God Bless Inchy! The Incremental Elf! What a week I’ve had.Went to work on Monday morning with no idea what the week would bring.Immediately got a call from Niaz that I’d been requested for a word processing shift that evening, and could I work 4:00 to midnight? Yes, I could. This was most excellent because a) it’s my first Word Processing gig in NYC – one step closer to the goal; and b) it paid more than proofreading. Things are happening! The commute from Job 1 (contract review) to Job 2 (law firm) is only about 20 minutes, so I was able to leave and get there without wasting too much time.

Once I arrived, the first few jobs they gave me were pretty easy, and I was bound and determined to prove myself. But, then came a job that required formatting those damn multi-level bullets. Remember the ones that messed me up on the job test back in September? The thing is, every firm has their own way of dealing with these. Fortunately, the word processor sitting next to me came over and showed me the software to fix it. There was a button to “strip” the document (in my day we just did “select all ctrl + shift + N,ctrl + space). Then a button that imported firm styles, then he did the multi-level list for me, explaining it as if I had no idea what it was (I let him think that), then there’s a button that imports, and replaces everything at once.Pretty cool. He left me to “clean” the document and I was very grateful.

The rest of the evening went smoothly, and I think I showed myself well. Tuesday, they asked me back as a proofreader, so once again I left Job 1 early, and worked a 5:00 to 1:00am shift. This place is kind of dysfunctional,with lots of grousing about people who are absent. Very unorganized, and absolutely no accountability. I get it. I think the reason I look back fondly on the last WP job I had in NY is because somehow it was a center where we took real pride in our work. We felt part of the firm, we could lecture the bankers on the right way to do things. We had some authority as experts. In the present economy, many of the firms outsource the work to vendors and there’s not really any accountability. And there’s no encouragement for accountability. The pay is low, the respect is low. It does make me question wanting to go into this field.

I compared experiences with one of the supervisors at the temp job, she too had tested at some of the places I had. She’d even been employed at the firm that pays the 75K! The one I tested for when I first came here. She told me it wasn’t worth the money. That it was a bad place to work. I’m hoping to get more specific insight, because the place she’s working isn’t that great,with all the sniping. Is it an unpleasant place because they hold you accountable? I would like that. It’s like students who give bad evaluations when the class expectations are too high for them. Some people like that, some don’t. Personally, I think I would. Apparently, there’s quite a bit of grumbling about one place in particular, even the agents say “Oh, you don’t want to work there.” Thing is, I’d like to make up my own mind on that one.

On Wednesday the HR person for the weekend job emailed,asking for a time to chat on the phone. We played phone tag for a bit, and when I finally spoke with her, she said she’d initially wanted to just do a follow-up with me, but the company had called and said I was by far the strongest candidate,so I got the job. Let me type that again I. GOT. THE. JOB!

Even though the pay is so low, $22 an hour for a weekend graveyard shift (both of those are supposed to up hourly wages), I said yes. I am thinking that having a solid $500 a week will help get me by the “pauses”from the contract job, and maybe I can either temp regularly during the week or break in to something like technical writing or freelance writing. I figure if I have some solid, regular income it will give me the freedom to do something else. It’s not the full 75K3DayERR, but it’s a step. An incremental step. It will look good on my resume, I will get to learn the latest software and practices, and eventually I could move up, or on to better things. So. Just shy of six months in New York, I have achieved one important goal.

It gets better.

When the HR woman offered me the job, she said they’d adjusted the pay rate. Now it pays $26.65. That’s $600 a week. Thanks, Inchy! The job is near Rockerfeller Center and Times Square, it will two 12 hour overnight shifts, just like my first WP job in NYC in 1988. Pays about the same too. The one selling point the supervisor had in the interview was that I’d be working with nice people. I won’t really, I’ll be working alone, but when I do work with them, I hope they’re more positive than where I work now.

View from the 42nd floor at night

I love working in these buildings in midtown Manhattan at night. I am on the 42nd floor, looking out across the city. The other night I could hear crowds cheering in Times Square, they were watching something on a big screen, football maybe?

Job 2 called me for Wednesday, but I turned them down and worked a full 6 hours for Job 1. I said yes to another word processing gig on Thursday and did the double. This one from 3:00pm to 11:00pm. I do like the double shifts better than overnights when doing two jobs. When I showed up the supervisor said, “Oh, that was for next Thursday!” I offered to leave and go back to my first job, but she let me stay. There wasn’t a lot to do, and there were a bunch of women doing very lavish Xmas decorations (with wine) in the break area, so I ended up eating my dinner standing up in a corner kitchen. The supervisor for the evening shift is an incredibly acerbic man who makes very dry jokes all the time. The kind of humor that can be really hurtful, if you’re thin skinned, or have no sense of humor. I get most of his jokes, and I think he appreciates me for that. But, it’s a little unnerving. A lot of negativity.And I am afraid to ask questions, because he says things like “I thought you said you knew this stuff!” Well, I do. Just not the way you do it.

Towards the end of the night I got another formatting job with the multilevel bullets and I tried to fix it on my own without asking for help,but damn, it didn’t work. I finally had to ask my kindly neighbor to show me it again, which he did. But he just clicks here, and there, and here again. And I can’t follow everything. The supervisor seemed to mind that I was asking for help. It’s not like we were busy, and I was taking the other WP away from a job.I couldn’t tell at the end of my shift if he was truly mad or not.

