Category Archives: work

In which I am honored

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honest_scrap_award

My buddy Amurin over at Stop and Wander has bequeathed upon me this lovely “Honest Scrap” award for remarkable honesty in blogging.  Thank you, Am.  I want to  thank WordPress for making this possible with their  lovely, easy and free software and hosting.  And a big hug to my real life friends who completely ignore online ramblings thus freeing me up to write without worrying what they will think.  And finally, to my parents who slapped me three ways to Saturday whenever they caught me in a lie.

When you get the Honest Scrap award, you are meant to grace your readers with 10 honest things about yourself, and then pass on the award to other blog friends who write honestly and truly about themselves and events in their life.

  1. I live in constant fear of an 80-something year old lady whom I have let down.  She wrote me a lovely letter in longhand requesting that our company grant free parking to senior citizens.  I promised her I would get it delivered to someone who might be able to do something about it.  Being as our organization is so vast, I have no idea who would care that an elderly member feels as if her age should grant her a pass on paying for parking.  So, the letter sits.  And I await in fear of her phone call.
  2. Instead of meditating or writing in the mornings like I know I really really should, I fart around playing stupid games on Facebook.  It seems like people are writing all kinds of apps and games for Facebook, so here’s an idea: I think there should be an app that kept a running total of all the time a person spent on Facebook.  And then to add to the cruel reality of that frightening number, it would compare your total hours to something useful like:  Your Time On Facebook:  172.25 hours / 172.25 of non-Facebook Time = 10 books read, 5 volunteer shifts at the homeless shelter, 7 non-garbage blog posts, 16 1/2 hour meditation sessions, and a dozen home-cooked (i.e. non-microwaved) meals.
  3. Even though I don’t even kill bugs b/c of my personal, Buddhist influenced beliefs, I have gotten quite into playing Mafia Wars on (what else?) Facebook.  I have “iced” 36 mobsters, and “whacked” 6 of them, though I haven’t the foggiest idea what is the difference between icing and whacking.
  4. I have a sneaking hunch I am not as nice a person as I like to believe myself to be.
  5. I’m also not a very good friend.  I do a shit job at keeping in touch with people, and apparently returning emails and phone calls is a bit of a foreign concept.
  6. I stopped shaving my legs years ago since I always wear pants, and the boyfriend doesn’t seem to mind.
  7. Making this list is starting to depress me
  8. I have a natural tendency towards depression.  It’s been pretty well under control for a few years now and I haven’t had to resort to going back on meds, but it still doesn’t take much to make me go to my dark place.
  9. When I was pretty freshly sober and in therapy started really mucking about in the dark recesses of my psyche, I had a job where I subjected myself to a crazy boss’s whims and insane hours (can you say 70 a week?).  Occasionally, when it all got too much, I would hide under my desk.  I was capable of conducting business over the phone or with my staff, but I couldn’t bring myself to sit up in my chair or leave my office.   I think it tells you the general insanity of this workplace that my hiding under my desk hi-jinks didn’t phase anyone.  Though I was once told during a performance review that I might want to come up with other coping mechanisms because it was somewhat startling to the newer staff members.
  10. I am counting down the days until this stupid NaBloPoMo self-challenge is over.  Whew.  Only 4 more days!

Now, it’s my time to get revenge . . . oh wait, I mean it’s now time to pass along the honor of the Honest Scrap Award.  One will go to my North Coast buddy Adam, who not only joined me on this NaBloPoMo challenge, but he also threw in going to the gym every day.  Silly, silly man.  I haven’t heard much from my boys Ombudsman and Julian, so here ya are fellas.  Congratulations!

Mowing down old men

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We all need a hobby, and apparently my new hobby has become scaring the bejeebus out of old dudes while threatening to mow them down in my car.  I was unaware of that this was my new passion, but apparently it is.  Twice in the last couple of weeks I have been accused of such with a shake of a cane and a waggle of a finger as I merely tried to turn in or out of the driveway at work.

