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Sunday, March 30, 2014


Looking around the office on Thursday night, with boxes piled from floor to ceiling, it suddenly struck me that I was not only leaving the workplace, I was leaving my second home.  When I arrived in Austin 10 years ago, the two stable things in my life (apart from people) were my home, and the office.  However, I do not intend to get all maudlin, and the new beginning is going to be very positive!  As I contemplated it all, I began to hum the old song, 'It's a long way to Tipperary.....'.  I had said goodbye to Piccadilly, and farewell to Leicester Square ten years ago, so a ten mile move could not be so bad!

I had started to pack away pictures and accessories as soon as Dana signed the new lease.  It was a given that we would be working up until the end of business on Friday evening, so the only things that could be packed were the odds and ends.  It was going to be a week of lasts but like the true scout that I am (well, more of a Girl Guide) I was prepared!

Walking down 6th Street on Wednesday and Thursday, on my way to the Post Office, I drunk in the afternoon atmosphere.  There is always something going on!  Mornings are quiet but as soon as the sun hits the middle of the sky, (whether we can see it or not!) the crowds appear. It is as if they have all alighted from a convoy of unseen buses, on the perimeter, and have been given a map showing them a central point!  (For those under 25, a map is a piece of paper with lines and squiggles, showing how to get from one place to another.  We used maps before 'Siri' was born!)  The counter staff at the post office were sitting back, enjoying a nice quiet afternoon when I appeared.  Still slightly bemused as to why I was not using the other facility, which was to the East of the Interstate, much nearer to my office, and has parking, I explained that it was not yet fully functional.  They were most surprised, and one of them actually unfolded his arms and raised his eyebrows.  His colleague did not move, but made the comment, 'It should be.  Reckon it will take longer to set up than they thought!' and continued to sit back and enjoy the quiet afternoon.  I relished the fact that I had been considered one of the 'in crowd' at this location, and wondered if the experience at the new store will be as laid back and relaxed. 

On Wednesday, the telephone company was supposed to set up the new lines, so that they could just 'flip the switch' on Monday morning.  By 3pm, Dana was starting to panic, and called to see why they had not been in touch.  He had received a call ten days earlier, advising him that someone would be at the new office within half an hour.  When he told them the date was set for the 26th, not the sixteenth, I had my doubts that the appointemnt would be rearranged.  Having the same doubts, he had emailed, and got a confirmation that there had been a misunderstanding, and everything was now reset for the 26th.  Unfortunately, the lady with whom Dana had the email communication was at the dentist on the 26th! (This appears to have overtaken the distant relative funeral as the 'number one' excuse for absence!)  The bureaucrat with whom he spoke on Wednesday was probably unaware that her performance would be graded after the call, or else she didn't really care!  Although the words, 'tough luck' were not used, it was conveyed that our appointment had not been rescheduled, and we would just have to deal with it!  Fortunately, there was a follow up call to see if the salesperson had been polite, and obliging.  I don't think I have ever heard Dana describe anyone as a 'bat out of hell', in all the years I have known him!  The very obliging caller, who no doubt regretted being the one on duty, promised we would have telephone lines installed by the end of the week, and said she would follow up on the web winged mammal from Hades!

On Friday, I took an hour off to go and get my hair cut. My first choice would not have been the last day of the week, but I had failed to make the call to the Salon until Tuesday afternoon, and there was nothing available beforehand.  When my hairdresser had transformed me back into a more human form, I went to the front desk to pay.  'Oh you had Nhan', came the excited squeal of the pixie at the cash desk.  I smiled and told her that I always have Nhan.  I continued, 'in fact I have been stalking him for the past 12 years!'  Her little face contorted slightly and she forced a slight giggle, which betrayed her real feelings, and she continued to stare at me as I walked out of the door with a slight spring in my step. 

