Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Requiem for a menu change

Taking a leaf from Kaiberie's book, I am getting rid of more time devouring things in my life that slow my writing progress. Nothing that doesn't contribute to a bigger paycheck or move my writing along is going or gone. Everything is being stripped down to basics. I don't have room for anything else, especially not with a big expenditure coming that will move my books to the top of the lists and generate a lot more sales. That's my main focus, along with spending more hours struggling with work.

I emailed my boss yesterday and told her the programs we are forced to use are clunky and inefficient and they waste time, hamper production. I had to explain the concept of integrated programs 3x and I still don't think she got it. She was worried about incomplete dictations because someone closed a document to answer the door or take a break and it being sent back before it was finished. Uh, no, that's not a problem if the job is not finalized and merely closed.

The way the system works now -- or rather doesn't work -- the programs to get and upload jobs are separate and have to be manually activated every time work needs to be downloaded or uploaded. When there are no jobs, getting jobs entails shutting down the program, launching it again and doing the same things over and over and over, wasting loads of time and increasing frustration. In other words, not productive at all. The system I am more familiar with and worked with for 10 years is one that never needs to be shut down, opened and initiated once. It can be set to manual or automatic by the operator to get one job or five jobs at a time, sending finalized work automatically, and downloading new jobs automatically. Less time is wasted. The MT endures a lot less frustration and is hence more productive, which translates to more pages typed and more work done for a bigger paycheck. I'm talking about hours, not minutes. It's such a simple concept.

Her complaint that if a dictation is cut off in the middle and continued on another dictation, then the pieces will not be connected and the job incomplete. That's specious. If an MT is getting one job at a time, finalizes the job and sends it up, and then gets the other half, the pieces won't be connected. It's very unusual for a follow-up dictation not to arrive within the next three jobs and can still be typed, combined, finalized and automatically uploaded with the integrated system, which I explained at length. She said Jason is revamping the system and will take my suggestions into consideration. I offered to work with him; I don't know if she'll take me up on it.

When I finally finished work last night, I was exhausted, aching and tired. All I wanted to do was go to bed, but I checked my email and shut down the browser to find that Patrick Swayze died yesterday. It was not unexpected, but still it's sad. Someone posted a YouTube link to Dirty Dancing where Patrick and Jennifer Gray dance the last dance ("No one puts Baby in the corner.") and I watched with a great big smile and tears in my eyes. Patrick was young and exuberant and so talented in that movie and I am glad it remains as a ever bright memory. That, of course, led me to thinking about Ghost and his touching performance as Sam Wheat, the man who couldn't say "I love you" until he was dead and trapped between life and death because he wanted to find his murderer and protect his girlfriend, Molly, by forcing himself on a psychic conning people who actually was a psychic, Rita, played wonderfully and memorably by Whoopi Goldberg. ("Molly, you in danger, girl.")

And Ghost puts me in mind of so many people who can't say "I love you" or tell people how they really feel, and probably won't until it's too late. Time moves on and few people will leave the legacy Patrick Swayze leaves behind him. He put his heart and soul into his work and his life and left no doubt in anyone's mind what he thought and how he felt. That is a tribute few people can boast. He lived his life broadly and without compromise right to the end and I am so thankful I have even a little bit of his talent and zest for life to remember him. He is one person about whom I have no illusions and no confusion. He was simply a wonderful, loving, intelligent and talented man and I'm grateful to have sat on the sidelines and shared a few happy moments and tears. Can't say that about too many people in my life -- our near me.

It's times like these that remind me most of what is speeding past like a bullet train on anti-gravity rails without brakes and how much time is wasted by waiting for people to wake up and realize what is rapidly slipping through their fingers and out of reach. I have wasted too much time waiting and hoping and am now galvanized for the forward push up the rocky slope. Life is seldom easy, but it's worth every blister, broken heart and struggle to get to the good moments, and there are only moments. It's just as much a waste of time to hang around celebrating when there is another road to cross and another mountain to climb. The heavenly moments are for resting before the next big push, not for sitting around until you're either thrown out or bored out of your skull, weighed down by depression and ennui. To be human is to keep moving, hopefully holding hands, supporting, and being supported by a like-minded companion. The real blessing is finding lots of like-minded companions to share the load and the road, and I've been lucky and blessed, although I miss those who shared the journey for a short time -- too short.

If you do nothing else today, don't hesitate to tell the people you care about how much you care. Don't be afraid to say "I love you" because you might not get another chance. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. The only thing you can count on is this moment. Don't waste it.

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