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July 11, 2016

Day 1: First day at the office in Riverside

In the morning, I wake up and evaluate my situation. I'm in a Motel 6 in Riverside, Kalifornia. I haven't dry-cleaned anything in so long I can't remember. The clothes that I brought out in my little CC Filson bag are wrinkled and dirty. I can't recall the last time I shaved. My

So, it's not like Riverside is all that bad. I mean, it's not great. Don't get me wrong. But it's not quite as bad as I had imagined. I was thinking it would be like Watts and Crenshaw, famous for the "Watts Riots" back in the 1960's.

But really, Riverside is more like a sort of dystopian desert, a middle-class enclave in the deserts east of Los Angeles. Here, there are occasionally the low-rider vehicles, and the urban gangster blacks, but mostly, the sun beats whatever strife they had out of them long before the day is done. It's much too hot to carry on a real concerted revolution. Anything that takes co-oridination will be over long before it starts.

This is sort of a hopeless, suffering, suburban hell, but it's no more dangerous than say, Tijuana or Matamoros.

I worked in Detroit. Cleveland. Pittsburgh. I can handle this.

At 9:00 a.m., I walk up to the front door of the building. A voice from God asks me if I'm Rob Kiser. Somehow, he knows. "Yes. That's me..." the door buzzes to indicate it's unlocked. And I swing open the door to see that God is just a black man in a security uniform. He was watching me through the glass.

I'm just so glad to be out of the sun there aren't words. You want to race to the water fountain and drown yourself in cool, sterile water. But that would be brash. Uncouth. Unexpected. You don't want to seem desperate.

They take me upstairs and tell me to pick a cube. Any cube. They're sort of these cut-down cube walls so that you can see through the whole building. From one end of this large warehouse out in the desert. Lizards crawling in for the shade. Anything to escape the roasting desert sands. Lizards. Toads. Iguanas. Geckos. Creatures I've never seen before.

Other people walk down the fur-lined halls, bouncing so the whole building resonates. The more they weigh, the worse it shakes. I've worked in San Francisco and Redwood Shores enough to know what an earthquake feels like. And every time a cow goes marching past, I'm half-way under my desk before I realize that it's not an earthquake. It's just some woman that doesn't believe in moderation.

I pick a cube and now I'm sort of sitting at my cube, minding my own business. By 10:00 a.m., no one has shown up to acknowledge my presence. By 11:00 a.m., I'm ready to hang myself. This is what's wrong with the publik sektor. It's not their money. No one cares. No wonder this project is in trouble.

It doesn't matter how much they're paying you to do nothing. It isn't fun. I want to have some work to do, people. Oh Christ I pray that some people show up that have an idea what's going on. At 11:30, my savior walks in. He's been expecting us. He takes us around and introduces us to some other people that are also working on the project.

It's hard to believe that this world is real. That anything matters. Two guys are commuting here from Chicago. They just flew in this morning. They ask about my helmet and I'm like...."uh....I drove out here." Like, it's hard to explain that to...well...anyone really. Like...why on earth would you drive out here on a motorcycle across the Great American Desert? Why indeed.

The lady next to me is trying to connect into the system. Connect to the database. She keeps asking me all of these questions and I'm like....Look...I took this role as a functional person. I'm not going to be doing a bunch of technical work. That wasn't in my contract.

She keeps asking me how I connected to the mail server and I'm like...what makes you think I can remember how I got it working? It was a miracle I found a Motel 6 last night.

The lady next to me starts going into diabetic shock, and asks me to go get her a vanilla milkshake. So, I get her a vanilla milkshake, and when I come back, there's a note in my chair that we're in a meeting. So, I walk into the meeting. They ask questions in the meeting, but I'm just clueless. The lady beside me is drinking her vanilla shake, and answering all of the questions. "Yeah...that was in an email you sent us. I saw that already."

In the middle of the meeting, they come in and announce that I need to move my motorcycle. Like...I'm 50 years old and parked on the sidewalk like a teenager.

"Oh...I OK. I'm in Visitor parking. I guess I should move it..."

"Well...Visitor Parking is normally not a problem..."

"I'll just move it," I offer. And get up and leave the room.

Posted by Rob Kiser on July 11, 2016 at 2:36 PM

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