Once back at the office, I was informed that the telephone lady had kept her word, and an engineer was on his way.  Jerry and Samantha had taken some boxes and driven to our new location, to wait for the technician, and assemble my new desk, which had been sitting in three large boxes in our current office for the past three days.  After two hours, the technician had still not arrived, as he was having a few minor issues (we did not ask whether they were professional or personal).  As Jerry and Samantha were still battling with the new piece of furniture I had chosen, they were content to stay and wait.  'Easy to assemble', was somewhat accurate.  'Easy to follow step by step instructions', was a complete lie!  They spent the best part of three hours attempting to put together the rather complex piece, but had not even opened the 'hutch' that was supposed to 'fit snuggly' to the desk.  Shortly before they finished, the telephone engineer had arrived.  After a quick inspection of the area, he realised this was not his day!  Our new office, similar to the one he had previously visited, was not very easy to wire!  Like the brave Captain Oates, going out into the snowy yonder, he uttered the words, 'I may be sometime!'  Samantha was not a happy camper!  Jason came to the rescue, after he heard me shout the not so rhetorical question, 'You want ME to go and relieve her?', and suggested that it would be far more efficient for him to drive over and sit with the telephone man, and probably a lot better for Dana's health, as he was unsure of how hard I would hit him upon my return!  I had not realised that I had shouted so loud!

Not all was a disaster, however, as Samantha's friend Cori had arrived shortly after midday with five large paper bags filled with lunch!  She had been to the local Mexican Catina and ordered enough food for 10!  Flour tortillas, steak, chicken, salsa, lettuce, cheese, beans and all the different sauces and guacamole one could ask for together with 10 bags of tortilla chips!  She demanded we all stop for five minutes and eat something while it was still hot!  We were very grateful, and rather touched that she would take time from her hectic schedule as she knew that food would probably be the last thing we would make time for!  She then packed up a couple of small bags to take to the other workers, who were contemplating throwing the hutch into a river!

Jason and Jerry (both of whom had returned) set about dismantling my current desk after close of business on Friday.  This project took nearly as long as connecting the new one, as it had, apparently, not originally been put together correctly!  I continued to pack box after box, and foresaw us staying until well into the night.  At 7pm there was a knock on the front door, and a large policeman stood on the mat.  'You are going to have to move your cars as we are closing 6th Street and all cars will be towed'.  I didn't intend to look at him as if he were an alien, just landed from a distant planet, but I didn't quite understand why our cars, which were in the parking lot, would be towed away.  He took a deep breath, and explained (as my understanding of the English language was obviously not the same as his).  'At 7pm, 6th Street is blocked off to through traffic.  All cars that are parked on 6th Street will be towed.  If you are in the parking lot, your car will not be towed, but you will not be able to leave until 3am'.  He smiled, vaguely, and started to walk away.  Dana, who by now was the only one with an assembled desk, and who wanted to disassemble it as soon as possible, started to show signs of stress.  His hands flew into the air and said we would have to go home, and come in around 4am to clear the remainder of the debris.  Taking the proverbial bull by the horns, I remembered my Hasmat training and how I had to take charge in an emergency.  'Start taking that desk down.  We are going to finish this tonight, and we are going to get out before 3am!'  It took a couple of seconds for the blood to return to their faces, but after a look that said, 'Spit spot, come along', Jerry picked up his drill, and Dana started to pack.  I ran after PC Plod!  'Just one cotton pickin minute', was on the tip of my tongue, but I led with the more professional, 'Excuse me, officer'.  He turned and waited for me to cross the road.  'Why can we not leave our parking lot until 3am.  Can we not go out the 7th Street exit?'  He looked a little confused.  '6th Street is closed, ma'am.  I don't know if you can get out on to 7th.  You will have to ask the officer in the car'.  (If you haven't already surmised, our parking lot is on the road that connects 6th and 7th Streets)  He continued; 'You may be able to exit on to 7th, but you cannot come down this way out on to 6th!'  My reply may have been perceived as a little condescending, but it was, after all, my turn!  'Why would we come out on to 6th.  This is a one way street.  It would be illegal to drive down this way and enter on to 6th, even without the barriers'.  I was commanded to go and ask the other officer if we could exit on to 7th!  'That's why I am here, ma'am, to move the barriers for those parked in the lot', was the reply from the nice policeman in the car.  I skipped back to the office and informed the workers that they could continue without concern. 

Surprisingly enough, we were all packed and ready to go by 7:45pm.  Dana and I came home and finished the remains of Cori's feast.  It was going to be a very long weekend.

