So it's been three days at the new job and how is it, everybody wants to know? I should begin with a disclaimer that I can't say much about the nitty-gritty of the job, since everything's embargoed to the general public unless it's already been published or quoted in the media.

What I can say is that the first three days have been not bad, due to the fact that I have no e-mail account yet, and most of our work (like ninety-something percent) is routed through e-mail, so I have done next to no work for the past three days. I got to recraft a speech (i.e. take a first draft proposed by one of the event organizers and turn it into something a Cabinet minister would say) and sit by the cellphone that is linked to one of the public complaint lines, but that's about it. I've done a lot of reading, swotting up on everything that's been going on between the Ministry of Education and the media and the public over the past year or so. I've figured out how to use my voicemail and signed up for a library card. I know that most people turn up for work some time between 8:30 am and 9:00 am, so I don't have to panic if I'm a little late. And on my way home today, I realized that I left my Civil Service Card in the office, which means I'll have to ask someone to buzz me in tomorrow. (The card is required for security clearance to enter the building and I have to swipe it past various sensors to get into offices on the different floors. Call it another example of the ministry taking itself a little too seriously.)

I have no e-mail account yet because they can't set one up till my school-based one (that I was using for the past three and a half years) is terminated. That alone takes four days to a week. I'm going to start practicing my new job here by saying, "No comment."

Gosh darnit. I just realized that I can't write about any of the really juicy things I read 'cause they're all classified. That leaves me with no stories to tell for the past three days.

I suppose I can talk about my colleagues. Everyone seems pretty cool. People have been nice in helping me out, printing stuff for me (since I have no access to the server yet) and so on. I like my computer. This is the first time in my life that my computer at work is faster than my computer at home --- not a whole lot faster, mind you, but it's generally fast enough that I don't complain about how long it takes to boot up or anything. I also have my own phone line, which is a luxury after sharing two phone lines with over a hundred staff members at my previous school, and I hear individual cellphones are in the works.

The job promises to be busy busy busy --- so busy that I think I'm going to sign up for just one class this term (for my part-time Masters') and see how things go first. I'd hate to sign up for two classes and then be missing half of them both, especially since the two I'd enrol in are on consecutive nights. There's another guy at work who's doing a part-time Masters' too, so I guess the bosses are reasonably sympathetic towards such endeavors. I stayed at work past six pm on Wednesday and Thursday, but that was more because Terz was in the area and picked me up for dinner rather than from any real need to stay late. Today I darted off at five-thirty and most people were still in the office. (Note: my immediate colleagues consist of less than twenty people, so it's a small bunch.) They tell me it's rare to stay past seven, but six-ish is the norm.

More importantly, I found out that the bosses are nice about leave applications, which is important since I'm expected to be at my brother's graduation ceremony in Madison, WI in May, and Terz and I are thinking of finally checking out Vietnam later in the year. Twenty-one days of leave doesn't go far, but it's important to be able to take it when you want to.

As for whether this job has a heavier or lighter working load than teaching, I'll need a few weeks before I report back on that. Remember: I haven't done any real work yet.

Ah, the blissful first days... I do appreciate them.


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