Friday, July 22, 2016

I Probably Don't Remember How To Work For Sane People

     I'm up to my earlobes in a huge project  -- a huge wrench'n'screwdriver and spending $2k on materiel three times a week project -- that I had kind of hoped to dodge.  And it is merely in support of a far larger (though entirely invisible to the suits up on Management Row) project, which seems to be jumping from vaporware to jackhammering without ever passing through that fiddly measuring tape and blueprints stage.

     All of that on top of ongoing capital projects left from earlier this year, on top of trying to catch up to much-deferred maintenance, on top of trying to repair a minor but critical system that the manufacturer went non-support on five years ago -- and it depends on another gadget that went the same way even earlier!

     --Not that any of that dull old stuff matters because -- shiny!  Can't you hear  the staccato siren song of something new and badly planned?  About the time I'll be able to come up for air on the huge project and the fifty ugly orphan ones it shadows, it'll be panic-fixit time on the actual mess it enables, as the sweeping lack of detail gives way to the hard, cold reality of trying to put 25 pounds of tech into a glitter-covered five-pound plastic purse.

     Once upon a time -- long ago and far away -- I worked at a trade where we put things down on paper in detail and planned and checked and revised and worked it all out just as well as we could before the first bit of framing or conduit was cut and shaped.  None of my co-workers will even pretend that they think such a process ever happened anywhere in our business; they scoff at trade magazine articles describing exactly that process as being a pack of self-serving lies.  They sincerely believe that everyone jumps out of the airplane with a mulberry bush, a couple of caterpillars and a pair of knitting needles, hoping to have a parachute made before impact.

     It may yet drive me plain batty.  Possibly even fancy batty, which is the same thing but with lace antimacassars.


Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

This is precisely the kind of thing that has me on track to retire from my current job at 62, even if I have to live in a brown paper sack in the middle of the road for the rest of my life.

JayNola said...

This seems fairly endemic in the engineering world. The only companies I've worked for that didn't employ their engineers as a quick reaction team were government contractors building multi year projects that had been funded for a couple years already.
Everywhere else is only interested in minimal manning and minimal planning.

Gewehr98 said...

"Materiel". I see what you did, there!

rickn8or said...

And remember, inside of every little problem is a big one struggling to get out.

You don't want to know what's trying to get out of a big problem.

Anonymous said...

I used to say that my job involved going to meetings were people yelled at me because I didn't know how to put 10 pounds into a 5 pound bag.

I quit.

My first question every morning after hitting snooze was, "When was the last time I called in sick and can I afford to do that today." That's no way to live your life.

Don't know if you've gotten to that point or not. But I hope things get better.

Read (or reread) Kipling's "The Gods of the Copybook Headings," and know that eventually all those people will end up in the School of Hard Knocks.

Keads said...


Anonymous said...

Well, continue to be one they can rely on to somehow make it all work.

Keep a look on your face of intense concentration tinged with worry while doing it.

Take all the time necessary via overtime to do it and sock that cash away...

Hammerbach said...

Same in my industry, sadly...

Old NFO said...

According to some folks, eBay is your friend on out of date equipment and repair parts... sigh

waepnedmann said...

I used to work in construction of very large projects.
This reminder was thumb tacked to the bulletin board.

The Six Phases of a Project




Search for the guilty

Punishment of the innocent

Praise and honours for the non-participants

I found that when a peon who pounded the nails or pulled the wire screwed up and made a $200 error the results were often termination.
When someone in management screwed up and made a $50,000 error they shrugged said oh well and decided they needed another vacation to Hawaii to relieve their stress.

LoFan John said...

I recall your account, some months ago, of your finishing some sudden-emergency "OMG you have to fix this for us right now!" extra job and saying to your boss that you were "done", then explaining that you meant "done with this crap". They talked you into staying. (Of course the house and the bills had something to do with it.) Not, repeat not, telling you what to do; but I believe that holding in anger and frustration contributes greatly to heart attacks and to high blood pressure. What do you have, at least ten years until possible retirement? That's a long time to dam up scorn and resentment and try to keep it from corroding things. Without doing anything hasty, maybe do a bit of careful looking. Maybe you already are doing so. Just speaking as one somewhat older and already retired. I think you have friends in the field. I hope you can find a place where you won't be taken for granted and then resented for being right.

Unknown said...

Just when I stop reading you for a couple of weeks, you come up with another well written tome. Can I steal the bit about the mulberry tree?

Unknown said...

Antimaccassar is my favorite word. I work it into conversations whenever possible.

Roberta X said...

Yes, the bit about the caterpillars and the mulberry tree is available for public use -- it's an image I want to spread, in the hopes it will encourage more planning.

LoFan John: This kind of pressure and frustration is endemic to my line of work. And I have 15 or 20 years until "retirement." Thing is, I have seen what retiring does to people, and I think I would rather work until I am dead.