The first time I had no idea what this old fella was going on about.  I clearly saw him. I stopped a yard or two in front of him.  Yet as he made his way across the parking lot entrance, he felt obliged to mutter at me while shaking his cane in my general direction.  I made sure I he had fully cleared the driveway before I continued to pull in.  His anger at me was truly puzzling.

Not so puzzling was why the fellow today was pissed off.  And under normal circumstances I would feel horrible about scaring someone like that, and would have been full of apologies.  But, this was hardly a normal driver/pedestrian near miss.

This time I was pulling out of the driveway.  The busy medical center where I work is located on a very busy thoroughfare.  After I made my way up the ramp to the head of the driveway, which was free of pedestrians at that time,  my attention was focused to my left as I waited for a clearing to turn right.  Now, I’ve walked up this street many a time, and many a time I have had to wait as a car waits to make its turn. And I’ve had pedestrians have to wait for me, or perhaps pass behind my car.  But never before have I  encountered anyone who has attempted to walk in front of my car when my focus was clearly to the left.

When traffic cleared I made a break for it right as this elderly fellow decided to start walking in front of my car.  I did not hit him, only startled him I guess.  I was pretty damn startled too.  Normally, my next instinct is to make apologetic gestures to show how deeply sorry I was about my mistake.  I can do a mean mea culpa when I want to.  But, this time was different.   Rather than looking startled or frightened about the near miss, the old guy just stood there and glowered at me.   I gestured to him that it was safe for him to pass.  He continued to glower at me.  I gestured again.  More glowering.  Seriously, the guy stood there for a good minute or two and glowered.   Any sympathy I had for him was quickly dissolving.

Eventually when he did start to move he did this whole pantomime with his arms up in the air acting like he was afraid I was going to hit him.   After  he had cleared the front of my car, he continued his silent condemnation.  And since the opening in traffic had passed, I was forced to continue to look in his direction waiting for the next clearing as he exaggeratedly shook his finger and then proceeded to make fun of my physical appearance.  It was not a pleasant experience.

Perhaps I need to reconsider this new hobby.  It’s not really all that much fun.  Maybe I’ll take up knitting again instead.

An ode to Ian

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The other night I dreamt of Ian.   That in and of itself is not so unusual.  I mean,  my friends often make guest appearances in my dreams.   But, no matter how surreal or nonsensical the dream in which Ian appears, it is never more perplexing  or mysterious than what happened to our friendship.

Ian and I met about 18 years ago.  We were both hired around the same time at this very esteemed, but very dysfunctional survey research company.  We were hired as part of an effort to bring some younger blood into the company and to help bring it kicking and screaming into the computer age.  There was a big divide between the old timers who smelled of stale booze and cigarettes and the new kids who were so excited to be working for such a well respected company.   I was given a shiny new annex to manage, away from all the typewriters and lunchtime drinking binges of the main office. And while I was free to hire  all new  interviewers, I had to inherit a bunch of the old timer supervisors who relished questioning my every decision.  “…that’s not how Bob would do it” they would whine.  I was always tempted to reply “No, probably not, but then again I’m not a bitter alcoholic abusive old queen with a taste for rough trade, am I?”

And then there was Ian.  Ian was my freakin’ lifeline there.  Ian was smart, good looking, and like me, younger than the old school supervisors by a  least a decade or so.   He wasn’t afraid of computers, and respected what I was trying to do there (I had come from an academic and public health background in survey research, and I was trying to bring the same kind of rigorous methodology to this company’s political  polling and market research).   As we got to know each we would spend more and more time in my office talking and laughing.  Mostly laughing.  Even though he was born in the US, his parents had only just imigrated from England, so Ian had a very British sense of humor, which I adored.   He had also inherited the British reserve, so while in the workplace we could bust a gut, he had very defined boundaries around his personal life.  I learned early on that the closeness we shared in the office did not translate outside the office walls.  I remember once we were chatting at the end of the day, and it was time to leave.  We continued talking as we gathered our things.  I figured we would at least walk to the BART (subway) station together.  But, as we hit the door, he clammed up, waved good-bye and then strode quickly away.  Odd bird, that Ian.

