Wednesday, February 1

First Day Reflections

Greetings. My hope is that those that want to call me tonight would read this blog entry first and then call if they need any more details, but I realize that this might not happen, :)

Well, I'll attempt to hit some highlights of today, but please excuse me if I miss some things. I can honestly say that it feels good to put in a full day's work. In my part time job in Dallas, I got off work at 3. Around 3 today, I kept looking at my watch and wondering if I had to go somewhere. In part of my mind, I wondered how I would fill 2 extra hours. I need not have worried, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Last night, I faced much the same thoughts that I had the first night or two after the lay off, this time though, they were about starting a job instead of leaving one. In short, I had a hard time getting settled down enough to get to sleep. I kept thinking of the upcoming day, transportation, getting to and from the bus stops and to the Center, and other things. It seemed that 5:45 came too early, but I got up and drug myself to the bathroom for the daily ritual.

I made it to the bus stop on time, in fact, I was slightly early. I met up with the man I was going to meet with at the bus stop across from the Center and I was shown the way to the Center and to our cubical area.

One funny thing that happened when I got on the bus this morning is worth mentioning. The busses in Dallas all had 3 steps that led up to the bus level. This morning, I quickly found out that this was not the case in Austin. I stepped up once, then attempted to step a second time, only to have my foot crash down on the floor. I then felt like one of the biggest idiots ever, and apologetically looked to the driver and chuckled, saying it was my first time on an Austin bus.

Anyway, it was quite cool to sit in my cubical. I had a cubical, not just a table with a computer on it, like at my other job, but a real cubical. A tight one for sure, but there were metal drawers to put things in, a generic computer and flat panel monitor, some slightly comfortable state office chairs, and the thing that was almost as impressive to me as the cubical was: a phone! I never had an extension at my old job, much less a phone. So to get a generic phone was quite cool. This one did me one better though, since it not only had the 12 touch-tone buttons on it, but it also had 27 other buttons on it. I have no idea why all those buttons are there; you could probably launch a rocket with it, :) Hopefully there's a button for voicemail. It would be funny if there were all those buttons, but you had to dial into your voicemail box.

Shortly after that, my boss came up to me and welcomed me. That was a good feeling.

Much of the day was filled with the usual first day stuff, but magnified 10 fold in terms of forms. I made a lot of progress in terms of getting the initial things done, and had a few small miracles happen, such as getting my computer setup and ready. Remember that I've said that I've been a consumer at this training center before? There's still quite a few people that are still there that remember me. Anyway, one person I saw said that some people she's known, haven't gotten their computers up and running for 3 or 4 days. So it was quite good that I had mine setup and configured by the tech person by 10 this morning.

I must say that it was quite cool being taken on a tour of the immediate parts of the Center by my boss, meeting new people and seeing ones that I've known from before, and generally remembering my time there. It was not uncommon for me to think, after passing a particular room or hallway, "I remember (fill in the blank)." Many people have said it to me in the past month or so, and I've said it to myself, but after taking the tour and remembering those places, I can honestly say that I'm going to like working there.

On Monday, I start a big phase of my orientation training, which they call emersion, or blindfold, training. Basically, its where the new employee or staff person wears a blindfold during operating hours and learns how to live and cope as a blind person. The training period is not just a day or two, or even a week, but 6 weeks. I think that this is a great idea, since it gives sighted people a chance to see, in a manner of speaking, "How the other half lives." For the blind people, who probably already know how the other half lives, it gives them a chance to brush up on their skills, or develop new ones. In terms of travel (also called mobility), I will definitely be taking mental notes, since I haven't lived in Austin for any length of time for nearly 10 years. Some of the classes that the person goes through, which are the same classes as the students go through, include: Braille, daily living, cooking (I probably need lots of work here), industrial arts (woodshop), and some recreation, such as rock climbing. Like I say, even though I've been through much of this before, at this center and one in Colorado, I see it as an opportunity to update my skills and get the lay of the land. So, it would probably go without saying to say that I'm looking forward to my blindfold training. And yes, even though I'm already blind, I'll still have to wear a blindfold, from what I hear anyway. Fine by me. Doesn't make much difference if the blindfold is on or off; the result is the same, :)

So, that's about it. After only a day of this 8 to 5 work thing, I can already see how people come home tired, but hopefully satisfied and with a sense of self worth. In my case, I think I'll finally be able to have that satisfaction, but more so, I will feel useful, which is something that I never really got on a regular basis at my last job.

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