Some Days, You Just Need a Beer

Alas that I can’t drink alcohol in any form or quantity, due to allergies, because there are some days when you just want to finish work, grab an adult bevredge, and slam the door in the face of the world. When I was flying charter (as opposed to medical flights, where we had a set shift rotation), it was not unheard of for someone to keep a can or two of cheap as could be beer in their fridge, so that if they were still too exhausted (but legal-on-paper) to fly, they could take a few swigs and honestly tell dispatch, “Sorry, I had alcohol. I need eight hours.” It was a bit of a last-ditch thing, but it worked.

Last week, I needed a beer. Something to imbibe and mark off the day from the rest of society. “This is the end of the day, leave me alone, shoo, I’m not taking calls/answering e-mail/looking at the screen.” Something (legal) to calm me down and make the whirling thoughts slow at least enough that I could kick a few out of my mind and make them go away. Nope.

That’s one of the worst aspects of the electronic world, at least for peace of mind. It’s so very hard to escape. I’m pretty-much on e-mail call from 0700-2100 six days of the week. If students have a question, or a query, or a complaint, they e-mail. Or parents e-mail, and expect an answer within a few hours.* That’s baked into my job, now. I’m not fond of it, but the electronic leash is no less real than when I was flying and it was a pager. There’s no “Sorry, I had a beer” with Day Job.

It is what it is, and more than once I’ve heard fellow teachers sigh, “I need a beer!” when students are well out of earshot. Sometimes even before the first class started! And we all smile, and commiserate, and continue doing what we do. Every so often, I think about bringing a ginger beer to Day Job, to drink while grading finals, after the students have left. The brand I drink looks like a stubby (thing Red Stripe stubby), and would generate serious double-takes. However, it does look like a real beer, and the problems from the initial reaction (especially if a student or parent were to appear) are not worth the fun.

But some days, when the laws of man, physics, and thermodynamics conspire against you, you just need a beer!

*E-mails that come in between 2300-0400 do not count.


19 thoughts on “Some Days, You Just Need a Beer

  1. Believe I know one of the brands. There’s little that a chilled Bundaberg can’t help with. The electronic leash is worse. Parents who hate it at work forget the they’re doing the same thing.

  2. > *E-mails that come in between 2300-0400 do not count.

    One of the “not a team player” strikes against me was that I refused to check texts, voicemail, or email outside my scheduled working hours.

    That’s “work”, and if I work, i expect to get paid. Alas, the various supervisor-droids seemed unable to appreciate my point of view.

    The tipping point of that came when I answered my (new 1995 Motorola brick phone, that was still an expensive curiosity) to receive a demand that I drive down to the office to do some task *right now*. I told them that wasn’t possible; it was Saturday, I was four hours away in another state, and in a few minutes I was rolling out onto the race track. This caused Extreme Displeasure, and Hostile Meetings with Higher Management, the next working day, when they demanded to know who had given me permission to go so far away.

    “Permission”? That was when I realized that job wasn’t going to last long…

    • Yeah, been there. Working at a power plant that shall remain nameless, I frequently got the after-hours phone call requesting me to solve the problem du jour. Almost every Saturday, I’d head across town for breakfast at a nice restaurant, do some shopping, or even go out of town for the weekend. When I got home my answering machine would have messages stacked up from the shift supervisor, and progressively higher levels of management wanting to know what to do about a perceived problem. Usually they wanted me to hold their hand, tell them it wasn’t a problem and that everything was going to be OK. Returning the calls, I found out that 1) the problem was minor, but required maintenance to resolve which they had already requested, or 2) they had screwed up, they needed to stop what they were doing, restore the equipment to normal configuration, and run the normal functional test, which again they were already doing. Of course my performance review indicated that I wasn’t as responsive to plant operations concerns as I should have been.

      • I had a test area operator call me late evening one time to complain about some minor problem. I was rather annoyed, but decided to try something unusual; I drove the 20 miles into work, spent the 15 minutes required to solve the problem, and stayed there until morning. The operator was sufficiently embarrassed that I *never* got an after-hours call from here again. Sweet lady, bless her heart. 🙂

    • Re: permission to be away from the area on days off.

