Maybe this week?

Go pound sand, TC!

This is just a running at the fingers marker post, a diary page for the weblog. I have a special Sunday post almost written, but it involves some (great Americana) artwork by a living artist, and I’d like to use more than small “fair use” thumbnails.

I would probably be within fair use using the low-res versions I want to use, but these pieces are so meaningful to me that I want to be as respectful to the artist as possible.

So—hopefully—you’ll be seeing that article down the road one of these Sundays. I’ll just give you a one-word clue for now. It’ll be a giveaway for anyone familiar with the works in question and likely utterly useless for everyone else (at least those not motivated to Go Ogle for it). The word is: Hipshot.

Instead, I thought I’d ramble on a bit about work and what I do for a living.

Warning: Rant ahead!!

At least, it’s what I do for another 13 weeks, assuming I follow through with my plans to take early retirement. Frankly, I can’t see any reason why not. I sometimes feel guilty knowing that I will leave a hole, but my guilt evaporates every time I actually walk into work.

It’s been even worse the last few weeks. I have done almost nothing for three weeks, because I’m waiting for others to complete their work. What’s worse is that I’m sitting next to this guy with that “Restless Leg Syndrome,” and it’s driving me buggy.

I do not quite understand how someone can sit vibrating their leg like that and apparently not even know it.  That level of a lack of self-awareness is completely beyond me. But it does seem that people can be incredibly obvious to the most basic things sometimes. The “situational awareness challenged” I call them.

Here’s another one that makes me crazy: the tendency to camp in an obvious walkway and have a conversation. Meanwhile those of us trying to walk somewhere have to edge around them. Some of the corridor and walkways at work are narrow enough that it creates an obstruction, especially when there is two-way traffic.

If they at least made an effort to hug the wall, I’d be forgiving (although the proper behavior in my mind is to find a less obstructive place to chat). It’s the complete oblivion to the situation that gets under my skin. Or maybe it’s the sense of entitlement or the casual disregard for others. There’s just no way to frame it in my mind that makes it acceptable.

But I digress. Where was I? Ah, yes, Restless Leg Syndrome.

I don’t know if that’s a real ailment or just more bullshit to sell drugs. It sort of plays to me like someone who just has no discipline.  Just.  Sit.  Still.  How hard is that? If you’re “restless,” go for a run, get some exercise, get laid, but just (please!) stop vibrating your leg.

It wouldn’t be a huge issue if it weren’t for the stupidest decision my company has ever made. I was a field tech at first, so I had a company van and drove around. But once they invited me to HQ, I had a cubical. I’ve had a cubical of one kind or another for 29 years.

And The Company has always been very precise about matching your physical work  situation with your status. I know of situations where space requirements forced giving someone an office with a window when they didn’t rank the privilege. So The Company boarded up the window!

That may seem bizarre, but it’s based on the principle of fairness, which is a key principle from my upbringing, and therefore is a principle I understand and accept.

Now, due to poor planning, they’ve got us all sitting at desks in rows. No privacy of any kind. And more to the point, nothing to block the visual field of people moving around and having discussions.

And so, 33 years of experience in the company, almost 40 years of experience in software systems, over 9 years of experience in this IT division, and an extremely deep and broad skill set… and I’m sitting at a fucking desk with people with very little experience or training.

I have no desk space for documents or manual. I barely have room for my laptop’s docking station, second monitor and phone. And on top of all that, out of the corner of my eye, for weeks now, I’ve been assaulted by this vibrating leg.

The Company has, in my eyes, made it very clear that I don’t matter. Oh, they pay lip service to how valuable the “architects” are, but those pretty words are denied by the reality they practice daily.

There is something very sad about all this. The reason they give for this new deal is that it enables “collaboration.” (The real reason I’m pretty sure is poor planning. I’ve heard that once they finish this conversion, our building will be seven people below max occupancy.) What’s really sad is that there seems to be some truth to this, because I apparently work in an IT division that is fundamentally incapable of collaborating electronically.

Nothing ever seems to happen at The Company unless it involves lots of meetings. No one can function until they get a bunch of warm bodies in a room talking at each other.  And it’s not that a lot happens then, either, but it’s the only way to even begin to get anything done.  Most of the people I work with are apparently illiterate. They can’t even read a detailed memo let alone write one.

I know this because I wrote detailed memos back in October describing the problems that were going on. Now that the project is months overdue, people are finally noticing, so we’ve been having lots of meetings to discuss things I laid out in detail over three months ago!

But I digress. I meant to tell you what I do for a living. Or try to do, anyway. I’ve had one project on my plate since I came on board in September, and it’s only now that maybe things will start to happen. (But I’ve thought that for three weeks, so we’ll see.)

Basically I’m a data integration specialist. I get different systems to talk to each other and exchange data. This requires a good grounding in various data systems as well as various communication systems, since both are key here. XML is a second language!

The project I’ve been trying to accomplish, lo these six months, starts with web-based forms created by our various business groups. These forms are for customers to ask questions, order samples, request a sales visit or provide feedback. All these various forms feed into what we might call the “mouth” of the data chain I’m trying to build.

This “mouth” is an application that lives outside our corporate firewall and accepts submissions from these “webforms.” That application processes the submission and then interacts with the central system my department manages. The result is some sort of record of the submission created in our system.

