This working thing…plus some snow for fun

So as it turns out this is the first full five days of a working week that I have done for…… about two months I’m guessing.  And it was a big week!  But I’ve also managed to do a whole heap of getting my life into some semblance of organised, so I’m super happy about that.

Monday I had a date with the social security office.  I’m very grateful to Michael who took me down there and hung around for the hour and a half it took to sort out.  Sounds  like that was a relatively short duration for this sort of office.  We got there and it was blinding sunshine and there was a queue of about 20 people already (and we were about 20  minutes before opening time).  The line only got longer so its good that we got in that early.  They opened at 0900 on the dot because that is what government offices do, especially on a Monday – I was surprised it wasn’t later.  We did the standard thing of press some buttons on a screen and it gave us a ticket number, we joined the people sitting in the waiting area and did just that.  Waited.

With all that time to kill Michael and I had a good chat.  Interesting guy that one.  He’s ex army.  A mathematician of all things.  Fell into HR initially as a statistician and then went into the generalist HR stuff.  Being ex-army he has some understanding of what it is like to live and work away from family and friends.  He gives it more consideration than me, which he finds hilarious.  Similar to Mark he has a big full body style laugh, maybe its an American thing, maybe its a red-head thing, I dunno but its quite amusing to me, infectious.


We were eventually called up to the window and the kid at the desk took my pieces of paper, glanced at my passport, typed some stuff into the computer and sent us on our way with a piece of paper that says you have applied for your social security number, we can’t tell you what it is going to be, but a card will appear in the mail some time in the future.  It couldn’t be more useless if it tried, you need that number for absolutely everything!  All the different departments keep on sending me forms to fill in.  On the plus side, they’re online forms.  On the minus side the first piece of info they need is my social security number. Everyone needing a form has refused to believe me when I tell them that I cannot fill it in because their form cant handle the lack of SSN; I’ve sent the a print screen and they back-pedal.  I have a long list of emails awaiting attention when that pesky number appears.

Tuesday it snowed.  A lot.  It started some time in the wee hours of the morning (before I even woke up) and didn’t finish until about 1600.  I’d guess about a foot of snow, but that may be skewed by my experience of walking across the creek area.  When I headed over to work, about 0630 when there was some light in the sky (sun not quite up yet though), it wasn’t windy and it was a lovely powdery snow.  I crept around hoping not to fall on my arse.  I succeeded.  I even managed to keep my feet dry, which was surprising because I was wearing the hiking/riding Dublin boots that I got when I went to Mongolia, and they have lovely meshed areas for a breeze to come through.  Which is great in the warm, rubbish in the wet.  I suspect the boots got a bit damp as the snow on them melted during the day but they also dried out again by the time I walked home.  Happy days.


When I got back to the hotel it turned out that Lands End had finally decided to deliver my snow boots.  Clever them, delivering about six hours after I needed them.  They got a decent work out over the rest of the week.  Hilarious story about these boots.  Okay, not hilarious, more a story I shouldn’t tell but you should get a giggle from…  On Friday evening it was about 1800 when I left work, I was the last one leaving from our area of the building so I dialled mum while getting ready.  I managed to get the boots on though it felt a little odd, like something wasn’t quite right.  I figured it was due to tired and distracted.  I got the the door of the office, well two steps outside the door, looked at my boots a little more critically and realised…..they were on the wrong feet.  Fool.  They’re like gumboots, there is a slight curve to them, but the most obvious difference is the zip on the inside or outside – the zips were on the outside.  I CBF going back inside and swapping them so I just walked home in the snow.  At least I know that the boots aren’t terrible to walk in even when they’re on the wrong feet.


Wednesday and Thursday were bloody cold days.  I mean maximum temperatures of less than freezing.  Even Wednesday when Mark and I headed out for lunch it was -2c.  On the plus side once the snow ended Tuesday arvo the sun came out.  Beautiful bright sunshine, glaring white snow, no wind.  Its actually not too bad to exist in.  Friday it got to about 3c, which was a good day for a walk – but I’ll get to that.  Tuesday through Thursday I didn’t see any geese.  Friday afternoon geese had returned to the creek area.  I guess the frozen creek meant no water for them so they wandered elsewhere.  Today I was seeing them all over the roads drinking from the melt water in the drains.


So back to that Wednesday lunch.  We headed over to a different Mexican place for lunch, which was perfectly nice, I’m still being safe in my food choices until I get the gist of these things, I have time.  We headed back to the car and he asked if I needed a ride anywhere, I decided he could drop me at Bridgwater so I could have a look at those apartments.  He refused to leave and waited around for me to have a look and a quick chat with Anna, the lovely leasing agent.  I guess that made our lunch break about 1.5 hours, but hell we both work enough hours to make up for that.

I saw Bridgwater and on the way had a chat about my thoughts with Mark and he pointed out that he’s just 2 minutes drive north of there and there is a park area with a whole lot of paved walkways that I could run on – he walks there often with the family.  So it may not be as ideal as Courtney Downs with the Cherry Creek trails very near there, but its not a bad choice for learning to run again (when the snow disappears).  I had a good long email back and forth with mum and Ben and we decided close to work is a winner.  I guess I had already mostly decided that but I needed a little validation that it wasn’t the most rubbish idea.

