Saturday, February 02, 2008

And Then There Was One

NOT SURE HOW I CAN finish this post in one shot, because thinking about the situation behind it makes me want to put my head between my legs until I can breathe deeply again, but things at my once-pleasant job have gone just about completely off the deep end. The remaining non-manager on the magazine — the other senior editor — has given her 2 weeks' notice.

Things were frenzied enough during the past couple of weeks with my supervisor gone. We lost the first two days of this week to a training symposium, which — though very interesting and crammed with useful ideas — took me away from my work. Owing to lax practices, I had to help clarify some issues pertaining to the continuing professional education we offer in the magazine, both by fixing a disclosure omission from a previous issue, and (after spotting the same problem in the current issue) tracking the same sort of info for a current contributor so I wouldn't have to hear about this from our certification partner 4 months down the road. Each time I had to defuse such a bomb, I was taken away from completing the current-month issue, which just gets more grievously delayed. I did pause briefly on Thursday to email my friend and supervisor from the last job to see if she'd won Mega Millions so I could marry rich, but sadly Fortune has not rained any manna onto her aside from her outstanding brains and looks. As I have neither to offer in return, I returned to my mounds of work.

Friday was fucked from the git-go—forgot my headphones on the way to the gym, crampy muscles, slow going getting out of the house to work, fonts blowing up in Quark after an "upgrade," and a work bathroom that reeked of freshly decanted hurl—so when the other senior editor waved me into an empty office at midmorning, I knew what was coming. She's leaving for the same reason as the other two staffers: our mutual department head. I have to wonder what's keeping the management at this joint from noticing the pattern.

Said department head called me later on in the day, after she'd gotten word that I was in the know, to let me know they weren't killing the job or going to dismiss me. By that point, I was in such shock that I wouldn't have complained if they had. Compared to my mental state during the day of my layoff, I was utterly derailed.

Keep in mind that current conditions of "doing more with less" have already cost one of my coworkers his well-being. The staff artist was so wound up with stress from inheriting the work of two laid-off fellow designers, and the prospect of switching away from our tried-and-true workflow in favor of new text-handling software and from Quark to InDesign, that he blacked out in the middle of a training class. He's not the first person I've known to have the pressures of a job contribute to a breakdown.

With my computer snarled due to the font issue, the future at the magazine looking even grimmer than when my former boss struggled to get it published a year ago while down only one person, and the possibility of having to return to the job market in the early phase of a recession, I felt myself getting a little panicky, with shortness of breath and lightheadedness similar to what I felt at the WFMU Record Fair. This time I couldn't attribute it to a caffeine overdose. I rode out the rest of the day in a busy haze, trying to keep things moving by working on our artist's computer, and fielding a blizzard of emails from our boss — the cause of our problems — without answering any of them with a Harlan Ellison–like peroration of invective.

I left under a driving rain and drove home feeling like I'd been awake for 3 days. Cooking dinner was a laughable prospect. I wasn't even hungry. I posted my progress report, then finally wandered out onto the road, only to drive to a number of possible eateries and then just keep rolling, not wanting to take the effort even to look at a menu. Once back home, I finally calmed down enough to read several chapters of a book, then hit the hay.

I didn't really feel human today until I got two meals and an hour of cardiovascular exercise under my belt. I suppose getting a check for almost $28 out of the blue (security deposit interest) didn't hurt. I'm putting the next steps entirely out of my mind, and concentrating on light entertainments like a game night with Amy and Ratatosk and the Super Bowl tomorrow. I don't intend to stay in any situation that makes me unwell mentally or physically, and if the quesos grandes have some problem with that, well, they can add a fourth position to the want list.

No comments: