April 26, 2005

All American Girl

My job has become just that… a job. I find myself frustrated with the BS processes from my former employer that I now subcontract with. The inflexibility of big corporate processes makes me nuts.

I went on my first major rant today at work. Big rant. I could feel my blood pressure rise as my lead said to me, “Yes, you are right, but you get paid the same, so who cares?”

Yeah, sure, great attitude, but the problem is what is occuring IS WRONG and RIDICULOUS! I cannot handle crap like that. It MUST be corrected and I cannot let it go or it makes me nuts.

It is a mental thing. This issue is trivial, I know in the big scheme it doesn’t matter, even though it causes MORE work for me, but it still makes me nuts.

And I know I am ‘wrong’ in feeling this way and I should just coast through like everyone else and collect my damn paycheck. I hear it ALL the time. But I can’t.

I was told when ranting today that someone from the Great White North was going to come down and explain ‘the new process’. I nearly freaked. I don’t want to attend a damn meeting! No! Those are BAD! Last week I had to attend a dog and pony show guised as ‘training’. Holy crap. Everyone sat down at the big long conference table; I took a chair by the door. Someone said, “Hey! Don’t sit way over there. Come join us!” I feigned a ‘I may have a sick kid at school’ and held up my set on ‘no ring’ cell phone, as if I might have to jump up and take a call. In reality, I sat by the door so mentally I felt like I could escape if I had to. There was something about knowing I could just stick my foot out that door and not be totally in the room.

I can’t do it anymore. I’m not in that zone. There was so much I hated before and I have been free for so long and I feel like they’re starting to bash me, this square peg, into molding and fitting into this round hole… and I don’t want to fit that round hole. I will not fit that round hole.

And I am frustrated in knowing of some who have been promoted so far beyond their competency, from my old company and for whom I must now interact, it makes me physically sick. They were frickin’ no good idiots when we started at the company together, and now they’re still frickin’ no good idiots, but now they’re frickin’ no good idiots with POWER, which makes them dangerous.

GRRR. The minute I am unable to compartmentalize and I allow the BS to bleed over into my personal life, the minute I allow work to interfere with my home life, I will quit. I cannot live the life I lived. I cannot go to that dark place again. It is not good for me and it is not good for my children.

On two positive notes, which my buddy DK who reads this will appreciate: 1) it took me until now to get this pissed off at work and I’ve been working since November and 2) I haven’t threatened to throw anyone out a plate glass window.

The negative is that now that the shine has completely worn off, the period between times when I get thoroughly pissed is going to get shorter and shorter until I get to a near perpetual spontaneously combust stage.

I have joined the ranks of the average American and I have ‘a job’ I do not look forward to going to. It is a paycheck. Thank God it’s only 10-15 hours a week. I’d have a damn meltdown if it was one hour more.

No, this has not bled into my life today. I am ranting here, because I can. It is my catharsis. It is my blog.

Posted by Boudicca at April 26, 2005 09:11 PM

I'm still trying to get to the point of "it's just a paycheck" It's just so hard! People make things so damn difficult!

Posted by: Sissy at April 26, 2005 09:55 PM

Meetings... how to cope.

1.) Listen, take copious notes, etc... cfor the sole purpose of being able to ask pertinent, significant and potentially important questions... that embarrass the pants off the presenter by showing them up to be about as knwledgeable as yeast.
2.) bring a recorder and "take notes" with it by echoing EVERY SINGLE WORD the presenter utters, just barely loud enough for them to hear...
3.) Bring some hand or craft work to do. Popsickle sticks to make a "gift" for the presenter, for example.
4.) two words: coloring book.
5.) Q&A? Answer every Q with a Q the presenter can't answer. If Qs from the floor, it's even easier. Make a long preamble that seems to lead to one question but ask another.
6.) Snore.
7.) Develop "the twitches."
8.) Clean your handgun.
9.) Smile inanely and unremittantly.
10.) after any three of the above, be sure tio thank the presenter profusely and, if it is a man, offer to bear his child. If it is a woman, offer to bear her husband's (or "partner's") child. Or whatever...

Just a couple of thoughts from one who's had to cope with ONE STAFF MEETING TOO MANY (that was the first one... after that, it was all downhill. Fast.)

Posted by: David at April 26, 2005 11:10 PM

Yeah, there is tons of BS out in the world or work - it's everywhere and seldom makes sense... and yes it is the epitome of frustrating at times.

But could it be that you've over extended yourself to the point that you just can't roll with the crap anymore? I mean... all the boys stuff, the school treasurer, doing the quilt, all their sports, not to mention making sure that they are fed, do their homework, etc... add on the DAR, the cancer thing you chaired, your husband's work obligations that you have to help with... tack on a few hurricanes - geeze what else did I forget to mention??? Something MUST give - it just must!

Work is the easiest place for it to spurt out. It can be nonsensical, there are always idiots in positions that no idiot should be near, there are "rules" that will drive any sane person up the wall... is it any wonder that this would be the place where you explode? It's safer than anywhere else. The only person who gets caught in the fall out is you and your co-workers. Not the kids or your husband.

