Thursday, September 9, 2010

Jill of All Projects

I am not a Jack of all trades, per se, because 1) I am female and 2) I generally know what I'm doing. I am, however, something of a Jill of all projects, because I keep getting shuffled from one miscellaneous task on one project to another miscellaneous task on another project. I'm not really in the loop on either of the projects, but that doesn't stop the guys from assigning me things to do.

Like lay out tile patterns for hideous tile that our client picked out. Her interior designer doesn't seem to realize that part of her job is to help pick out things like counter tops and tile, and she just wants to select furniture. You know, the fun stuff: playing with fabric swatches and buying sofas. I can kind of sympathize, particularly as our client acts like she's bankrupt. She could buy and sell our whole firm and our extended families many times over, but oh my God, she cannot spend more than $5 per square foot on tile! That's outrageous! Yeah, honey. Sure it is.

In between tile patterns and calculating seating capacity for church sanctuaries and wandering around church property doing a half-a**ed job of a tree survey - isn't that civil's job, anyway? - I've been archiving drawings for the office.

It's a mess.

We have drawings in our "current projects" drawers around our desks that were completed in 1985. You can see what I'm up against, here. Not to mention, our archive room is a wreck, with file boxes of receipts from 2000, for computers we no longer own. Seven years of records are all that are required. Come on folks.

I'm blaming the pitiful state of our archives on Lola, as that was supposed to be one of her jobs. She was too busy Facebooking and emailing her friends to actually perform any of her tasks, though.

So now, I'm in charge of the archives, which is okay, because it's the sort of task my little OCD heart goes pitter patter over.

It's not easy, physically, as it involves rolling up drawings (which requires some upper body strength), putting those drawings into tubes, and carrying the tubes 30 feet down the hall, then lifting them into their appropriate cubby spaces. If there's already a tube started for the project, I sometimes have to move 10 tubes out of the way to be able to pull the required tube out of the pile so I can check to see if it's full, in which case I have to start a new tube.

It's also turned out to be emotionally difficult.

My boss has two daughters. He also, at one time, had a son. His son drowned in the Gulf of Mexico as a young man, in his late teens or early 20s, I think.

There are things that belonged to his son in the archive room: a box of buttons from peace rallies, a magazine article with his name scrawled across the top, and family snapshots of he and his younger sisters on the beach.

I found the items on accident when I knocked over a precariously perched box, and three smaller boxes from Sakowitz spilled out, dumping buttons and photos and dice everywhere. I picked them up, and read a few of the things in the boxes, and realized that they belonged to Oldsmobile's son.

I sat down on another box (the lid of which promptly caved in) and sorted through the articles, looking at the funny quirky collection of odds and ends. The boxes were, appropriately enough, labelled "Odds and Ends."

The emotions I felt are difficult to explain: a mixture of sadness and happiness and a sense of loss, although I never knew Oldsmobile's son. Also, I suppose, there was surprise: why were the things in our office storage closet, instead of at Oldsmobile's house?

It's a question I can never ask, but I can guess at a few answers.

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