Workplace Toys

Working in an office on a regular basis, one needs to add a bit of “flair” to make it more personalized. Since our work is a 24/7 operation- we share a workspace. As professional as we are, we still need a little break to show our humanity. So… we have toys scattered throughout the office.

Our fandoms get expressed in small doses. Just a friendly reminder of what we work towards- from gaming to movies. There’s a goal at the end of each day that keeps us laughing and going.

Even a missing ceiling tile gets a little buddy to watch over us. If it brings a even a brief smile to our workspace, it’s worth it.

Sometimes our doodles and artwork get put up. The moments of fun is what makes it all worthwhile. There is a plethora of talent here as well.

How do you decorate your workspace? What do you have that keeps you sane?

Childish Humor

No matter what the circumstances, farts are funny. I’d say most people agree.

I’ve written about farts numerous times. Here are a few examples:

Farts Are Funny

Laughter Language

Cabin Adventures: Day 4

My family, friends and coworkers generally find farts amusing as well. The first time I let out some gas in front of my wife- when we were first dating- I was incredibly embarrassed. Now, she out shines me and puts my farts to shame. Both in sound and odor.

Farting around coworkers or friends is kind of the same. It takes a bit to open up around each other. There is a comfort level that you need to get to with one another prior to the first fart. Once that Pandora’s box is open, there’s no putting it back. It can turn into an all-out gas war. Each trying to out do the other. Or not warning one another and letting the smell do the rest.

When I let one rip in the car with my family, I lock the windows. Trap them inside with an obnoxious gas cloud. But if anyone in my family let’s one rip- all the windows go down even in the winter– to air out the car. Hey, I like to breathe. Plus it’s my car and I can do what I like, right?

Besides getting over the initial embarrassment of breaking wind, farts are the funniest thing ever. We all do it. So why hide it?

The Floater

My experience at work has me jumping from location to location in my home terminal. Which makes me feel uneasy and a bit doubtful of my abilities.

Am I that good- that my work can move me willy nilly all over the place? Or am I that bad- that they can’t figure out a good place for me?

I’d like to think it’s the first option. I am pretty good at a couple of the locations. But I think I’m just middle of the road when it comes to others.

What has happened now is that I have become a “Floater“. My coworkers say to me, “Didn’t I see you someplace else last week?” Or “Weren’t you at a different location? Are you going to stay here permanently?” I have become like a human version of the eye floater. Appearing in your vision for a moment, just to disappear as you try and focus on me. It feels like I’m here but not.

In the end, I guess I’m reliable enough to help out where needed. Arrive in a flash and gone in an instant- leaving behind nothing more than a memory of my presence.

Joe- The Human Eye Floater

Fifty Eight

If things continue the way they are going, I should be able to retire by age 58. To me, that’s a big deal. Because my father passed away at age 58. He never got the luxury of retirement.

For most of my youth (until age 17 maybe) my father worked long hours for a computer company. We hardly saw him. On his days off he spent it golfing with his friends. He wasn’t much of a family man nor did we do many vacations with him. But when he was let go from his job after fifteen years, he took his severance pay and enjoyed almost a year of golfing. Then he needed to work again. He put in long hours and wasn’t around once more. Then he was diagnosed with cancer. A couple years later- he was gone.

Not the life I want.

If I am still with CN Rail, it means I only have to work for a little over 15 more years to receive a decent pension. I’ve already been working here steadily since 2007 (minus layoffs at the start). Considering I have been in the work force for 30 years so far give or take, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. And I’m already getting excited about it.

Since My father passed away, I have focused on time with my family. Only on a rare occasion have I worked long hours and put in extra time. At one point it was to pay for my wedding. Another was to afford a down payment for our first home. Now my time off is as valuable as the time I put in to work.

Knowing that I have put in 2/3 of the work towards retirement is exciting. It’s time to start planning what to do with the time off. I look forward to sharing that next chapter with my wife. Her and I are getting started on those long term goals. But first, it’s time to create a countdown. 5544 days to go.

Rainfall Flooding

Today was one of the wettest days I have ever experienced. Besides me being soaked through to the bone and getting prune hands- there was massive pooling of water everywhere. It was pretty miserable out there as if the heavens were crying.

