I was home yesterday. I had plenty of time to write and post a normally scheduled addition to the blog. I have no excuse other than the fact that I really kind of forgot that yesterday was Monday. Weekdays are usually hard to miss based on my level of aggravation and discontent, but being a big, beautiful day full of annual leave, this particular Monday wasn’t so afflicted.
I should probably take it as some kind of a warning sign that so much of my content is driven by the annoyance and general disgust generated by the average five-day work week. On the other hand, the fact that I don’t have much to say about the other 80 hours each week may speak loudly about how low key and relaxing I find the time not spent dwelling in cubicle hell.
I may have missed Monday, but you can rest assured that Tuesday more than made up for it. After all, where else could I put my 15 years experience, bachelor’s degree, and MBA to work putting giant hard-backed posters on an easel and then taking them off again all while working two hours of unscheduled overtime?
You’re welcome for my service.
I should have known the kind of day it was going to be when the first two alarms failed to coax me from sleep’s comfortable embrace. The day started behind schedule and never recovered… late to lunch, then a two hour soul suck of a meeting that ran late, then another meeting that should have lasted 5 minutes ran over and promptly spawned another hour-long meeting later in the week, and by that point I was already late for end-of-tour. Blasting out emails for the next thirty minutes in order to make sure the later-in-the-week meeting actually took place then put the day further behind. Or more specifically it put the end of the day even further behind. And that, obviously, is where the real snarling started.
As perfectly willing as I am to admit that some things are unavoidable, I’ve always thought the total number of those unavoidable things is pretty small. Most things, with a bit of planning, are utterly an completely avoidable if you just pay a bit of attention. For instance you can count on one finger the number of times in any give year I show up at the office late. I build in what some would consider excess time in order to make sure I hit the mark as expected. It doesn’t feel at all unreasonable to expect a bit of consideration coming back the other way, though recent history leaves that in doubt.
I guess it’s my fault for not seeing the warning signs. I don’t want to have to make a scene to remind anyone that there’s a holy line of demarcation between “my time” and “your time,” but I absolutely will if that’s what needs doing. I’m in no way above making an ass of myself to make a point when it needs made.
It’s the third day in a row that I’ve been late getting away from the office. If anyone despises this turn of events more than me, it’s Maggie and Winston. Thanks to their upbringing to take joy in the marvel of a well executed routine, they’re finding the whole thing unsettling. The net result is from the time I do get home until lights out these two are attached even more closely to my hips than usual. I don’t see the week getting any more “regular” from here on to the end. In fact the next two days at a minimum can be relied upon to have a monumental amount of stupid baked right in.
I don’t think I’ve pulled a legitimate 12 hour shift since Hurricane Dean threatened the Gulf Coast in 2007. It’s not a level of effort I’m particularly eager to reprise. Even though I’ll be made whole for those additional hours at a later date I really have gotten to the point with this fiasco that eight hours at a time is more than enough to test what little patience I have left. Given their attitudes over the last few nights it’s clear that the dogs agree with me.
1. Surprise overtime. I’m not naive enough to think that an eight hour workday means eight-and-out every day of the year. Sometimes unavoidable circumstances conspire to make getting it all done in eight impossible. Other times, we inflict ridiculous requirements on ourselves and then spend the afternoon and early evening running around trying to prove to someone that we can get job we just created done in a big way. Look, I’m just a working drone. I saw the other side of the fence and the long hours and sneaking way that it takes over every other part of your life has more than lost its luster. I’m more than happy to do my time and then head to the house… though honestly, sometimes it’s good to have a reminder just why I veered off the road not taken in the first place.
2. Forgetting to jot things down that annoyed you at the beginning of the week and promptly forgetting them before it’s time to blog about them. Sure, it’s probably a sign that it wasn’t all that annoying in the first place, but still, it leaves you scratching your head and really reaching for space filler on Thursday night when you’ve got half a dozen other things to do.
3. Something else, I’m sure… But I have absolutely no idea what it should be. Plus I’m tired and cranky. While sometimes that makes for some good writing, I’m pretty sure this is not one of those times.
