Yeah, that's right. I started on December 20th, but this is my first full week. I came in on the 20th and 21st, but the department was operating with a skeleton crew, and there was no one to train me. So I got to read manuals for two days before being informed that due to circumstances too complicated to explain here, I was required to take 6.5 days of vacation before the end of the year. No, I couldn't just lose the vacation hours or tack them on to 2011, I had to leave. Get out.
So I had another half day the following week, and actually started training this last Monday. We use our own proprietary software which I'm learning, but the major focus has been on unemployment law.
And I'm fairly lost, but they tell me that everybody is fairly lost for at least a couple of weeks before it all begins to click. They also tell me that a lot of people work retire from this department after thirty years. You could take that either way, but it was meant to be a positive statement, and that's certainly how I'm interpreting it.
In many respects, this office is same-old-same-old; the coffee in the kitchenette is too weak, the printer is too far away, and the Internet is on relative lockdown. The workload is too high and the department has been understaffed for years. We had a staff meeting yesterday where the general message was, "X doesn't work, but we've opened a ticket, so the ball is in someone else's court."
On the other hand: we have an in-house coffee shop, another across the street and a Starbucks within throwing distance (not that I've patronized any of them). There's no dress code to speak of. My computer has two monitors, which, as it turns out, is handier than I'd expected; I used to make fun of dual-monitor setups.
And everybody seems happy about their jobs. I'd forgotten what it's like to have coworkers who are in a good mood. It's amazing how badly a year of knowing you're losing your job but not knowing when can affect general morale. The mood here is also altruistic, though slightly ironically, because nobody has fond memories of their dealings with the unemployment office. Still, at its heart, the unemployment program is supposed to be socially responsible, which feels good in comparison to what we used to call the Hypocritic Oath: "First, do no harm to the bottom line." Or as one of my old bosses once said, "we have no moral qualms, ever."
Other changes: There's no free parking anywhere near here, so I'll be riding the bus in the morning and walking home at night. The errands I can run during my lunchbreak without a car are severely limited, but I'm looking forward to the walk. I can't wait for the longer, brighter days of spring when the walk will be more pleasant. Also, the maze of cubicles here actually is a maze, and it's embarrassingly easy to get lost.
All things considered, I'm pretty happy with this change. If my old Livejournal entries tell me anything, it's that I allow my occupation to define me more than I'd like. The change is still very new, but it's so very welcome because it's so long overdue.