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My first days

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This will be my third fourth go on trying to document my first days at the the new job.  Each day it feels like there is a new story to be told. Here are the high points.

Moment I knew I made the right decision: when a fabulous gay nurse came and sat down right next to me during New Employee Orientation.  And while I dislike women who see gay men as accessories, I do love being around gay men.  With the rare exception of one of my business clients, the last eight years have been quite bereft of the company of gays at work.  So, I was just tickled to have so quickly found a new gay buddy.

Moment I questioned my decision: I got my first, and hopefully, only death threat today.  A troubled patient who has been quite upset with some actions of my department left me a voicemail (he doesn’t even know me) basically threatening to either kill himself or “get” us, meaning me and my staff.   I was impressed at how seriously this threat was taken and how quickly security and senior management were on the case.  He showed up later and got verbally abusive with another staff member. Police were summoned.  I opted to hole up in my unmarked office with my badge turned inward in case he returned.  Welcome to working in an actual medical center with real live patients.

But, overall it has been a good experience.  I love my staff.  They are smart, responsible and mature.  My boss, though younger and hipper than me, is fiercely protective of her staff in almost a mamma bear kind of way. When she heard about the threat she was calling people at the top to make sure this got dealt with properly.

The hours and commute, however, are killing me.  I’m not an 8:30 in the morning kind of girl.  Never have been.  Especially after years of wandering into the office whenever I damn well pleased, knowing I could just make it up on the back end.  Granted this week has been exceptional what with all the orientation and training and meetings.  Hopefully, things will settle down and I can start getting in at a much more reasonable 9:30.

And what is the deal with all the parking lots for the BART trains being completely full by 8:00 a.m.?   I mean, seriously.  I thought I was there at the crack o’ dawn at 8:15.  But nooooooooooo.  A six-story parking structure completely full.  WTF?

I’ve cut myself some slack this week and have allowed myself the luxury of taking the easy, but expensive route.  But, that cannot be sustained.  It costs twice as much in bridge fares and parking as it would were I to take the train. But, still, I do love crossing the Golden Gate Bridge.  It never gets old.

My last day

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The day has finally come.   In some ways it felt like it would never get here.  It has been months in the making, and has been well needed for several years. That’s right.  Today is my last day in my current job.

After three months of interviews, background checks and health screenings (I doubt Obama vetted his cabinet this thoroughly), I was cleared for hiring and issued my new badge for my new job which starts on Monday.  Yay me!

I gave my notice three and a half weeks ago, and as I have mentioned here, my current boss has been, well, weird about it.  Some are being kind and saying he’s simply in denial.

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Under my skin

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I normally consider myself to be a fairly calm, patient sort of person.  I’ve been known to be able to talk people off the ledge, as it were. When everyone else is losing their ever lovin’ mind, I can usually stay reasonably calm. Some of this I attribute to my general nature, and some to my Buddhist training.  However, sometimes something just pushes the wrong button and well, it gets ugly.

I know Sarah Palin has this effect on me.  But, I’ve learned to deal with it.  There is a support group of probably several million in this country who may feel the same way.  So, the hot hatred I have for her can usually get quenched with comedy by spending a few minutes on YouTube, or my nightly date with Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.  Right now she is easy to laugh at.  Who knows what my reaction might be if she actually got elected.  I can’t even bear to think about it.

The other thing that gets under my skin is nothing of national importance.  In fact, it is incredibly petty. But, when I got going about it today at work, I think I scared the staff.  People just smiled at me politely and then scurried back to their offices.  So what is that got under my skin?  Our company’s parking policy, and the rather draconian measures some petty administrator is taking to enforce it.

