Sleep

It’s the one thing I miss most from my youth. I long for the days when I can actually sleep in past 6:30 or 7 am, not to mention actually being able to stay awake past 10 pm without constant stimulation.

The Creeping Crud

A week ago I paid a visit to my doctor for a routine checkup. By that afternoon my throat was scratchy and I was starting to feel decidedly under the weather. When I went to bed that night I was running a 101 degree fever and I’ve been feeling like crap since.

I was supposed to return to the doctor’s office the next day for a followup test, but I called and rescheduled. I wasn’t going anywhere.

The fever disappeared that night, so the following day—feeling much better— I decided to get out and run errands. Big mistake. That evening the fever returned with a vengeance. It broke later that night and I woke up drenched.

Thankfully there’s been no more fever, but as has been typical for these things, it’s progressed from a sore throat into my sinuses and down in my chest. Thank the baby Jeebus for Mucinex, although I’m now blowing/hacking up what I affectionately refer to as creamed corn. A little over a week has gone by since this started. If the past is any indication, I’ve got another week and a half to go before I’m feeling back to normal.

AND WE ARE NOT AMUSED.

I Work in a Frat House

We all hate our jobs from time to time. I get that. But it seems that since our relocation to Denver three years ago I can’t—in the immortal words of the Rolling Stones—get no satisfaction.

Yeah, there were days at my last job in Phoenix where I just couldn’t deal with the stupid coming from the user base I supported. And there were often times edicts coming down from corporate that left even my Director shaking his head in disbelief.

But the difference there was that no matter how ridiculous the edicts or how stupid the user base, I was part of a team; an extended family as it were. It was one of those rare, kismet moments in time where a group of people came together and everything just worked. We were there for each other, and when someone left to move on to other position, it was like we were losing not just a co-worker, but also a member of our family.

It is no secret among the people who know me that I hate interviewing. I mean it is with a white-hot passion that I hate interviewing.

It hasn’t always been that way; back when I was in the architectural profession all I had to do was bring in a set of drawings I’d done from any previous project and it proved my competency to a potential employer. But in this PC Desktop Support role, I don’t have anything to physically unroll in an interview to show that I know my stuff. So it generally comes down to some kind of technical test that I invariably fail.

While I’ve been doing this sort of work full time now for close to seventeen years, there are still gaps in my knowledge.  There is always at least one question where I’m thrown some acronym and expected to explain what it is and what it does. While I may understand the meaning behind those three little letters and the functions they represent, I come off as an idiot because I don’t know what those letters stand for. Other times I get asked questions about something that may be under the purview of a desktop support role at that particular company, but is out of my skill set because everywhere else I’ve worked those particular functions were handled by a different team and completely walled off from my job function.

So after quitting my last job and being out of work for two months, I considered it a small miracle that I actually managed to pass one of these ridiculous tests—scoring 100%  and also providing all the right answers to questions about how I view customer service—and landed a 3-month contract for a Windows 7 rollout project at ██████.

It took a very short time to realize this was not somewhere I wanted to work as a permanent employee. The level of distrust and paranoia was palpable; everything from the turnstiles that recorded your every coming and going to the pervasive video cameras watching your every move.

C’mon people. It’s an entertainment company, not the fucking CIA.

As was written in a recent review of the company:

“Absurd tracking of hours and entry/exit , stingy benefits, bitter co-workers, ridiculous expectations of work level. The company has no commitment to employee career growth or to employees in general. A suggestion? Don’t apply the lowest common denominator treatment to all of your employees. Not everyone needs to be tracked like a delinquent high school child. Mandatory one hour lunches? Badge Reports? Fingerprint Readers? Seriously who wants to work in that environment?”

After one of the full-time techs quit, my supervisor started asking if I (or the other two contractors they’d hired for this project) were interested in coming on full time. I was as noncommittal as possible, not wanting to do anything to jeopardize the guaranteed three month employment this contract offered, but privately—or at least as privately as possible considering we were constantly being monitored in our workroom by not one, but two webcams—I told my fellow contractors, “Not only no, but hell no!”

As time passed, however, my stance started to soften. I kept telling myself that I wasn’t particularly impressed with how the company was run at my last job in Phoenix when I started as a contractor there either—but after a lot of cajoling by my supervisor, I ended up going perm and staying seven years!

So when we were coming down to the final few weeks I asked what kind of pay I might expect if I came on full time. My supervisor quoted me a figure that was in line with what I was expecting (I was making substantially less as a contractor), and went ahead and told her I’d be interested in applying for the open position.

She was thrilled. She said the guys in the department really liked me and she felt I would be a great addition to the team.

But I would still have to go through the interview process, as if I’d walked in off the street. Apparently none of the previous three months meant anything. What the fuck? The last two times I went contractor-to-hire there was none of that.

First I met with Human Resources, who confirmed the salary that my supervisor had quoted me. Then I had two take two personality/intelligence tests. (I guess the blonde bimbos in H.R. got a free pass on those.) I must have passed them, because I proceeded to the next step, interviewing with my supervisor’s boss and the head of the I.T. division that desktop support and several other groups fell under.

