Furlough days

Although the phrase “furlough days” sounds like it should be a festival or a clearance bonanza at your favorite store, it is actually the bomb that dropped on Veggie Patch staff today. Yes, it’s official — we will have six unpaid days during the next fiscal year. If things get better for us financially, it will be reduced to three. If things get worse, well, we’re preparing for more.

Through a two-hour managers’ meeting and then a staff meeting, we got the lowdown on how bad things are financially. In the former meeting, there was much spirited discussion coming from the finance director and several others, all of which left Cruise Director looking tired. You could perceive that Finance Guy was less than thrilled with the land of furloughs, even though they were strategically spaced out and placed next to paid holidays, thus extending our weekends.

There were other cuts, such as the employer match on the pension plan, the elimination of most consulting roles and the usual rah-rah about saving money wherever possible. I hear this. I am on board with all of this. Luckily, I am still allowed to hire help, but I am the only one right now with that fortune.

But, I just got off the phone with Finance Guy, whom I called to thank for his comments and his unfailing support of staff. He made great points (most of which were squelched or sidestepped by Cruise Director) about lost productivity for those staff members who are already busting their humps (and yes, he knows only a select few of us really fit into that category). He threw out lots of numbers — that why is it that only five percent of our members attend our annual convention. What are we doing to get people to attend? Why spend so much money on so few people? And what are we doing to increase membership in general, because it’s dropping and, therefore, convention attendance will drop accordingly.

He also made a great point, along with Ethics Boy, that we aren’t doing squat in the way of P.R. and getting the people who aren’t joining — or who aren’t renewing their memberships — to know who we are and why they and we will mutually benefit from a membership with us. They noted that every last one of us are sitting on talents, skills and ideas that could be contributing to the financial success of this place, but nobody’s asking and nobody’s listening and nobody’s coordinating these efforts.

This, my friends, is where I went off on the phone with Finance Guy. I said, look, I have a piss-poor excuse for a supervisor who clearly indicated on my performance review that I need to quit offering suggestions about the whole of the Veggie Patch and just concentrate on my job. She also told me to my face, no fewer than six times and in no uncertain terms, that I will NEVER do public relations for this company. I told him that words and actions like that break my heart a little more every day, and I am finding it easier to not reach out and help, even though that help is obviously needed. I said people like me are sitting on skills that could very well perpetuate this place out of its deficit, but we have no outlet for our thoughts, and certainly no one is asking for them, either.

He was blown away and said damn, I should work for him, because if I were giving him suggestions and guidance for the overall benefit of the organization, he’d promote me in a heartbeat — he loves global thinkers. But, alas, he said the cream of the crop always rises to the top, and he encouraged me to hang in there and do what I’m doing, and I will continue to make a difference. And furthermore, he finds it appalling that talking to my supervisor is parallel to talking to a brick wall, and he agrees that certain people (i.e., Demure) are so set in their ways of what they think “should” be that they can’t handle it when people are ready to move and change without and despite her. He said they’re afraid, and that really, their fear is a roadblock that we can’t afford to not move around.

So, all in all, he gives Shan and me hope that there is ONE person in power who *gets* it. (Private to the Caterwauling hacienda is that he’d rather see us let Solitaire go than furlough the whole crew — it would save the same amount of salary dollars.)

The management portion of the day was kind of funny, at least to this participant. For as many furlough days as we (the staff in general) end up biting, Cruise Director said he will take twice as many. Finance Guy shot up his hand and said, look, we already can’t get any time with you and this is a time when we need more guidance and teamwork than ever, so that’s just crap that you’ll be gone even more than you already are. (Sidenote: Cruise Director leaves every day around 1:30 or 2. Sure, he does work at home at nights, but you’re SOL if you can’t get him. For instance, I need him to approve $40K in print house and postage expenditures, and I need that money ASAP, or we won’t have a paper this month. Do you THINK I will get my paperwork back in enough time for Finance to cut a check? The Caterwauling Magic 8-Ball says “Not Fucking Likely.”)

But I sidetracked. In response to the clear bullet that he ain’t never around, Cruise Director said, reluctantly, “I’ll still be here on those days.” But you know that this was said to appease Finance Guy and the rest of us, not because he was planning to do that all along.

I have no problem with the Furlough Days. I really don’t. Shit, I’ll eithert do my freelancing or lie on my ass and take some mental health siestas. But, like I told Finance Guy, I’ll take a wild guess that he, I and a boatload of others will have our asses in here on those unpaid days, and I get mad that there are people who should be furloughed for good (i.e., Solitaire, Town Crier and so many others), but everyone is paying the price for their inability to pull their load.

Bleah. Another day in paradise. But I am truly looking forward to hiring help, to renew my interest in the job as well as to allow me to concentrate better on fewer tasks. And it’s really sad when my work life is more interesting than my personal life. 🙂

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