I’m supposed to be at work by 10, but I don’t get there until 10:30. When I arrive, the office is locked, the shades drawn, and there is a note on the door to the effect that the staff members are out running errands, so please inquire at the office of our sister department, down the hall. I don’t have a key, so I head down to the other department. (The two office suites are connected by a back hallway – I’ll be able to reach our office through their door.)
When I get to the other office, I expect to make my way around the front desk to the back hallway as usual, but the receptionist is new and doesn’t know me, so I have to explain who I am and where I’m going. I head to the back hallway, turning slightly right with every few feet. (The building where I work is a circular tower with a small footprint. The offices are in a ring with the elevators in the middle. The floors are so small in area that the curve is very noticeable. It reminds me of the Battle School in Ender’s Game, only it’s the wall that curves, not the floor.)
I go down the hallway to my desk, and find a note on my computer. It’s from E. (one of the staff members). She informs me that I. (our secretary) has the day off, A. (the assistant director) is at meetings in Chicago and that she and L. (her assistant) will be running errands all morning. O. (our new director) isn’t in, either. He’s a professor in another department and is more often at his other office than in our building. And I didn’t see Y. on my way in. She splits her time between here and the library and I actually run into her more often there than here.
I turn my computer on, log in, and realize that I have nothing to do for the next four hours. My main job is to keep the website updated with the appropriate announcements and application information for various programs, but it’s summer, now, and not much is going on. I’m also supposed to work on larger, related projects as they come up, but I wrapped up one of them, earlier this week and the other one, a web tutorial, is temporarily on hold until we can schedule a meeting with someone from another department who might want us to use a different software to produce it. Probably I won’t start working on it again until after I come back from vacation.
There are only so many blogs I can read or websites I can surf before my brain starts getting mushy. I can answer Board questions, but sometimes there’s nothing in the inbox that interests me (and it’s not as if I’m under quota). I feel OK about reading stuff online, but I don’t feel like I can actually bring a book to work. I have taken to bringing my Russian dictionary and notebook so I can work on an article I’m reading – that’s actually what I did for several hours on Friday.
At some point I’ll have the tutorial to work on, and I might be able to work on a couple of research projects later this summer. And things will definitely pick up again come fall. But for now, I don’t have much to do.