This entire process set off alarms, but the promise of health insurance and benefits was more important, and since we are only planning on being in Denver another two years I figured I could live through whatever unpleasantness came my way at this company.

Apparently I said all the right things in those two interviews as well, because several days later I was told they wanted to make me an offer. I should mention that this whole process was done very quietly because one of the other contractors—who my supervisor confided had a snowball’s chance in hell of actually getting the job—had also applied.

At that point the whole process seemed to grind to a halt. Half a dozen people had to sign off before the final offer could be made.

The day before my contract was to end, I got a sheepish call from H.R. asking that I come by. I knew something was up. Everyone finally signed off on my hiring, but they wouldn’t pay me what I had initially been told. “We can pay your contract rate plus an offset to cover your insurance.”

FUCK. ME.

“██████ really fought to get you that figure, but corporate refused to sign off on it.”

I was livid, but since that initial salary figure hadn’t been written down, I had no recourse other than to accept it or walk away with nothing and hope against all odds I found another job before my next set of bills came due.

If I had known when this process started that there was going to be a last minute bait-and-switch I never would’ve agreed; I would’ve spent all that time actively looking for another job!

My supervisor apologized profusely, telling me she herself had just learned of this turn of events and promised that things would be rectified after my 90 day review. I talked to Ben, and after hashing things out with him, swallowed my pride and signed the paperwork.

And things have only gone downhill since.

And that 90 day review? Never happened, and frankly at this point I don’t give a fuck.

All I can say is that everything you’ve heard about ██████ is true. It most certainly deserves its dubious honor of being named one of the top two worst places in the country to work.

Being sequestered off in that workroom, separate from the rest of the desktop support (or the much more utilitarian “PC Techs” that seems to match our janitorial position) didn’t really allow me to make an accurate assessment of my coworkers or the work environment itself.

Now, four months into this “permanent” gig, I tell people I work at a fucking frat house. My coworkers are a group of 30-50 year-old men who seem to have the emotional maturity of 12 year olds.

The entire department is one big peanut gallery; no one can say anything without some, off-the-cuff remark being hurled. Objects are thrown across the room. Frankly, I’m surprised the whole lot of them haven’t been hauled into H.R. because of the things I’ve overheard said—both among themselves and directly to our customers.

There’s one other gay guy in the department. Normally this would mean a fun working environment, but this man is a walking ball of anger management issues. He will fly off the handle if cords are not wrapped just so around monitors returned to stock. We live in mortal fear of his outbursts every time we place anything in or remove anything from the stock room.

Events that have been strictly voluntary everywhere else I’ve worked (potlucks, department lunches, company outings) are mandatory at ██████. And yes, people notice when you’re not there.

And did I mention the uniforms? Yes, uniforms. I have never worked anywhere as a desktop technician where I was expected to wear a uniform four days a week (surprisingly we do have company-wide casual Fridays). It consists of a 100% polyester black golf shirt and a cotton/poly blend black cargo pant, both of which are prominently emblazoned with the ██████ company logo. Classy.

Okay, I have to admit I knew about the clothing requirements going in, and I didn’t figure that would be an issue. But every morning when I put on those clothes I feel like a little piece of my soul drains away. There are only two other groups of employees who are expected to wear company supplied uniforms: the kitchen and janitorial staff. Tells me a lot about just how we’re viewed by management.

And the color choice? Apparently it wasn’t always basic black. At one time it was a white dress shirt and beige khakis. So why the change?

Well, I have nothing to back this up, but because our work area is absolutely plastered with WWE posters (straight men are weird), and the referees in the matches are dressed all in black I’m sure this had something to do with the color choice.

I only learned last Friday that as PC techs, we have ticket quotas. No one will tell you exactly how many tickets you’re supposed to close on a daily basis, but if one ticket took you an entire day to properly resolve, it will count against you—no matter what the issue was. In our weekly meeting this was pointed out, and a story was relayed how during the last purge (yes, they called it that), a tech was let go simply because he had the lowest numbers in the department. It didn’t matter if he was meeting these unspecified goals or not; he was viewed as the lowest performer and escorted from the building.

Is it wrong that I thought, “Please god, let there be another purge and may I find myself in that bottom tier?”

I’ve worked several other places during my career that I came to despise. The job immediately prior to this one comes to mind, as well as a help desk job at a law firm in San Francisco (not Orrick, Herrington, Sutcliffe, which I adored until they swapped out management), an architectural firm also in SF (not Hogg & Mythen, where I stayed eight years), and two architectural firms in Tucson (both where I was micromanaged into quitting). But never have I come to hate a job as much and as quickly as my current position. I dread going in each and every morning, and every night I come home angry and exhausted.

I’ve reactivated my profiles on all the job boards; hopefully through all the noise of the offshore Indian agencies begging me for resumes, something good will come from a local company and maybe once again I can find myself somewhere that I actually look forward to going to work…