This is how I get to work these days: take the bus that comes to my front door to the train station, hop on the train, get off at Union Station and then walk a block and a half to the office building. Altogether it takes almost an hour and a half one way unless the train is late which has happened quite a few times in the last couple of months. The last part of the commute is the hardest these days because the outside feels like a freezer plus the Chicago brutal wind. I have to cross the street three times to enter my building. Overtime I’ve learned to pace myself so that I don’t need to stand still for the lights to change. The crossroads are the worst.

My workday officially starts after I get my hair fixed and make a cup of hot tea to get the chill out of my bones. Then usually I get on the first conference call or WebEx meeting of the day. The majority of my peers are located in other parts of the country and I also work with an offshore team. I have been taking it easy due to the slow onboarding process. But the pace is starting to pick up. Last Thursday, almost two months after I started, I was finally granted full access to the data warehouse. The two girls who report to me left for vacation last weekend and won’t be back until after New Year. We got so many last-minute analytical requests prior to their departure that for the first time I saw fatigue in their eyes. I offered to help except I wasn’t very useful. Learning how to use a new software and trying to meet a pressing deadline proved to be too much fun. I sent one of the girls Mary an email after midnight one day and was surprised to get a response! We scrambled to put the pitch together and presented it to our counterparts only to find out that it wasn’t what they wanted. The requirements had been changed again. We’ll have to figure out a way to reduce wasteful work.

I have a couple of people in Chicago and a few more offshore to support the analytical needs of four marketing analytic leaders for about a dozen clients. My job is to deliver ad hoc and strategic analytic insight to help our clients grow their businesses. The other girl Rachael warned me not to let anyone know I could code because then I’d be buried in the daily ad hoc requests just like them. I think she has a point. It will be wise to balance my desire to keep my programming skills in tact as well as fulfilling the responsibilities of bringing the quantity and quality of the team’s analytical capabilities to the next level.

My buddy Chang who invited my family to her house for Thanksgiving dinner has a Ph.D degree in predictive modeling. But all she does these days is generating reports or data feeds for models built by other people and she puts in insane number of hours to meet one demanding deadline after the other. I remind myself not to fall into that trap.

About twenty new people joined the company last week. Last Thursday I ran into this pretty blond young woman in the elevator. She looked lonely and out of place.

“Are you one of the new people? I am Linda.” I extended my right hand.

Her name is Dorothy. She just moved to Chicago from Florida a few days ago. We ate lunch together in the cafeteria. She told me that she didn’t have a laptop yet, her manager hadn’t been around and she had very little to do. Sounded strangely familiar.

“Why would they pay me to sit here and do nothing? I’d rather be very busy instead of being so bored!”

I assured Dorothy that she’d get really busy in no time and therefore she should enjoy it while she could. I shared with her the battle I had gone through to gain access to the different systems along with a few tips that could help her down the road. To cheer her up, I volunteered to be her buddy and help her out with the senselessly complicated onboarding process. At the end of our lunch, a beautiful smile spread across her face. It made me very happy too.

My daughter Michelle has been asking me about my new job, how it’s going, whether I love it or whether I like it better than my previous job. I definitely like it much better. I have a great boss, competent and knowledgeable peers who are career focused and the freedom of defining what my job will look like a year from now. With the back-to-back meetings, occasional lunch gatherings with my colleagues, regular exercise in the gym, the day goes by so fast even when I wasn’t really busy.

I get to do what I love on the bus and train: writing and reading. Each chapter of my day offers a different level of happiness although some parts are more challenging than others. Sometimes I find meaning in unexpected places. At the end the day, I come home to make dinner for and spend time with the most precious people in my life at this wonderful place I call home. How much better can life get?