Thursday, February 11, 2010

Here Be Demons

Among the documents the Company sent over with my husband’s letter of understanding and the contract for his new job is one spelling out the flextime rules. It notes the standard work week in Austria (38.5 hours), the range of hours within which one can choose to be in the office each day, the core hours during which one is required to be in work, and many more arcane details regarding overtime, time credits and debts, and the recording of time worked.

Legally required, I imagine, in its specificity it’s a far cry from anything you’d get from an Irish employer. Moreover, it would have been unheard of in my American jobs, where the standard work week at the professional level could be defined by ‘How many hours does God send.’

I pointed this out to Himself. ‘It’s for the good,’ he said. ‘Everything is clear, understood.’

So. Things will be different when we move to Austria.

I’ve been anticipating this, to be sure. I’m told to expect order, the assumption that one adheres precisely to the rules and stated procedures, very different from the slapdash Irish approach to life, where cutting corners or taking one’s own time is routine. I don’t imagine I’ll find hastily scrawled ‘Back in 2 minutes’ signs on many shop doors in Salzburg.

Himself says this adherence to order will suit my temperament. ‘You like to have things spelled out so you know what to expect.’

He’s right, of course. I’m not by nature orderly in my habits, and my housekeeping is inconsistent, but it soothes my anxiety to know how things are done and when something will happen, and in what order, as if the world could be contained by checklist. It’s a fiction, of course, but it serves as notional boundary between the known world and the great white blank beyond the border, where demons dwell.

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