Thursday, August 18, 2005

Work and Blog are both four-letter words

(I don't know what that means...but it looked good in the Title box)

Back to work today. I can breath okay as long as I don't breath too deeply. Or through my nose. So, as long as my coworkers don't mind sitting next to a panting mouth-breather, I expect today to be much better.

The other day MarcV asked for an update on my work situation and what led to my long hiatus. I could take these one at a time, but they're so interconnected that it's easier just to tackle them both.

Work is fine. For those who don't know or may not remember, I used to work for an insurance company and now I work in the Home Office of a regional chain restaurant. I work directly for a long-time friend and previous co-worker, The Bigdog. We used to only get to hang out together once every couple of months. Now we hang out almost every day. I've been here almost five months and as far as I can tell, our relationship hasn't been affected adversely. And, as I suspected, the restaurant business fits well with my retail background. From a business perspective the biggest difference is the shelf-life of the product.

At my previous job I mostly worked by myself, though I did have a couple of direct reports to monitor, and either sat in the back of the room (when we had cubicles with low walls) or had my keyboard & monitor positioned such that you couldn't immediately see what I was working on. Sometimes, that was because I frequently worked on sensitive material that the general population had no business knowing, and sometimes it was because I was taking a break and didn't want to broadcast it. What I did was mentally taxing and complex, and there were plenty of opportunities to make mistakes if you weren't careful, so actually taking frequent, short breaks was a good thing because they kept me from getting bogged down in the minutiae and they gave me time to consider how to best accomplish what I was doing. (Now THERE'S a rationalization for you) It was a primo setup for living an online life. And the fact that for about six months (longer actually) I worked just about every day, including weekends, meant that I had easy access to a good PC with high-speed internet.

At home, I have dial-up. Not to mention a wife and two kids who like to use the computer just as much as I do. Then there's the problem of keeping my blogging persona hidden from the kids. "What'cha doin' Dad?" They're not so small anymore that they can be easily satisfied with shallow answers meant to deflect curiousity. "Nothing" from me sounds as suspicious to them as it does to me when they say it. Then there's the problem with the home PCs tendancy to lock-up randomly. There were several times, when I was either up early or up late, that I sat down and started a post only to have it lock up part way through. Those posts never got written. Either the kids began stirring, or I ran out of steam, depending on the time of day.

At my new job, which I love (have I mentioned that?), I sit boldly in the FRONT of the room and everybody can see my monitor and see what I'm doing. This job is not difficult at all, though you'd think it was by the way the previous employees managed to screw things up. I was able to sit with the person I replaced for all of an hour and a half my very first day on the job. I spent the next few days in the restaurants seeing that side of the business, and by the time I got back to the office, my predecessor was gone. It wasn't too long after that (a couple of weeks) that a second person was let go. I didn't pick up 100% of their duties, but enough that even though the work isn't difficult, there's plenty of it. Oh, and they were at least three months behind in most areas and much further behind in others when I got here. We're still not completely caught up, but we are much, MUCH closer now than we were five months ago. It actually helps that the two people I replaced aren't here any longer. Pretty much anything they touched was done wrong, which means they were either consciously working to sabatoge the operation or they were both just dumber than a bag of rocks. My money's on the latter. Anyway, I told The Bigdog that if I just came in every day and slept at my desk, he'd still be ahead of the game because at least I wouldn't be creating more messes to clean up.

And that's the story...or a version thereof, anyway.

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