Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Dept. of Petty Tyranny


Catch-22 is a term coined by Joseph Heller in his novel Catch-22, describing a false dilemma in a rule, regulation, procedure or situation, where no real choice exists.--Wiki
The new office went "live" Monday morning, the phones started ringing and we became officially Open For Business!

We didn't use the system that I had planned, though...the one I designed requires computers and HQ didn't allocate any to us. We have to maintain a data base of when and where the Bureau gives employment tests and we have to update that data in real-time as potential employees call to sign up. There are hundreds of tests given every day at locations spread across twenty counties and a half-dozen cities- and it all has to be tracked on paper. Old-fashioned manual transcription and lots of it, baby!

I spent the last two weeks tracking the tests from my house while the phones were answered at HQ- I used my PC and email to communicate with the Agents in the field and I designed Excel spreadsheets to track everything (I had to read a lot of Help) and put it all on a CD ...when I was moved into the new office I was told by the IT manager that I couldn't download any data from an outside source- not an unusual policy, but one I expected HQ to waive, after all, it was their data. They had copies on their computers, I mean, HQ was using the sheets I made and they had barred me from using the same files?

Yes.

I went back and forth with Mr. It:

Could I email my data to myself?
No.

HQ has my templates. Can HQ email the templates to me?
No. You don't have email
.

Can I email it to a manager and have them print it?
No. The managers can't receive outside email- (we have since found that is only true approximately 75% of the time) .

Can I email HQ from my house and have them FWD it to a manager? I know HQ can receive my email, they have been using my schedule for two weeks.
Hmm. Maybe. I will have to check.

Aha! Was this the solution?
My hope lasted for three days, which is how long it took Mr. IT to get an answer.

So, what did they say?
They said no, you already have the templates.

But I can't transfer them to the PC here!
You can, but you will be fired.

He wasn't kidding. I have been privy to some of the threatening language dispensed by HQ and it seems like the only emails a Censored manager is allowed to receive are ones that remind them how expendable they are. They get called out by name in email, micro-managed for missing the tiniest detail...the admonishments from HQ are usually inaccurate and murkily written as to be almost impossible to discern, but the message is clear: Be afraid for your job.

Anyway, back to the problem of how to track the testing...

Ok. We will have to do it from scratch, with paper. We will have to make a phone bank. Can I move the incoming phones so that they are all in one place?
No. Nothing can be moved. No kidding.

Fuck. All the phones are in separate corners and the phones cannot be moved. There is no reason ; merely rules for the sake of having rules.

So we were left with nothing to do but follow The Book. By the close of business Monday we were nearly a day behind and had nearly used up our entire supply of a tracking document required by HQ. When I requested more, I was gently reminded that I need to make my supply requests one week in advance.

Today, without a supply of the form, we had to improvise. Our output almost doubled.

Less paperwork equals higher productivity...who could have known?

4 comments:

yellowdog granny said...

holy shit!...I'd be bitch slapping someone for sure.

AC@45 said...

enjoy .. think of the pay cheque .. or have you received one yet?

citizen of the world said...

Good Lord. That's mind-boggling.

angel said...

holy crap allan... i'd be ripping my hair out by now!!!