27 July 2007

Gainfully Employed

What a strange day.

Since most workers are restricted to 40 hours per week at my place of employment, many of them were not at work today, Friday, since they already had their 40 "in".Why? Because 40 hours per week is not the norm for this business year in and year out for the last 30 years. People are accustomed to working 50 hours or more, myself included. I coast through the week at 46 or 47 hours and look forward to not working Saturday. You get used to it. Overtime pay is wonderful. But, NOW, with forty and go home a standing order, so people still work 10 and 12 hour days at demanding, stressful, exhausting jobs in a noisy, tense, and potentially dangerous environment. So when the magic number forty rolls around on the old time card, they book on home. Kinda like getting a one day vacation each week.

The trouble is, not all employees can do this. Some, like me, for instance, work under the burden of a constant influx of work and have little lead-time and no possibility of scheduling in advance. You just plunge in and work like the devil as long as you can and then walk off and leave it for the next day. And whether you are allowed to work overtime or not, I still have to field phone calls from clients who are upset that I didnt do yesterday what should have been done the day before that! I still have to stop what I am doing and do some task which has to be done RIGHT NOW since so-and-so promised it.

Sometimes you get things done in a timely manner, sometimes you dont. Lately, the "sometimes you dont" scenario seems to be winning out. Being short handed means that, well, your are er...short handed! Something has to give. And when two people out of a 3 person department don't come in you end up with a one-man-show. Not very effective, but what do I know I've only been doing this sort of work for 30 years. It used to be important to me, but now, Its getting easier and easier to walk off and leave things in a big mess.

My college catalog said my degree program was to prepare me to be "gainfully employed in industry". Humph. Mostly only a little gainful, and a lot painful.

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