I had noticed as I passed by my neighbor’s cubicle that he was reading a novel on his screen. I used to do that, to look busy – before the days of Kindle. I would download classics, like David Copperfield, or Vanity Fair, and read them at my desk. It made me wonder if I couldn’t simply read my kindle.

One thing I did do, to keep busy that night, was to write out instructions to temps who are working in that center. Since no one told me anything,and when they did it was very piecemeal, and changed every night, I thought it could be helpful, and good tech writing experience. It’s harder than I thought it would be, but I am going to keep working on it.

Friday at Job 1, no calls to come in and work another shift.I’d half decided I would say no, if they did because it was my last night alone in my apartment for a month. Job 1 seems to be winding down, we’re QAing little odds and ends now. Might not even last a whole week.

Niaz called me to see if he could send me for proofreading testing at a new law firm next week. Great. It’s so bizarre that after five months and so many staffing agencies I’m finally getting sent out the way I used to be. It’s like: Oh, here’s the experience I remember.

One of the Indian men called me with a proofreading job in pharmaceuticals,contract. He pushed hard to submit me, and I said yes. I made sure he’d read my resume, and thought I was a good fit, because these jobs never seem to materialize. But, if it did, it might be a way to break into medical writing or tech writing. Very lucrative. It’s only for three months, so I figured I could somehow manage to do both jobs if I got them. But I doubt I will.

My first Uber experiences. The first graveyard I did was my first experience with Uber, and it wasn’t everything I expected. First, I put my address in the app and it told me to go to a pickup spot around the corner.So, I’m standing on Bailey Street and 238th at 11pm, with someone named Mohammed four minutes away. Then eight. Then thirteen. What? Then suddenly it’s a Ramon, at three minutes away, and he picks me up. I try to ask him about the first driver, but this one speaks no English. Not that I can understand anyway.

We’re driving down the West Side Highway, and I’m flooded with memories. In the old days the company would pay for a car service home every night. Here, my staffing agency is giving me $15 towards one. Suddenly Ramon gets off the highway and is driving into Inwood. He says something about a pickup, and I thought he was talking about the first driver, but no, he’s picking up another passenger. I got nervous about arriving at work on time. The new passenger was going to Penn Station so I figured he would have to drop me off first at 49th street. It worked, but it was unsettling. The passenger had to interpret for me.

The next night went a bit better, I was more prepared, and the driver was helpful in explaining more about how it works. Essentially, you enter your destination on the app and you get two options: one for “pool” and one for “UberX” which is a private ride, more expensive, almost double the cost. I chose the Pool option, which meant I was willing to share the ride with whoever else needed picked up going in the same direction.

Last week, going the other direction at midnight, or 1 am,the car would already have riders in it. I am instructed to walk a few blocks to the pickup place. My first ride was in a new shiny black Avalon. My father drives an Avalon and he gave me his old Avalon 20 years ago. I sat in the front, as the back was full, and immediately started asking the driver about his car. I told him I’d just sold mine with over 300,000 miles on it. After a while he asked me how much I sold it for? I told him $500, and we both started giggling,staring into each other’s faces. After he dropped the couple in the back off in Inwood, it was a short drive up Broadway to my place. How lucky, to have two drop-offs so close. He asked me about NY, and where was I from, and I told him, and somehow mentioned other places I lived which prompted him to ask how old I was,and I told him. The few times I get that question I am tempted to ask, “How old do you think?” because I am curious, and insecure, but it sounds coquettish, so I don’t.

He didn’t like NY, thought everyone was mean, and had three kids back in Egypt. He wanted to live in Florida, but I don’t think he’d every been out of the city. How to explain the rest of the country to an immigrant in New York? Plato’s Cave. Is it a fair impression if you only see it through Trump Rallies? For an immigrant of color, a Muslim? Maybe yes.

Finally, Xmas is everywhere. I came home and even my lobby is decorated! It’s getting cold. The Cuban and the Ukrainian in my office both complain about the cold when it’s in the 40s outside. Hah. Efrain thinks the Christmas trees with Menorahs everywhere is a funny American thing. I explain to him how important it is to be inclusive, but he gets it. He tells me that in Cuba no one is allowed to decorate outside at all, although they do decorate inside their homes.

Not only are there Menorahs everywhere — on the guard’s desk at the entrance, at the reception, on the streets – they are maintained, and the candles are lit or installed each day. At Sindecuse, IF they put up a Menorah, no one knew how or where to put the candles.

Today I was walking to Target on 231st and a man was playing Christmas music on an amplified electric guitar. The hardware store sells bundles of firewood. Who has a fireplace here? But they sell. Before I got to Target, I stopped at one of the many discount stores on the street and found almost everything I was looking for, so no Target for me. Tomorrow I need to go get a drug test done for the job, and my official start date is the 17th,for training. Meanwhile, I’m hoping to do some more double shifts, temping in the evening this week. I am sure it will dry up with the holidays after that.Someone in one of the offices somewhere told me that temping is strong at this time of the year and hiring gets stronger in January. We’ll see. Fingers crossed, once again.

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