Thursday, March 08, 2007

Staying on the Rail Due to Work

GAMBLING EXPERTS WILL TELL you it's unwise to head to the local casino or card game under certain circumstances. Almost every introductory book I've read on poker or gambling recommends that one should steer clear if one is sick, in a negative emotional state (angry, depressed, etc.), drunk, or high. I have seen players violate just about every one of these conditions, sometimes two or more at once, in their haste to wedge into a busy poker table. In my case, however, heeding this rule has kept me from plunging straight into the financial basement on more than one occasion.

I declined to play poker this week, the second Thursday in two that I have opted out, for just this reason. It's been a very trying week at work, even with Tuesday off. After a few days of having virtually nothing to do, I have gotten considerably busier. The outsourcing geeks have somehow managed to commit multiple simultaneous errors, all of them in areas where we have administered lessons on how to do these things correctly. Worse, it looks like we are being lied to on the question of whether they have switched away from their piece-of-shit proprietary software and to the big-label package we've used in house and in which we were promised they would typeset materials from the get-go.

From a couple of cubes away, my supervisor and I probably sound like we're reading the script to Casino or Glengarry Glen Ross, based on the oaths and obscenities with which we've been fogging the air. Early in the process of uploading our archives to the outsourcing FTP site, she shared with me and the two junior designers how much resistance she had gotten from our old boss and the director to get details on what would be expected of us. She swore more in those 15 minutes than I had heard her swear in the previous year. As time wore on, and as we realized just how much of a line of shit had been sold to our bosses about the competency of the offshore type-twits, this frank and blue lingo began emanating from our respective cubes. Keep in mind we were switching printers at the same time. I actually dropped the C-bomb when my super showed me one of the print rep's antagonistic, cc:'d-to-everyone replies to her email. That it was not cited as out of line, or even noticed, shows you how angry my super also may have been.

What doesn't help is that our current boss is now juggling our woes, the hapless efforts of the person who will traffic all of the jobs after we're gone, and a full roster of responsibilities that preceded our move to her part of the org chart. She is overwhelmed. Our emails about problems are a few of several hundred she gets per day. She is routinely about five emails behind the current state of any problem, so it's better to address any glitches verbally. This leaves no paper trail, though, which above and beyond the horse-shit cowardice of the modern workplace this represents, denies us the simple ability to figure out just what the fuck we've done to solve any given problem unless we take notes. Also, she simply has no feel for the finer aspects of our jobs. On one hand, she is expected to enact our director's desire to have the offshore group replicate our jobs, but on the other they conflate the jobs of compositor (which is all the people who lay out our lackluster books can really be called) and designer (which more accurately represents the range of duties in executing attractive, print-ready newsletters). We bring concerns about poor quality to their attention, but we are told not to worry about such details. Yet when the trafficker-to-be complains that she doesn't know how to train her design staff (which, being hired by her, must have questionable skill), suddenly our expertise has to be transmitted in haste.

I watched my supervisor write a sharply worded note to our boss and this trafficker to highlight how deeply they are screwed if they think they can get by with a superficial knowledge of what we do. I've mentioned to her that our bosses are best served by making a list of those points and skills most important for them to know before we leave, and I think she's made this point to them. No reply. Nor do I anticipate any.

What worries me is that I am having great difficulty in keeping my anger at the situation from spilling over to other aspects. People braying into cellphones on the train, once merely vexing, now make my blood boil. Certified assholes at work are in increasing danger of getting a very honest, terse assessment from me of exactly what I think of them. As I ride the PATH into the city, my reflection is sullen, eyes glowering from above dark bags. On the routine trip, the reflection looks defeated and tired. I can't keep letting my system rev itself up with such fury. And I am sick and tired of filling this innocent blog with this shit. I only have so many words I can record before I am done, even if that moment is decades away. I cannot wait for this pointless job to cease monopolizing my existence.

Once that's squared away, maybe then I can settle back into my appointed seat at the poker table and enjoy some relaxing hours of cards. I would much prefer the reason my heart rate goes off the scales to be flopping a full house.

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