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Seeing the Light



  I have issues. I know, you’re saying, “But, Ben, we all have issues.” And I’m sure you do, but this isn’t your blog. As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, I have issues. I could lose a few pounds. I’m allergic to poison ivy, and broccoli as well (though my wife thinks I just don’t like to eat it). I’m slowly losing some hair. I can get too one-track minded. I feel much better, thanks for listening. My issue that I’ve dealt with lately, though, is feeling productive. It’s a requirement for me to feel that I’ve had a productive day or the evening will bring a sense of guilt and frustration. Especially if it’s a work day.

 Recently, I’ve had quite a few of these days of feeling unproductive. All my major projects finished up and no new ones have started yet. The stuff I’ve been toiling away at since has been useful and worth my time (I have to say this because my boss actually reads my blog; oops, was that out loud?), but it feels like constantly emptying the dish washer instead of remodeling the kitchen.

 (Side note, as a programmer, I like to keep my overhead light off during the day. Most programmers do. Most non-programmers find it weird and attribute it to screen glare. I think we just like to pretend to be vampires.)

 Imagine my incredible joy, then, recently when my light, and my light alone, suddenly came on in the middle of the day. The course of action any normal person would attempt, switching it off again, does not work. I’ve discovered this particular light is an “emergency light”. An “emergency light” is an OSHA regulation (Occupational Safety and Health Administration, more like Occupational Safety and Health Annoyance) that states there must be a “minimum” amount of lighting on the floor in case of, you guessed it, an emergency. However, I assure you there was no emergency at that time, or any moment since it has flared back to a constant  glow. In a nut shell, OSHA says my light will stay on. All the time. Because I am surrounded by other dark-loving programmers, I am now spotlighted by this emergency light.

 Not only have I been feeling unproductive compared to everyone else, the dang light is now taunting me, “Hey, everyone, look over here. Here’s the unproductive one.” Of course, rather than find a way to be more productive, I’ve daydreamed about ways to put out the light:
Security Officer: Mr. Price, how did the overhead light get onto the floor?
Me: I have no idea, sir.
Security Officer: You didn’t use the scissors you’re holding to cut the lines holding up the light?
Me: No sir. Complete coincidence that I happen to be holding a pair of scissors. The lines just somehow snapped. Very strange.
Security Officer: Uh-huh...
  Interesting side note, I have discovered when you turn on a light after several months of working in the dark, you find out just how filthy your keyboard and desk are. I found dust, particles of food I don’t recognize and, I think, a small family of squatters around my desk.

 The illuminated light and I will be able to coexist, at least for a while. There are many other people on the floor around our area that work with their lights on all day. Maybe I can get some advice from them, like wear sunglasses or work on your tan. But ultimately it comes down to feeling productive again. Because then, the spotlight turns from a harsh highlight of my incompetence to a soft glow of accomplishment. That’s what I’m telling myself, anyway. It’s making me feel better about the situation. The squatters aren’t buying it though.

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