Yesterday was another perfect workday. I went and taught my class. They had a review of the literature due, and only a handful of them had actually done it. The rest looked as though they were waiting to line up for the firing squad. I really thought we’d gone over it thoroughly in class. We’d looked at the example in their books. We’d made outlines for a couple of them based on their bibliographies. We’d practiced doing book reviews and summaries of articles. I’d told them it was a hard assignment and they should block out plenty of time for it.

They were at a loss.

We went through more examples. I emphasized that they would actually have to read the materials. I answered repeatedly that yes, it was actually a paper, and not the same as the annotated bibliography. I have a bunch more papers in my inbox this morning, so we’ll see.

So, when The Computer Guy asked, “How are the freshmen?” and I answered, “They’re great,” I had to take it back.

“Well, no, they’re probably miserable. But I’m enjoying the class.”

I stopped off to give him a book and to ask about the likely working conditions at the possible new job. He was an IT guy at Georgia Tech once, and knows quanitities of IT guys. He painted a vivid word picture for me of what it would be like to work in the basement with a bunch of IT guys.

“It’s cold, because of the servers. And there are usually computers lined up and lots of silence.”
“Clicking?”
“You don’t really notice the clicking. It’s more the sound of the fans.”

So whereas now I sit clicking at the computer for hours in a pleasant, comfortable house with tea readily available at all times and dogs, I would sit clicking at the computer for hours in a cold noisy room with silent computer guys.

I told him that I had tried to go meet the team while I was there, but that the v-c had been hesitant to spring me on the people in the basement.

The Computer Guy took on an odd expression, as though he were remembering something bitter. “Oh, yeah,” he said, “you can’t spring new people on the team while they’re clicking away or they might miss a semi-colon or something.”

#1 daughter said, “You can’t interrupt them while they’re running in their hamster cages.” She thinks I should apply for the admin job, so I can be in a warm office and tell the hamsters web team what to do.

So, yes, I am trying to imagine myself in that job in order to predict whether I would be happy in it. Daniel Gilbert tells us that this is not a successful way of making such a prediction.

Ask people who work there, he says.We think we’re special and different, so we try to imagine what we think our own feelings would be, but really we’re mostly all alike. If other people are happy there, chances are we will be too.

This place prides itself on being a great place to work, and the forums where people can whine about their working conditions have only happy reports from workers there.

Also, as #1 daughter pointed out, The Computer Guy could at that point have said, “Don’t take that job — I’m planning to hire you myself in the next six months and I won’t make you work in a basement.” He didn’t say that. I should perhaps compare not my perfect workdays, but the possible days when I have no work and have to worry about paying my bills. That could make the basement more appealing.

After that conversation, I came home, slapped together a tuna sandwich, heard #2 daughter’s jobhunting stories for the day, and did a couple of hours for my Aussies. Then I accepted another assignment from Client #3, checked everybody’s analytics, and had a lengthy exchange of emails with the Aussies, before knocking off to go to my Tuesday class.

It was a good workday because there was variety, and fun, and challenging stuff to do, reasonable amounts of human contact, and billable hours. If all my workdays were like that, I wouldn’t need to consider moving to another city and working in a cold and noisy basement.

Even if I do want to get my hands on their new website.

Today also I have plenty of work to do, including blogs for my guy from Philadelphia and a news piece for The Computer Guy. I have my encyclopedia article to work on if I have extra time, and much blogging to do, and linkbuilding for Client #4, and Book Club, and the Wednesday evening marathon. Obviously, I won’t have extra time.