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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Stress at Work; Stress at School

Yesterday was one of those days that makes you want to dig your head down into the sand until the sun goes down and then drink a few beers to help give you the courage to get up in the morning and start all over again.

At my day job, we’ve been working really hard on getting a certain deal to close. Last Friday we sent out big packages by overnight delivery with documents for people to sign and then overnight back to us. To make everything simpler, we included a return UPS slip that I had already filled out with our information. All the people had to do was sign the pages and slip them back into the package and, zoom, off it would go only to show up first thing in the morning on our doorstep like a little lost kitten wanting to find a home. And we would smile and welcome it with open arms.

But when neither package had shown up by 9:30, I started to sweat. Neither package showing up implied that the return UPS slips were wrong. And that meant, worst case scenario, I could have delayed closing a day or more, every one of the 50 documents would have to be re-dated to a new March date, our clients would have to regroup and sign everything again, the other side would have to regroup (from different states, no less) and sign everything again. And not just everything – 4 copies of everything. All because I probably forgot to put a little tiny X somewhere in a little tiny box on a UPS slip.

What’s worse is that I forgot to save the tracking numbers for the return packages. And the recipients didn’t save them either. My boss (bless her little heart) could see that I was on the verge of hysteria so she did her best not to say “Why the hell didn’t you keep the tracking numbers?!? A lesson was learned here today!” but I could see it. Hell, I was saying it. 10:30 rolled around and one package showed up. I barely refrained myself from reaching out and embracing the guy from the mailroom and laying a good one right on his lips. He took half of my troubles away.

At noon, we decided to go to Plan B, which was to .pdf all the signature pages, email them to the lawyer on the other side and ask his clients to re-sign all the documents before the final call in the morning at 9:30. They would have to email back their signatures and put the originals in overnight mail to us. Simply accepting that the other package was not going to show up and moving on to Plan B helped calm me even more. But there was a rush to get it all emailed out so I could leave on time to get to my class. As of this writing, the second package still hasn’t come in and I’m still stressed on whether there will be a little box missing its X and all eyes will fall on me again.

After a stressful day at work, class was also stressful. Mr. Shado walked in and said “So, does anyone have any questions on how a DC motor works?” What? Huh? DC Motor? Oh, yeah, I remembered, I forgot to read the chapters I was supposed to read. The ones on the cranking system. Great. After a lengthy and confusing discussion on motors, our homework was to write a short paragraph on how the DC motor works, so I thought I would do it here:

A motor is a way to convert electricity into mechanical power—how you get a battery to create physical motion. It all has to do with magnetic fields. You have a moveable armature that you surround with magnets. When you hook up current to the armature, it magnetizes the armature to where one side is attracted to the magnet on the other side of the motor so it moves towards it. By the time it gets to where it’s going, there’s a break in the current and the other side of the armature gets attraction that makes it also move and the inertia pushes the first part of the armature away from its magnet, which becomes attracted to the other side of the motor. And round and round it goes.

For someone who has never thought about the inner workings of mechanical things, this concept was hard for me to understand. But it eventually sunk in. During class I asked if we could make these simple DC motors at home and Mr. Shado commented that he made one when he was a kid out of a Cub Scout book and now I can too! Jiffy volunteered to go to Hobby Lobby to pick up a kid’s motor kit so this 35-year-old woman can understand how it works. Maybe we should just snag a 5-year-old Cub Scout to teach me. On the way out, Mr. Shado commented, “Holly? Do you get it? Are you beginning to understand? Because if you can understand it, I think the others in the class can too. You know, since you’re starting from zero and all.”

Didn’t that just make me feel like the smartest tool in the shed. I went home and enjoyed my two well-earned beers before bed. If that package ever comes in and has a missing X, I claim the rest of the 6-pack.

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