Paper jam

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I’d really like to thank whichever co-worker(s) continually jams the paper towel dispenser in the bathroom. It takes talent to do it on a regular basis and make it so others can’t use it.

Pulling the paper out and away from the dispenser has proven time and again to be the most effective way to use the dispenser. The cutter inside the machine works best that way. It cuts the paper towels just like it supposed to.

But whomever is doing this jamming thing, consistently pulls the paper towels sideways thus gathing all the paper in the corner, bunching the paper into a wad and rendering the cutter ineffective because it isn’t in that part of the dispenser. The next time the autofeed runs (because it is a sensor) it rolls the paper up into a tangle inside the machine, further jamming the dispenser even more.

It’s a pretty simple design and the function is also pretty simple. So, making it complicated can only mean that the person doing this is a moron. Continually a moron.

Thanks, moron.

Perhaps they need to have a paper towel dispenser orientation in the bathroom during the building tour given to new hires. It seems silly but is likely the only solution to this problem.

Just mediocre

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I have a meeting with my supervisor, or manager, later today. It’s kind of a “check-in” and not an evaluation or anything like that. It’s a time to just chat about how things are going, visit, and a time to voice concerns, suggestions, etc.

So, the meeting usually starts with the same question, or the same line of questions – “How’s it going? How are you feeling?”

Over the last several years, it been getting harder and harder to answer those questions. Do I really (I mean REALLY) tell the truth or do I just minimize what or how I am feeling and fudge the truth? In the past, it never felt like I needed to hedge the truth (much). I felt like I could be honest. But, as time has gone on, there isn’t the same feeling with my manager, isn’t the same feeling in the team, and isn’t the same feeling in the organization. It’s hard to pinpoint the change, but much of it stems from the feeling that management is no longer listening to what we need or want, isn’t willing to be work with people, and then really that translates to they don’t really care what the employees telling them. Granted, it’s a government job of sorts, so that hasn’t ever really been totally true but over the last several years it has not gone in a positive direction.

What do I say this afternoon?

Well, for one thing I will say that I don’t feel like I am doing the best job I possibly can. It has become increasingly difficult to do a good job.

Part of the reason is because our team has shrunk over the last year and it has been an incredibly slow process of bringing on people to replace those we have lost. There have been three new hires since the beginning of the year, but it takes time to get them up to speed (they have three years to be “proficient”) so they don’t contribute to an even distribution of the workload. Their knowledge base just doesn’t afford for that to happen. Additionally, because everyone has had to pick up extra slack, the projects we need to work on and the new knowledge we need to develop as experience software analysts can’t be done. Everything gets put on hold.

Another part of the problem is that we are supporting two different versions of the software at the same time. The migration process that was originally thought to take three years has turned into a disappointingly difficult process because of the poor development from the software creator. As such, there have been so many hurdles to overcome, software issues in the newer version of the software, that the process is now running on five years and there is at least another 3-5 to go before everyone is back to using the same software again. Learning and troubleshooting the newer version is slow, tedious, and unpredictable because when there are issues we are never sure if that is the way it was designed and supposed to work or if it is broken and needs fixed. Then trying to get the creator to make it work like schools need it to work (or at least similarly as the current software they already know and use) has been frustrating and tiring.

Needless to say, I don’t feel like I can give the clients the best of my efforts. I am spread too thin, can’t focus on much of anything without getting more duties, additional tasks, or trying to learn something new in either software. The best I can do is just mediocre.

Anyone feel like mediocre is a good thing?

I realize sometimes you just hang on and hope that things get better. It might. But how long do you hang on?

If my manager asks if I was looking for a different job, I probably would have to say that I am not actively looking but my eyes are open to other opportunities. I don’t have any at the moment, but if the right one came along I can’t say that I wouldn’t seriously consider it and jump ship if it was right for me. It’s not that I am unhappy, it’s just that I am not happy either.

Make sense? Probably not.

Mediocre.

I hate that.

Overly distracted

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It’s hard to focus today. There are so many things going on in the office today that it doesn’t help. They have been shuffling, reimagining, rearranging, moving, reorganizing, whatever you want to call it, the office space. Cubes are moving people are shifting noise is being made. Besides all that distraction, there is more going on inside me.

It seems like there are a hundred different things going on in my head at any one time.

I can think of 30 other places I’d like to be other than at work.

I have 50 things I’d rather be doing than working.

I can think of probably 5 (maybe more) people I’d rather be spending time with.

Can’t say that I am the ideal employee today.

Maybe tomorrow will be better.

