Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Big Day

Well, good news: I got a job!  I'll be working for a small start-up company which designs large-scale solar-thermal electricity generating stations.  The salary is a bit low, but with the world economy in a nose-dive, my own startup in on hold, and everyone trying to grab and hold what they can until things clear up, I figured it was a good idea for me to do the same.  I could have made more a year ago, but today isn't a year ago, today is now.  They promised me three or four months worth of work, and then more if the company were to continue growing, which is the plan.  The fact that there are only six other employees, and plans to fund raise and expand in six months, would also put me in good position for promotion in the future.  So there's a bit of risk in taking the job versus taking a more steady job, but the potential for reward is also great.  And anything is better than sitting in my apartment reading other people's blogs.
The offer came suddenly last Friday, and I start Monday, so all the tasks I've been putting off for the last few months; renewing my car registration, paying my back electric bill, taking care of my traffic ticket; suddenly had to be accomplished in one day.  I made it through security at the Israeli DMV at 10:15 AM.  I pulled a number as I strolled into a room stuffed with Jews, Arabs, Bedouin, foreigners, basically the whole world.  It would be a perfect poster for the peace process except everyone looked ready to kill their fellow customers to shorten the wait. I read my number: 501.  I looked at the LED display, "Now Serving: 238."  Oh no.  I have to sign the contract for my new job at 11 AM.  No way I'm going to be through this mess by then.  I walked up to one of the friendlier-looking patrons and asked him his number.
"And what number were they on when you got here?"
"And what time was that?"
"Quarter past nine.  An hour ago."
Okay, let's do some math here.  240-110 = 130.  And he got here an hour ago, so they must be going through 130 customers an hour.  501-238=263.  263 is about twice 130, which means I've got two hours until they get to my number.  I strolled out the door and did some shopping, drove to my new workplace, signed my contract, met my new co-workers, and headed back out to the  DMV.  I walked through the door at 12:10.  As I walked through the door, I glanced at my number, 501, and looked up at the LED Display.  "Now Serving: 499."  Oh, yes!  Thank you GOD!  Blessed be he who created a world governed by mathematics!
Strolled right up to the front counter and took care of my business.  As I walked out I glanced at the numbers being dispensed by the machine for the customers who were just walking in.  989.  Oh, those poor, non-mathematical creatures.  Feels great to be an engineer again.
I got home flush with victory, but the place was eerily silent and dark.  Not even the compressor on my refrigerator made no sound.  I tried a light switch: no juice.  It appears to be a power outage.  Took my daily hour-long jog, figuring the problem would be fixed by the time I got back.  Winding down my jog, as I approached the building, I looked through other peoples' windows and saw that their lights were lit.  Great, problem solved!  But when I came into my place, nothing.  Nadda.
I tried flipping the main circuit breaker in the hallway repeatedly.  Nothing.  I knocked on my neighbor's door and, when she opened, I saw that her lights were on.
"Anything strange about the power today?"
"Yes, it kept going off and on a minute or so ago."
Oops.  Apparently I had been flipping the wrong breaker.
Called the electric company and learned that my power had been disconnected due to my, um, tardiness in payment.
To make a long story short, once the power is off, you can't turn on your computer to pay the bill, so you have to go to a neighbor's house.  If you try to use your laptop from your neighbor's house, you realize that once your power has been disconnected you are considered a deadbeat and can no longer pay by Internet at all.  And if the whole reason you didn't pay was because you never got the paper bill due to unreliable mail service, then you have to go to the heart of the beast, the electric company building on the other side of the city, in order to print up a new bill and pay it in person to get your power turned back on, which "only takes twenty minutes."  Then you get home, the lights are still off, and you call the electric company, they will kindly inform you that it should be back on "Around ten tonight."
So now I'm sitting here at my friendly neighbor's house, well-fed, writing this post.  Of course, they realized that an adult is now in the house, and took the opportunity to take a night out, so now I've been drafted into babysitting while I blog.  What a day.  New job starts tomorrow. Gotta get ready here.

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