One of the best aspects of working for the bureaucracy is that we earn four hours of sick leave every two weeks. With 26 pay periods a year that adds up to 104 hours of sick time earned. The hours that you don’t use by the end of the year roll over into a reserve pot you can draw on in the future. It’s a good system and a cheap insurance policy against future illness. I’ve got something like 600 hours of sick leave on the books now, which is a pretty good indication that I’m not using the time to go shopping or head to the beach. Then again, when I’m not feeling up to par, I have no issue with dipping into those hours and keeping my ass at home until I feel better. Even then, it’s unusual for me to need more than one or two days in a row. But when I do, I’m going to take it without feeling guilty.
I’ve spent half my career banking a shit ton of leave and then when the flu kicks my ass, I’m going to use as much of it as I need to. I’m not going to come in until I feel something close to human again. That’s just the way it’s going to be. When I get back, I’m happy to pick up wherever I left off and get my projects back on track. What I’m not going to do is come back and start staying late to “make up” for being out. I made up for being out by burning off some of those accumulated hours of sick leave. Those are hours you’re not going to have to pay me for a decade or two in the future when I decide to punch out for the last time. I’m happy to stick around and work as late as anyone wants, but I won’t be doing it for free. There’s always going to be more work that needs done and some of it wouldn’t have gotten done even if I had been in the office. I don’t feel bad about that during any normal week and I definitely won’t feel bad about it when I’ve spent a week flat on my back.
If we need to work longer to get something done, feel free to cross my palm with silver or add back a few hours into my leave account. Trying to guilt me into giving it away just isn’t going to be something that works for either of us.
Editorial Note: This part of a continuing series of posts previously available on a now defunct website. They are appearing on http://www.jeffreytharp.com for the first time. This post has been time stamped to correspond to its original publication date.
I’ve had your sorry ass locked out of the office every morning for three weeks, told you five times that shift starts and 6:30, and still you’re already here when I pull in to the parking lot at 6:15. The hood of your car is cool so I know you’ve been here for a while.
The real question, of course, is why? You’re going to have to take my word for it that wanting to eat breakfast at your desk isn’t a good enough reason for me to want to get sued later because you worked 30 minutes a day longer than you were supposed to and didn’t get paid for it. So seriously, shift starts at 6:30. I’ll unlock at 6:25. If you want to keep coming in and standing in the hall for 30 minutes like a dipshit, that’s all on you.
Editorial Note: This part of a continuing series of previously de-published blogs appearing on http://www.jeffreytharp.com for the first time. This post has been time stamped to correspond to its original publication date.
Nothing like the last minute requirements that have you up at 6:00 on a Sunday morning to head to the office for the day. I don’t think I will ever understand what drivers a manager to suddenly think of something on Friday afternoon that needs to be done on Monday. Chalk that up to one of those things I hope I remember when I’m making the decisions.
I don’t intrinsically have a problem with working on Sunday. Of all the reasons my immortal soul is in danger, that’s probably the least of them… As long as the overtime keeps flowing, I’m there.
This hurricane season as been a bit of a letdown after the intensity of 2005. I suppose it’s difficult to top one of the most damaging storms in human history, but still, throw me a friggin bone here. Ernesto had the wind knocked out of him over Cuba today and should hit south Florida as a tropical storm or a minimal hurricane… Hardly worth crawling out of bed for something like that, really. There is a slim possibility that he could punch out of Florida around Cape Canaveral and head north to Charleston. Moving slow, he could reintensify and do some damage. I’m not holding my breath.
I wouldn’t exactly say I’m rooting for the hurricane, because that would just be wrong, but still, this season has been all blow and no go. So much for new furniture.
For most people, the diminished expectation for tropical storms and hurricanes this summer is a reason to celebrate. Personally, I’m more than a little disappointed. Hurricanes (usually those Category 3 and above) are a 14-hour/day, 7-day/week vacation from my normal job. Of course, like anyone, I bitch about the long hours and the seeming lack of support from other quarters, but in the end, these storms are a chance to stand neck-deep in the national decision-making process and play with senior leaders from the White House, Department of Homeland Security, Defense, and others. They are a chance to work till you bone tired and still deliver. It’s a chance to make obscene amounts of overtime and I want to buy new living room furniture, damnit.