Thursday, July 29, 2010

A change of scenery

For six and a half years I've worked in the city. Well, not any more.

Go west

Now I inhabit an office in Kidman Park - west of the city on Grange Road - because I've been seconded to the team down there to replace a person who themselves have been seconded to one of the major projects that's going on in our business.

Oh, I should probably explain what it is I actually do1 - I'm an analyst for a company that (amongst other things) manages the distribution, infrastructure, billing and asset management of that most exciting of utilities: natural gas. In the old office I was more concerned with the billing side of things, but now I'm more interested in the distribution and asset management side of things.

What does that mean I actually do? Well, in short – because it's arguably the least exciting job to talk about of any job of anyone I know – I find stuff out for people, either by pulling data out of one of several databases we use, or by looking into documents like the (surprisingly complicated; thanks, lawyers) gas industry market rules and specifications.

Wake up! Sorry, I have to do that once or twice whenever I explain what I do to people in person. So no more on what I do; it's where I do it that's significant – at least in this post.

1You might be surprised to know I'm not actually professional blogger, ha-ha.

There and back again

Switching from the city office to the Kidman Park (KP for short) is a fairly significant change, mostly because of transport. As I said earlier, for the last six and a half years I've worked in the city, and in both the houses I've lived in over that time I've been close to bus stops – so I've always caught public transport.

But KP is a) a bit further away (roughly twice as far), and b) isn't as well serviced by buses as the city. But – very handily – the bus that goes from the city to Kidman Park is one of the buses that goes past my home stop, so I don't have to change buses in the city and deal with the fun of switching. But, as noted earlier, it's twice as far to KP as it is to the city – and it takes somewhere around 50 minutes all up.

Driving is an option, though – there's a car park at KP so it's not like I have to pay obnoxious parking fees if I do. And if I leave early enough to beat the morning rush traffic – which I usually do – it takes between 20 and 25 minutes to get there and 25 to 30 to get home2 . But while sitting behind the wheel takes less time (and means I'm not bound by the occasionally unpredictable bus schedule) I don't really enjoy driving in traffic all that much. To work isn't too bad, but from it is a bit more hectic because it's much busier at 4.30pm than it is at 7.30am.

But there are negatives, like wear and tear on the car – I justify not spending a lot of money on my cars because, before now, I didn't need to drive all that often, and it currently spends its time under cover in my garage3; at KP it's out in the open.

Some people dislike the passivity of public transport, and don't opt for it even when it's a more cost-effective or sensible choice. But I'm not one of those people, for several reasons - environmental for one, and also because ever since I stopped reading before bed (I found I get to sleep a lot easier if I don't) the bus trip is one of the few chances these days I get to engage in some quality book time. In the past I've read as many as two books a week so to not be reading regularly is, for me, unthinkable.

One good thing, though, is that I don't have to choose just one; I can do both. And that's what I've been doing so far, basing my choice on what I have to do after work – if I'm going to the gym, or have plans earlier in the evening, I drive. If I've got nothing planned, or am feeling tired (as I was last Friday – but more about that later), if I'm going into the city to have dinner and see a film, or know I've got a stressful day of work – since driving through busy traffic while stressed is not a good idea; I get a bit...shouty – then I'll catch the bus.

2It can, of course, take longer if the roads are clogged with slow-moving dimwits. Driving in rush hour has none little to lessen for my distaste for people whose limited capacity affects me personally.
3Or car-hole, if you're not a la-di-da Mr French man.


There are things I miss about the city. The convenience, for one – I can wander down to Rundle Mall and shop for just about anything: books, clothes, cds, dvds, whatever. I have to hire a suit for the upcoming ATG awards dinner; to do that before was quite simple while now it's going to require a lot more effort. I have several friends who work in other offices around the city, and catching up for lunch was as easy as sending an email.

I also miss the people, some of whom I've been working with for the whole six and a half years I've been working for Origin/APA. I see them every day – which, since I live alone, means I see them more than I see anyone else – as well as outside of work from time to time as well. So there's an emotional link there that I've not yet managed to recreate in my new office.

But it's not like I'm surrounded by strangers – the majority of people around me now are people I've worked with before, albeit mostly via email and the telephone, and there are a few others who I have shared office space with as well. And everyone else has been really friendly so I'm certainly not feeling unwelcome or out of place.

You can't stop the music4

One good thing about driving is that I can listen to cds again. I've got an mp3 player I take on the bus, but I tend to use the shuffle function (because it's there) rather than listen to whole albums; prior to the magic of compression, that's exactly what I used to do, either in the car or on my cd walkman.

The vagaries of cd encoding has also meant that I have several albums that just don't seem to convert to mp3 – and some of these are albums I really like, such as 13 Tales From Urban Bohemia by The Dandy Warhols and Trading Snakeoil for Wolftickets5 by Gary Jules.

4Okay, that's the second time I've used a Village People song as a subject heading. Maybe it's a sign I should join the navy. Or make a milkshake.
5No, I don't just like them because they have odd titles. That's just a bonus.


So, it's going okay – at least so far. Will I think the same way after a few months when the novelty's worn off? No doubt I'll be writing about it if I do.