Agent Gray

At the beginning of this week i was fingerprinted and sworn in and badged and am now in the service of a government entity that calls itself “the most effective data-collection agency in the world” although i think the NKVD also makes that claim.

My first night, i discovered that that badge will make a nasty wound when pinned to your tee shirt if you roll over on it in your sleep.

Back in my misspent youth i was an agent in a different data-collection agency (The Army Security Agency), but there have been some changes. For example, forty-five years ago the penalties for screwing up were described in paragraphs ending with “forfeiture of all pay and allowances and twenty years at hard labor”. Nowadays it’s only five years with no mention of hard labor. Then again, in keeping with our more mercenary focus, there’s now a fine of up to $250,000.

Had a week of training that ended with an exam this afternoon. Despair swept me when i looked at the exam, and i damn near just grabbed my coat and walked. See, it was a timed, open-book exam, and i was sitting there in the middle of a foot-high pile of manuals and dozens of loose abstruse forms. You look at the question, but of course it doesn’t tell you which manual the answer is in, so you’re throwing them all around and pawing through that stack of forms while the clock ticks.

The exam was printed in the last few pages of one of the thinner manuals, and somehow amid all the pawing around that manual fell shut. And then i forgot that the exam was inside a manual, so i wasted something like half of the allotted exam time frantically digging through all my stuff for a couple of pieces of paper that looked like the exam. Just as i finally remembered it was inside a damn manual, the instructor called the five minute warning, so i gobbled through the rest of it just answering questions off the top of my head, and one i had to leave blank. Then i was in such a panic that i didn’t put my name on the exam when i handed it in.

At that point, not wanting our instructor to give me this look of grave disappointment – kinda thought you’d do better, Gray – i nearly walked out again.

And then they handed the exams back and mine was nearly the last one returned, i figured i was at the bottom and they’d just let me go quietly after class. To my astonishment, when i opened it up, i’d missed only the question i skipped and part credit on another one. Couldn’t believe it. Not that this means i really know the material.

After all that, riding home in the rain on the Segway and getting soaked enroute was almost a pleasure.

So now i’m gonna hole up all weekend with fifty pounds of manuals and make some flow diagrams to help me understand this crap because very very soon i’m gonna have to teach my crew this stuff.

Oh, i didn’t mention that? The damn fools made me a team leader.

But at least they’ve now given me a bunch of forms and maps that show the area my team will be responsible for. Which i’ll study Sunday. And then Monday i meet with my supervisor, who is this absolutely cool dude who was the teacher and who i’m gonna love working for even though he is the most efficient person i’ve ever met and i’ll never be able to get up to his standard, what with a previously abused, second-hand mind and a failing body.

But tonight, for the first time in many years, i walked in my door, headed straight for the kitchen, and mixed myself an alcoholic beverage – a Richard pastis with water and ice. So good i may have another. “Un Richard, sinon rien”.

doloresShot of the day, Dolores Park in winter:

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