8 hours a day !!

Monotony kills. This is just a mere statement until you actually get into the context. Once you are there, this statement becomes an understatement. You just feel like, Oh my god!! What really is going around?!! I am just amazed by the people who proudly boast that they have completed 30 years of service and doing the same thing for all those period. I just want to ask that damn guy, how in the world you did it? It is just a mere 4 weeks and I was just waiting for it to get over. To give some context about what I am talking about, the subject matter of interest is the 8 hour a day schedule of my on-campus job. Actually, it is just the subject matter and definitely not a one with an “interest” factor associated with it.

It is quiet natural that you develop boredom and even to an extent a slight amount of frustration if you happen to do the same thing, that doesn’t involve a big deal of interest or challenge over and over again. In today’s professional world this has become very common and there are instances where people leave their job, just to get some fresh air in their daily life. I even have a friend who apparently is tired of his job, telling that “They could train a monkey to do what I am doing now and it will do better than me” So this is how it went. The month of December is the peak time for work related to admissions processing in USC (not only in USC but in almost all Universities). So to manage this additional workload, USC admissions processing hires students to work temporarily during the winter break and the office hours are extended to increase the volume of applications that can be processed. They not only hire students temporarily, but also non student workers on a temporary basis, but they work for an extended period compared to the temporary student workers. The extended office hours are from 9 in the morning till 11 in the night. In this schedule, the non-student workers work from 9 in the morning to may be 3 or 5 in the afternoon.  The temporary student workers on the other hand work from 5 in the evening till 11 when the office closes. I, being one of the permanent student workers am also expected to be a trainer for the temporary student workers. So this brings me to the situation that I am supposed to work in the evenings. However the permanent student workers, who are four in number including me, are permitted to work a maximum of 8 hours a day.  The constraint that there has to be an unpaid 30 minute breaking in between makes it that I have to start at 2.30 pm to clock 8 hours for the day. So I did work close to 8 hours every day.

The month of December is when the winter moves towards its pinnacle and the mornings are really cold. I do manage to wake up around 7 to 7.30 every morning. I did make it a point that I would make it to the gym every day during the winter break (of course only when it is open. The Gym was closed during the week between Christmas and New Year). So in the second half of the winter break it would be around 10.30 when I am done with the gym, bath and my breakfast. So practically during that period I had around 4 hours at my disposal during a day. My day literally ends at 2.30 pm during this time. There was indeed two spells of 4 day holiday during this period, one around Christmas and the other around New Year, of which one was filled with trips to Universal Studios, Las Vegas and some shopping. In spite of this breathing space, the work schedule of 8 hours a day made me wait restlessly for the break to get over and the college to start. The office I work is almost devoid of windows and the lights are on during all the time. You just don’t get to see the day light for most part of the day and that was more annoying. When I was working during the regular college days I used to work in spells and the longest stretch that I used to put would be five to five and half hours a day and that too only one day a week. Further I do rotate around different tasks, but during this period I was in a situation that I do only one kind of task during a day and this would continue for 3 to 4 days. The reason is because the temporary student workers are trained in other tasks and they are put to work in those so the permanent workers are involved in a particular task that does require a bit of experience. There you go, so now I am someone who boasts an experience and that is quiet funny to even me, who started working 3 months before that.

During the initial stage of the winter break schedule I was mostly involved in training the temporary guys and most of the day would pass in teaching them, supervising their work and correcting their work. I did like that part and I did understand that training people is not so simple. But they did get trained quickly and were able to manage themselves. So after some days, it was only in occasions that they sought my help. So in the later part I did resort to the work that I was supposed to do. The same set of keys, the same screen and how long a person can have an ear phone stuck into his ears. I did become tired of listening to music after a while. My efficiency did drop and I knew that. The 30 minute break was 30 minutes only in the time sheet and the occasional break for relaxing extended not only in time but also in frequency. My manager didn’t mind about that a lot.  Twitter and Facebook on mobile became more frequent. I drank coffee just because I was bored. Monday to Friday during the last week looked like an eternity. The temporary workers didn’t feel that bored as me, for it is relatively new to them and they worked only for 6 hours a day.

Having said all this, it was a position that I myself put me in. Nobody forced me into it and I knew that this would happen. Then why am I talking like this? That is because, that’s how I felt. In spite of that I went on with it without much of regrets because, I wanted to. The reason primarily is the good amount of money that you get at the end of it. On the one hand there is me who was waiting for it get over, and on the other there were few others who were concerned whether their stint would be extended or not. Those are the people who didn’t have other jobs. Now the status is that the people who don’t have other job are allowed to continue but they don’t know for how long. Admissions processing is one of the very very few offices that were functioning during the holidays and there were few who worked here had other jobs, but that which do not function during the holidays and they found this as a welcome option. Working on the 31st of December was made optional and a guy said he worked on that day to spend what he earned on that day during the New Year’s night. And moreover the temporary guys are paid a dollar less than me for every hour they put in. A few of them did ask me how to get a permanent job in this office and that was when I realised that I was sitting in a more comfortable chair. And quite many of them were thinking that I was in my third or fourth semester. That is quite acceptable as the remaining three permanent international student workers are in their final semester. This just reminds me how many in my college believed that I am a Christian. The fact that I have a permanent job here and that too one of the better paid and which has the advantage of coming in and going out at my own will during the regular college days does make this job pretty attractive one. I do accept that I get bored after a while, but when the college starts I hope things well become normal. I did make some handsome money during this period which ensured that I can afford a trip to Las Vegas on New Year’s Eve, visit to the Universal studios, some winter shopping from my own coffers. Even after all this spending, I am left with a slight cash excess. The money I made in the previous two months was just slightly more than enough to cover my expenses but now I have some reserve which gives me some freedom. I did eat chocolates more frequently than I use to. Now referring to my earlier comment that how someone manages to pull up a thirty year service doing almost the same kind of stuff in the same office, he did have a purpose for doing it. By doing that he ensured his survival and more often even looked beyond it. And that would have made him boast proudly about his service. The fact that life has to go on would have pushed him to keep going. The imaginations about the alternative universe where he doesn’t have a job would have given him the necessary adrenaline to carry on.