Jul 14, 2013

Bitter Shells

Wasn't I supposed to tell you about my week last week? And I completely forgot, haven't I? Well, stuff like that happens more often than we would like to admit. Now, what was so fabulous last week in my life, that wasn't related to my filofax or my future filofax - which is already in delay, thank you for asking - ? Well, hn, (I actually had to check my filofax, because my memory is really that bad) lets see: last week was an interesting week. I made some progress in the office, got a new shelving unit for my cubicle, so now all my files no longer crowd my desk, and then had some really interesting project assigned, which have given me the chance to go back to the academic part of my career and investigate a few old matters.

I also met with a few old coworkers from the company, who have drifted apart through the years thanks to oportunities and circumstances. Two of them - Julie and Dew - were my coworkers at my last place. Dew didn't work in the same process as me, but Julie did, however Dew and I often lunched together and talked a lot together about the terrible environment and the office perils that hung over our heads. The other coworker - Pat - used to be our coworker a long time ago, but she managed to move to another department and stay there, where she's very happy. We met on Friday through very particular circumstances. I had to do some reseach at the Economics and Industry Ministry building, which is at the South side of the park that separates my current workplace (at North) from my old one (South). By the time I finished, it was closing lunch time, so I decided to walk over to the Southern building, and see if I can have lunch with my old friends. I still remember their lunch schedule, and their lunch habits, so I called Julie and asked her if she would like to have lunch with me. To my surprise Julie was rather unfriendly and cut me short saying she was going with her friends to have some Argentinian food. Sad, and wondering why could she be so strangely mad at me, I walked around trying to figure out what would I like to eat. Eventually decided to go back North and have my lunch there.

However, as I was walking towads the pedestrian bridge, whom I see but Julie and Dew! I went over to greet them and saw still how stiff julie was with me. Dew, however, was welcoming and nice, and quickly invited me to lunch with them and Pat, so I joined them. We went to an Argentinian bistro at West, really close, where we met Pat, and ordered our lunch. Then the ladies started talking about work and a lot of terrible omens were discovered. Plans to lay down people and also plans to reform our payment system to turn it into a less friendly system that cuts back many of our current benefits, such as seniority payments (we are paid extra for each year we complete at the company), academic and career point recognitions (extra payment for degrees and further education and capacitation you receive), and then the subsidy we would receive in case of being laid off, or when we retire would also be sensibly cut back (currently we have this system where you receive 66% of your monthly payment for each year worked up to eight years, and then 66% of your monthly payment for each two years worked up to 24 years) among other things. I was also surprised to know that Julie was deeply unhappy with my former boss - the good one - and had mentioned to Dew that she was looking to move to the very area where I'm working now. I was happy, though I know that my current boss wouldn't accept her, given the fact that Dew has twice made a very, very poor job replacing me at the Regulator Canon calculation project.

It was strange to me that she would have said something to someone about wanting to go work were I work now and yet acted so unkindly with me, who could have put a good work for her with my boss. Julie is strange in that way. She lives a very unique life, up in her mind, which blurs completely the border between fantasy and reality. Her word is a fantasy realm more than anything else, which feeds on the morsels of reality that would fit into her very personal soap opera. She has also been wronged many times, which has covered her in a thick and bitter shell, under which she tucks all of her soft spots fearfully protecting them and never considering the possibility of doing something to strenghten them. Her bitter tongue and bittering behavior had slowly leaked into her work, where resentment weights more than knowledge, slowly making her drift to a point where she has lost her valuable skills and now floats in a cloud of utter inability. Younger heads raise to teh challenge around her and she resent them, but that resentment grows so strong and central in her life that it unables her from applying the vast knowledge she has and handicaps her from further evolving. Her protests are shut down and handled as annoying temper tantrums, even though more often than not she has been very accurate, and thus pushed into human obsolescense. At 50 she's now a workforce burden, a totem, a stone paid huge sums only to remain tucked in a cubicle clumsily staring at her computer and forwarding corky e-mails with corny music, corny colors and commonplaces disguised as wisdom.

She might resent me because I fled, I've got free and I had arms wide open waiting to catch me and hold me. The battle to keep me was also epic, and it had to reach to her, which only rubbed salt into her open wounds, seeing how another newby was fought for like a modern Hellen of Troy, while she was being given away like the lump everybody is eager to get rid off.

This week I talked over some of these things with my good friend Gis, who confirmed some of my theories, and sadly said she had not only heard about the deconstructing plans and the wage modifying forecasts, but that these were supposed to be pushed through this year. Gis and I are starting to talk more about her son and about healthy cooking. We do talk a lot about work, but our topics start to falter, and sometimes it's like talking much about work annoys her a little bit. Indeed in some places too much talking about the office only adds to the foul mood.

I believe that's also the case at our office.

As time goes by I start noticing much resentment at the office where I work. It's a strange place where the bosses seem often to be battered by the subordinates, who tend to act like the world owe them just for the mere fact of breathing. This past week a few thorns were discovered, where people who had made whining and demanding their battle horse, ran finally to the end of their means. The incompetence and buyyling of some of these sacred cows became shamefully to light and they could no longer pull the wool over the eyes of the director with their fake aggravated tones. It must have been horrendous to find those cans of worms unlidded and spilling right in front of the whole office. Some watch these unveilings with malevolent pleasure, even when they hold in their hands their own cans of worms with lids that no longer hold the disgusting contents.

Perhaps I'm simple minded, but even after all I've been through, I don't understand why so many people choose "waiting for others to notice" instead of "doing it themselves". It's like attempting to go to the Grandma's house, and instead of taking the road to her house, taking the opposite route and expecting the whole town to move Grandma's place into your path.

There's a lot of bad blood in that place, and you can see many people already eaten up by their emotional gangrene. They are all becoming the new Julies.


Sartassa said...

Wow, I have missed a lot. So your new job - still the same company but different department or different company at all?
You can count yourself lucky to got out of it before things got dirty. What a mayor step back to cut all those benefits. Have these people ever heard of progress?
I miss some of the benefits from my old job (flexible working hours and therefore friday afternoons off) but I still enjoy my new place. In addition, it's the same here, a few months after I left, things went crazy. All the middle management got sacked.
It's strange that your ex coworker seems to be angry with you though.


Storm Bunny said...

Hi there! Yes, it's still the same company, but a different department, and I'm so much happier here! My bos is very apporachable and though I'm still trying to fit like an economist among lawyers - which isn't easy - they are nice and always give me space to do my "numeric mambo-yambo".

As for the wage slashing... I believe they think that the Austerity Program in Greece is a "hit" and so they are replicating it. In the middle of the Costa Rican crisis, just to add to the growing unemployment rate, because they really think that that's the hip thing to do. However, as I think "they couldn't be more stupid" I remember the things the Hungarian Government does and I think again. Now they are really, really stupid.

I can't wait to hear more about your job!

Sartassa said...

Hey, now that sounds great
There will be more details in my letter to you :D (And you'll have to tell me everything)

oh dear, I didn't know Costa Rica had a crisis too - but in fact, it's easier to name those countries who haven't than the other way round. I'm sorry to hear that.