Tag Archives: work

Re-Engineering

It’s never a good day when you’re called into a conference room and find a Human Resources representative sitting at the head of the conference table with a slim folder in her hands and an emotionless expression on her face.

The organization I work for is making cuts. Lots of them. We’re being re-engineered, re-shuffled, made leaner and meaner and more competitive. And unfortunately, the executive vision of the organization’s bright future only includes 3/5ths of my job. I guess I’m grateful that they didn’t do away with my position entirely, like they’ve done to so many others, but that’s a whole lot less money I’m bringing home to my family.

I refused the severance package and stayed on part-time, for now, despite the obscene increase in my health premiums now that I’m only working 24 hours a week. So obscene that you should probably stop reading this if you’re at work. My cost tripled. That is multiplied by three. Double it, and then add a bunch more. Yay, US health insurance system. So I’m working for benefits, essentially. But I have a job, we have health care, and it could be worse.

I’m using my not-at-work days* to write and get housework done so maybe I’ll be freer in the evenings and on the weekends to just hang out with my family. Theoretically, part-time work is great. The mom thing is a ton of work and it would be lovely to have a regular day or two during the week that I could dedicate to the job of parenting.  Our daycare doesn’t have a part-time option, so kiddo is still there all week – no savings there. But that does mean that I’m able to handle errands and appointments and cleaning without a baby underfoot. And I could easily pull him out of class early on days I’d like to do special activities with him. I was able to enjoy the Halloween parade there this morning, and stay for a couple of hours to get him into his costume, walk him around to see the decorations, and take a million photos.

Financially, though, part-time work sucks. A lot. Lots of people are infinitely worse off, and I’m not going to complain too loud, but this means fewer nice things, fewer house projects, fewer vacations. And more importantly than all that, I get a sense of worth from my work, and being cut really hurt. I need to work, and it would be wonderful if I could work somewhere I felt I was making a difference somehow, and growing as a person.

I’m not sure I want to go back to the hospital labs, working weekends and holidays and being stuck there if the next shift is late, because the blood bank never closes. Besides that, the hospitals are far, and I’m so tired of long commutes. There are research labs around, too, and I’m looking into those, but I’m starting to wonder if it isn’t time to re-engineer myself a little. Who am I, who do I want to be, and how do I get from here to there? Do I need to cut any of my efforts by 2/5ths in order to move forward?

I read Wil Wheaton’s post about “rebooting” his life this week, and it’s still bouncing around in my head. Reboot. Re-engineer. What better time for personal change than a time when everything’s changing around me anyway? What can I fix? What can I focus?

Well, I know I want to write more. So I’ll write more. And read more, too, because Wil’s right that input is necessary for good output. I have a very long reading list to get to, and maybe being part-time for a while will give me time to make a dent in it. I’ve also got more time for writing now, which is great because I’ve got a couple of paid gigs these days, on top of my volunteer projects, guest posts, and this blog. Maybe it’s time to look into doing this more seriously. Am I good enough? Can I get good enough?

*Don’t you dare call them my days off. This isn’t a vacation, it’s 2/5ths unemployment.

Taking All the Joy Out

My break room at work is a dangerous place. I spend as little time in there as possible, because to remain there too long is to submit myself to political rants and conspiracy theories, or diatribes on the dangers of preservatives and food dyes. But the break room is where the water cooler is, so, like a gazelle at the water hole, I have to take my chances and hope the crocodiles aren’t hungry.

A few weeks ago, around the 24 week mark of my pregnancy, I was in the break room refilling my water bottle to maintain the all-important “enough-so-you-pee-all-the-time” hydration level recommended by my OB. When I turned to leave, I found a colleague from another department staring intently at my belly.

“You pregnant?”

I nodded.

“I thought you were getting fat, but that’s a baby in there, ain’t it.”

The only other person in the room looked up from her Words With Friends game. Her eyes darted back and forth between us while she debated calling for security.

I decided to be the better person and ignore the rudeness in my colleague’s tone and word choice. Instead, I accepted her clumsily conveyed, but possibly genuine, expression of surprise and interest.

“Yup, I’m due in July. Very excited.”

“Keeping it a secret? How come we never heard about it?” Her hands went to her hips, and if not for the complete lack of amusement in her face, I’d have been sure she was joking. But no, she’d been blindsided by new information and was genuinely grumpy that she was late to the gossip.

Decidedly NOT amused.

Decidedly NOT amused.

iPhone lady sensed my discomfort. She tried to rescue me by asking if I knew whether I was having a girl or boy, and I smiled as I patted my tummy and told her it was a little boy in there and I couldn’t wait to meet him.

Which set off some sort of land mine under Grumpy Lady.

“You – “ and she jabbed a finger at me to be sure I knew she meant me – “You took all the joy out of this baby. Why’d you need to know something like that? I never asked about my babies, never needed to look at them while they were in there. I took what came and didn’t care what kind I got.”

“Oh,” I said, “I didn’t care either way, really. I’m just happy to know which it is so I can plan a little better. And this way my husband and I will argue over half as many names!” I looked over to iPhone lady, who smiled and nodded in agreement.

“Nah, you kids today want it all convenient and easy. I bet you’re one of them who’s going to ask your doctor for a C-section so you get the birthday you want, too. Not happy with letting that baby come when it wants. No joy. No surprises. Need to control everything.”

escalatedShe continued on in that vein for another minute or so with hardly a pause in her breath long enough for me to say anything in self-defense. With her still ranting, I mumbled something about how I didn’t think that’s how C-sections usually worked, and made a move for the door. As I stepped out into the hallway, she got a last word in:

“And I hope you have a GIRL!”