If you're working because you need the money, then you should consider dropping some other volunteer activities - finding a really good physical outlet (because the work annoyances won't go away but they can be made more tolerable if you can work off some stress) and spend some real quality time with your husband... as much as you can pull together *grin*.

Just a thought...

Posted by: Teresa at April 27, 2005 12:42 AM

Bou, rant all you want. I can't help but smile. I know you will quit if it gets to be too much, but I also know if you just stop for a minute... you'll smile too. Think about the insanity of the place you left... and now you can tell them to stuff it. Ahhhhhhhhh doesn't that feel much better? You realize, you really can tell them to stuff it. It just doesn't matter. ;-)

Posted by: vw bug at April 27, 2005 06:47 AM

Wow, Teresa, you make it sound like I've taken on the world! LOL!

Seriously, you have to know who I have worked for and what they are like. My old place of work is a pressure cooker. People died... at work. I'll have to post on that one day. The theory has always been, reward the most competent engineers... with management positions. Well, anyone who knows damn good engineers, know they have not the best people skills. But there is a whole lot to this situation, I can't post on. People got promoted this time due to enormous staffing shortages.

When I left my old job, I didn't walk out the door... I practically RAN. Now I am back, the positive being I have a buffer as I am only a subcontractor. The negative being... I can't change the bad, because I'm only a subcontractor. I have to swallow a lot more crap than I had to before and to know my personality is to know it's very difficult for me.

My work with my old company has never been the easiest. It was never an escape. It was never pleasurable, except for my customer and my friends. I have just walked back in... forgetting how awful it could be. And it's gotten worse, as I had been told by my friends who are still with the company. I did not listen or did not take it to heart.

VW worked there. That's why she is laughing.

Posted by: Bou at April 27, 2005 07:14 AM

Oh and I was working to use my brain again and to fill my resume and get back into the work force. I can't stay home full time forver. It doesn't make sense.

The quit stuff to spend quality time with my husband is laughable. He's never home and when he is, he's working from home.

Posted by: Bou at April 27, 2005 07:45 AM

Either you have the personality to work in that environment or you don't. Neither you nor the company is going to change. To believe so is foolhardy. If you honestly believe you can change a work environment, then you are trying to solve the wrong problem.

You are a great engineer. I know that from 5 minutes talking with you. But you also should understand that engineers are hired for the specialty. And your specialty isn't Organizational Behavior. That's for other staff to work with. Granted, their ineptitude causes you more work and stress. But no company can hire the best people for all of the jobs. Most are focused on the Product Engineers. As a talented person, you can see the inefficiencies of other people and it infuriates you. You probably see the same of society in general. But in regards to the company, competition defines if they are doing a good enough job or not. If so, they stay in business.

Actually, you are in a better position than those other engineers. If the company screws up and loses contracts, it won't mean too much to you. Like the contractors here say; "It's not *my* company." Really. It isn't.

Posted by: _Jon at April 27, 2005 09:36 AM

And I know I am ‘wrong’ in feeling this way and I should just coast through like everyone else and collect my damn paycheck.

Hell, no! That's the quickest route to the death of the soul. Mindless autonomy awaits down that path.

Every job has some serious crap involved in it but I've found that most of that crap is there from either stupidity, negligence or tradition. It's also possible to change anything if you can show that doing so would save money. And as long as you don't mind somebody else taking credit for the change.

Posted by: Jim at April 27, 2005 01:07 PM

I give you some props. I've felt this way, but would never dare post it about a current employer.

Ranting about the inanity of it all, assuming you did it publicly and/or with any kind of audience, is not helpful to you, your company or your co-workers - other than helping you vent. I firmly believe one of the reasons I got canned last year was because I was the squeaky wheel. You waste multiple people's times and current efforts by ranting in public (not counting the time your boss spends with his/her boss going over it and deciding whether to keep you or not). And your co-workers moods, no matter how bad, are surely not helped by hearing you go off.

Of course, this is the pot calling the kettle black, but...

Here are my suggestions (other than looking for alternative sources of income):

a) Show your understanding of the mechanics of the process/new administrivia.
b) Show your understanding of the rationale behind it.
c) Raise the issues as you see them, and ask how they will be dealt with (perhaps not at all). You can calmly express your reservations.
d) Ask how this will impact deliverables. Will additional hours be necessary in order to handle the additional overhead?
e) Inquire about tools and training in order to keep productivity up. You appreciate the need for this new thing, but you have deliverables, after all. Alternatively, are you now to go back and renegotiate project schedules.
f) Master the new thing. You don't have to effuse over it, but the fact that you ultimately (without having to been dragged kicking and screaming) went along with the corporate edict is in your favor. It also shows your adaptability when you interview elsewhere. And your careful handling of the situation bodes well for handling corporate politics and your commitment to the company good and continuous improvement.
g) After you've had time to digest all this, if there are concrete, constructive suggestions you can make to improve the new thing (or to address the problem it was intended to address), make them discreetly to your manager. Ask who you should address these with - it may not be his/her call.

Not easy. But if you can execute some of these, your career (and your stress level) will see improvement.

Posted by: Eric Sohn at April 27, 2005 02:56 PM