It was a 6am start for both of us on Saturday morning, and while Dana transported the computers by car, I started my housework.  Around 10am, just as I was finishing, Samantha called to say that her and Kelly were on their way to the new office, which is a couple of minutes from our house.  I had realised that when I left Friday evening, I had not taken one look around to say 'goodbye', as I was planning on sitting there Monday morning, taking telephone calls.  (Prior to the rescheduling of the lines being connected.)  However, arriving at my new home from home, and seeing my nice new desk, I didn't feel so sad.  The large truck arrived soon after, along with Dana, Matthew (Kelly's husband) and Edward.  Dana had also hired some 'muscle' to help with the unloading.  (Brilliant idea.  Guys who hire themselves out, fully insured, just to move your furniture.  You hire the truck, they provide the muscle!)  With all hands on deck, the truck was unloaded in about an hour.  The muscle left, just as Jerry, Katie (his wife) and Trent (his brother) came to help reassemble my old desk and help put things where they needed to go.  I asked if it was possible to assemble my hutch and Jerry and Samantha agreed they would try.  It appeared that all the pieces had a 'letter' assigned to them, but they were put together in random order.  Before trying to put it together, the two experts placed all pieces in alphabetical order. Trent and Katie could not understand this process until the first instruction.  'Take piece E and piece O, and attach them to piece G.'  Pieces A, B, C and D, did not get a mention until around half time! 

By 6pm, the area resembled an office!  Dana was a little concerned that we still had to do some more work to get us up and running on Monday morning, but I reminded him that we had worked a full day on Friday and had not been able to break anything down until the end of business!  With the help of our amazing staff, their families, and our friends, we had managed to get everything in order in no time at all.

Realising that any form of a slow down would result in us probably falling asleep, we went out for dinner in our work clothes.  Samantha and Edward joined us.  Sitting in the back of the car on the way home, I was exhausted.  I leaned against the door and closed my eyes.  Unfortunately, although I was awake when we reached home, I was not fully in control of my actions, and opened the door before sitting up.  I fell out of the car, to the sound of Samantha's laughter, and was stuck, upside down, still holding on to the handle.  Completely uncoordinated, I managed to get myself in an upright position and tried to get out once again, with success.  I limped to the house, and after a quick shower, hoped into bed and fell asleep.

Sunday was much of the same.  The alarm woke us at 6am, but the snooze button failed to buzz.  At 7:30, we realised that our early start was not going to be too early, but 90 minutes behind schedule was better than two hours.  (I have been full of encouragement this weekend!)  Dana spent about four hours cleaning the old office, and I spent the same organising and re-organising my two spare rooms.  We had arranged to meet Jerry and family for lunch, with Samantha and Edward, as a 'thank you'.  (Matthew, Kelly and Jason had prior engagements, so took a rain check.)  Samantha did not fail to remember that it was mother's day in England, and arrived carrying the most beautiful arrangement of cut flowers, with a card, and the movie 'Saving Mr. Banks' on DVD.  I was chuffed!  After eating enough to feed an army, Dana and I came home, got changed, and went back to the office to 'finish' off.  My room, which is the reception area, is a cross between Hamley's (or FAO Schwartz for the USA contingency) and the home furnishing section of a department store.  I have a window sill, which is the perfect place for all the ornaments I no longer want at home, but do not want to discard.  I have a fancy shelving unit, which has some more ornaments.  My useless object collection from SXSW, and various trade shows, which includes my three inch bendy sumo wrestler (every office needs one!) are arranged on the stand under the window, and somewhere there is a computer and office type equipment!  With my pictures on the wall, and frames surrounding photographs of my children and Dana's daughter, set up on my hutch, I was feeling content. 

We managed to get home around 8pm, and while Dana fell asleep with his fingers on the keyboard of his laptop, I continued to type.  I wasn't entirely sure that I would have the energy to complete a post today, but anything is possible!  Tomorrow starts the new work week, and the weekend is going to be just as busy, with all my visitors from England arriving on Monday for Samantha and Edward's 'Offical' Wedding. 

I have mixed feeling about our new office.  Moving from Downtown to the surrounds will take some adjusting, although we have a fabulous view of the city from our car park.  We realise that all the things we took for granted, like a place to park during SXSW, and being able to 'pop out' to take part in the festivities, will now have to be orchestrated.  However, we are only two minutes from home, and there has to be an advantage to that.  I will miss the characters that make up the homeless crowd, and wondering whom the TV cameras are being set up for, on the opposite corner.  I will not be contrary to policemen.  Life will be different, but I am sure I will cope!  We do share the building with an array of businesses, including some pediatricians and an educational publisher, so I am sure I will bump into some interesting people.  We are also a stone's throw away from Walmart!  It is a long way from Tipperary, but then so was London!  Whatever the future brings, it will be ..... another story!

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