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On liars

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I don’t like liars.

I know, not exactly a profund or unique stance, but I guess it gets to me when someone I know and like lies right to my face.  Damn.  It just totally bugs.

Bess and I have worked in the same office for a few years now.  Until about a year ago, we were just acquaintances, really.  We didn’t share any projects so our conversations were mostly just small talk.  I thought she was a pleasant enough girl, though she always struck me as somewhat immature.

When she was initially hired, she had her own application to support and keep her busy.  But, like a lot of other applications, hers was soon replaced and she was left without a whole lot of work to do.  Our boss then started sticking her on my projects as a “back up”.  Fine, great.  Everyone can use a back up.  If it meant my boss would feel more comfortable OKing my vacation requests, I was all for it. 

When she started working with me, we were in the middle of a big deployment which was on a very tight timeline.  It was not a good time to get someone completely up to speed, but she helped where she could.  However, I did start to notice that she had a big tendency to plead ignorance whenever faced with a more complex task that required a little brain power or asking others for some guidance.  But, I felt some responsibility for that since I hadn’t taken the time to train her thoroughly. Besides, I had started to like her personally and she was fun to hang out with.  And I can’t say that for many others in my department.

Once all the drama of deployment had died down there was time to get her up to speed.  However, whenever I would ask if she wanted to review some functions, she said she was busy helping someone else of their project.  OK, fine.  No problem.  No rush.  Wanna go to lunch?  She was always available for a long lunch.

A few months later, my manager gave her a chunk of my work and informed me that she was the lead.  I told my manager I didn’t think it was a good idea as that was one of the more complex projects and she simply did not have the experience, nor from what I could tell, the interest.  Yet, he persisted.  This would be my “big opportunity” to mentor Bess.  Gee, thanks.  But frankly, I was pissed.  I was looking forward to that project because I knew that the complexity would be a challenge.  Besides, I had been the lead on it for years, and was regarded as the expert.  But, OK, sure,   It’s just work.  I got over the blow to my ego.

Bess was told she was now in charge and that I was available to train, mentor, help, etc.  Again, I tried to set up some working sessions, but she was always busy with something else.  OK, no problem.  I understand the impulse to try and muddle through something on your own. Maybe that is just how she works.  After a while I stopped checking because I knew she wasn’t going to bite. 

As the time ticked down towards the deployment, Bess still had not done anything.  My boss told me I needed to try harder to mentor her. What the . . .?  I told him he needed to do his job since she wasn’t listening to me.  But all his attempts to manage her had failed, just as my attempts to mentor failed, so he finally told me just to finish the damn project.  For the next three weeks I busted my hump to finish a project she had been given three months to do.  And I did, because I’m good like that. 

I had assumed, as had everyone else, that the lead position was back in my hands.  Wrong.  When it came time for revisions, my manager told me that Bess was the lead and that I needed to once again “mentor” her.  Sigh.  So, for the last few weeks it’s been the same old game.  She’s always busy when I’m available to help, and will never ask me for help without prompting.  Yet, I still liked her for some reason.  That was until yesterday.

Another colleague, for whom Bess was supposedly doing work, told me that Bess hadn’t been doing any work for her for a while, and as far as she knew, no one else was giving her work.  Oh?  Then what has she been working on?  “Oh, didn’t you know?  Bess lies.  Bess lies a lot.  I’ve caught her in all kinds of lies.”  I didn’t want to believe she had been lying to me all this time, but it did explain quite a few things.

If I had any doubts, this morning they have disappeared.  The project manager, who had her own concerns about working with Bess, sent me a copy of an email where Bess said her revisions were just about done with the note to me “is this true?”.   And no, no it is not true.  Not even close to true.  The girl is a liar, an unmitigated liar. 

I’m not bailing her out this time.  If my manager asks me to again, I will be honest with him about her dishonesty.  I’m not going to be used again.

I don’t like liars.