Thursday, January 04, 2007

Defining Postal

Not literally, but it sure felt like I was coming close.

One of the things that we have to do in our department is answer the phone. We have a number that's printed on all our checks for someone to call if they need us to change something like an address. It's used for everything, because it seems like our phone line is the only one manned and customers and merchants alike know it.

The phone has been a point of office contention for me since they put me on it some three years ago. I've been the only one answering that, and the voice mail for that line, for some time. Occasionally, management will tell other people to help answer, but they ALWAYS stop doing it because they think their work is so important that they cannot be interrupted to take care of a phone call. Truth be told, the more people ready to take calls, the less any one person will be bombarded with them. But no one seems to see it that way. And no matter how many people get assigned to answer and drop out, I am the one who gets yelled at if the phone or voice mail does not get answered.

There are four of us who have certain designated times when we are expected to be ready to take calls. There's usually only one or two people ready at any given time. If no one is ready, it goes to the voice mail, where a fifth person takes care of those (no longer me, THANK WHOEVER IS UP THERE!). Naturally, the more calls we answer, the less gets left on voice mail.

One of my coworkers has been out all week. And remember that WAM has bronchitis. WAM's hacking squeaking annoyingly loud cough makes WAM exempt from answering the phone (more talk makes more cough, get it? Though that didn't stop WAM from talking a lot today....). Another person who usually comes in at 1000 wasn't expected until 1430 or 1500 or so, around the time when I leave. Yup, that means yours truly is the only person on the phone today. Plus, I have to do coworker #1's regular work in their absence. Plus, I have to do coworker #3's regular work in their absence. Plus, acting supervisor told me to do some other work 'in between' the work that I usually do and all of the coworkers work that I'm backing up. Get it?

One person on the phone means ring, answer, finish, repeat. It wasn't this work in between this work, it was back-up work in between phone calls. By 1000, I finished coworker #1's regular work (which included 250 manual updates) and hadn't done anything else (including the phone). By lunch time at 1200, I had taken ten phone calls and finished seven of coworker #3's stuff (of which we both are expected to do 30 in a day). By about 1400, 15 phone calls, and only one more got added to the total of the other stuff. Absolutely everything else remained untouched. My regular work, the rest of the back-up stuff, everything. I was so busy on that friggin phone that I didn't even have time to delegate work (of which I am allowed, but generally expected to complete myself).

Somewhere between 1415 and 1430 or so, I get a call from Boss². "Who is supposed to be answering the phone right now," I get asked, "because I was over there and I just heard you picking up call after call after call?" Hallelujah! "Technically," says I, "it's WAM's time to be on the phone, but WAM can't do it because of the hack cough. And since the other two are out, it's been only me all day. And since I've been on the phone all day, I've only done 8 jobs and nothing else." Boss² tells me to get off the phone right then and there and let the voice mail rep take care of it. The other work is important. Boss² also lets me say I'll take care of that stuff that I can delegate tomorrow. Three cheers for Boss².

Exactly as I hang up the phone (by the why, when Boss² called, I was not ready to take calls because I was busy finishing up the previous one that had to be sent to another group within my department), an e-mail gets sent to myself, WAM, and coworker #3, with the supervisors copied. This e-mail came from the only actually paid-to-be-one supervisor in my department (not my supervisor, I don't have one right now, remember?). This e-mail said "There is no one on the phone right now to take my call." Sup had taken that moment to test our call readiness by calling to see if we answered.

This was my near-postal moment. In fact, it was probably the seconds-earlier call from Boss² that saved me. Whenever management decides to test us to see if we're doing our jobs, it's always at the precise moment when we (legitimately) are busy with something else. Last time Boss² tested it, we were all already on calls and therefore couldn't take anymore. What I hate about this practice is that every last one of them assumes because I wasn't there and ready at that very moment that I haven't been doing it at all for the entire day. I politely responded to the e-mail sender only that I had been doing it all day and had just been given permission to do otherwise to get some other work done. Then Boss² responded to everyone on that e-mail that I had been doing it all day and had just been given permission to do otherwise to get some other work done.

Then! My friend, who is also on the supervisor list but isn't actually a supervisor (this is the one I spend social time with), tells me that Sup just sent an e-mail to the supervisor list wondering why I had not answered any of the group e-mails (this is the stuff that I have the power to delegate if I can't do it myself). I explained to my friend the why and that Boss² said it was ok to wait until tomorrow. My friend does not like this supervisor about as much as I don't. This person is quick to tell you what you're not doing, but of course will never actually do it themselves. If there was ever a time I wanted to throttle this individual, it was now.

When I was AssMan at the Pharmacy, I would delegate, and once everyone had a task and was busy working it, I would do the next task. That's what a manager of any level should do. It's not about doing no work. It's about giving work to the peons and doing what's left. Not so with OBC. This place is all delegate and no do. Sup could have easily done those things but instead decided to bitch about it. (did I just swear again? What am I up to, 3? =) No one cares about what I actually did do during the course of the day, it was all about the things I didn't do.

Really, the momentously good timing of Boss²'s understanding saved me from making a very loud, career-killing scene on the floor today.

Tomorrow will be a better day. Coworker #3 will be in at the regular 1000 time, the 250 updates of coworker #1's work should be about 120, and I will take the time to do or delegate those e-mails before I even touch the other stuff.

And please, for the love of kittens and woolly sheep, don't call me.


Willow Goldentree said...

Oh, Fyrecreek, I am so sorry!!! Your job totally sucks! My armpits got all sweaty and I got all uncomfortable because you illustrated your day so well, that I felt like I was you. (Thank god I sealed my aura today *wink*) Yay for Boss2, boo for everyone else.

You poor thing, I tell you what. When you come work for us, Pandora will NOT be the boss of you (she's mean) Bandit will, he's the sweatheart then you can enjoy your day everyday! Ashtoreth is still learning, Glen taught her how to inspect a box this morning.

Fyrecreek said...

Everyone has to start somewhere! And I'll take that deal, though Pandora loves me and will be jealous =)

Yeah, I decided this was a better outlet than just PMing you about it. Probably for both of us. Just the act of going home made me feel better, though. 50 mile commute, less stressful than the actual job. Go figure.

Willow Goldentree said...

Hey, I believe that commute would be better than the job in some instances. I LOVE driving, no matter where I am, it gets me "away."

Here's to a great Friday for you!