A day off

Cripes, is there ANYTHING on TV on Sundays? I have like eight million channels, and I can’t find a fucking thing to even have on in the background as white noise.

I find myself today with no outside errands to run. Woo hoo! Finally, a day to myself to clean do not a goddamned thing.

Life’s been rather good lately. I realized it this morning when I was reading my e-mail and Maddie jumped up on my lap and stayed there for a good half hour (till Kadi started yanking on her tail). Either the clouds are going to open up (again) and Mother Nature’s gonna start ragging ice all over us, or I might just be on one of my ever-elusive upswings. Please, please let it be the latter.

I got to talking with my favorite colleagues about the jobs I’ve had and the things I’ve accomplished in my 29 years. They really made me realize that I haven’t done half-bad for someone my age. I always have stories to tell and insights to share, and I like that. One thing I am severely lacking in my job is a mentor, but it made me feel kind of good that I have the capacity to offer mentorship and guidance to others who may someday want to be like me when they grow up. Either that, or they know my mistakes and can learn to avoid them. 😉

I’ve said this before and lived to regret it, but I feel like something good is coming my way. Now, I don’t know what it is, but I do know what I am hoping for. And I am very much of the attitude that I don’t always get what I want, but I sometimes get what I need. I feel like some grand life lesson is going to present itself to me, and I look forward to another opportunity to learn something.

Work-related, I’ve been struggling with something. I like what I do. I love my staff. I am not overly fond of the management above me. My salary (Shawn pointed out, quite accurately) is very low for the skills and experience that I bring to any similar position. Here’s the problem: I know I won’t be at my job forever (thank the higher powers for that one!), but I am having a hard time discerning how long I should spend at the Veggie Patch. Every job has its pitfalls and praises. At my last job, the CEO was insufferable and so was my staff. Now, the CEO is OK, my manager is, well, lacking in the usefulness department, and my staff is a dream. In an ideal world, I could take Angie and Scot with me to my next employment endeavor. And let me be queen for a day for a millisecond: if I opened my own business, there will always be a place for both of them. I do not discount the fact that my job would be downright insufferable without competent, enthusiastic and, let’s face it, brilliant people who contribute to the department’s — and my — success.

What I want to know is who decided a workweek should be 37.5 or 40 hours. Sometimes I put in a HELL of a lot more, but other times, I struggle to fill my time. There are always projects, of course, to occupy my slow times, but one reason I really enjoy my job is that it’s intermittently frantic, tempered by mind-numbing so that I can clean my office and get through all the piles of accumulated paperwork and phone calls and bug Finance to pay my vendors. Assuming we would be required to work, say 120 hours a month, why can’t I choose WHICH 120 hours to work, instead of sitting there from 9 to 5 every day and THEN working till midnight or 2 a.m. when we go into crunch time? Why can’t I, on days that I know I’m going to be working late (i.e., when I’m waiting for writers to submit their shit to me so I can edit it), come in when I know the work will be waiting for me instead of waiting for the work and THEN starting my workday?

Unfortunately, my workplace (and many others before it) have a certain decorum that states that you need to show up on time and leave on time and just BE THERE during the working hours. But in the world of cell phones, e-mail and other instant communications, I live five minutes away from work, should a crisis arise. How can we change a culture of “sit around and look pretty when you’re supposed to” instead of “give us your best, and if your best happens to occur at 8 p.m., then that’s when you need to give it to us”? One major reason I get along with my staff is that I allow them to work when it suits them best, and I encourage them to contact me (even if it’s at 10 p.m. on a Saturday night, and believe me, it has happened and I don’t mind it one bit) when they need me.

We have calling-off policies that tell us to contact our supervisors when the weather sucks and we’re going to be late or just stay at home. This is supposed to be deducted from our vacation time. I don’t deal with that shit. I ask my staff to stay the fuck home till they can make it in safely (a courtesy call is encouraged, and I always get one). I tell them that they’re more useful to me alive and well instead of mangled in a ditch off the Beltway. I am fortunate that my supervisor really doesn’t care how late I come in, because I always leave long after she does, and frankly, that’s one of the (few) benefits of working for her. You know what this gives me? An environment in which my staff are willing to go beyond the call of duty to help me when I need them. Trust goes a long way, and if your people are afraid of consequences from inconsequential actions, then that breeds a hostile work environment. I can safely say that my staff and I work so harmoniously because we work on a human level. Titles mean absolutely nothing (except for when the shit hits the fan — then I have the title that gets the bullshit, and they appreciate that, because I believe in what we do and will fight to the death for it. And sometimes, it has come down to exactly that) and abilities and willingness to learn/change means everything.

I’m actually thinking about writing a book on leadership in the workplace. I have chronicled most of my jobs, whether on this blog, in my private journals or even on Post-it Notes throughout the years. And it astounds me how the fundamentals of constructing a working, loyal team simply eludes other people. A part of me feared that, once I got into upper management, I would forget how it felt to be on the lower end of the totem pole. But if anything, it has strengthened my desire to encourage people to top their own performances time and again and to not only crave, but also deserve, respect and recognition.

People go to work to make a living and to contribute to society in some way. They don’t work because they love it. Shawn and I were just saying that probably fewer than 5 percent of people probably go to work and do exactly what they love doing and are sad to see the workday end. Sure, a good majority of us find several redeeming qualities about our vocations, but is there a law that says we can’t love every aspect of it?

The president of our company (Pride Fag) was in the office recently, and he always makes a special point of visiting with me. At the time, I was hot from suggesting to my supervisor how we could increase readership of the magazine, and she shot it down with the equivalent of, “No, that’s too much work.” And I really thought it was a workable idea (and she couldn’t give me any real reason why my idea wouldn’t yield results), so I told PF about it. He loved it. Said it was good but gave me reasons why it would really float around in upper management. I was fine with that. Well, not fine, but I figure if the (empty) head of the company says it’s not presently feasible, I know to say, “Whatever,” and go back to my little corner, licking my wounds all the way.

The major problem with my meeting with PF is because he told me that I can count on him as my personal suggestion box — the caveat, of course, being that he won’t tell anyone the source of the ideas. Meaning: if they actually go for it, I get zero credit. Fuck that shit. I’ll keep my ideas to myself, in that respect, or just risk the ire of my superiors and do whatever I feel like doing, whenever I feel like doing it. I refuse to become somebody’s puppet or the wizard behind the curtain.

If time weren’t an issue (my timeframe has an expiration date), I would go ahead and implement the idea without permission. Remember, it’s always easier to ask for forgiveness than permission, especially when you have a foolproof idea that, even if worse comes to worst, I’d have only spent $200 on the execution (and I have more than that in my budget). It just disgusts me that my staff and Shan and I are absolute idea generators, but we’d get more response talking to our asses or asking the Tooth Fairy to leave money under our pillows. I get the inkling that people don’t want us to succeed — maybe they don’t even want the company to succeed. But I’m tired of having to budget to the penny for enough paper and staff and equipment and pens. Our situation is that dire. And I’ve worked as a fund raiser for companies that were in even worse predicaments. It’s hard to implement change, but if the culture can’t shift to one that recognizes innovation (or, at least, attempts at it), then no real progress can or ever will be made.

So much for my day off. 😉

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