End of the month

November 30th, 2009

End of the month is traditionally a day when we try to ship everything that we possibly can so as to post the highest possible dollar value of shipments for the month. It can be quite hectic. But there is an even stronger tradition in these parts of hunting deer after Thanksgiving–and that’s not limited to men. C.M., the shipping supervisor, is out in those hills, too.

Last week I was asked to help out in shipping today due to C.M.’s absence and I was expecting a horrible day. But it was pretty uneventful. Tomorrow will probably be horrible. Sorry, but it will. The first of the month I have to cram out as many reports as I can, and one of the harder ones to put together requires some input from the people who are off hunting to do properly. Also, something I did today wasn’t documented as desired so they want me to go back and document it tomorrow.

But, today really wasn’t bad, and I am glad for that. There is this one shipment which is not going to be ready to ship until late today which we have instructions to ignore the usual, picky process for this customer and give the shipment to a special pickup late tonight. The trucker who picks up tonight is going to bring the freight to our usual truckers tomorrow. We are doing this hocus-pocus so that we can say we shipped more stuff in November. It’s dumb and it is going to cause us more work. But, today, it was pretty harmless for me.

Another day goes by

November 24th, 2009

I don’t have true self-confidence. Sometimes I swagger, sometimes I boast, but if someone questions my accomplishments I will either get angry or afraid. Or both. Usually I question my own accomplishments.

I am not sure how I am getting so little done these past two days. I mean, I have had pretty good days where I haven’t had many interruptions, I kept a good pace, and I got pretty much nowhere without hitting any roadblocks. I come in, run my morning reports and go to the daily meeting, follow up on a few e-mails, clear out some expedites, go to shipping, and come back to follow up on some earlier e-mails, phone calls, expedites, or other errata.

I do not get around to reviewing the past due orders for our key customer that my boss asked me to take responsibility for. I do not do anything to develop any of the different projects I have promised different people, generally including the operations manager of some facility somewhere.

And another day goes by.

Do not think of elephants

November 23rd, 2009

I woke up this morning and thought of what I had to do today and I got a jolt of cortisol or whatever they are currently calling the stress hormone. Coming off vacation is bad because you notice all the work feelings–they no longer seem normal. At first I tried not to think about all that work I had to do but then I realized trying not to think about it was itself part of what wears me out. So I deliberately thought of as many different things as I could–not a “flinching” thought but a good square look. Then I got up.

When I got to work I wrote down about 15 things that I needed to do. Not all of them had to be done today but they are all things that need to be followed up on sometime. I think I got four done. Maybe five. I know when my boss called me the one thing he asked me about was not one of the things I had gotten done then, nor even began before I left work. He didn’t give me a hard time about it, just asked, but I don’t like it when what he thinks is my top priority isn’t. It took me until 2:15 pm to get to my number one priority because in the morning I had to do a Monday report, follow up on some hot issues from last Wednesday, go to the daily meeting, and spend most of my “free” morning time going over late-shipment analysis because I need input from other people and most of them are going to vanish, what with Thanksgiving and hunting season upon us.

It wasn’t really a bad day but if I can’t relax more than that I am going to need a week off by February.


November 18th, 2009

Today I started my vacation. I have Thursday and Friday off.

We are all supposed to be very careful to use our vacation up before the end of the year and I had scheduled a day in October and an earlier day in November. Both of those days I wound up giving up because of the work going on. But I really hated to let the second one go.

I try not to let things just weigh on my mind but they really do, and I think since I first started planning for my last trip (which was to have been the second week in October) I have been feeling like I have way too much to do, and I won’t make it through a third of it before the load doubles.

There was one scary moment today when I thought I got ahead of myself and it was only Tuesday. That was awful. But the rest of the day was happy! Hahahahahaha!

The sky is falling

November 13th, 2009

Today at one point I had someone sending me instant messages telling me we would get national attention if I couldn’t ship this order that had been promised on the basis of someone misreading our stock on hand as 57 pcs instead of 0. Meanwhile I was talking to my boss’ boss about an order that was going to get his boss’ boss’ attention if we didn’t find some way to ship it sooner than December.

I should have told the crew down in shipping that I didn’t have time to help out today but I have been telling them that a lot and I would rather it be my boss who tells them that. Because my boss is the one who agreed I had enough free time to help in shipping. So generally speaking I think it would be better for me to take care of friends that I work with and let the boss’ work get late until he decides not to promise them that I can help them.

