What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. The closest gator. It’s just human nature to try killing the alligator that’s closest to your boat. Just by virtue of its proximity it’s the one that should pose the most danger. Most of the time your natural assumption is probably right. Every now and then, though, that gator that just happens to be closest is just swimming past… and while you’re focused on him the big, ugly sonofabitch swimming up behind you is the one that’s going to take a bite out of your ass.

2. Not being elsewhere. It’s a rare day when I don’t want to be home above all other places. Just this once, though, I wish circumstances would have allowed a bit of leeway so I could have found myself, for a few hours, in Rock Island, Illinois. Today was a live demonstration that that a certain big government agency can manage not to trip all over itself in pursuit of elevating someone eminently qualified into the ranks of senior leadership. I just wish I could have seen that shit in person, you know, just to prove in front of my own two little eyes that such a thing is actually possible.

3. Bordering on exhaustion. It’s not lack of sleep. Thank God my brain disengages as soon as I turn the lights off and lets me drift off to sleep on demand. The problem comes in those 19 intervening hours, when it’s busy jumping from point to point. I usually have a pretty good capacity for leaving the work over on the other side of the river, but for these past few weeks and another few to come, it seems to be following me. Even when I’m not thinking about it, a few ideas are churning in the back of my mind. It’s probably a necessary evil for the time being, but lord it’s wearing my ass out.

Good things…

If you stick around long enough occasionally good things happen to good people. Most of the time that’s not the case, but just occasionally the universe gets one right. It’s nice to see someone finally get compensated for the level of responsibility they’ve already had. It’s a damned rare thing and I’m happy to see it.

The flip side of such recognition, however, is that when these good people move up and out you inevitably end up with a pile of their old job on your desk because someone still has to do it when they’re gone. Anyone who’s been in the game any length of time at all has been on both sides of the “workload balancing” equation. So it goes.

My advice at times like this is to remember that the day is only eight hours long no matter who’s trying to cram 12 hours of work into it. Wash, rinse, and repeat as needed until the weekend arrives. A decade ago, this kind of thing would have made me nervous and jerky. Now I mostly just shrug and accept there are some things that will never rise to the top of the list of things to do – and even if that’s not technically ok, it’s just the way it is.

Temporary no more…

The paperwork needs to catch up and I’m probably making myself a tempting target for Fate by even breathing it aloud, but the word is that I’m in the process of completing the world’s shortest temporary promotion. In fact, it’s been so short that it isn’t even effective yet and won’t be until this coming Sunday. About a month later the powers that be have decided they’ll convert the temporary assignment to a permanent promotion. Still non-supervisory. Still in the same office I’m in now. Basically we’re formalizing the fact that I’ve been doing the job for the last few months without benefit of pay or grade. I can’t deny that it’s nice that they’ve noticed I was punching well above my weight class for a while now. Through a fortuitous convergence of other personnel departures, the fact that I competed for the temporary position, and a few other bits of administrative minutia, it seems that all things are possible.

As is my custom, I’ll be nervous and jerky every day between now and then from knowing nothing is real until the paperwork says it’s real. I’ve been burned one too many times on that front to be fooled again. Still, fingers are well crossed in hopes that the human resource professionals don’t fine a way to foul the lines between now and the end of February.

If anyone needs me I’ll be in my corner trying not to say, do, or think anything that might somehow inadvertently change the course we’re currently following.

Tentatively temporary…

It’s an open secret that for the last six months I’ve been casting around looking for a new gig. Although I was focused on staying under Uncle’s umbrella, it felt like time to branch out into other opportunities. The environment had gotten a little too toxic for my liking and all-in-all, my career path was looking like something of a dead end if I stayed put.

I launched out a fair number of resumes. Had a few interviews. Got a few call backs. But there really wasn’t anything that clicked – either for me or the people responsible for hiring, it seems.

A few weeks ago I threw my hat in the ring for a temporary promotion (back to my old grade without the enormous hassle of supervising anyone) with my current office. Last week I interviewed for the position. A few days ago the HR office called to extended a tentative offer. This past Thursday I accepted. At some point in the next couple of pay cycles I’ll pick up a few extra bucks for a little extra work. Feels like a fair trade and it sets me up for possible options in the future that don’t involve another round of packing and unpacking household goods.

I didn’t start this process looking to stay where I was, but if I’m fair and balanced I’ll admit the bosses are taking legitimate steps to improve on a number of the sore points of the past. I’m willing to stick around for a while and give them the chance to prove it’s a real change for the better and not just a change until the heat’s off. The proof is in the pudding, but I’m happy enough taking their money while the proof sorts itself out.

Now it’s just a matter of the final paperwork coming through. Somehow I feel like I’ve done all this before.

Because it’s better…

free-signI’ve heard all my life that it’s better to give than to receive. I’m not sure I’m convinced that’s necessarily true, but I’m going to do it anyway.

Starting right now and running through the end of the year, What Annoys Jeff this Week: 2012 in Review is available as a free download from Smashwords.

All you’ve got to do is click the link, used coupon code DB67P at checkout, and download your very own copy in whatever format you like.

Smashwords is compatible with Kindle, Nook, iBooks, and most other ereaders, so go ahead and give them a try. You know you want to catch up on 2012 before 2013 hits the shelves.

What to get for the guy who hates everything…

If I may be so bold as to make a Christmas shopping recommendation for everyone, I’ll take this opportunity to remind you that books make excellent gifts… and I’m not just saying that because I want you to give my books to Coverpeople. Although, if you choose to give the gift of Jeff, you can pick give the electronic or paperback edition of Nobody Told Me: A Cynics Guide for New Employees from Amazon. If you’ve gone all electronic or just want to stick it to Amazon, the ebook is also available from Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.

I know there are a few of you who are always looking for a deal, so in that spirit if you purchase your ebook from Smashwords, I’m offering a $1 discount from now until December 25th. Enter CW57P when you check out and you’ll receive the promotional price of $1.99.

Let’s face it, Nobody Told Me: A Cynics Guide for New Employees, is just about the perfect gift for the guy who hates everything.

Friendly advice for the young and ambitious…

I was once like you. I was young and ambitious. I wanted to streak up the career ladder further and faster than anyone. For those out there who want to climb, you’re eventually going to reach the point where you’ll be required to make a life-altering decision. You’re going to have to reconcile a nominal pay increase with the enormous pain in the ass that is becoming a first line supervisor.

If you’re even hesitating for a second in deciding whether that’s something interesting to you, let me key you into a secret – It’s not worth it. It’s not worth it at twice the pay. Sure, if you’re lucky there are going to be one or two hard chargers in your group, but most of the rest are going to be average at best and you’ll land an unholy sprinkling of dregs, sociopaths, malcontents, and those whose best service would have been to retire a decade or two ago.

Take a bit of advice from someone who was ambitious before you came along. Find yourself a nice mid-level position, gather the reins of a couple of projects, and enjoy a fruitful career concerned with meeting your own deadlines and being limited mostly by only your own capacity to work. Don’t, under any circumstances, allow them to make you a supervisor, team leader, or any other euphemistic term for becoming part of the problem rather than its solution. You’ll end up looking back at what started out as a promising career and wondering when it became a low-budget shitshow.

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.