Monday, September 29, 2014

What I learned about working downtown, Part 1

After working in the Ravenswood neighborhood for 13 years, my company has moved to a spectacular new space in downtown Chicago.

There's been a big learning curve about what it takes to work downtown, a BIG learning curve, for example:

Some people just can't merge - whether they're driving a car or walking down the sidewalk, some people just can't merge. It's like their brain throws up the blue screen of death and they just walk right into you.

People on the Metra though are usually pretty good about merging, we're all going the same way, we're all gonna get off the train eventually so people will let you out in front of them. On the street though it's a totally different story.

Just this week some woman walked right into me, even though I was on the correct side for my direction of traffic and she was coming in at a 90 degree angle - she just couldn't merge! I have a feeling she may drive the same way.

Some people are just oblivious to their surroundings - our new office is not really in the touristy part of the city, but it is right next to Union Station.  So there are a lot of touristy-esque people arriving via commuter train, mega bus and Amtrak who are making their way "through" the business district to get to the tourist district.

You can usually tell who they are because they're lugging a suitcase (without wheels) and walking three-abreast on the sidewalk having a three-way conversation that is way too loud and WAY too personal to be having on the sidewalk.

The best though is when it's lunch time and someone has just arrived and they feel the need to have their picture taken on one of the bridges, in front of a non-descript highrise all while blocking pedestrian traffic both ways while they try to see the screen of their phone to get the perfect shot.  It's even better when they don't apologize for holding up traffic because everyone else has the common decency to not walk through while they're taking a picture.

It's not as easy to navigate a revolving door as you think - Revolving doors are easy, right?  WRONG!

If you're the only one around then YES revolving doors are thuper easy, but if there is a mass of people it's almost pandemonium.

Imagine you're approaching the revolving door, as you get closer you see someone on the other side of the door trying to get in.  You've got to time it perfectly so that when you (or they) push the door to get through that you're not blocking the other person - that's just an asshole move!  You've also got to make sure that you don't push the door too fast, in case the person behind you, in front of you or trying to get in doesn't move as fast as you do.

Finally, if you're like me and you're going through a revolving door with a lot of people, it's better to just pretend that you're pushing the door when you put your hands on the rail, just put 'em there and enjoy the ride.  Let those other suckers spin the door for you!

Friday, September 12, 2014

What a way to shame me ComEd

I got this letter in the mail today from our energy carrier ComEd of Illinois, shaming me into using 673% more energy last month than my neighbors.  How in the world could I use 673% more electricity than my neighbors?

Now here's what had happened:  The room where the electric meters are had a lock changed in November....unbeknownst to us, ComEd was no longer able to get into the room to read the meters so from November '13 through almost June '14 they were estimating our monthly bills

Yes, for almost 7 months they were guesstimating what our usage was....usage history from last year, the year we didn't have a horribly cold and treacherous winter, and it was grossly under estimated. That's ok though because we're using Budget Billing and it really doesn't matter to me - it all comes out in the wash.

We finally had the issue corrected, they got access to the room, they read the meters that day and our next bill was Actual instead of Estimated - hooray!

Because of the long period between actual readings and ComEd's gross under reporting for estimated use, it appeared as though we used 1794 kWh for the month - which is a shit load of electricity!

So they send me this "Home Energy Report" showing that last month the average of all my neighbors electricity use was 232 kWh and the "most efficient" neighbors barely used 112 kWh, all the while I used a whopping 1,794 kWh for the month.  I'm awaiting a knock on my door from the authorities to bust me for having an illicit grow house in my spare bedroom (which by the way I don't), but if the electric company thinks that my absurd electricity use is worth a letter - who knows what anyone else thinks.

I just hope that the police look at next months bill to see that I'm not using all that much energy before they come knocking.

**UPDATE** Uhm yeah, about that next month thing.....we waste energy....I'm expecting a knock any day now!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A fond farewell to Ravenswood

A fond farewell to Ravenswood:  Newark has been at the corner of W Lawrence and N Ravenswood Avenue for more than 30 years.  As of close of business on Friday, we are officially a "Downtown Company".

I've enjoyed working in this building for 13 years, but I won't miss working here.  It's been close to home, but the new office is only a 10 minute longer commute by train.

This week has been bittersweet as we've been forced to pack up our belongings by tossing in orange crates going downtown or gray dumpsters on their way to the trash.  It's been cathartic to get rid of things, to question the validity of others and realize "you just don't need this anymore so toss it gurl!"

Pictures came off the walls, drawers were emptied, files were purged and it all ended with taking my nametag off of my cubical wall and putting it with the others I've collected along the years.

We said our goodbyes to neighbors, people we see on the street everyday or that serve us our coffee or lunches.  We went to our favorite haunts to have a last hurrah, we made peace with the idea of maybe never stepping in the neighborhood again.

Come Monday, it will be an all new adventure.  I've been joking all along that we're gonna be like the Beverly Hillbillies on our first day, looking up at the skyscrapers, can't believing there's that many people on the street.  It'll be fun in our new home, finding new places to eat, places to sit, places to drink, places to visit.

Although I'll fondly miss the view out the window, behind my cube, of the beautiful Golden Nugget Restaurant, I know that I'll love my 22nd floor west side view everyday.