Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Exit Ramp

The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.
John Powell

Bad Habits and New Knowledge Acquired While Scoring Essays

1. Twenty-four years ago when I was pregnant with first son, I gave up caffeine. I’m now an addict. One cup when I get up, one on the way to work, a big mug of black tea at 10. Another after lunch. A large diet soda to sip on from 2-5pm. All without my hands shaking.

2. I can close my eyes and fall asleep while sitting up. I just use my hand to cover the side of my face that has a supervisor glaring us all down to make sure we’re reading and rest my eyes for just a few minutes. I only had to catch my chin crashing into my chest about 50 times.

3. As those around me were let go from the project due to their inability to master the scoring rubric, I gained an ottoman and an armrest. Sort of like making a chaise lounge out of whatever is available. Management didn't approve of my comfort zone, but since I cranked 200 essays a day for them they didn't say anything.

4. You can take Advil five times a day, really. (Note to self: Always carry Tagamet in purse.)

5. Although hopeful that getting up at 6am every day would turn my nighthawk habits, I learned I can still go to bed at 12 or 1am and get up at 6am. Oh, how I wanted to be a 10pm sleepy person.

6. My family really sucks at giving massages. At night, the knot in my upper back is so big and just out of my reach. My husband’s attempts last about 31 seconds. My oldest son much better at 2 minutes (can tell he’s got a girlfriend). Finally learned if you lie face up on the floor and place one your weights in the center of the knot, you can roll back and forth like a writhing idiot to handle your own massage, and hope no one sees you through the window and thinks you are having sex by yourself.

7. I discovered the cure for hot flashes: Sit in a room where the temperature looms around 40 below. Wear long sleeved shirt with hooded sweatshirt and cover yourself with a not too thick blanket. Can’t be too thick, as you still have to maneuver the mouse while hands are covered with said blanket. (Side note: Some people have those gloves with the fingertips cut off and mufflers wrapped around their heads.)

8. There is an entire community of temporary workers. They float around the city throughout the year, passing information to each other as to the whereabouts of the available jobs. Many others in my job are retired folks getting in a few months pay to supplement the fixed income. Have to be pretty sharp old folks to keep this job.

9. While focused on a computer, I can be completely unaware of my surroundings. Can start out with 100 people in a room and after a few hours or days, notice there are only 24 left—the rest lost in the abyss of not surviving the rubric scoring process. Sometimes if those leaving are noticed, a pang of jealously fills my heart as I watch them take the walk to freedom.

10. I'm very good at this job. Was in the bonus each week. Breaks my heart to discover that. Just what I’ve always wanted to be good at. When asked to continue on more projects, I merely laughed, shook my head, and raced for the door. I’d honored my contract; we're not starving. I am so out of there.

Whatever lessons I’ve learned from this experience are still floating in my head. Hope to report on them later. Meanwhile, putting life back together, and I’m thankful that the part of this road trip for scoring State required essays finally found an exit. A most tedious, eye-sight costing and long stretch of road it was. I'll rest for a while while examining the next turn with a much closer eye. I’m anxious to discover another, although not quite sure what that is at this time. But I do believe this is only part of the process. Now I just have to remember the goal.


  1. So happy to hear you are free! Loved your list too - especially the one where you are giving your self a massage by rolling around on the floor ; -) I hope you treat yourself to a massage soon.

  2. Yeah, I'm with Pseudo. I need regular massaging of my neck and back, and I'm thinking of writhing on the floor with some balls. Tennis balls (you with dirty minds) that have a little give in them. My ex was a fantastic massager. Too bad about the other thing though. No job! (you with dirty minds...)

  3. Congrats on being free of the tedium. Though it must feel kind of nice to know you were so good at it, when so many others clearly were not. Confidence building and all.

  4. Does it make you feel any better to know that Rene Zellweger once did this job? I worked with folks who knew her when...

    So success is just around the corner. She went to off to Hollywood to do Jerry Maguire after this gig. :-)

  5. Now if you take self massaging and doing Jerry Maguire...I think you've got a magical opportunity waiting to happen.

    Yay! End of tedium! It's one huge house party from here on out, right? RIGHT? (Thanks for keeping up with the poetry. Hope it's not as bad as essay reading.)

  6. I've got a sore neck that I can't get rid of. I think I need a new pillow, and a new life...

  7. So glad it's over for you. Hope you find something a lot less tedious. I love the massage tip. I'm going to have to try that. I have that same knot and the same 31 second husband. LOL

  8. Summer school teacher? College test proctor? Whatever comes next, hope it's at a better temperature and doesn't cramp your neck!!

  9. Wow!

    Examining the next turn with a much closer eye is a fine idea!

  10. What a list of lessons. I feel like I've had jobs like this--taking orders at the SPORTSMEN'S GUIDE magazine would rank amongst them--and that, in a way, I currently have a job like this. The physical taxations of grading writing are little noted. I feel like your Sister in Pain that way.

    Yes, take what you can from this experience: a quick, eagle eye for the error; an ability not to be phased by massive pages of text; an appreciation for even "okay" writing (so long as it's not a train wreck)...and the like.

    Well done, you.

  11. Yikes! So glad it's over for you. Hope you treat yourself to a real massage for surviving.

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