Friday, July 10, 2009

Let me make myself perfectly clear...

A very frustrating day, dealing with work. It's summer, I'm "sort of" on vacation, but "sort of" on call as needed (damn, I'm getting tired of "sort of" as a qualifier) because as the Guy With All The Answers, Technically Speaking, sometimes they need me.

Well, I don't mind being called in to do stuff that only I can do. I don't mind being summoned with a "Help me, Obi-wan Kenobi, you're my only hope" call, when I'm the only one who can pull the enterprise out of its predicament, or pull the thorn from its paw, Androcles-and-the-lion-style. I don't (that much) mind stuff that I can do from my chair at home, via the web, e-mail, or remote login. But none of that is what's going on.

A couple of things happened today... they were tugging at my sleeves to do this Thing, and really, it wasn't my job to do what they were asking me to do. Not only did it not fit into my function within the enterprise, but I don't have the data to do what they wanted done. But they wanted me to be the one to do the legwork and wander around and collect all the little data bits that other people already have, but didn't feel like putting on a list (which is all they needed to do).

(I finally decided to help out because I felt bad for the person who would have been eventually stuck with the Flaming Bag of Poo, and I also thought that telling people that "Look, it may be my job to execute this list, but it's your job to WRITE the list, why do you want me to WRITE the list for you?" wouldn't make anybody happy.)

And then I heard that maybe there's a little grumbling that I haven't been around to help with the legwork that needs doing over the summer, the general scutwork of "now's our chance to get things ready for next year" that always goes on over the summer. And maybe there's a little grumbling that I don't want to go to a two-day training session for this fancy software package that, frankly, I'm never going to use; that although I recommended, I didn't select; that in all probability nobody's going to ask me how to use because nobody ever asks me anything; that I'm not going to be using, that the people who ARE going to be using will be taking at least a year to figure out how they want to make use of it, much less how to simply use the software.

And so, I'm wondering how to get a few points across...
  1. I've done major business-process-changing rollouts at this very institution before. I know how they go. The first year is spent re-engineering the product because the users won't want to use it as intended. I'm not going to be able to do that, and you probably wouldn't ask me to do it anyway, you'd be asking the developer who's handing all the nasty coding stuff. Being at the training won't enable me to do anything when re-engineering's necessary, because this is an end-user training, not a developer training. It won't tell me what I need to know: why do I need to go?
  2. I spent thirty years as a technical writer. For products that Fortune-500 companies use. That satellite factories use. If there's one thing I've learned from all of that, it's how to figure out how to use software. Very, very quickly. Just give me the goddamn manual--at least there's a manual, that's more than I usually get--and I can come up with the answer faster than most of the people here. If I was actually going to use this stuff, I wouldn't mind, but I have nothing to do with either its use or its implementation, and my suggestions towards either would be unwelcome (they usually are, people never like being told they can't do what they want to, even if doing it that way will set something on fire)... why do I have to waste my time just to make you feel like "Robert's participating?" Robert's a quick study. If you ever do call him, it'll be because something's gone south that wasn't in the training, and I'm the only one who has a prayer to figure out what to do. If I have to go to the training, I'm going to spend a lot of the time lying on the floor with my legs on a chair or up the wall. Nothing personal, I just can't sit for hours any more. What part of "I have MS" don't you understand?
  3. You're not happy that I'm not interested in doing "legwork." Do you think I'm walking with this stick just as a fashion statement? Do you think I totter into things and have to grab on to stuff to keep from falling over as performance art? If there's one thing I can't do for you, it's schlepping stuff. My legs don't work properly, that makes "legwork" the wrong assignment for me. What part of "I have MS" don't you understand? Am I going to have to get a wheelchair before you'll believe that maybe I'm the wrong person to ask to carry shit all over the place and stand up behind things for hours?
  4. My doctor told me I shouldn't even be taking your calls. I came in here today anyway, because I didn't want the enterprise to crash and burn and you don't seem to be interested in doing the simple stuff that I told you was all that was required to avert said crashing and burning. "But I need you to do this for me," you say. Your doctor told you to stay home? Well, you were sort of sympathetic, I'll grant you that. (Great. Now I get "sort of" from other people.) What part of "My MS is acting up and my doctor wants me to stay at home" don't you understand?
I try to never play the MS card unless I really have to. I'm playing it now before I really really really have to, which is where I'm going to be if I push myself too hard in July's heat. I got nastily overheated one day just sitting for too long in an office with no A/C, and very nearly couldn't drive myself home.

I mean, I try to use simple sentences. "My MS is acting up. My doctor says I should stay home, and not do anything work related." I don't think there are too many interpretations possible. And yet, they're disappointed that I'm not willing to "pull my weight."

Well, I could "pull my weight" better if I walking was possible without a stick, don't you think?


Anne said...

Make it an ADA accommodation that they have to pay for 8 hours for an EMS vehicle and fully qualified staff to stand by (on site) in case you need them to take you to the hospital or administer immediate emergency services on site during the course of your "volunteering" to help them. Then make sure you get overheated. They will never call you a second time!

Twill scare them away in a pinch!

Denver Refashionista said...

F----ers, pardon my French. I'm with your doctor. You do need to rest in the summer to get ready for the year. I don't know where I would be without summer and these days I am walking just fine.

What you are discussing is one of my peeves with education. If you work for a private school, they think they own your time. If you work for a public school, you can't even get an administrator to email you in July even when they have changed your entire schedule and program model. There has to be a better way.