Retirement envy

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It hit me this week that I am having a serious case of retirement envy. I don’t think there is an official diagnosis for this sort of thing, but I have found as I have co-workers retiring or coming up on retirement (one retired this month, one coming at the end of the year, and at least two in the next two years) that I am extremely envious of the life they are entering or going to be entering.

Having turned 50 near the start of the year, it has gotten me thinking about the future and what I want that future to look like. I have heard talk of those who are (or have) retiring that they hit the 30/62 threshold (30 years, age 62) and it made sense for them to step away from the work world. Immediately I have started thinking, “Is that an option for me? Could I really have only 12 years left if done right? Or, am I a 15-17 year person?”

There is, of course, a trade off with retirement. The obvious one is that you are trading age for income, unless you are extremely successful or independently wealthy. To retire earlier, you need money that will support your current lifestyle and last. To retire later, you have to age (get older) to a point where enjoying the retirement years could be jeopardized by the uncertainty of health. There is no perfect answer here.

I am just finding I want the life they are about to get. Envy. The life I would like to lead right now and enjoy seems so far off and I want to be young enough and healthy enough to really enjoy it!

I know I need to set up a meeting with a financial advisor and actually get a better, more complete picture of what needs to be done to make the picture in my head a reality. It is on the agenda for this month. The envy is causing me to get anxious to see what really needs to be done at this point.

Anyone with some experience have some helpful tips or tricks? Advice that would suddenly make the picture more clear and the path forward easier?

Suddenly sucks

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Work.

There is too much of it, so I write a blog post about it instead.

Seems fair.

I am actually procrastinating because I don’t really want to dive into the overwhelming list of things that needs to get done. It seems the list continues to grow every day and I am not taking many things off of it.

Work suddenly sucks. I never really thought it would get this way. Don’t get me wrong, I still like what I do and the people I work with, but there is generally a feeling of dread each morning before I go to work…and I am exhausted when I am done with it.

Our normal team of 17 is down to 14. Well, 14 and a quarter.

I say a quarter because we recently hired someone to replace a co-worker that left back in October. But, he thing with this hire is that the management went with someone who has no background, no history, no knowledge of the software at all. The new hire has a lot of technical skill from their time in the military, but no skills that actually help the team at the moment, and likely won’t really contribute to the team in a meaningful sense for probably a year. The new hire will be great once up to speed, but in the meantime it will be painful for the rest of us.

The reason we are so far behind in hiring is that we had two co-workers leave to go to other jobs in the same field at about the same time. One of those people had 18 years of experience and knowledge go with them and the other had about two years of direct knowledge and many years of ancillary knowledge go with them. We have only replaced one of them.

We also had a co-worker die recently from an extended battle with lung cancer. Again, there was many years of experience and knowledge lost as a result. We all felt this loss in different ways and we are all trying to pick up the slack since it happened. The co-worker had actually been working all the way up to two weeks before their death.

So, if you are keeping track, we are down two (basically three) positions and there is also an impending retirement coming up in the next several months. Then we will be down three (basically four) positions. They have just posted the position for one of the jobs…and we’re all hoping for some really outstanding, qualified, and experience candidates. The problem is that they are only going to be replacing one at this point.

I’m just tired. And overwhelmed.

It has to get better soon.

Policies, policies

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I have found myself stuck between two policies at work. The policies have forced me to take a “sick vacation.”

So, this last weekend I was sick again. The second time in two months. Normally I have a pretty good immune system, but apparently the cold/flu season is going to be coming back this year. So, of course, with the cold comes all the congestion, runny nose, cough, a general miserableness. No fever though, thankfully. I was a couple nights of discomfort over the weekend but not too bad.

Yesterday, I was telecommuting (my normal days are Monday, Thursday, and Friday) and mentioned that I hadn’t felt good most of the weekend but was recovering fine. I was considering flipping my telecommute days so that I could stay home a couple more days in a row just to let the symptoms subside a bit more when I was told that I would need to have a negative Covid test before I could go back to work at the office. WTH? I talked with my manager (she isn’t happy about the policy either because it creates a lot of stress for the whole team) and with the telecommute policy limited to 60% of the month and a holiday coming up, switching days just wouldn’t work. Since that is the case, I am forced to take two sick days while I seek out a test and wait for results.

Seek out. Yes, I have to seek out a test. Weird, isn’t it?

Remember “back in the old days” of this whole thing you could go some place, drive thru and be done in 15-20 minutes? Not so much now.

