It’s been a while since I wrote anything here. I don’t know exactly if that’s because things have gotten less stupid or I’m simply becoming use to the same level of stupid as before. Regardless, there are still a few moments when all I can do is sit back and shake my head.
As it turns out, I’ve been a bad, bad boy. I’ve been talking to people in other offices without the express, written permission of their supervisor. That, apparently, constitutes a gross violation of civil conduct and is an affront to the gods themselves. After half a career, you’d think I would remember that trying to get information directly from the source will do nothing but get you into trouble.
Instead of asking Person A directly for the information I need, the Official Process demands that I ask Person B, who will direct Person C to oversee the request for information and, who will thusly inform Person A that a request for information has been made. The information requested can then be transmitted back to me by the same circuitous route. Instead of taking 15 minutes, the process will take three days, involve, a minimum of two extra people, and has garnered three angry emails reminding me that “it’s not ok to talk to people from other offices without permission.” We could have saved an inordinate amount of time by any one of those three people simply answering the question rather than engaging in some half assed turf war, but there you have it, your bureaucracy in action… or is that your bureaucracy inaction?
So yes, please consider me sufficiently chastised for cheekily disregarding the standard routing of requests for information in an effort to actually get something done in a timely manner. Rest assured when it comes time to toss someone under the bus for delaying the project, I’ll have no qualms at all about reminding the Powers That Be who has been jamming their sabots into the machinery.
So let me get this straight. You want me to sign a “limited telework agreement” that basically says management can tell me to work from home any time it’s convenient for them (i.e. whenever the office is closed due to some outside condition like snow, hurricane, or wildfire). In return, they may possibly consider allowing me to work from home a few days a year on days when I would usually take some kind of leave (i.e. dentist appointments or the cable guy coming to fix the TV). I hope you’ll forgive me if I don’t jump at the opportunity to sign on for something that’s a whole lot of upside for management, but that gives me pretty much nothing in return.
Oh, and just in case you were considering signing up for the program, you’re signed agreement will give your employer the right to come into your home to inspect for “safety”. Sure that will probably never happen, but even knowing it’s possible is more than a little creepy; a creep factor that I’d be willing to deal with if it were for a regularly scheduled day where I’d get to read memos and build PowerPoint decks while wearing my fuzzy slippers and sitting at my kitchen table. It’s not a creep factor I’m willing to get onboard with just to have the privilege of working the next time we get snow deep enough to make the roads too hazardous to get to the office. Honestly, if it’s so bad that I consider coming to work a hazard to life or limb, I’ll go ahead and exercise the unscheduled leave option if the powers that be are too hardheaded to close up shop for the day.
For me, it’s a simple fact of living in the 21st century: Telework is either a good program or it’s not. It’s something worth doing right or it’s not. For an organization that does business in 100+ countries to say that individual productivity depends on sitting in a cube so people have physical access to them is farcical… or it would be farcical if they weren’t so serious when they said it. I’ve been at it long enough to know that you don’t gain a damned thing from swimming against the tide. I’m not going to wage war for the sanctity of telework and I’m certainly not going to fall on my sword for it, but the chance of my signing a “limited” agreement are somewhere between slim and none.
Sometimes I go to lunch with some of the guys from the office. When they talk about leadership problems, playing favorites, and how hard it is to get promoted unless you’re part of the clique, I mostly lean back in my chair, cross my arms, and smile. I won’t go so far as saying I agree with every decision made around here, I know from firsthand experience how much worse it can be for a working stiff somewhere near the middle of the pack. I’ll nod at the appropriate intervals in feigned agreement, but on the inside I know that unless they have served the Walrus King, even the worst of their stories falls somewhere inside the range of “eh, that’s not so bad.”
I didn’t realize it until quite recently, but my time in the Office of the Damned has completely recalibrated my sense of good and bad work experiences. What a normal person would call good is beyond my scale completely now. Bad falls somewhere in the range of what I think as acceptable. The entire bottom half of the scale is occupied by things I’ve only seen the Walrus do. In almost ten months, even the worst days have never been close to dropping onto the bottom half of the scale. Destroying my ability to see “normal” bad situations as being actually bad might be the only good thing the Walrus King did for me.
Sure, it’s warped my sense of reality probably beyond any hope of repair, but that’s a relatively small price to pay for not being the least bit bothered by what sends those around me into a red-eyed fury.
I started this blog on February 14th, 2011 mostly in an effort to shed some of the frustration of working in an environment I increasingly found to be intolerable. The good news is that I’m now working in an office that’s much more tolerable, even if it’s still plenty annoying. The bad news, of course, is that regular everyday annoying doesn’t lend itself to great narrative. The worse news is that I’ve made the decision to hang up my spurs for a while and focus on other writing projects I’ve been struggling to find time to take on.
So here’s the bottom line: This will be my last regularly scheduled post here at Apathy
I want to take the time to thank those of you who joined me on this adventure. Thanks for reading and commenting. Thanks for reminding me that no matter how stupid things get, they’re just as bad if not worse somewhere else.
I don’t think this is goodbye forever, because the chances of me shutting up that long are pretty slim. Of course I’ll check in from time to time and whenever something really gets under my skin, I’ll be right back here railing against it with every bit of indignation I can muster.
In the meantime, don’t forget that Apathy is also available in ebook format. Search for Servus Publicus on Amazon or Barnes & Nobel and you’ll find me there. I’m working diligently on wrapping up Book 5 of Servant of the Republic and will get it posted just as soon as it’s finished. I’ve still got a few ideas up my sleeve for future projects, so hopefully this won’t be the end, just a start in different direction.
Again, thanks for sticking with me.