Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Being on stand-by at work

Have you ever flown stand-by? You know, when you go to the airport hoping to get on a flight because for one reason or another you had to suddenly change your plans.

Well, I had to do it once. I was flying to Argentina for the holidays one December and my scheduled flight from LaGuardia to Miami was so delayed that I feared I was going to miss my Miami-Santiago connection. I ended up flying stand-by to Miami on an earlier flight out of LaGuardia and barely made my next connection.

It was gut-wrenching. It was nerve-wracking. I was literally the last person called onto the plane. I would not want to do it again.

Except for that my whole job is like flying stand-by. Allow me to explain. So, you may have heard on the news that there is, shall we say, an economic crisis happening. The Governor called a special session to make some budget cuts in light of said economic crisis. Turns out that this very hyped and anticipated special session...well, it basically did not happen. Instead, we got a full hour of some of the best reality TV I have ever seen (another clip here) in the form of a televised 5-way leader's meeting.

So, this last week at work, for all intents and purposes, was like flushing money down the toilet. All the work. All the analysis. All the meetings. All the memos. All the charts. Yeah, they are not looking all that worthwhile right now.

Don't get me wrong. I still enjoy my job very much. I just happen to work for an institution that thrives on last-minute action (or inaction, if you will).
And today as I sat at my desk at the Alfred E Smith Office Building, all that inaction made it feel like I was flying stand-by all over again because all we did was wait. And we waited some more. And we waited for session to be called. And we waited for the education team to be summoned. And we waited for something, anything to happen. And in the end, the flight (i.e. the special session) was cancelled.

The so-called experts have various tips for flying stand-by. I condensed their suggestions into these four main ideas:
1. Don't check luggage.
2. Get to the airport as early as possible.
3. Call the airline ahead of time.
4. Stay at the gate until the doors close.

These are great ideas, but they do not do anything for me at work. So, if you find yourself on stand-by at work, follow these simple tips:
1. Pack four hearty meals. (Preferably in your Green Bag).
2. Make sure your cellphone is fully charged the night before the magically disappearing special session.
3. Park your car in a spot that won't require you to move it for at least three days. (Albany readers, you know what I mean.)
4. Think that you'll be home by midnight, that way getting home earlier than that will seem like a blessing in comparison.
5. Make sure to take plenty of bathroom breaks, otherwise you could get uromisotisis poisoning and die.
6. Get a job with the minority party so that nobody really cares if you are there or not. (Yes, that was mean, but it's true.)
7. Use your extra time at work to send President Bush a thank you card for his wonderful stewardship of the US economy.
8. Learn a foreign language - or in my case, try to finally get a good grasp of English.
9. Start a hunting expedition to kill the office mouse. Behead it and display the severed head as an example to all the other mice.
10. Blog about it.New York State Government: Because somebody has to make Congress look good.

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