Well, it happened. Something that was scheduled and nearly unavoidable, something to which I was not looking forward to, but something that none the less needed to be done. The last twelve days had been long, grueling at times, yet a wonderful change of pace. I had spent that time doing all those little things that slip past us as we go about our busy lives, those things that pile up in the corner to be hidden behind all the tumble-weed like balls of cat hair.

But now those things are done, at least all of the ones that were doable during my allotted time frame. And now, it was time to… shudder… go back to work. No, not the getting your hands dirty type of work but the sitting behind a keyboard and typing all day type of work. The kind of work that requires me to sit in many meetings, pretending that what most people are saying matters a great deal to me. Yes, it was time to return to the job that paid me, not the ones that cost me money in the short term.

So, knowing this day would come, I had prepared. No no, I did not go out drinking all night before my triumphant return, hoping for an excuse to call in sick instead of rolling out of bed. What I did do was something that was a bit smarter than my normal vacation routine, which consisted of being a complete and total bum. Usually, my daily routine involves getting up way late in the morning, or preferably sometime in the afternoon and then going to bed late at night, or preferably early in the morning. This schedule is my body’s preferred cycle and is entirely opposite of the early to bed, early to rise schedule that happens to me five days out of nearly every week.

This time would be different, although I was not going to keep my regular work schedule. While I would waive the early to rise part of the requirement, I would keep my early to bed schedule. I figured that my months of hard work without much of a break entitled me to at least some kind of rest, even if it was not my usual schedule reversal, and this modified schedule seemed likely to make the transition back to the work schedule that much easier. Sadly, it just did not seem to work out that way.

I went to bed at 11pm last night, figuring that I would fall fast asleep in a few minutes, just as I had as I went to sleep every evening of my vacation. Terribly poor assumption on my part. It was well past 1am when I believe that I finally drifted off to sleep. Given that my scheduled time to awaken was 6:45am and my vacation awakening time was generally between 8:30 and 10am, I knew that I was in for a troubling Monday… er, Thursday. I was not proven wrong.

Six forty-five AM came way too early. Two minutes later, I still found myself under the covers, groaning in agony at the thought of my body removing itself from the enveloping warmth of my covers. Still, I knew fighting to be futile and rolled myself out into the grey darkness of pre-dawn light.

The commute was lighter than normal, at least when considering the volume of traffic. The ratio of arse-bag drivers to considerate motorists leaned heavily in favor of the type who refuse to acknowledge anyone else is using the same stretch of road. But, given the lesser quantity of rolling steel, I was at least able to maintain the normal speed at which I travel those same highways.

Arriving at work held some interesting surprises. Unlike most days, I was not the first to be in attendance on my isle. One other employee was there before me and he was just logging in to his PC as I tread the carpet. We exchanged pleasantries in the entry way to his cubicle before moving on to mine so I could turn on the PC and get set up for the day.

My cubicle held surprise number one… a second monitor. This came as quite a surprise to me as I had not asked for one, nor did I really think I needed one prior to the programmers receiving one. Given that no other cube in the row had sprouted a second flat-panel display, I found this anomaly quite surprising, but had decided it made a quality final Christmas gift to me. My early arriving coworker had not seen the monitor prior to me asking him about it, and he was a bit surprised at its appearance, too.

The next half hour was spent discussing our respective Christmas breaks, how we had spent the time and on the miscellaneous gossip which I had missed during the prior twelve days. It seemed that I had missed very little as most people were also on holiday leave. Given the relative quiet, I was glad to have returned back to work at such a serene time. It was not to last.

Coworker number two showed up and, after another review of holiday hijinks and a viewing of a cell phone that was working only that morning, he noticed my second monitor. After a comment or two, he made a statement that I will remember for years, “Must be the ghost of Bob Smith.” Ok, the name really wasn’t Bob Smith, but was the name of coworker number two’s manager. Well, ex-manager.

It seems that, during my vacation, the manager and the company parted ways. No idea if it was a firing, although I have made my own speculations. But what I do know is that my new monitor was courtesy of the departure of a certain former manager. While I was grateful for a new toy in my cubicle, it had come at great cost.

That cost would begin to assert itself all too soon. Later in the day, the first of many activities formerly handled by that manager landed on my desk, now my responsibility. While my skills are quite developed in certain areas, in others areas they are weak and only just beginning to form. Sadly, the skills at which the now departed manager excel are not the ones I excel. Writing complex SQL queries, acting as a systems architect and most importantly, the ten plus years of company history contained within his head, are things which I do not posses and may never posses.

So now I find myself in a most interesting situation, one where I accept the duties but don’t get many of the rewards. That isn’t such a bad thing, I know, but I do wish it came with a few of the perks. That said, it does come with one perk… I get to attend our annual corporate gathering… in Las Vegas. I’ve never been there before, and am considering taking a few days for myself while I am there, just to see the sights. No, not the strip clubs or the gambling dens, but the real world that lives outside the city limits.

No, I don’t mean the hookers, either.

I figure that the Hoover Dam needs a set of my finger prints, along with any other sights that might be of interest to me. So, anyone have any options for what I might see in the area?

The rest of the day was spent discussing the departure of my team’s other manager with many different people on many different teams, all of whom were equally sad to see the man leave. He was well liked by nearly everyone and nary an ill word was spoken. It was a hard day, watching all my coworkers nearly eulogize a still living man.

And so the work day ended, with only one task left before me… the gym. It had been years since I had put foot to treadmill, elliptical or bike and those years had gone straight to my thighs. And my hips and most especially, to my gut.

Damn you, beer! Betrayed by my best friend!

Well, betrayed by beer, too much food and a very sedentary lifestyle. It all was grand 4 years ago, when I weighed 174 lbs and was still in my twenties. Now, having layered on another 30 lbs for the entry into my thirties, I have started getting pains in my lower abdomen whenever I find myself sitting in a position that causes me to hunch over. Not that I do that often or anything, given that I sit for 8+ hours in a desk chair and just under 2 hours in my car. So, that nagging pain is generally there by the end of every day. It stretches out over night but comes right back the next day. Very unfortunate.

Now that my part time job is over and my evenings are a bit more free, I figure that I have no excuse to continue ignoring the free gym upstairs and around a corner from my cubicle. Thirty minutes on the elliptical machine and I remembered full well why I had quit going to the gym in the first place. Sure, my excuse was that I was too busy, but in reality, I had just lost interest in continuing to remain fit. Other priorities held my thoughts, namely beer and women.

Hey, I’m a guy, its part of who I am!

So now I’m tired and hoping that tonight I get back some of the sleep that was stollen from me the prior evening. Come 6:45am, I guess I’ll know the answer to that question. Come 5pm tomorrow, I guess day 2 of my early start on a New Year’s resolution will occur. Lets just hope my legs don’t give out on me totally and I get stuck at the office all weekend.