Friday, August 25, 2006

Friday - Here We Go Again

Well ... where to begin?

For the last 8+ months now, things have been pretty stable, I suppose. In the grand scheme of things, events in our lives have been interesting and sometimes fun. Most of the time we've had has been all right.

There were, however, bumps in the road. Of course there were; life wouldn't be living if there weren't, right? And there were times when things got more exciting than I'd liked, but that's life.

Let me give some examples:

  • In March, one of the women that I worked with threw what I can only describe as a "hissy fit," much like you'd find being thrown by a toddler. It involved shouting, swearing, crying, statements like "I'm going home!" and "I'm not coming back here anymore!", and expletives that I wouldn't want to repeat even if I could remember them. The entire ordeal centered around the fact that she was refusing to do specific work assigned to her, and I questioned my manager about it, curious about how to re-route the work. It was determined that she couldn't refuse work, and that led to a discussion the following morning with another person in our group. This third person then confronted me, stating that if I had a complaint about the person refusing work, I should go to her, because she was -- and I quote precisely here -- "my lead." (In truth, I kind of believe she intended to say "my leige," but got tongue-tied in her frustration.) In this second person's loud and obnoxious confrontation of me, the first person (I really should assign names here to make this less confusing) overheard, and absolutely went ballistic in her ... I dunno ... rage? That led to the first person yelling and shouting about how I needed to keep my own "backyard clean" (I'm not sure to this day what the conversation had to do with yard maintenance, but then, I'm not that clever) and that I was immature (!). Yes, the person that was screaming, crying and swearing was accusing me of being immature. I think I laughed aloud, but I can't remember clearly. This led to a friend of mine confronting the second person (my "lead") about her laziness and poor leadership-by-example skills. He said things that had been on his mind for a while about this person, and it reduced her to tears. So now, we have two team members crying and swearing, hugging each other and trying to calm one another down, and my friend fuming, all because someone refused to do work that would have taken seconds to do. Go figure. As a side note, my friend ended up fired about five weeks later.
  • The tantrum woman was scheduled to complete her 2-year-maximum contract (she's a temp -- there's a surprise for you; what, no one will hire her? Why not?) in October. Back in June, my manager went to her and told her to find a job; she needed to do that, because there was no way in hell he was going to offer her a full-time job. All the rest of us knew is that the person that claimed to be my "lead" was really pushing hard to have her brought on full-time, and had to be told flatly that it just wasn't going to happen. Two weeks ago today, my manager pulled tantrum-woman aside and told her that, due to budget cuts, her contract was going to be canceled early. Early, as in, next Friday's your last day, so see ya. She took it pretty well; there were no fits or tantrums, though we had a pool going. The following Monday, she came to work to find that the company had determined she was a "security risk" and had locked her account. She was sent home later that morning (before I got there unfortunately) and told not to come back. My understanding is that she received the full week's pay.
  • This past Wednesday, my "lead" was called into the HR office for a short-notice meeting with the HR rep for the IT group and my manager. She walked over to one of my team mates and joked, "Gee, a meeting with HR; do you think I'm being canned?" She never came back that day; at 9:05 a.m. on Thursday, our team was called into a conference room to be told that, for undisclosed reasons, my "lead" had been released, and we had to decide how to re-allocate the work she did. More on this later, maybe.
  • Back in July, we were told that there was no more overtime available. Our budget had been cut, so the team lead position (which evidently wasn't filled by my "lead" after all) had been eliminated along with overtime. Our manager apologized profusely, but reminded us all (as he oft does) that it was better than being fired. When my "lead" wasn't able to log "overtime" anymore, she went to the manager and complained about her pay. He, in response, called the HR office and had her payroll records pulled. After showing my "lead" that she had, in fact, made a good sum of money for the amount of things she actually does and contributes to the group, he noticed that she actually made a good sum of money for any work she may have done. He got curious. He wondered how she'd made that much money. He looked at her time cards. He found that, for as far as he could get records, she'd been stating on her timecards that she was coming in at 5 a.m. He then starting coming in at 5 a.m. to see for himself. We have someone on our team who's been coming in at about 5:15 a.m. every day for Lord knows how many years. He asked her about the "lead's" start time when he didn't come in at 5 a.m. You know what he found? That my "lead" hadn't ever come in at 5 a.m., but had been saying she'd been doing so for no less than the last three months, and perhaps much, much farther back than that. Manager calls HR; how can we investigate this? HR says by the card swipes that grant building access; a security card is used for building access, and the machine records the time of each swipe. At any time before 8:00 a.m., there really isn't a lot of foot traffic into and out of the building, so it's not like you can get through the doors with someone else's card swipe. HR calls the manager; we have the card swipe records for the last 90 days. My "lead" has logged no less than 17 hours of time she didn't work in one 30-day stretch. Manager says, how can we verify that she didn't make the time up on the end of her day (even though she hasn't left after 1:30 p.m. at any time since I've been with the company)? HR says, we can pull the logs from the servers that show when she logs out. Know what they found? Of course you do. On Wednesday, 23-Aug-2006, my "lead" is called into a short-notice meeting with HR, and see above for more information.
  • I found out that I have a "golden record" with my boss's boss. That's a good thing, but no permanent job offer has been made yet.
  • I have no pending job offers that I'm even remotely qualified for currently.
  • I have no idea what I'm going to do with my life after 31-Dec-2006, which is as far as I have "assurance" of going. As far as my manager can foresee, no more personnel cuts are going to be necessary. As far as he can see. He wants us (the temps, or "contractors," as they like to call us) to be "comfortable coming to work here," but adds (quickly) that he "can't promise anything."
Okay, that's all I can think of for the moment. Except for these overly-eventful items, things have been -- well, uneventful. That's good. The children are healthy, the parents are packing to move again at the end of Sept. (to a bigger -- and thus more expensive -- apt.), and things are generally good.

But the weather is cooling; the autumn is coming. After that, winter. And then year's end.

To be continued ...