      Last I heard, that was being “on call”, and a righteous employer would give some form of compensation for the duty. I was an exempt employee (ie, no overtime pay), but for general test area screwups, we finally worked out a rotation for the pager schedule. If it wasn’t a Do or Die issue on one of my development projects, if I wasn’t on call, I left the pager off. (The relevant engineer was supposed to be available if he had a DorD project running on off hours. Woe betide the one who screwed that up…)

      • Last I heard, that was being “on call”, and a righteous employer would give some form of compensation for the duty.

        Which is laid out in the contract, and believe you me it is a PAIN to follow even in agriculture.

  3. Re email: I once had a boss who remarked “I think all we have done is to create a method of moving garbage at the speed of light.”

    • When I go through the e-mail associated with Appendage to Day Job, I’m strongly inclined to agree with your boss. Happily for me, Fr. Martian and Sr. Scholastica are firm believers in “an empty in-box is a good in-box” and limit themselves to truly important matters (or they stop by the classroom during my work period for a face-to-face.)

  4. I recall the silver cans of Barq’s Root Beer bring a great prop for trolling cops and “concerned citizens” back in the Libby Dole disapproved portion of adulthood.
    And of course, when the notice went across the scanner to stop pestering you, it was time to retrieve a stashed half-rack of the realish thing…

    • Some years ago there was party broken up in Wausau, WI where the Primary Indication of underage drinking was the great presence of red Solo brand cups.

      Some kids had a laugh at that, got a keg or kegs of ROOT beer and made a Big Deal about a “kegger” and made sure they had the red Solo brand cups. The obvious happened, of course.

  5. I created some super-beings (not published) who could drink as much they wanted without getting drunk. Sounds great right? Of course, some times after “interesting days”, both heroes and rogues were heard to say “I wish I could get drunk”. 😉

    As for the electronic leash, I knew a guy who was working 60 hours (plus) a week on a IT consulting job. He finally got some vacation time but didn’t leave a phone number to be called.

    However, the “client” got a hold of his emergency contact phone number (from the consulting company) and he spent hours on a “problem” that could have waited until after the vacation was finished.

    After the “problem” was fixed, he informed the consulting company that he was taking an extra day of vacation and they agreed.

    The Fun really started when he got back from vacation. He had been doing some job interviewing and had accepted an offer. So when he got back, he gave his two-week notice. 😆

    Oh, this was a former co-worker not me. 😉

    • However, the “client” got a hold of his emergency contact phone number (from the consulting company) and he spent hours on a “problem” that could have waited until after the vacation was finished.

      Good heavens.

      The one time my husband’s office used that route to get my phone number because someone had lost it, while my husband was deployed, because they wanted to make sure I was OK, they were hugely apologetic and recognized it was a major boundary over-reach.
      Doing it to have someone do extra work on vacation?

      … I should hope that he was off doing interviews!

      • My workplace once tracked down a guy on his honeymoon. Not exactly for work, he’d been trying to sell his house (or buy it, I forget which), and the other party needed contact. Said party contacted guy’s boss, who decided to at least let employee know what was going on. This, I believe, is more defensible than being tracked down for WORK.

      • “That’s consulting. My rate is $X hundred dollars per hour, Y hour minimum. Your not hanging up constitutes agrees. Note: ARGUING with me is NOT hanging up and is thus AGREEMENT to these rates.”

  6. There were times, both too close and too far back in time than is comfortable where I told an immediate supervisor/manager that *IF* he tried to call me in, I would be on my third Manhattan.

  7. Since Covid started, I have started occasionally coming home and making decaf coffee with Bailey’s, to unwind.

    …I was a little startled, when, since this was only “two weeks to flatten the curve”, I ran out of decaf Black Rifle coffee… and out of Bailey’s. I now have enough to make it through the election.

    • “I now have enough to make it through the election.”

      How many cases does that come to?

      Debating if I need to make the trip resupply the absinthe before the election.
      I fear I might *NEED* to do that.

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