Sunday, January 26, 2014

the daily routine

I have now been in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk for over a month now. Time to give a basic run down of what a normal day here is like. I get up, go to work, work, go home, sleep, and repeat. Exciting, isn't it?

Ok, I kid, I kid (sort of). The typical day is slightly more compelling, though I'm not sure what you expect. My first three weeks here were actually quite atypical because of both my arrival to the location and the holiday season. Being new always means a steep learning curve. While I'm still on the curve, it's not as steep as it was my first few weeks here. The holidays were interesting as well because January 1-8 was treated as a holiday for local staff (and so the office was basically gutted for an entire week and since that time period straddled a weekend, many people took a few extra days off at the beginning and end to take a full 16 days off from work (going from Saturday, December 28 to Sunday, January 12). Now things are more even, though we're in the midst of what I will obliquely call some lumpy staffing coverage owing to factors which regular readers (if any are left) will know I never provide details on. Suffice to say, this is the hand I inherited from my manager and predecessor and it's something that can be worked through.

The set-up here is quite good, at least in terms of convenience. I usually get up between 06:00-06:30 and stroll out the door by 06:50 to head toward the bus stop. My employer runs buses to the office/base facility since it is at the edge of town (and then some). On weekdays, the bus comes at 07:13 and I'm usually at my desk between 07:30-07:40 depending on the traffic (aka: depending on how much snow is on the ground). There is a later bus, but it arrives after 09:00 and is for shamefully late employees. Office work is office work, some people to meet, things to review, numbers to crunch, e-mails to ignore, etc. Lunch is provided in an on-site cafeteria. It's nothing fancy, but a nice warm meal does eliminate the need to put any time or thought into lunch plans. From a business perspective, it's really the only sensible thing to do. The base is several kilometers from shops and restaurants so on-site meals allow employees to spend more time at work and less time eating. Well, perhaps the same amount of time actually eating, but the one minute walk to the cafeteria is much shorter than the time it would take to go out to eat every day. At the end of the day, there are a few more bus options, leaving at five past the hour from 17:05 to 20:05. Want to stay later? Then you'll be taking a taxi home unless you have your own car.

About cars, I don't have one here. I could purchase one, but lack most of the reasons others have for doing so like family or living far away from the bus stops or a need for speed or desire to go off-roading or any of those sorts of things. A car would not simplify my life. It would moderately complicate my life. Sure, it would be convenient, but you know what's even more convenient? Not having to drive to work. I can sleep on the bus (or at least close my eyes since it is a very bumpy road), read, avoid any form of socialization with grim-faced Russians, etc. I never worry about parking, being too tired to drive, or ice on the roads. I have not had a daily commute in nearly three years and have not owned a car in more than five years. (In both Hungary and Gabon, I had an assigned company vehicle and drove myself to work.)

Regardless of my commute to and from work, I usually get home in the evenings, have a light dinner, water my plants, and consume some fiction-based media. It's as exciting as it sounds. Yes, I've been out a few times, but until our lumpy work coverage gets sorted out in a few weeks, I do not have much time for making it rain at da club. Seriously, the days here take on a routine, much like anywhere else. Routine drives most days, provides normalcy (and often sanity), and generally keeps things far less dramatic than they otherwise would be.

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