,500 she owes me. I called her Wednesday and arranged to meet her outside my new workplace at lunch, but she managed to miss me even though I weigh about 6,192 pounds, and I wound up burning my entire half-hour lunch standing outside. But on my lunch break Thursday I called a dude who owes me $500 from a football bet and still works at CBOE, and when he met me he had $300 in cash waiting for me. My man. I didn't even ask him for money on such short notice, all I asked him was to come down and meet me outside CBOE so we could talk. And he hit me with a roll of bills as soon as he saw me. And the coup-de-grace: The fare box was broken on the bus home yesterday! I saved $1.75! (It's the little things in life.)

This weekend makes two straight cancellations by women who wanted to meet me for the first time. Last weekend, a Latina from Boston came to Chicago to go to court for child support, and she wanted to have someone who knew the city to hang out with. But we never exchanged phone numbers, and she didn't e-mail me once she got here. Then this weekend, a redhead from Seattle who briefly lived in Aurora was going to visit a friend on the south side, and she wanted to meet me, so I was going to stay at my uncle's last night and hang out with her today. But the last time I spoke to her was Thursday, and at the time she expressed doubt that she was going to make the drive due to the astronomically high gas prices. Next weekend is supposed to be the big meeting between me and "Laurie." But I haven't heard from her in a couple of days. That has me very nervous, but even if I do hear from her and confirm that she is still coming, I no longer have the free time that I thought I was going to have. I actually have a job. So my planning of things like hotel accommodations and activities will have to be very crisp, no wasted motion. Can't I get online at work and plan these things, you ask? This balding, weasly white guy was asked by Janet during intake training whether he agreed with previous assessments of the validity of a paycheck, and he said he did. When she asked why, he actually said the following words: "I'm taking a gamble that the people before me guessed right." Janet is a nice girl, but she didn't take kindly to that. This same guy sat there surfing the net (I clearly saw the Yahoo home page on his screen from where I was sitting) once the system crashed yesterday, prompting the tattooed black girl in charge of the sign-in books to come running up and announce to everyone that surfing the net is not allowed and that the IT guys downstairs can tell when someone's on the net and that you'll get a warning about it once if you're caught, but the second time would probably be your last day. So that's why I won't be getting on the internet at any time during my tenure at this job. But now that I think about it, if they still don't have our own user I.D.s for us by Tuesday, how would they know who's surfing the net? If they can tell by user I.D., well, I was Adam Grenier yesterday, but so were a bunch of other people. If they can tell by computer IP number, if you can't tell exactly who's on what computer, unless I'm caught red-handed by someone, how can you say that it was me on that specific computer surfing the net? It could have been anyone. It's just one more example of how completely screwed up this place is. The next four months are going to be absolute torture. Call it a hunch.