February 10, 2003: First Day in Schenectady

Two updates together yesterday. It was a short day so I figured that I would wait and post the two days together. Today is a super busy day. Loopy and I got out of bed at 3:15 am and got ready very quickly. John Stephens arrived at the house around 3:45 and we started packing the car. We managed to hit the road around 4:15 and headed towards Schenectady. We got breakfast at the Oneida Rest Area on the Thruway at 6:00 am at the Burger King there. The drive wasn’t bad and we ended up having a really easy time finding Rotterdam Junction and Schenectady International, Inc.. SII is a much larger company than I had imagined. It is a major chemical maker with two big plants in the area and locations all over the world. We arrived a little bit early so we drove around and saw the area for a little bit before reporting to our first training class at 8:00 am. We spent our first two hours at work taking a basic OSHA safety procedures class. It was pretty boring and nothing in the class pertained to us in any way whatsoever – even though we were the only ones there. But is wasn’t all that bad and we were getting paid to take it so that is fine. Around 10:15 we packed up again and left Rotterdam Junction to go over to the main plant in a town that I don’t know the name of just west of Schenectady. On the way there we drove through Schenectady. What a sad little slum town. There is nothing there. It looks to be really poor and dangerous with no redeeming value.

We spent another hour taking a quick tour and talking about what we would be doing for the next while and then we were sent on a 90 minute lunch. The only place to eat anywhere near the plant is the Woodside Cafe inside the plant which is unbelievably overpriced and has practically nothing vegetarian on the menu. I got a weird grilled cheese wrap (one of two veggie items) and a bottles water and it cost me $6.80. After lunch we went back and worked on training for the rest of the afternoon. What we are doing is removing 82 old PCs from Rotterdam and installing brand new Dell workstations with Windows XP Pro on them. After Rotterdam is completed, Loopy, John and I will be moved over to the other plant to help the other team finish over there where they have more than 200 workstations to replace. We were told originally that the job was for one week and that our site was seperate from the other site. But now we have been told that we will probably be here for two to three weeks at least. That is good and bad. It isn’t a lot of fun being out here for any length of time but the money is good and it is nice to have regular work. Three weeks of solid work would be really nice. And the people (both the local Schenectady people and the other three IT contractors) seem really nice and I think that we will have a good time working with them all. Everyone appears to be really laid back and there really isn’t any sort of schedule to keep. The other IT team is all either just out of college or still in college. They are all from SUNY Albany.

After work we retired to the Schenectady Econolodge. We were pretty dissappointed to find out that they were both completely dumpy and that they had lost my reservation for tonight. But that is probably good because we are now staying here on a night to night basis and we can leave anytime. So we probably will. This motel isn’t much better than the Days Inn Rochester Thruway where Loopy and I used to work. It is better than that but not a whole lot. When I first turned on the shower, black sludge came out and then only a trickly of water will come out of the shower head – most of the water continues to just go straight down the drain. It costs $.50 for local phone calls (meaning that using AOL will cost a couple of dollars a day since we will keep getting disconnected and each reconnect will cost a lot. We also noticed that there is no clock in this motel. None. No way to wake yourself up in the morning. Luckily, my parents gave me a travel alarm clock for Christmas and I remember to bring it with me or we would be going out shopping for one of those shortly too.

I forgot to mention, the other day, that the A&W in Cortland has closed. Min and I were driving through town and noticed that it wasn’t open anymore. It looks like there might have been fire inside but it is hard to tell. It is really sad that they are closed because they were one of the last traditional A&W Restaurants left. They were one of the places that used to make me wish that I still ate meat. I hope that they are able to open back up someday.

I am writing today’s update while sitting on the floor of the Econolodge with the laptop on my, err, lap and waiting for Loopy and John to be awake enough to be able to head out in search of some vitals. Pizza is our goal. Hopefully we find something good and cheap. This is a scary town and I don’t want to be out for too long. John and Loopy took naps as soon as we got back from work because they have been exhausted all day.

Min was a good girlfriend yesterday and baked three different types of muffins for us to take on the trip with us! It is nice to have some food with us because we don’t know where things are here and getting snacks is pretty hard. Min got to go out to lunch today with a job candidate from work. They went to the Heights Cafe and Grill. I hear that she had a good time. She said that a really nasty article about her company was written in the Ithaca Journal yesterday. I haven’t had a change to look at it yet but I will when I finally get a chance to get online.

After Loopy and John woke up from their naps, we headed out on the town to see what we could find for some dinner. We happened upon a pizza place called Prima Pizza just a couple of miles right up the street from where we are staying. It turned out to be one of the best pizzas that I have ever had. We really got a sense that the people who were working there really cared about how their pizza was and really wanted us to like it. It was just a plain little pizza place like you would find in any tiny town around New York but the food and the service was really outstanding. I got enough pizza to be able to have some for lunch tomorrow instead of paying so much money for medicore food from the cafe. We will be returning to that restaurant sometime later this week. I highly recommended it (it is on State St.) to anyone coming through the Schenectady area.

We drove around a bit looking for a different hotel but didn’t find much. It looks like we will probably be staying at the Econolodge at least one more night. We will see how we feel about it when we take off from here in the morning. We might decide to just stay here for the week because it will be so much easier.

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