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Working at the Royal Museum

I eventually got a job working for the Royal Museum of Scotland, which sounds more impressive than it actually was. In fact, the highlight of the work was that it was so close that I could roll out of bed exactly when I was supposed to be at work and still get there before anyone noticed I was late.

It was a glorified data entry position, without the glory. I worked for the entomology department of the museum, helping to catalogue bug sightings in Scotland over the past century in a half, as cited in entomology journals. So I typed latin bug names such as "Potamophylax rotundipennis," cited in the journal "British Bloodsucking Flies," in the late 19th Century outside of Aberdeen. One of my friends accurately described it as the type of job that a movie serial killer would have to support his real profession of slaughtering innocents at night.

This went for 8 hours a day (the work, not the slaughter of innocents), and mostly involved me putting on music and shutting off my brain, except for my occasional attempts to figure out a way to phrase my job description in a respectable way for when people would ask what I'm doing ('I'm assisiting in the construction of a computer database with scientists from the Royal Museum of Scotland.' 'I'm collating and organizing valuable information that can be accessed by scientists all over Scotland.' 'Someday this may be the archive that cures cancer.').

When I wasn't doing that, I was drinking plenty of coffee so I could legitimately take long toilet breaks and wander the museum. I explored the entire museum in five to ten minute chunks over the course of 4 months.

I also would occasionally constuct elaborate Bruckheimer-esque fantasies while sitting at my computer, daydreaming. Trying to figure out where I'd run if someone were chasing me, what ledges I'd take the chance on jumping off, what cables to swing on, where to hide, and most importantly, where to find the weapons to fight back. I'd start in geology, collecting some of the heavier rocks to use as projectiles, and also to smash open the case to the Japanese katanas and armor. Even someone with a machine gun has to be more than a little bit wary of someone charging them wearing full armor and carying a meter long chunk of polished steel capable of disembowling them.

Besides, they're incredibly cool weapons.

I only had one major problem. You see, for some reason when my alarm clock goes off, intending to wake me up for work so I can live a productive day in slavery, I become completely incapable of understanding what's going on. Sometimes it's subtle, like being unable to remember precisely when I have to be somewhere (as opposed to when I can comfortably wake up and get everything done that needs doing ahead of time). Other times, the ringing of the alarm is completely alien to me.

If I'm particularly tired and confused, I have an extended series of micro-fantasies every time it goes off: I'm an assassin getting messages on who my target will be, I'm defusing a bomb, I'm a private detective on the case. All banal little fantasies that I never really think about when I'm awake.

Even worse is my recurring dream that I get to work on time. My alarm goes off, I wake up confused and thinking, "why's that clock ringing? Especially when I'm already at work and being a productive wage-slave." (Okay, so I never use the term "wage-slave" immediately after I wake up.

All this means is that those who wake me up abruptly often have a very entertaining time as I respond in stupid and embarassing ways. You can actually count on a moment of confused idiocy before I come to my senses.

And so, I'm frequently late for work. Very late. A half an hour to an hour, sometimes. And no one ever comments on it. They keep signing my timecards and I keep getting paid for hours that I don't do. Which doesn't exactly give me much incentive to get to work on time.

Sometimes, I love my job.


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This page last updated on 15 February, 2002. At least it understands that patience is a virtue.
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