It didn’t matter that I was able to dry off briefly between having to go back out into the rain. The work needed to get done. The thing is, once you’re wet, you may as well stay wet and just power through it.

But the flooding everywhere was intense. Water pooling so bad that even the back doors of a bus going by our train was draining water. At one point, our taxi that was driving us to another train almost stalled out going through what seemed to be a small pond. The driver nearly filled his engine with water.

But as the day drew to an end, the rain eased up. Just in time for the coldness of the night to chill me to the core. I was looking forward to the warmth of my home. My drive home was a good start, with heated seats.

Working Outside

I’ve been at the railroad since 2007. From my conductor class of 30 students only ten people remain. A couple of them moved to work in Edmonton, some in Kamloops, some here in Vancouver and a couple of us went into management.

When I hired on back in November of 2007- they told us that if we can survive our first winter, we’d end up being “Lifers“. Most of my shifts lately have been working outdoors at night, just like when I hired on.

Last week I was Working in the Rain. This week has been dry, but dipping below freezing. You’d think that over a decade later, I wouldn’t be working on the ground. But we’ve been extra busy these days. My body isn’t used to the physical activity. Sometimes I miss being in the office.

Over the next few weeks it’ll remain busy. A lot of us are feeling overwhelmed. The mental strain is equally as bad as the physical strain. I’m not sure if there’s an end goal in sight. My current mood at work is a zombie like state. It carries over into the home life- and that’s tough. I think a good night’s rest and a recharge will help.

There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, but I think it’s just another train…

Fuzzy Mind

I’ve worked night shift the past few days. It has made me very fuzzy in the head. Today has been especially bad.

I feel like I cannot come up with coherent sandwiches sentences. I’m also confused as to what date it is. I keep thinking it’s two days ago. No idea why. As well, my stomach isn’t overly happy either. No gut. That’s a bad gut. Bad.

I know the solution!

Nap time. I love a good nap. Naps make me feel sort of human again.

Working in the Rain

Last night was a good night that turned ugly. As much as I could complain about working in the rain, it really wouldn’t be worth it. I kind of enjoyed it actually.

I worked as a train conductor last night, so I got to be out there in the elements with those hard working team members who do it on a regular basis. Note: I started as a switchman over eleven years ago, and I do enjoy going back to it from time to time. Even out in the rain, it’s sometimes nice to get away from being at a desk all the time.

I worked with a great engineer who was easy to get along with. We had an excellent start and delivered traffic quickly to our first destination. After lunch, we were sent off to rescue another train that had stalled. This turned out to be more challenging than expected. The extreme rain warning was in full effect and made it difficult to move our train.

Needless to say, to took longer than expected, but we succeeded by the end of the night. We had some extra help along the way and fantastic communication going on to make it work. My level of respect to those conductors and engineers who deal with troubleshooting on a daily basis keeps on growing. Especially as the winter is coming.

Working in the harsh elements always poses a challenge. I need to remember this when I get frustrated at my desk when trains aren’t moving. There’s more to it than just thinking it’s the human factors.

Invisible Box

Work can be a real struggle sometimes. It’s even worse when something doesn’t go right.

Recovering from an abnormal situation can require some unique thinking. Being creative in dealing with circumstances beyond your regular control can be tough when others don’t like to stray from the normal routine. Thinking outside the box is hard for some.

In the end, we’re all trying to just get along in our little sandbox. No need to kick each other while we’re down. It’d be nicer to get a helping hand to lift you up. I also think that people need to be willing to accept help when offered.

Working together towards a common goal benefits everyone in the end.

It’ll Get Better

Sorry for not writing much today. I almost put off writing my daily blog at all. I don’t know where to begin or what to write. Work has been a real rollercoaster of thoughts and challenges lately. After my day today- I just needed to come home and nap for a couple of hours.

Crazy part about it all- today was a great day for me. I got to enjoy being on the ground training people how to be switchmen. It’s one of my favorite things to do. There was just some other things going on elsewhere that made a tiring day.

It’ll get better soon. Once everything settles down.