Cube Farming

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been working with an interesting guy named Fred. Today, we somehow got on the subject of Yosemite. Years ago, he had visited the park and without any preparation, like bringing along food or water, he had decided to climb the Upper Yosemite Falls Trail. By his own admission, if not for the kindness of strangers, he probably wouldn’t have made it. Even so, he said that on the way back down, he fell at least ten times and when he finished, his knees were all battered and bruised. His story was invitation enough for me to tell my story about that trail from our 2012 vacation.

Near Columbia Rock, a crew was working on the trail. It was hot, dry and dusty. It was also a 1000’ up. They were emplacing those foot square granite blocks shown in the first photo. They had a little hand-cranked, tripod mounted winch to lift them with. I wise cracked to one of them, “You’ve got one heck of a commute.” To which he responded, “Yeah, but when I go on vacation, I can spend forty hours in a cube.” All I could say to that was, “Touché!” After I told this story, John, the third member of today’s conversation chimed in, “That’s funny, because when we all were growing up, none of us planned on working in an office all day. We all dreamed about being astronauts or something exciting.”

Isn’t that the truth? Still, we are creatures of our environment and whatever that may be, we adapt to it. Fred is a master of American office culture. I’ve amused Anne for the last couple of weeks, with one of his saying. We are trying to do something and it is the most drawn out process that I have ever participated in. What has amused Anne was that last week, I spent all week just writing action captions. Fred’s rule is that every page of documentation must have a figure and every figure must have a title and an action caption. I think Anne is just amused by the alliteration of action captions, but fear not, because next week we get to move on to beefy bullets.

Years from now, but hopefully not too many more, I’ll be sitting again on some Yosemite summit and I’ll be reminiscing about this office career that I have had. Looking back over its expanse, I’ll have to break it down into bite sized bits to truly understand it all. There was that first phase, right out of college. I’d say it ran about fifteen years of me really trying. Then there was the second phase of about five years of coasting. That was followed by the next phase, a rather long and desultory one of say about fifteen years that was spent wondering if all that trying had been worth it. The last five years involves just sitting there, collecting a paycheck and fondly reminiscing about the coasting. Just kidding, boss.

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