In a world that is entirely consumed with fear about covid and makes irrational policies about what you can and can’t do, you would think that finding a place and opportunity to get a test done would be ample. Not so much! In my community and surrounding area (within about a 20 minute drive) there are roughly 10 places to get a test. More than half of those places require an appointment. At least three of those places are “urgent care” facilities and require long waits (don’t get me started) and a full charge visit to a doctor. Most of those places don’t even do a test for you unless you are “symptomatic.” For all intents and purposes, anyone looking to get a test done would likely have to take time off work to get one done.

Good grief.

All this fear but no one seems to want to make it easy to find out if you have it or not.

All this just to go back to an office I really don’t want to go back to in the first place because I can do my job anywhere with internet.

Friggin’ world is backwards.

Whose fault?

Alright, it’s time to find out who is to blame for this stuff. I analyze software as part of my job, but I have always been an analyst of sorts – even as a history teacher. Now, I am all about “root cause” and, frankly, I wanna know who to blame for the travesty that is grossly flavored coffee beans.

Who wakes up one morning and says, “Ya know, I think I would like some carrot cake coffee.” If you thought that, I call BS. This back of coffee grounds showed up by the community coffee maker and now I have to look at it every time I go to get more coffee. Why are they sharing it with others?

So, who is ultimately to blame for the existence of such crap? Is it the person/company that makes the beans, or is it the consumer who actually spends good money on the final product?

Would you buy this…garbage? If you would, WHY would you? I certainly wouldn’t, as I am sure you can tell by now.

Put a vote in to comments about who is to blame, company or consumer? What other gross flavors have you seen on the store shelves and thought, “WTH?”

Afternoon drag

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I take a late lunch. I take a late lunch on purpose. I most typically take my lunch at 1:00pm so that there is less time at the end of the day. I am off at 4:30pm, so there is 2.5 hours of the work day left when I get back from lunch. But, as of late, I have noticed a problem.

The afternoon is dragging after lunch.

Like. Seriously. Dragging.

That 2.5 hours between the return from lunch and the end of the work day seem just as long as the first 5.5 hours of the day. What’s the deal with that?

There has got to be a reasonable answer for this but I am just not finding it. Instead I spend the afternoon watching the clock and hoping that somehow the end of the day gets there faster than possible in the time/space continuum.

I make coffee.

I go to the bathroom.

I visit co-workers (when I am in the office).

I work on the never ending list of work.

Nothing works.

Why are afternoons so hard? Do you know?

Tough conversations

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Anyone else tired of having tough conversations?

If you fall into the above category, would you just rather punch people in the throat instead?

Yeah, me too.

If you don’t fall into the above category, would you just rather punch people in the throat than have a conversation?

Yeah, me too.

The truth of the matter is that if you punch someone in the throat, having any conversation is just difficult for them and they just have to listen.

“Conversation had.”

Let’s move on.

What changed?

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Dear family, friends, and co-workers,

I haven’t changed.

I am the same person you liked. The same person you enjoyed hanging out with. Dare I say that you may have even “loved” me?

I still strive to do my very best every day. I still make the same lame jokes you’ve laughed at in the past. I still have hopes, dreams, fears, and challenges, just like I did when we last talked or saw each other. I still make mistakes. I still have successes. I am the same today, as I was yesterday, and will be tomorrow.

I haven’t become the evil you seem to think I have, or that the world is telling you that I am.

So what has changed for you?

I feel your stare when I walk into the room. I hear your whispered conversations when you think I can’t hear you. I feel you treating me, seeing me, thinking of me differently than before. I feel the weight of your opinion about me.

You’ve always told me not to discriminate, to not treat people differently, to “walk in their shoes” for a while. You’ve always told me not to judge people based on their skin color, their economic status, whether they had a home or not, their sexual preference, their religion, their sex, their national origin, their political party, their language, or any number of other things.

Why has that changed for you now? Is it ok to discriminate against me because my choices are different than yours?

Whether I am not vaccinated or I am, does that make me a different person than I was the last time we interacted?

Why is it now necessary for me to feel the need to announce my status when I walk into a building? Attend a function? Arrive at work? Go out to eat? Receive medical treatment? Hang out with you?

Why is it ok for some to give me unlimited access and for others to deny me access completely? Why do some get special treatment and others no treatment at all? Why is this type of discrimination acceptable but others aren’t?

I haven’t changed.

But, for whatever reason, your fear seems to have changed you.

I am the same as I was before. You are not.

I still want the same things you want. That hasn’t changed.

So why are you letting something so little stand in the way of how it used to be?

I am not vaccinated.

I am vaccinated.

Does it really matter in the end?

I am human. You are human. Let’s treat each other like it.

That is all that really matters.