Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Some Nights

I took this pic, again, driving around in the every-single-summer-afternoon rainstorm.  I funked up the image a bit in Snapseed and then added the text in Photoshop.

I'm a big fan of Billy Martin but am crediting Poppy Z. Brite for the quote, because she was still Poppy when she wrote it and hadn't begun transitioning yet.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

It was a dark and stormy afternoon...

Inspired by my friend Angella, who has recently become intimately connected with Instagram and is finding new creative joy in photography.  I have been playing around with Snapseed, a similar photo editing app, and I think I'll share them here.

This is a familiar summer afternoon sight for Floridians, who get rained on every day during the afternoon commute.  I obviously did mess around with the focus area and the saturation and the contrast, but I swear this is just how dark and stormy the sky looked.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Everything is defined by my head, really. I just need to fix my head!

I had two interviews this week.  One was for a company that processes orders in a call-center style way, and uses the same technology as a call center.  This company wouldn't do an initial phone interview, wouldn't give me any idea of a salary range beforehand, brought me in for a single 30-minute interview with one person, showed me a windowless, crowded workspace, quizzed me on call center workforce terminology (What are the three components of Average Handle Time? What are the steps to create a forecast?) and, ultimately, can go suck it.  I'm pretty sure they are not going to call me with a job offer despite the fact that the interview went okay, but if they did, that'd be a big fat NO unless they offered me a brazillion dollars more than I'm currently making.

The second interview was at a place that had already done an extensive phone interview with me and given me a salary range.  The benefits are better than what I have now (including, oh my god, a pension) and would begin on day one.  The job description sounds like a combination of challenging but reasonable, and I'd actually be part of a team.  (Maybe someone would even notice if I didn't come in.)  It's also an extremely large, profitable, stable company.

The only negative would be that it's even farther away from home and I couldn't carpool with Greg anymore.  It would be around a 40-minute drive, and that would be taking freaking toll roads.  Ugh.

I think the interview went well, but you never really know.  I'm hoping they call me in for a second interview.

I tried to go to work this week with a different perspective.  While it does feel weird that I have such a distant boss (did I mention that he came to my building for a meeting with me recently and I realized he doesn't know exactly where my desk is?) I do also like being autonomous.  It also occurred to me that I have a lot of power.  I suppose it's odd, but since I am doing work so far above my actual title I'm the one setting policies and putting procedures in place and telling the managers and HR and even the director how things should work, and they are all listening to me.  I do feel underpaid and bit undervalued, but at the same time I feel heard and respected.  That's certainly something.

I'm going to keep looking and I'm still cautiously hopeful about the one job possibility, but I'm also going to try to frame my current job differently in my head.  It's all about perspective, really.  I'm working on having a more positive perspective at work, on not putting so much pressure on myself (one benefit of having a boss that doesn't know what I do day-to-day is no real deadlines, ever, so why am I putting so many on myself?), and not thinking about work EVER when I'm not actually at work.

This weekend I've tried really hard not to think about it.  I didn't bring home my computer, and I haven't checked my work email even once.  I still had an unpleasant work dream a couple of nights ago, but maybe it'll get better.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Someday, I'd like to dream about something other than my job.

Last Saturday marked the one year anniversary of my last day at my previous job.  What a long way I've come since then, and how much I've changed.

I used to spend a lot of the time just monitoring incoming phone lines and the agents taking calls; I'd switch agents from one line to another if necessary, track down agents who were missing, and try to make sure that calls weren't holding too long waiting to be answered.  While I was doing that, I'd have plenty of time to do other things if everything was working okay - I mainly just had to keep a close eye and react quickly when anything started to be a problem.  But I was good at it, and could head off most problems, so I had time to write blog entries and read message boards and blogs.  I tried to do it discreetly, and unless I am in complete denial, I looked busy while switching back and forth between screens.  You know, as opposed to my coworkers trying to hide the fact that they were reading magazines or playing games on their phones.

I did a good job, I really did.  But it certainly wasn't challenging.  And this new job that I've been in since the beginning of August last year has been nothing but challenging.

I've learned to speak up.  Now when I have meetings with directors and senior directors and vice presidents I can keep my head enough to talk, answer questions, and even ask them questions.  I've also learned to speak up for myself, both when defending my work or ideas and also about HR related issues when they refused to honor the verbal agreement about PTO time/paid holidays.

I've learned to do a buttload of things I'd never done before in NICE IEX TotalView, the program I use to forecast future call volume and schedule ~200 agents.  I had no idea how little I knew, but within the first few months of working here I'd read the entire manual and most of the program's help screens.

I have a much different perspective on the industry in which I work.  I can see how this company is structured on a level I didn't have access to at my previous job, and going to that convention in April gave me a whole different view of how everything fits together and what other companies do.

I've learned to train people: I've trained dozens of managers, supervisors and team leads on the program we all use to see schedules and watch agents.  I've learned to lead meetings and take control if it gets off track or loses focus.

I've had to learn to be less intimidated by people, or at the very least to hide it from them.  I've struggled with taking things personally, and have hopefully gotten better about having the perspective to know it's almost never personal.

But here's the other part:  I know that I have made a massive difference in the way this call center works.  Before I came they forecast future call volume on a spreadsheet, guessed at how many people they needed to staff the call center, and did schedules for the agents on a spreadsheet.  They had no way of knowing if the agents were actually working the right schedule, if they were missing for any part of their shift, and whenever anything came up for the agents to attend (like meetings or training) they just pulled agents off the phone at random.  They couldn't see how call volume was likely to go later in the day, or whether they were under- or overstaffed.

