Monday, January 7, 2008

I've Been Oriented

Today I had my 'new hire' orientation at Cablevision corporate HQ. Given the fact that I've already been working in my position for a few months, I was expecting most of it to be unnecessary and extremely dull. But I was definitely looking forward to an in-depth explanation of the benefits package. It's possible that HR people, in an effort to increase their own job security, do everything they can to make the system much more baffling than it needs to be.

Unfortunately for me, unlike all other NYC-area media conglomerates, Cablevision isn't based in Manhattan. This meant that instead of my normal commute -- a 7-minute bike ride -- I had to catch an 8am train from Penn Station out to Hicksville Long Island, and then board a free shuttle bus (the "Cablevision Jitney") at 9:06 to make it to HQ in Bethpage in time for the start of orientation at 9:30. Luckily, it was an unseasonably warm and beautiful day, and a train ride out to the suburbs actually didn't seem like such a torture. But the LIRR had other plans.

Everything was fine until we reached the Mineola station. We pulled in, some people got off the train, some other people got on the train, and then we just sat there. The conductor came by and punched holes in everybody's tickets and continued down the train like everything was fine, so I assumed that we were supposed to be staying put for some reason. Like, that was factored into the train's normal schedule and we'd be moving soon enough. But we just sat there. And sat there.

And sat there.

Apparently we were waiting for a disabled train ahead of us to be taken care of / moved / put out of its misery.

I called HQ to tell them I'd be late.

The train still wasn't moving as the clock indicated that I'd missed the "Jitney." So even if the we did get moving again, how was I gonna get from Hicksville station to HQ? Then I remembered that the directions said I'd be able to catch a cab and could even arrange to get reimbursed for the fare.

I had no idea how much such a cab ride would cost, but I imagined around 10 bucks. I checked my wallet... $4.

Oh, but that's not a problem, cause I could just find an ATM or maybe the cab even takes cards, and -- wait a minute... where the hell is my bank card!!?

My bank card wasn't in its usual place in my wallet.

Panic mounting, I checked all the little wallet compartments and areas. Not there.

I frantically checked all my pockets. Nope.

I checked in all the nooks and crannies of my laptop/messenger bag thing. Nope.

Now I had a real problem. That card was sole access to my earthly fortune and without it, I only had 4 dollars to live on until I either found or replaced the thing. Not to mention that now, even if my train ever did get going and make it all the way to Hicksville, I might not be able to go any further. My entire trip would then have been wasted, I'd have to get right back on the LIRR train heading back into Manhattan (I'd already purchased a round-trip) and I'd have to repeat this entire noxious process two weeks later.

Well, for the time being, I was stranded, so there was no sense worrying. If I did make it to Hicksville, I'd deal with how to get to HQ then. In the meantime, I'd brought a book to read. I read it. It was good.

After about an hour, the train started up again. We eventually reached Hicksville. I got off the train and looked around to see if perhaps there were any vehicles that looked like they could be a "Jitney." None looked particularly jitneyish, nor were any Cablevision-branded. I went and found a cab stand. It was overrun with all sorts of people who'd missed their rides. The cab dispatcher was trying to match people up who were going to the same places, or in the same general directions. Many of us were trying to get to Cablevision HQ.

And then a little bus thing like you see at airports pulled up. It had an Optimum Lightpath logo on the side (a division of Cablevision). A bunch of us gravitated toward it, and it did indeed turn out to be the Jitney. Enough of us had contacted HQ reporting that the train snafu was making us late that they sent the Jitney back for us. There were just enough seats.

Then I remembered where I left my bank card. This past Saturday night, I'd been out with a couple friends and we finished the evening at a good little bar on ave B. I ran a tab. When we decided to leave, I drunkenly just left. My card was still back there behind the bar. Sunday I didn't do anything that required money, so I hadn't noticed its absence until this morning on the non-moving train.

Well, I finally got to the orientation, already in progress, and it turns out that my time on the train was probably more interesting than what I missed at HQ.

But I did get a nice tote-bag.

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