Friday, December 19, 2008

Dinosaur Toss

I tried, but I couldn't do what was asked of me.

The instructions I had been given made no sense. I may as well have been directed to paralyze a chainsaw-wielding dinosaur and throw it across an arena.

When the Bureau office opened, I was told that we had to follow The Book step-by-step- but you can't get the work done using The Book's method. It's an impossible design, rife with bottlenecks, contradictions and looping, Moebius-esque flow-charts.

There aren't enough Forms in the entire office to satiate The Book's ravenous desire for paperwork. After two days, we were out of everything and just barely holding operations together, and it was clear that The System was broken- but any deviation from The System would get me fired.

By Tuesday night I was a wreck. I was trying to come to terms with failure...it was hopeless. HQ was going to call for data and I'd have nothing but a wild-eyed gaze and six dozen semi- random piles of paper to show them.

Perhaps I can get a demotion instead of getting fired, I thought, dismally.

Those bastards. How did they expect me to do this? A cursory skim through The Book reveals enough glaring errors to make it painfully obvious that it's an unworkable design. Any idiot could see that.

Aha!

The Big Bosses have never read The Book. The upper management don't have to perform the Book's tasks, The Book describes the mundane toil of the clerical staff, so why would they bother reading it?

They have never read The Book. They have never read The Book.

It dawned on me that their ignorance is my freedom- I could redesign the workflow and they'd never know.

Wednesday may have been the most stressful day of my working life. The entire paper flow had to be re-designed from scratch, in real-time while work continued to roll in at a non-stop pace.

There were several thousand 'overload' documents to process, and each had to be sorted and transcribed by hand. It took me four tries to find two clerks who understood how to put documents in numerical order- it required a lot of re-work, but by the end of the day the clerks had it sorted out exactly as asked. Kudos to them!

Thursday went very well, save for a bit of ominous foreshadowing: One of the clerks, who has shown no visible sign of disability or impairment, suddenly showed up with a 'handicap' parking tag. The Handicap Parking spaces are fifty feet- fifty flat feet- away from the side entrance we use. The clerk wants to use the the Accessible Entrance. Sounds reasonable, right? It isn't.

The Accessible Entrance offers two options:

1- A long, high and very steep flight of stone stairs.

2- A long cutback wheelchair ramp that is easily twice as long in terms of walking distance as the span between her car and our assigned entrance, which is at ground level.

In any case, we now have to have a buzzer installed so that she can use the other entrance, (something that might take a few days), despite the fact that our entrance is closer and easier to get to...until the buzzer is installed, she will have to use the same door as everyone else.
I know all of this because she made a point of telling her story to every single person in the office, finishing with this statement:"I'm just sharing information".

I am certain that she is setting the stage to sue the Bureau. Her work is terrible and she can't be trusted to do the simplest task, but if we fire her, I guarantee she'll sue for discrimination.
None of that will directly affect me, but it'll be bad for the operation in general. We'll see.

Today started off well. I was proud of my system and the work the staff did in implementing it. Smooth and steady, busy but with time for banter and bathroom breaks...no longer the frantic sweatshop it began as.

The State is in terrible fiscal condition. Jobs and services are being eliminated at an alarming rate. This year, a number of State offices-including some, but not all Public Libraries-will be closed for two additional days (Dec. 26th and Jan.2) . We had tests scheduled at some of them.

I got the initial tip from one of the offices that was closing, but I couldn't find anything specific in the local paper (no web at work), so we had to call each facility and ID the ones affected by the extra day off. After we did that, we had to call all the applicants who were scheduled for those sessions and reschedule them. The staff had to do a lot of dialwork and we started falling behind on the paper...I shouldn't have worried, though. By closing, we had not only rescheduled everyone, we had also cleared our entire backlog. I was happy to see that our system could absorb a heavy blow and remain standing. Tested and passed!

Monday we'll have our system in place and a clean slate to start with. I can't overstate how much easier I am breathing.

I'm really lucky that most of the staff kicks ass. Me, I wouldn't last an hour on the phone bank. I hate phonework with a passion, but there are a lot of seasoned telemarketers on the staff-they like the phones. Godzilla bless!

Two days ago I thought I was doomed. Tonight, it's worked out and all I have to worry about is tomorrow's radio show. I think I can handle the show.

Can I go two hours without playing a single Christmas song? Tune in and find out!

3 comments:

yellowdog granny said...

you are feckin fantastic...i am sure they will never be able to appreciate what you did for them..I think I am hibernating today once i go out and get my paper that the dipshits forgot to deliver and will check in with your radio show and count the christmas carols..my oldies but goodies has been playing some great great old xmas songs..like "I ain't getting nut'n for Christmas, 'cause I ain't been nut'n but bad."...and eartha kitts, "Santa Baby"...I'm loving it..hope you have a very merry christmas my friend...

Lyzard said...

If you must play Christmas music - let it be Tom Lehrer or The Kinks.

Craig D said...

Congrats on figuring it all out. You must use your enemies' strength against them.

In my case, the current micro-management of my boss has freed me from thinking. All I have to do is ask him what he wants me to do and I do it. SWEET!