Friday, September 30, 2005

Take That!


I've discovered that the PHB's brand of insanity is not unique, or even rare. It has a name, and that name is "workplace bullying." has an active forum devoted to it, and apparently there are books and several Web sites about the phenomenon, too. It's a form of abuse, like spouse, child, or elder abuse, but it's legal.

I was interested to discover that, statistically, workplace bullying tends to mostly target females who are a few years on either side of 40 and who have been with their employers for about 6 1/2 years. No joke. And as I've found, the target is usually forced out of the job and the perpetrator usually sticks around and does it to someone else. Now I'm wondering who's next on PHB's list, and how much this will end up costing the company long-term.

I am SO glad to be quit of that place.


Today I washed a mouse. Yech. I was thinking while I sorted the laundry that the pile was big enough to hide a whole colony of mice. But to have it tumble out-- THUD!-- on the floor when I pulled the clothes out of the washing machine was more than I really needed to deal with. So I went to Wal-Mart and bought copious quantities of mouse-killing equipment. Death to Mousie!

Oh, and on a more grown-up note, I've now had the dubious honor of being turned down for health insurance-- because of my health. Duh. I'm hoping they'll at least insure my kids.

Thursday, September 29, 2005


Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.... That eerie wailing you hear isn't coming from the early Halloween kitsch at your local Wal-Mart; it's all me. This week has had some seriously unnerving spots. I'm still shaking from a job interview I had just now with one of the big names in the tech content world. Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.... They want a news editor to analyze and write about industry trends, manage reporters, .... (major shuddering fit) um, and so on. I think I'm a little nervous about the idea and not really confident in my ability to do the job. YAh.

OK, so changing the subject: I had my first mammogram this week, too. Aaaaaa! Sorry, it wasn't actually as terrible as all that. It's just a scary thing-- for me, anyway-- ever since those wonderful comediennes in the 90's did the standup routines about that particular physical torture. And there's always the fear of them finding cancer. Nevermind that it's much better to detect it early so that you have a better chance of survival; fear doesn't respond to rational arguments. The only way to get past fear is to do an end run around it and pretend you're really doing something else until you're already in the doctor's office where the fear of public humiliation will step up to help keep you from running out the door. Oy.

Anyway, it was just fine; the people were nice; they gave me cocoa and a pink carnation, even. I have no reason to keep screaming. Right? Cut that out. What? What is it? Iiiiiiiice cream... Oh! Ah.....

Monday, September 26, 2005

Making Progress

Getting settled in to the new routine. Didn't get much work-related done today; kids running amuck, housework to do, and so on. However...

I did send in resumes to two good prospects this evening. And here is my first freelance specialization page, go figure. It's only for Google purposes, so that people who want an editor for that topic can find me, so don't judge the content too harshly. Not that I ever want to see that content again, but I do need to eat. Need to come up with more pages to increase my chances of getting gigs I'm interested in.

But more on that later; time to tumble into bed. 'Night.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

News Flash

I'm officially registered as a freelance editor. Hooray! Someday I'll even post a link to my official page, but I'm not finished spiffing things up over there yet. I am so enjoying this "not having a job" stuff.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Seasonal Silliness

Time to hibernate!

You Are A: Bear Cub!

bear cubBears are strong and independent creatures who roam in the forest in search of food. Bears are usually gentle, but anger one and be prepared for their full fury! You're tough, you won't back down from a fight, you have a bit of a temper -- classic attributes of a bear. Intelligent and resourceful, though lazy at times, you are a fascinating creature of the wild.

You were almost a: Turtle or a Duck
You are least like a: Chipmunk or a SquirrelWhat Cute Animal Are You?

A duck? I ask you...

Fall... It's Super-Freaky

I've lived in this area for over 6 years now, and I still find it bizarre how closely the local weather follows the calendar seasons. Calendar says "first day of autumn"? Expect to wake up to a wet, dreary morning on a day that will eventually reach a high of 55 degrees. It will happen even if the previous day was hot, clear, and 90 degrees-- just like each of the previous 90 days.

It's weird, I tell ya.

OK, I grew up in a place where the calendar was basically only to tell you when to wear white shoes. (And I didn't pay much attention to that anyway. I never had more than two pairs of shoes before college.) The seasons we had weren't on any calendar: first allergy season, monsoon season, second allergy season, and holiday season-- that couple weeks when the temperature drops below 65 at night. (Bundle up, kids!)