I was so freaked out by all the stuff I absolutely had to do today that when I got it done an hour before I was supposed to leave I didn’t know what to do. There was still lots I could do, to be sure, but nothing I could think of that I could get a proper start on with my brain quivering like a mouse on crack and only an hour left.

I am a prick

November 12th, 2009

If I think I am at a disadvantage I am diffident and retiring and meek and timid. If I think I have the upper hand I am confident and demanding and assertive.

When my boss was talking to me (or I should say, my boss’ boss), he said, “Let’s face it, you don’t have that many things to improve on, really only one thing, and that is your ‘soft skills.'” He has always been good at talking me up and I have always admired his discernment. But I am not entirely sure that was the best thing to tell me. It only encourages me to be more presumptious and condescending to those multiply-flawed individuals I work with.

To give you an example, I am tempted to think he is telling me (not in this phrase, but in our other conversation) that he values my contribution to the team more than my supervisor’s. Now the only reason I write this out so baldly is because I have already decided it is false; it is vanity run wild.

With such streams of thought running through my head you can begin to imagine my attitude when, while my boss is enjoying his vacation, it was announced that one of our largest customers is dissatisified again and requires immediate and sustained mollification. We–my boss’s team and some others–have a call every week to monitor the status of this particular customer and I suppose we weren’t taking it seriously enough. There hadn’t been any plan to hold this call in his absence, but I took it upon myself to inform the entire group that we would be having the call in spite of his absence.

As I was reminding one of my coworkers to join the call, she replied, “Yeah, yeah, coming, Boss Jr.” Ah, now there is a prick of different sort.


November 6th, 2009

Since telling my boss’ boss two weeks ago that I needed to talk, I finally got the chance. The last week of October was plantwide physical inventory and this week was the usual reporting rush.

Knowing that I was going to go over my boss’ head made me more blunt with him this week. Yesterday I sent him an e-mail wherein the entire e-mail said “Please have more confidence in me.” I got the word “please” in there but it really takes a lot more window-dressing to say something nicely. And he didn’t have any idea what I meant. I thought that when you’ve just reminded me for the third time to do something which every employee is required to do every year–and I am not yet late–that my meaning would be clear. But such assumptions are acid to communication.

I also sent him an e-mail this morning telling him that he doesn’t appreciate what we do when he just tells us to do better. When he asked if I wanted to talk about it I told him the team conference call would be a better time and he brought it up then. And of course he thought he makes it abundantly clear how much he appreciates everyone, and I tried to explain that it doesn’t matter how much you say “you’re great you’re wonderful” about nothing in particular if when you are actually making a request you just say “I need this ASAP” and don’t ask if it is possible or what other top priorities might be dashed to pieces in rushing to this new task.

Now the proof is in the pudding, as they say, and he will be on vacation until next Friday, so we will see what comes. But today’s call, with the whole team chipping in, went so much better than I have been dreading for two weeks, that I am glad I finally found some way to broach the abysmal communication gap.

I think it helped to talk to his boss earlier in the day and unload all of the different dysfunctions that have been piling up. It helped me keep more to the point when I was talking to my boss and not to dump everything all at once on Friday afternoon before he went on vacation.

And I am so glad it is Friday because I am sick and tired. I even said no to Friday night fun because I need to sleep more. Hibernation sounds good.

Sick and tired

November 4th, 2009

Today I finished my last report that’s due at the beginning of the month. The three big reports went exceptionally well this month, and the little fourth one that I did today, as an afterthought, was not sorely missed sooner.

It’s still been a tough week. I have been busy and I have been sick; I got sick I think largely because I have been (outside of work, and by my own choice) too busy. I have barely been able to keep a lid on the most basic part of my “ordinary” job, expedites. In fact today I got a message from one of my boss’s colleagues asking why I had so many and would I please clean them up? I wasn’t sure why G.J. was asking about this but it turns out she is temporarily taking oversight of the expedites as my boss is so busy managing the daily emergencies coming out of that other factory that’s being shut down.

He is so busy dealing with the emergencies from the Ex-Plant that he felt it necessary to give me one of his daily tasks. I have heard that my presence has been sorely missed in shipping–I told them I would not be able to help for the first few days of the month, but I suppose I will have to get back to it. Right at the end of the day two people were pinging me on instant messanger, I was on the phone and my cell phone was ringing. The cell call was not work related so it doesn’t really count but it captures the feeling I have of being needed in at least three places at once. I feel sure that when my boss gets back from being on vacation next week he is going to want to know why something isn’t done. My guess is something to do with the late shipment analysis.