I finished work tonight just before 9pm. Considering I started at 9.30am, it was a long day. The new system we’ve been pushed to use over a doubly busy period has made every process glacially slow. It doesn’t help that the servers packed a shit-fit and lagged as much as possible. Our department wasn’t the only one feeling the strain. Okay, so I dipped out at 5.30pm (my usual end of day) for a pre-booked massage, which is making this day seem considerably more dramatic than it was. A mere 10.5 hour work day. Pittance in some professions. For a low level job like mine though? It’s a bit of a bummer. Still, it’s not my longest work day ever.
Indeed. That story casts my mind back to 2008.
Cue shimmery screen effects. Wait, do tilds look shimmery enough?
2008. Obama was a younger man and we had this little thing called hope. Girl Talk released Feed the Animals, to date one of my favourite albums. Iron Man ushered in the MCU and started a box office juggernaut that tramples all in its way.
I had nothing to do with any of that though. I was a 21 year old chap working away at a brand new career. After losing hope and working for The Man for a few months, I was awarded a scholarship and the bonus six month internship that came with it. This story takes place on the last day of that internship.
Radioworks Auckland. I started work at 8.30am as always. With no fixed set of duties, I basically helped out wherever needed. We were down one production engineer, so my role was to make commercials all day. That wasn’t the first duty of the day, however. One of the bosses had locked his keys in his room. Thing about these rooms is they had no ceilings. It was odd, but the actual ceiling was considerably higher than the walls extended. As the intern I was given a ladder and asked nicely to unlock the room from the inside. I climbed the ladder, “gracefully” rolled my gut over the top of the office walls and dropped into a crouch. I unlocked the door, picked up my bag and walked into the studio.
The day itself was fairly unremarkable. Enough so that I can’t remark on anything that stuck out. It’s a safe guess that I had to deal with dumb, unrealistic clients who decided they knew more about audio than we did. It’s a safe guess I made a ton of ads and uploaded lots of material to the server. I probably recorded a stack of voice requests for studios down country. Without a doubt I would’ve eaten a large can of tuna and an apple. I’m consistent like that.
As the day drew to a close, my second set of extra duties began. See, they had no job lined up for me after my internship, but I’d gotten quite good at what I did. I was good enough to fill in for production engineers around the country when they went on annual leave, but not good enough that I was worth keeping on retainer. So they found me another job after someone else left and they realised that interns don’t need to be paid extra for more work. When the internship ended they’d start paying me for this new job, which meant I’d be around if production fill-in was required. This new job was called carting. Carting involved uploading a ton of commercials to the servers (all in real time) and tracking down anything missing for the day ahead. There were seven stations and the missing lists overlapped a ton. On a normal day carting would perhaps take an extra hour or two. On Fridays, seeing as you had to cater to the next three days ahead it could sometimes take up to four hours. I’d usually be out by 8.30pm. This day was a Friday. I was not out by 8.30pm.
One thing that hasn’t changed since 2008 is servers and lagging. Much like today, the servers were packing a shit-fit and everything was taking longer. Exponentially longer. Pulling a missing list usually took a few seconds or so. It was instead taking a few minutes or so. This was something that had to be done often throughout the night and would prove to be a massive hindrance. The list was huge, tons of stuff needed to be obtained from studios, uploaded to server and saved. Then logs needed to be checked. Loading these logs usually took a minute or so. This night they were taking upwards of 20 minutes each time. I had seven stations to check and three logs for each station. Even loading up multiple computers was doing little to stem the tides. I got bored and started doing push ups while I waited. I also created an elaborate diorama with one a writer’s Kermit toy (that would start a trend I’ll talk about some other time). By 10pm I’d barely scratched the surface. By 11pm time was running out. I focused my efforts and put the Sunday and Monday logs out of my head in deference to the Saturday logs that would begin in less than an hour. I finished Saturday’s logs two minutes before the clock struck midnight.
With the biggest stress out of the way I relaxed a little. I’d beat the clock and the rest was just waiting. I spent the next two hours handling the rest of the logs with ice cold company from the beer fridge. I’d earned it. I was exhausted. I was emotionally drained. Damned if I didn’t feel like I’d accomplished something though. I checked out of work at 2am, after a 14.5 hour workday. Worst part? I was on salary (a pretty low one). All I got out of those extra hours was a shitty end to an otherwise outstanding six months.
So maaaaaybe a 10.5 hour workday including a personal training session and hour massage isn’t quite worth complaining about.