I've adjusted to actually having distinct seasons in my weather. It's nice to have change sometimes. The thing about autumn that I keep forgetting is: It's too cold for our puny weakling mice to sleep outside now. So they invade. And they're not typical scared-of-their-own-shadow mice who only creep out after the household is asleep. Oh no. These are the kind that will play hockey in your kitchen during dinner and run across your toes to beat you to the bathroom.

So I don't feel the slightest bit sorry about poisoning them and flinging their vile little carcasses onto the trash heap. Maybe I can get the neighbor's evil pit bull to eat them. Two birds and all that. Pah.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

And So It Goes...

Well, they fired me. I walked into my manager's office Friday morning for our scheduled meeting to discuss how I can better manage my workload, task printouts and written plan in hand, sat down-- and they fired me before I could open my mouth. "It's time for us to part ways. Here's your final check. Any questions?" Um, just one, really. Why the blankety-blank did you tell me you'd let me discuss this with my manager today if you were really just going to fire me, you lying scum? OK, strike the blankety-blank. No need to get vulgar.

I have to admit I felt pretty negative about that situation, though. I had to tell my husband "Happy birthday, honey; I lost my job," which was a totally lousy feeling for both of us. And I miss my laptop. Now we have to schedule time on one PC for both (well, all 5) of us. There's the lack of income, which is really going to hurt after the first of October. But the worst is the lack of healthcare, when all of us are sick and not getting better. That bites.

On the other hand, the beatings have stopped. And I no longer have to work till midnight every night. The stress of having a family to support and no income isn't (amazingly) as bad as the stress of trying to please the people I worked for. I can think of half a dozen reasons why they might have wanted me out, not the least of which is that they're crazy. But speculation will get me nowhere. So, what next? File for unemployment: check. Search diligently for jobs pretty much anywhere: check (ongoing). Follow up with contacts who might have work for me: in progress. Get some rest and try to get healthy: next on my agenda. After that, I plan to get some food into this house before I need to feed the kids again. Rinse. Repeat.

I want to say a HUGE thank you to my family and friends who have been super-supportive during this time when I'm really struggling to regain my confidence. Their love and friendship has meant the world to me and has just helped so much. I'm going to do my darnedest to live up to your faith in me. Thanks.

Monday, September 12, 2005

I Can't Believe This...

No wait, that's a negative statement; must rephrase. I am shocked and awed at the determination of the PHB to push me out despite our shortness of staff. I stand truly amazed at her ability to find negativity in every sentence that comes out of my mouth, including the words "I'm sorry" and "I want to make this work." I'm impressed at the willingness of the other managers to go along with her on everything. I'm curious how much they're paying her and what else she does all day. OK, that one was negative again.

I'm also delirious with fever and in searing pain from an ear infection. I'm fairly certain my kids are worse off. I'm terrified of what will happen if I stay home tomorrow to take care of them.

I'm tired of having to watch every word I say and of having all my best efforts derided and belittled. I'm looking frantically for a new job. I'm not succeeding.

I'm emotionally and physically exhausted, and I'm going to bed now. Good night.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Morale Has Not Improved; Beatings to Continue

This week has been... less than stellar at the Scone household. On Wednesday, I was worried about our boys being kicked out of their school. On Thursday, I was worried that the stress at work would snap my back again. On Friday, I was told that I am a bad influence who has bad judgement (a reference to some things that earlier I had been praised for) and a bad attitude (this I admit) and that the PHB can't stand to have me working for the company anymore. Also bad.

I'm thinking it's a personal problem on her end, but even if it is, there's very little I can do to keep my job. I have until COB Monday to figure out a plan that the management will accept. However, all the managers concerned will be out of the office/out of touch until Friday, so they couldn't approve my plan if they wanted to. Not a terribly encouraging sign that they want to work with me.

But there's another wave of people leaving the department this month; I don't understand why the PHB would insist on pushing anyone out at this point. We're already shortstaffed and struggling to train a handful of newbies as it is. Why do you suppose we're having such a high turnover lately? *sniff, sniff* I smell a scapegoat, and it's me.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Nothing But Sticks

Usually I like Thursdays. I get to work from home, spend a little more time with my babies (and The Man), and feel a lot more relaxed. It makes up for a lot of the trauma of working where I work. But not today.

