Nose to the Grindstone

What a week! It’s been “back to a regular 9-to-5”. Well, 8 to 4ish anyway. I’m technically consulting, but it’s a regular gig for the next buncha months. *sigh*

Still. It’s for a pretty big company, and they all seemed very nice when I interviewed, and I’ll be doing some User Centered Design (UCD), which is cool, cause that’s what I want to be doing. I’d be even happier if it were more the planning/theory type. But I’m pretty sure the only real downside to all this is going to be the commute (ugh!).

Did I mention the commute (ugh!)?

It’s from downtown Philly to Malvern. Something like an hour and a half one way. Now it’s not the longest commute I’ve ever done (in miles) and it’s not the longest commute of anyone I know (in time), but it’s a pretty long bus/train/bus ride (which is how I’m doing it). And that’s when everything goes as planned. I spent 2 hours coming home on Friday simply because a train was 28 minutes late. All this before the really bad weather season. Septa’s regional rail doesn’t have a stellar record for on-time travel in the winter.

So why am I doing this? I don’t know… ummm… The money?So why am I doing this? I don’t know… ummm… The money? Well. That’s at least part of it.

I also feel very confident that I’ll learn something from the experience. And I don’t mean the travel. It’s a chance to see how a large company does UCD, and fits it into their process. Lot’s of organizations are realizing that UCD is a critical part of maximizing their products and services. Back in the days when it was called “ergonomic design” and “systems analysis”, business wouldn’t touch it. Now there is serious ROI attached and the cry is: “get me some usability engineers”. I guess, more and more, I fit that bill.

Finally, there is the resume factor. I can’t escape the fact that in order to move forward, command the kind of salary I hope to maintain/grow, and be considered seriously by the big BIG clients, you gotta have “names” on your resume. You are, after all, only as good as the last person who had faith enough to hire you. Sad, stereotypical, and true.

So off I go. Every morning at 6:00 a.m. or so. Not to return till 6:00 p.m. (or so). Not that I’m looking for sympathy or anything (plenty of people work 12 hour days or longer. Plenty of people have much harsher jobs than I do, or longer commutes for less gain). It’s simply a real adjustment. There was something really nice about being my own “boss” for a while. Working when I wanted to work, from wherever I could get access to the files. Working in my ‘jammies. And all the opportunities I missed: cooking more often, sitting in coffee shops, taking walks.

What is the saying; you don’t know a good thing til it’s gone?

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