Wednesday evening I also made the effort to get the bank account.  I needed it by then to make sure my details were with payroll early enough for pay day on Friday.  I asked the front desk and the hotel had one of the blokes drive me up to Wells Fargo.  There I met a lovely girl called Sobia.  She walked me  through the options and set up an account and got all that moving.  Happy days.  I even got a Wells Fargo Nellie!!  Nellie has a story that goes along the lines of:

Every day at 0700, Nellie and her driver Rush Blodget picked up packages and bags of gold coins at the railroad station at Bakersfield, California.  In 1898, Nellie made an unexpected stop when a sick soldier got off the morning train.  It was Rush’s brother, Sgt. Claude Blodget.  Once Claude was safely in  the wagon, Nellie took off at a lively trot home.  The soldier recovered, and Nellie’s driver never forgot the “quiet dignity” of his “working pal” Nellie.


Sweet story, but no clue why its an important story *shrug*  Random promotional  thing from the bank.  Nellie, Ollie, and Ubie have a great time playing in my hotel room while I’m out for the day.  I always come home and they’re in a different spot on the bed.

Thursday was a big day for work, but I’ll deal with the week of work separately – its all a little blurry.  Friday morning I made my excuses and headed off to Bridgwater to apply for an apartment.  I wandered over to the hotel and picked up some cash, then walked up to Wells Fargo.  It was about 15 minutes but not a bad walk.  I got the cashiers cheque and walked on up to Bridgwater.  That was another 10 minutes walk.  Lovely day for it.  I had on the goose and it was bloody hot.  When I got to Bridgwater I met Cindy, the other leasing agent.  She took me to the three available apartments so I could have a look at their outlook from their windows/balcony’s.  With three options I may as well have a look and choose the one I like best.  I chose the most westerly one – later Cindy said she’d already reserved it for me because she thought it was the best.  We didn’t head inside that particular one because they all look the same and the maintenance lads were in there installing new whitegoods (not a word they use apparently, I had to explain myself).  So I’ll have a new stove, fridge, microwave, and dishwasher.  I do need to rent or buy a washing machine and drier.  They charge $40 per month to rent, so I’ll just buy one.  You can get a washing machine for $350 and I’ve never had a drier so why would I need one now – especially in this ridiculously dry place.

I got an email late Friday evening saying that my application had been accepted.  Not even 24 hours after applying.  So cool!  So the move in date is 22 December.  I’m on the way to sorted!  I figure I’ll stay in  the hotel for that weekend while I get some supplies into the apartment, so I’m thinking leaving the hotel on Saturday or Sunday.  So cool.

So I wrote the above this morning.  Now I’ve spent the day exploring HomeDepot (bought a measuring tape in these odd imperial units), visited Bridgwater, went to Target, and stopped by Wells Fargo.  While at Bridgwater I took said measuring tape and measured up the rooms so I can plan furniture.  I also had a good look around and took some photos.  In my looking around I discovered that there is water running under the paint down the bathroom wall and there isn’t a door on the bathroom right now.  I showed Anna and Cindy and I may not move in on the 22nd, I’ll wait until they’ve fixed that, though we’ll see how long the fixing takes.  Here is a gallery of some photos of the place, I should know on Monday morning.

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And now to the work piece.  It is all quite a blur because there is so so so much going on, so what happened which day I have NFI.  So the general gist is that I’ve been hired into Operations reporting to Mark (Operations Manager for water stuff).  The current business need (dire need) is to win some projects, people are coming available from a host of jobs and they need to go onto something or they’ll get fired.  So we’re bidding like mad.  The company has recently decided that they’d mix up the bidding world though.  In the past there has been a Business Development Manager (BD) who goes and sells the company then follows the bid through to award then hands over to the team that will build it.  The new plan is that BD will do what they’re best at and sell the company.  Then they’ll hand over to the Pursuits team, who will run the bid through and then handover to Operations at award.  The pursuits team is a team  of one – Steve T, long time bids guy.  His team will be mostly transitory.  The pursuit manager could come from any area any background, and is expected to be responsible for getting a bid package together and out the door – and preferably win.  This approach has merit, but it needs a fairly simple, well documented process to follow.  The current status is there is a huge flow chart with many procedures feeding into it that you’d need six months of reading procedures before you’d get to bidding.  Steve has the gist of how these bids are managed in his head, but needs to get it on paper.  This is one of the worlds Mark has pointed me at, get this moving.  So thats what I’m doing at the moment in my spare time.

The time that isn’t spare, Mark has more pursuits on his plate than you can poke a stick at, so I’m also working on a couple of those, the two he’s thrown me at are both pre-bid stage.  The BD guys have identified the job and got the client excited to work with us, now we need to do our due diligence and put together some pre-bid packages before we visit the Clients again.  Then they should let us loose on a bid.  So this is all a quite new world for me.  I’ve done this bidding game back at SKM, but that was for consulting works only.  You’ve got one or two teams of designers to work with and thats about it.  This world has designers, project controls, estimators, construction folk, then the normal lawyers accountants and responsible company big wigs.  This is going to be a fun game.

A couple of ego boosting moments.  On Thursday we called a bloke called Bill, one of Marks mentors.  He said something along the lines of being happy to introduce one of his best mentors to one of his best mentees.  Then on Friday evening as he was leaving the office he stopped by and we had a natter.  He was saying he was very glad I’m here and that he’d been telling Steve R (my grandboss) that I’d double his productivity, but he was beginning to see that I’d also double Steve T’s productivity.  I’m not sure about doubling two peoples output but hell, I’ll try.

So I got through my first full week of work in two months on a long week (easily 50 working hours despite the breaks for apartments and SSNs) in a new office, in a new city, in a new country, in a new hemisphere, at altitude.

Ally – you’d be so super proud of me.  I’ve moisturised every day since I got here.  And my face twice a day.  Seriously!  The air is so super dry that I feel I need to.  This is the frozen creek.


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