Today my team (all 2 of us) had a mandatory 1-hour meeting in the executive conference room with our managers (3 of them) to discuss why we suck. No, why we're so far behind on our deadlines. It's right out of a Dilbert cartoon. Probably several. But our management no longer sees the humor or irony in Scott Adams' work, so I don't bring it up.

First words out of my manager's mouth when we sat down were, "So how did things get so bad that we had a crisis yesterday?" Um, well, good morning to you, too. And as for the crisis yesterday... It was someone else's. I have an ongoing one that leaves me crippled by the end of the day. Every day. Get your own.

She wanted to know why, if we were running screaming with our hair on fire, we didn't ask for help or tell anyone that we couldn't manage the workload. Well, actually, we had. I had, I know. Every time a new project came down the pike toward the new boss (TNB), she deflected it toward me. (Well, y'know, she had this project to work on.) As early as last Wednesday, I was saying "No, I can't do it, I'm swamped. I have 6 deadlines next week, I'm behind on the edits, I've pushed my other main duties completely to the back burner, and that's gonna hurt later, I'm just overwhelmed... and my buddy over here is even worse off." Almost in those words, I said it. And yet, we still had to do it.

So Wednesday this week, we got this scolding note saying, "Where is everything, you losers?!" and people started yelling that we'd missed a deadline, though as far as we knew, the deadline wasn't until today. The answer to where things were: 1) on their way to you already, 2) somebody else has them and we thought they were done, and 3) I'd have had it done already, but you screwed it up so I still need to fix your mistakes. (I am not the most diplomatic person in the world, as you may have noticed.)

So, as I was scrambling to get all my things done for the screaming people upstairs, a new item was dumped on my desk. "Is this yours?" No. "Do you know whose it is?" No, but I'll ask New Person 1, since it has her name on it. (I used to be an analyst; I can figure these difficult things out.) I take the thing to NP1, who looks at TNB and says "Is this in my job description?" TNB goes to look in her office for said document. Meanwhile, NP1 says, "I think it's supposed to go to New Person 2." Possibly, and by this time, TNB has gotten distracted and is looking at me quizzically. Fine.

I go to NP2's office; she's not there. I come back later and show her this thing she's supposed to do. She asks "How?" OK, fine. I start explaining. She looks at me wide-eyed and says, "I don't have access to that." OK. Fine. I take it back to my office, gritting my teeth. I start checking the thing over...

I'm sure everybody in the building heard the ear-splitting roar from my office at that point. "What the...?!" This item was put together by NP1. It was one of the missing items that we were getting yelled at about. It was due in a few short hours. And it was wrong. Ever want an editor to chew your head off and spit down your neck? Hand her a proof at printer deadline of something that's not even close to correct or complete. Otherwise, don't.

The proof in question was also missing some information that my manager should have been responsible for, but didn't supply. I mentioned this to her, but somehow I ended up being the one to go online and dig it up. (Tick, tick, tick...)

So when this meeting was called to ask us how we let ourselves get so far behind without anyone knowing about it, I wanted to scream all over again. What do you say to that?

Key quotes from the meeting:
"Your workweek is obviously not just 40 hours long."
"You knew I was overloaded and didn't say anything?!"
"Why do you two feel that you're responsible for the whole publication?"

Oh, and the highlight of the morning, I thought, was my dear coworker (whom I love to pieces and who should be sainted) telling me that the PHB had called her this morning to say, "It seems that maybe you two are feeling frustrated and upset lately." No... really? What gave it away?

When the managers ask, "What can we do to help you keep this from happening again?" here's the answer I want to give:

"More carrots, fewer sticks."

Saturday, September 03, 2005

The End Is Near

Well, the end of the week, technically. Sorry to sound like the doomsayer. Life really isn't that bad, although halfway through this week I almost thought it was. I'd start on these angry rants in my head, and then I'd remember: I've still got a roof over my head (at least until the mortgage check bounces). I've still got clean drinking water and even a cupboard full of food. I've still got money coming in, even though it's nowhere near enough to pay the bills. My Punkin Boy is getting over his horrible illness and has even eaten a few bites of food here and there. And The Man still has his school, even though the brain donors at Financial Aid won't accept the bank's check for tuition and are still demanding tuition payment and we're already paying on this loan for the tuition money they won't accept... I will not call names. No, I won't.

You see, even though all I have to offer the hurricane survivors are kind thoughts and sincere prayers, I know I've really got it good. Unfortunately, I sometimes need reminding of that. It shouldn't take a disaster. Maybe I'll post a note on my mirror.