Tales from the Cultural Wilderness - Journal

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2002-08-01 Entry: "Descent Into Moria"

Monday saw me up before the crows in an attempt to give myself plenty of time to get to work and factoring in a bit of getting lost.

I managed to get there, missed the exit I'd taken the previous day and had to drive around the corner in the hope that either going all the way around the block was easy, or they had another entrance. Fortunately the latter was the case, and I parked and blundered up to the door. Problem was, it was the back door and you can't get in without a security pass.

Luckily the security girl saw me vainly trying to push the revolving door and let me through to reception, where they proved to have no record of me and paired me up with another "new starter" and sent us to the induction training thing.

This was both painful and unnecessary - I knew most of what they were talking about, and the whole saccharine "Values" bit that they can be all so enthused about and go out of the window immediately when real business gets involved was bad enough the first time I had to go through it.

When they did finally let me escape it turned out I didn't have to go to it anyway (so there's a morning wasted). But I did finally get to meet the team and see my desk - most things were working okay on the PC (even if it is a hideous 1 processor Windows 2K monstrosity which'll be dog slow), and I did finally manage to pull my mails of the CD I'd dumped them to before leaving.

After faffing around for a couple of hours, I was allowed to escape to go and try and get a social security number (which, apparently, you can't do anything without). So, clutching my poor directions in one hand, I headed off into the wilderness.

Well, okay - I headed off into Arlington, to attempt to get horrendously lost. I failed, finding the place relatively easily (or at least, I didn't make a mistake in following the directions and pulled up outside this tiny red brick building.

Inspecting the sign (which was in about 10 point font and therefore unreadable from the car), I found they'd moved across the road, so stupidly I decided I'd walk it - it's not as if I was going far. Unfortunately it was very hot by this time, and it was actually further than I expected, so I was glad when I finally found the place.

So I go inside and the place is absolutely heaving... not good when they've only got another half hour of official opening time. Especially when they've only got two windows manned. Especially when you're asked to take a ticket and get number 89 and the display currently reads 00. Oh hell!

I do manage to find a seat though... I'm not quite sure why all the people were milling by the door, but who am I to argue?

It also turns out that there are a lot of numbers missing, as we rattle up to 20 with only one person actually appearing. Then a policewoman turns up and locks us in... then all the people in the back office (who'd presumably been enjoying their coffee all this time) came out and made an effort to get through everyone. When they finally took my form and checked my passport over, I was shocked to discover that receipts were no longer being issued to foreign nationals... so basically I couldn't do anything for three or four days which waiting for them to put me on the system and issue a number...

And then it was back to the texas bar for more shuffleboard and beer.

And on a final note, the italian restaurant on the corner by my apartment (not the one I'd previously eaten in, a different one) was actually also a bar - I'm not sure how I'd missed it Saturday, and it couldn't have been open Sunday, but there it was, all lit up and serving beer when I headed back past it to get some sleep.

And no, other than my warped brain making the connection between starting work, going down into the mines, and then Moria, I'm not sure how relevant the title is... unless the balrog was masquerading as a federal employee at the social security office and all the dwarfs had been killed by overexposure to company "values."

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