But... here's the other other part.  I don't think they, in particular my boss or the VP that he reports to, really have any idea what I do, how well I do it, or how much of a difference it's making.  The managers know how much of a difference it's making, because it's directly affecting them.  But the call center director has only been there for 2 months, so he didn't see what it was like before.

(I was very entertained to discover that, upon his first tour of the call center when he had his final interview, the new director guy asked where the "workforce department" was, and was visibly shocked to hear that it was in fact just a "workforce person".  But this person does the forecasting, and all the scheduling?  Yes, he was told.  She sets staffing levels?  She approves time off requests?  What about scheduling training and meetings?  She does that, she does that too, she does that too, he was told repeatedly.)

I suppose part of it is me, I could have done more to explain what I was doing and how it all worked.  Honestly, it took a few months for it to really sink in that they had no clear idea of what the whole concept of workforce management really was.  I was going merrily along, fixing things and setting policies and figuring stuff out, and kind of assuming that someone was keeping track of me.  But now I really don't think that was the case.

The final straw was when I found out that the three managers, the director and the senior director (my boss) all got big bonuses based on the extremely low abandon rate, which is low because of my ability to manage the call volume and workforce.  I mean, that's what they hired me to do, isn't it?  And maybe they thought I wouldn't find out about that huge bonus that they all got, or maybe they just don't give a fuck.  

So, I got mad, and then I started working on a plan to go to my boss and ask... for what?  A raise, a promotion, a bonus, some sort of acknowledgement of the degree to which I rock?    I'm still thinking about it, and I'm still not sure.  And I also updated my LinkedIn profile and my resume and applied for a couple of jobs.

On Wednesday I had a phone interview for a job that sounds SO perfect.  It sounds challenging, but without the massive stress of my current job.  I'd be replacing someone who is relocating, and be part of a team.  I haven't heard back yet about an in-person interview, but I'm cautiously hopeful.

I suppose if I could hang in for another year or two things might change completely.  The new director guy is backing me up with my pleas for help, to hire at least a couple of others who would do workforce stuff too, but my boss keeps saying it isn't in the budget.  The truth is that they are all sales people who don't see value in a non-revenue-producing role.  It's possible that they may do it next year, and it's possible that in a couple of years I could be heading up a whole workforce department.  But do I even want to do that?  

This job is challenging, but in a way that is exhausting me.  I am so wiped out when I get home from work I barely have any energy to be creative, or to get things done around the house.  I hate that.

And truly, the thought of leaving just makes me so happy.  I am really grateful for the various things I've learned while at my current job, and the opportunities for growth, and the experience.  But I am ready to go somewhere else.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Hoarder Guy Update

Well, I guess I should have given him the benefit of the doubt, because a few weeks of trash pickups and now the back area looks like this:
No sign of sad litter box memories

I spoke to him once when I ran into him outside and he apologized for the mess.  No problem, I said!  Of course, I've already blogged about you and put photos of your shame on the internet.  (Heh.  Not really.)

He apparently works for the government and has been out of the country, and has been trying to clear out storage units from long ago.  He did mention that he wants to find a pet, and I very strongly encouraged him to go to the Humane Society instead of pet stores.  

Now that there is at least a chance that he's not a hoarder, I guess we'll have to give Hoarder Guy a new name.  This bit of weirdness strikes me as extremely hilarious, for a person living in Florida, so now I think I will call him Snow Shovel Guy.

WTF, yo?

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Looking Forward: Monday September 30 to Friday October 4

I love looking forward to things, possibly even more than I love experiencing them.  I love the list-making, the research, the detail planning.

One thing to look forward to:  My sweetie-pants and I are going to be celebrating our tenth wedding anniversary.  Tenth!  It seems like such a long time, and yet I can't even remember when we weren't together.  It's like trying to access someone else's memories, I remember things but it feels like it wasn't really me.

I love being married, I love Greg, and I am surprised at how meaningful it is to me to have been together for more than a decade.  He and I have such a shared history of friends and homes and experiences that are gone forever now.  He knew my Dad, and he remembers Mom when she was still zipping around shopping malls and grocery stores and going to movie theaters.  It counts for a lot.  And after being together for nearly 12 years and married for nearly 10 it is shocking to me how well he knows me, and how I actually like that.

We have decided to celebrate IN NEW ORLEANS.  Yay!  Greg's never been and I haven't been since the early 90's, when I went with my ex-fiance.  (Side note: boy, was it ever the right decision to move on and not get married to that guy.)

We'll be staying at a hotel that's right next to Harrah's casino by the Mississippi river, at the edge of the French Quarter (I got it at a massive discount and a ridiculously good price.)

New Orleans just has so much character.  I'm starting to make lists and gather tips from friends who have been recently.  I want to go to Jackson Square, and ride the streetcar to the Garden District to see Ann Rice's house, and look through used book stores and art galleries, and listen to live music, and - most importantly of all - EAT.  I am looking forward to muffalettas and beignets and chickory coffee and bloody marys and oysters and gumbo and jambalaya and biscuits and pralines.

Despite making lists and plans, I mostly want to wander around and watch the people and see what we find and take pictures and stop suddenly every now and then to kiss my sweetie.

Oh boy, I am SO looking forward to it.