Things are back in a fairly regular groove now (later in the week than I had anticipated). The funeral (for Janetʼs grandma) is over. Some things will not be the same, of course, but weʼre at home, and Janetʼs at work, and thatʼs like a usual Wednesday/Thursday.
I am back at work, too. The job changed a little once I returned to the grind on Wednesday. You see, my crew surprised me by actually all but finishing all our remaining cases by Tuesday evening (I had anticipated having to reassign about twenty to thirty to maybe finish by/on Saturday). However, we only had two left to complete when I met with my boss, the FOS, yesterday. Entering the meeting, I thought I was almost unemployed.
However, the bigger bosses had other ideas, as I learned at that FOS meeting, and now Iʼm in the field! Checking on the validity of one of my workerʼs Vacant addresses. (Yes, even though they have a whole branch of workers dedicated to re-interviewing people in order to do quality control checks on our work, I get to do the very same thing myself, in person, out in the field! Donʼt read too much sarcasm into all this, because itʼs a chance to experience rural driving up close and way-too-personally to help inspire some moments for the Mantorville story. So all is good.)
I get to drive around on very mushy country supposedly-graveled roads (letʼs be honest — gummily muddy red dirt with a little gravel tossed out here and there, usually too deeply where the ruts have gotten the wettest and deepest). My truck almost was sliding out of control at the bottom of a giant hill on my first attempt to find a housing unit this worker had listed as (oops, biggie bosses) Occupied. I avoided disaster (naturally?), and yes, indeed, the place was occupied (and the residents a little miffed that I was already back to talk with them). That was how the latter part of my morning began — once I drove to northern Jackson County to find these places.
I got around to investigate about a dozen (maybe only ten; I donʼt really remember now) by sometime after 4:00 yesterday (with a big break midday for lunch in Dubuque with The Lovely One — at Star: excellent seafood gumbo and salad! Highly recommended). I also drove almost a hundred miles doing so — discounting my side trip, even though it was partly for gas, to Dubuque. And every single one of those houses was either Occupied, as noted in detail by my crew member, or definitely Vacant (one was guaranteed empty by the very same proxy my worker had talked to). And there are about forty more to check!
I guess I personally will get to work quite a bit longer than my crew members. But, hey, itʼs money (our tax money, I know — but what better cause could your taxes go to than keeping me solvent?). — Of course, maybe I won the PowerBall last night and donʼt need to work today…
I donʼt know, however, if I already bought a ticket or if I need to wrap this up quickly and go buy one.
I do know I will get to hand wash the truck at least a couple of times, because the red mud dries gray, and itʼs all over the sides of my vehicle. (Please see photos nearby!) And itʼs only going to be worse tomorrow (I mean: today).
The bright light in all this field work is my GPS (“the ole Garmin” as my worker called his/hers). I am very glad now that I chose to buy one in anticipation of my first weekʼs salary.(See, Janet, itʼs definitely not just a toy…)
Plugging in addresses lets the little lady in the screen take me straight (well, as straight as country roads around here go) to the house in question. I already had spent some time arranging the houses in a kind of logical order, so only once did the GPS take me almost in a circle to an address. And only three times did I have to search around for the actual 911 site, the GPS maps being off by a couple — or a dozen — football fields several times. Those 911 address signs on their little poles by the road are a blessing, too (as all my workers had already assured me). Letʼs hear it for technology!
And thatʼs the news from Lake Jackson (County, dudes— just a reference to the wetness and the weather). Weʼre going back to my long poem tomorrow.