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Blow-up at work – nice

Posted Aug 14 2012 12:00am

I’m being facetious here. There was nothing “nice” about it. Basically, my boss’es boss, who has been riding all our asses for weeks, if not months on end, pushed a little too hard yesterday, and I lost it. I blew up. Compared to how I felt, my outburst was relatively minor. But compared to the standards I hold myself to, it was way out of line.

This has been the culmination of weeks of hounding, innuendo, passive-aggressive comments, hints, tests, and general picking at me and the work I do. I’m not sure what precipitated it no, I know what precipitated it: the Boss (capital B) has been running around the company making all sorts of statements that they can’t back up, in order to impress people or create the right impression. Meanwhile, they don’t have a very good handle on what exactly is going on, and when you tell them, they’re obviously thinking about other things. So, they don’t have the right information to base their statements on.

At times, they know they don’t have the right information, and then they think that they can press their department into making it happen the way they described it to others. The only problem is (it’s actually not the only problem, but it’s a big one) the rest of us who do the work are so over-taxed trying to keep up with making good on the other promises they made, once upon a time, that we just don’t have the extra bandwidth to make it happen.

And then it all comes down on us.

Which is a pretty rotten way to run things. It’s called running your people into the ground.

Anyway, over the past year especially since the move to the new building and its god-awful configuration which seems designed to prevent you from getting any real work done things have gone steadily downhill. I’ve tried to keep up, but I have not succeeded at it. I’ve told my immediate boss that I’ve been having trouble keeping up with everything, and they know it, but that doesn’t fly well. I really don’t think it’s all me. I really don’t think it’s the TBI. I think it’s the way things have been run. I could probably have done a better job of communicating what’s been happening over time, and all the things that need to be fixed. I think I’ve tried to some extent, but it’s tended to fall on deaf ears. The reason I haven’t bent over backwards to communicate these things, is because the “solution” always seems to be to get rid of some really key projects that are critical to the business but which are “competition” with the Boss’es own agenda. So, I’ve settled for having things 3/4-baked, instead of 100% perfect.

Plus, admitting that I need help with my workload puts me in a compromised position not that my position is all that fantastic, anyway. This Boss has made it abundantly clear that they’re not comfortable with me, that they would rather avoid me, and that they think the projects I’m working on are just not “strategically significant”. So there you go.

Anyway, the bottom line is, yesterday they pushed just a little bit too hard in a meeting we had about this work that needs help, complaining about my work to someone else who is being brought on to help. They just kept poking and poking and pushing and pushing and going on and on about how these projects are in terrible condition and it makes us look bad, and we’re going to get “killed” by our critics.

I could feel myself getting really hot under the collar, and I wanted to just get the hell out of that meeting and get on with just taking care of things. I kept talking myself down, trying to get myself to settle and chill and not lose it. But they wouldn’t let up.

After the meeting was over, I gathered my things and got ready to go. I wasn’t making eye contact and I wasn’t saying much. Then the Boss asks me “…What?”

I sat back down and told them that I had seen this coming, and that I knew this was going to happen – that for two years I’ve been fighting to keep these projects going, despite being told explicitly to not do as much on them as needed to be done. I was told a number of times by two different bosses (including the Boss I was addressing) that I shouldn’t spend so much time on those projects even though the people at the top had them at the top of their priorities list. And so I had to pick and choose what didn’t get done. I also said that the way things were done is not at all smart, that shit just gets thrown together and then we have to spend all our time fixing shit that’s broken. I also had some choice words laced with profanity about what f’ing bullshit it is to be told one thing, to fight (in vain) to make it different and make it work, then have the very people who created the mess come around and bitch and complain about how things are fucked up and why isn’t it fixed?

It’s the same thing as when I had been working overtime on a major project last year, and this Boss told me I should take Friday off, since I’d been putting in so many hours. I did take Friday off, and everyone was running around looking for me… and then I get back on Monday and this boss asks me why I took Friday off… and how everyone was pissed off that I was out.

I didn’t go into that, but when I leave, that will be one of the instances I’ll cite. They just keep doing this telling me/us to do one thing, and then when that doesn’t work out, they come down on me/us like a ton of bricks.

Meanwhile, on Friday, one of my coworkers who sits near me and does the same sort of work that I do, had to leave work because they went blind from a migraine. All of a sudden, they lost vision in one eye. And then the other started to go. They had to be driven home from work.

Nice.

So, anyway, back to my debacle. In hindsight, it probably wasn’t the biggest monumental deal of the century, and there are plenty of people who have gone off as bad or worse. And my coworkers have had their own share of meltdowns and bitch sessions with this Boss. But I never do that. It’s not my thing. At least, I make a concerted effort to have it never be my thing. I can do better than that, and the whole experience left me feeling nauseated and shaky.

Probably just the adrenaline. But all the same, it felt like shit.

And I think I freaked out my boss and their Boss. ‘Cause I was really, really bullshit about the whole situation. I know they’ve never seen me like that. And they’ll never see me like that again. I’ve got like six weeks that I HAVE to be there. And I’m getting some good leads on what’s next for me. So, I’m not particularly worried about my job situation. Even if they do try to trash me, screw ‘em. I can contract for the rest of my born days and make good money and not have to worry about living up to employers’/bosses’ skewed expectations about their “investment in my talent”.

Jesus, I hate corporate speak. I hate the organizational crap. And I hate how they paint you into a corner with a “permanent” full-time salaried job. Please. It just feels like a trap, half the time. And since I don’t have any kids and I don’t plan to retire and I don’t really give a damn about titles and prestige and power-brokering, why the hell should I get locked into that game? It’s so tiresome. The emperor has no clothes. It all just gets in the way.

Please, just put me in front of a computer in a quiet space, and let me do my work. Let me create code. Let me build things that haven’t been built before. Is that so hard?

Anyway, now I have to keep chill and buckle down and just get this crap done. I just want to put the finishing touches on the pieces that I’ve been responsible for, and call it a day. I cannot WAIT to move on. It’s been interesting and I’ve learned a lot, but when the Boss is jealous of your popularity (and after not wanting to think that for the past year or so, I’m suspecting it may be true) and they see your success as eclipsing their own oh, and they steal your ideas and take major credit for them there’s only so much you can do. I can keep succeeding and keep living as a target for a Boss who wants nothing more than to cut me down to size, or I can move on.

Hmmm… choices, choices… Not. This one is easy.

Now, of course no job is perfect, and where people are involved, there will always be elements of this. But I don’t have to put myself in a situation where my survival depends on it. I really need work where I can be measured not by people’s approval ratings and the number of things I tick off in my to-do list each day, but by the quality of the work I do. And that really comes with a more technical focus a machine won’t play games with me. It’s very simple: I either get it right or not. It won’t use innuendo or backhanded compliments to steer me in one direction or another. It will simply say “yes” or “no” and if it says “no” I can always try again.

So, that’s my exciting life, these days a power-tripping Boss who is in over their head and is beating up on their minions when things don’t work out (which they often don’t), a bunch of work that I finally have the leeway to complete. And the hope of a new day… in about 6 weeks.

Well, it’s about time for me to get going. I got almost 7 hours of sleep last night feel asleep on the couch while watching t.v., then headed to bed around midnight. I got about 5 hours continuous sleep, which could be better, but at least I got a couple of hours prior to that. It’s all a friggin’ process, I know. And it’s all experience that I’ll be able to use later. But right now, things kind of suck, I feel like a crappy failure, and all I can do is keep bailing, while trying to steer the boat in the right direction.

Oh, well. At least I’m still here. That’s something.

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