Saturday, September 23, 2006

Workday antics.

Exciting doings at the full-time job as contract attorney. On Wednesday a week ago, the local partner in charge of the project paid a visit to our lowly digs, and told us that the project was going to end on Friday. (Not much notice, sure. But the usual notice on this kind of project is a phone call from your staffing agency when you get home in the evening, telling you that today was your last day and you don’t need to go back. So 2 and a half days notice was actually a lot.)

He thanked us for his hard work and flattered us with outrageous statistics (e.g., the normal “error” rate for this kind of project is about 5 to 8 percent, and our error rate was 0.125 percent), and told us that we could continue to come in and be paid through Friday. He didn’t quite wink, but the point was clear that we really weren’t expected to work all that hard between Wednesday and Friday.

And oh, by the way, two little caveats: 1) they were going to have a small group of 10 or 12 people continue on, doing clean-up and record-keeping work on the project and taking care of any small productions that might come through, and that group would continue on for some 4 to 6 weeks; and 2) if bigger productions came through or if expected (or perhaps "hoped-for") new clients came through, they’d call folks back in, as needed.

Given that there were 65 or so people on the project, having 10 or 12 people stay on wasn’t all that reassuring to most people. And for those who thought they might be among those continuing, neither did subsequent remarks from the associates that the continuing portion might last 2 to 3 weeks, or maybe 6 to 8 weeks.

By Thursday afternoon, though, I’d been asked if I would be willing to be one of those who stayed on. Hmm: Did I want to be employed? Or unemployed? This struck me as one of those questions that answer themselves. Yes, please. (I have to be able to purchase catfood.) Okay, but keep it under your hat that you’re staying on, at least until we’ve got our 10 to 12 lined up.

Fine. We were all pretty good at not revealing whether we were staying on – at least in part, not to rub it in to those who were leaving. Not that that kept us from speculating who the fortunate dozen were. Or from asking, "What are you planning to do next week?" (There was a lot of yard work to be done, the responses indicated, and a lot of applying for unemployment.)

So Monday morning, those of us still on the project showed up with a bit of suspense as to who the lucky twelve would turn out to be. To our surprise, there were twenty of us. Only a couple of surprises in who was kept on, and only a couple of surprises in who wasn’t there. (The non-returnees included folks who had been asked to stay on, but turned the offer down.)

Still, the project is as well-run as always. There’s work to be done, but the folks in charge can’t seem to get it to us in a steady flow, and there are often sizable chunks of time when we’re forced to look like we’re working instead of actually working. Well, that’s okay: we’re getting paid by the hour, not by the piece.

That instruction to look busy came in handy Friday afternoon, when BigLawFirm bigwigs escorted a couple of strangers into our work area, pointing out the space and storage areas – "more than enough to hold all your documents" – and answering the strangers' questions about the software we use to view document images and the like. It seemed less like a sales pitch and more like an implementation visit.

From what we could overhear, it sounds like this is a new project that will come our way, and probably before the current one is completely over. So it's likely that there will be continued employment, probably a good thing.

How geeky am I? Very, it would appear.

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Friday, September 08, 2006

The harder they fall.

It's not all that often that I get to see something interesting on my walk from the parking garage to the office. I did yesterday, though: I spotted Ralph Sampson.

Admittedly, he sticks out in a crowd. And there he was, on the other side of the street, surrounded by 20 reporters, most with TV cameras that were pointed up at a sharp angle. "Well, that's kind of cool," I thought. "Wonder why he's in town?" And then I realized where he was standing: just outside the Federal courthouse. Not the best way to get your name back in the papers again.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The old man is snoring.

Hurricane Ernesto - well, Tropical Storm Ernesto - well, the unnamed tropical depression formerly known as Ernesto - has come and gone. Leaving 325,000 customers without electricity. Guess who's one of them?

Dominion Electric - that bastion of efficiency - has promised that sometime over the weekend they'll be able to tell people when they might get around to restoring their power.

So much for my planned weekend of watching movies on DVD.

Update: The power came back on by Saturday evening, more than 24 hours after it went off. Still, better then than "by Monday," which is what a number of folks were promised. And the good news about scattered power outages, instead of widespread ones, is that when you go to the grocery store for a bag of ice to keep the food in the refrigerator from going bad - there's still ice available.