Eric (datan0de) wrote,

Work Sucks / Perspective

Lately, my situation at work has been awful. At a time when we were just able to stay on top of the workload, someone in the home office decided to cut IT staff across the board. My Minion, unfortunately, was one of the victims. It was worse for him of course, losing his job through no fault of his own at a time of year when most of the industry is in a hiring freeze. For us it was bad too, coming during the middle of a less-than-ideal OS rollout. The two of us who are left are trying to manage, but a 33% staff cut with no reduction of workload takes a toll, both on us an on our stats.

There was a time when I would’ve responded as I’d done in the past- working a crapload of overtime (generally off the clock) and doing whatever was necessary to keep the ship afloat and the users happy. Minion’s loss, however, has changed the equation both for me and for my more-or-less boss. We still work hard, but only for our shift. At the end of the day, we go home. My motto has been “I’ll bust my ass for 9 hours, but after that I don’t care what happens.”

I’ve been pretty good about keeping to the no-overtime rule, but I’m not doing as well with the “not caring” part. After 20 years at The Company, whether I ought to be or not I’m emotionally invested in the operation and my users. Right now it’s getting worse. My boss is taking some much deserved vacation last week and this week, putting us at 1/3 of our manageable staff level. Other sites are trying to chip in remotely, but the difference they’re making is negligible (and in some cases making things worse). And on top of all that we just had a major software rollout and are discovering too late that it wasn’t adequately tested (or tested at all?) with the applications we use at our site.

In short, we’re horribly understaffed, everything is breaking, and there’s only so much I can do to help. That last bit is the part that bothers me the most, as to the users I’m basically the face of IT. It doesn’t matter that the problems are caused by staffing decisions made at the home office and developers somewhere else on the planet. It’s my job to be the hero who fixes everything. And I can’t.

As I left work tonight, I felt beaten, helpless, and emotionally drained. I was spent, and just wanted to go back to bed (which I’ll be doing as soon as I post this). I recognized the feeling. It’s been almost 3 years, but I used to feel this way about every other day. The difference is that back then it wasn’t because of work, and it didn’t happen at the end of the day. It was before I even left the house in the morning, and work was the place I would flee to, rather than from. It's still depressing and a big trigger, but nothing like before.

That bit of perspective doesn’t actually make me feel much better about the current situation, but it does reinforce my appreciation of having a loving family and a stable, safe home.

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