Then, for submissions asking for samples or literature, our system sends data through a chain consisting of two internal systems, out the firewall, through another system and finally to our fulfillment facility. They ship the order and send back a status, which routes through all those downstream systems to mark our record as “Shipped.”

In some regards, it really is that simple, but—as they say—the devil (or heaven) is in the details. And there are a lot of details.

And guess who knows all those details. Guess who’s the one person who can probably make this work right. Guess who’s the one person with the background and experience to make it happen the way it’s supposed to.

Can you also guess who’s completely fed up, deeply insulted, utterly disgusted and so fucking angry with the situation that he’s taking early retirement just because he can’t be a part of this anymore?

13 weeks and counting (and I can take at least two of them as vacation). On some level it’s a tragedy for The Company to lose that experience. But I apparently work for stupid people, and the funny thing is that they will probably be glad to see the back of me (because, you see, my drive for quality work and my bluntness with bullshit all make me a “difficult employee”).

“Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger.” ~~J.R.R.Tolkien.

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

8 responses to “Maybe this week?

  • reocochran

    This is a big pain in the butt for you, the desks of incompetent and thousands less experience or knowledge side by side with you, ARRGGH!
    Yelling like a pirate for you! I would walk the plank, jump the ship, or hang myself (not good to joke about, I know). Anyway, I am sure you have seen the movies, “Office Space” and “Network.” Throwing the computer or the t.v. out the window is not allowed for 11 more weeks plus 2 weeks sick or vacation time left to go…I am in on your pity party now and will toast you when you escape!

    • Wyrd Smythe

      It isn’t the co-workers, as such, so much as the impossibility of getting work done that requires focus and concentration (which my work almost always does). It’s also what I perceive as a huge insult from a company that for 29 years has made it very clear that work situation equals status.

      I have a buddy who is a call-taker (if you called The Company with a complaint or question, you might well talk to him). Usually call-takers are the lowest rung on the ladder, but my work situation is now a couple pegs below his! He gets about three times as much desk space, plus walls around him that block sight lines.

      What can I say: my company seems to be screaming at me: GO AWAY!!

      Okay,… message received.

  • Snoring Dog Studio

    I hear you and I am completely in support of your feelings. On my floor at work, the brilliant management decided to mix IT folks with us public health workers. Of course, IT also made the brilliant decision to create that goddawful, utterly stupid open collaboration arrangement. Of course, why not make it more possible for a staff of people to distract and annoy another group? No thought was given to the fact that a large group of us need the quiet. But no, there’s IT over there “collaborating” – hah. A great deal of the time they’re over there laughing and playing and chatting. Most of the IT people are contractors who don’t give a damn about the permanent employees working on their floor. They actually tried to bribe us with treats one day! No amount of complaining has made a difference, either. I tell you, Wyrd: I don’t have a whole lot of respect for IT management and their stupid work culture.

    And, yes – this is a sad, recurring refrain – management believing that good employees are so dispensable and easily replaced. The work will suffer when you’re gone and so will some of the remaining decent employees. What a joke. Get away and enjoy your retirement!

    • Wyrd Smythe

      I hear ya and thank you! I don’t have whole lot of respect for the current IT culture, either! Every few years our IT division does an employee survey. Of course, nothing ever really changes (certainly not in our favor, anyway), so they don’t get near the response rate you might expect from a captive audience that can be repeatedly cajoled to participate. They did one recently, and two results stand out: Firstly, the employees—the ones who actually get work done—generally like what they do and feel good about it. But secondly, management got very low rankings. When they presented this, they either didn’t admit or didn’t understand the implication. Yes, we employees generally know what we’re about and have a “get it done” attitude. But we think management sucks at its job.

      Management has always struck me as one of those jobs, like being an artist, that doesn’t have well-defined ideas about what constitutes excellence. I suspect that’s because both art and management are areas with an almost infinite number of variables, so it’s hugely complex and impossible to define well. What I see is that that attracts pretenders with nothing to offer, but who can game the system or fake people out in some fashion. It seems to be worse in management where I constantly see people with no visible jobs skills I can detect. Being absolutely useless, they spend their lives making useful people miserable.

      And my resolve to leave becomes firmer all the time. Seems like each day there is an incident that confirms my intention. It’s already happened today. A pushy email regarding a topic that’s gone from talking to me about the potential of using some code I wrote to asking if I can use it to retrieve a large amount of data from “the cloud”… by this afternoon. [sigh]

  • heysugarsugar

    looooooooooool :)):):) <——- like that extra long lol? babe you crack me up, I actually laughed out loud, that restless leg? kick it ! go on I dare you 🙂 hugs xxxxx

  • sherri b

    ha!! excellent piece! I can understand ppl being annoyed by leg twitchers. I am one cuz Im fairly high strung and always busy, but luckily, my cube mate is far enough away that I dont bother her much. Plus, her husband calls about 15 times a day, so if she is bothered by my legs, we’re even. ~ sherri

    I only put this because my gravatar takes people to a dead site…(trying to get it fixed.) pls forgive.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed it! My best friend has that same leg thing. I’ve asked, and it’s not something he’s even aware of doing. Is it the same with you? I think I’m on the highly self-conscious end of the spectrum, so it’s hard for me to imagine not being aware of what seems like extreme physical behavior. I dunno, maybe it’s just me.

      Or maybe I should start making a lot of personal calls every day—even the playing field, as it were… 😈

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