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Chasing The American Dream

March 07, 2005


Posted by Hello

What a difference a week makes. A week ago, I was feasting on Crab-crusted black grouper, Crispy potato and goat cheese cakes, and three layer chocolate hazelnut 'Kit-Kat' torte with vanilla fudge ice cream and sipping velvety Pine Ridge Merlot.

Sunday night, I feasted on stale bagels with warm cream cheese and nutra-grain bars and sipping warm iced coffee. I didn't go to sleep last night. Or the night before. I've been up for 59 straight hours. I'm actually tired. A rarity. I'm actually falling asleep typing this. I've spent my entire weekend out of town and at work. I spent 12 hours here on Saturday and another 21 Sunday. If you do the math, that means I got here Sunday morning at 9 a.m. and left Monday morning at 6 a.m. On my way out this morning for my 'two-hour break,' I wrote a big 'T.G.I.M.' on the dry erase board cuz Saturday and Sunday sucked. I hated it. I hated being here cooped up in an air-conditionless sweatshop. I hated busting my ass for the very same people who got me in this predicament in the first place. You all know already how much I just loooooooooove my job. This whole weekend slumber party could have and should have easily been avoided. Here's why.

Last Wednesday was my one-year anniversary. Yes, I've been on the road consulting for this client for exactly one year. I call this place Gilligan's Island. Why Gilligan's Island? Well, this was *supposed* to be, as the theme song goes, "a three-hour tour, a three-hour tour." Yeah, basically a one-month assignment has turned into 12 and counting. When I was hired, I was quoted 20-25% travel. I'm running at about a 99% travel rate. Home? What’s that like?

This past year has been extremely frustrating. I mean, sure, work is pretty much *always* frustrating. But coupled with all the other difficulties in my life this past year, being on the road for a year, for what amounts to be a disinterested client, is icing on the stress cake.

I am in big-time CYA mode. Us corporate robots refer to that as Cover Your Ass. Yeah, so when the shit hits the fan, your ass is covered and all the finger pointing in the world isn't gonna help the enemy cuz you've got proof to the contrary that it wasn't your fault. This project is finally coming to a head. I am normally a nice, easy-going guy at work who is able to get along with all levels of management and who is adept at diffusing management's anger. I usually let them vent, yell, or whatever and then kindly bring them back to reality. And believe me, management is gonna be testy, gonna be upset, battle lines are being drawn and I believe there will be casualties when it's all said and done. Could I get fired? Sure. Easy. I'm in the direct line of fire. But I don't care. I know I've done all I can here so what ever happens, I'm cool with it.

So anyway, one year ago I stepped onto Gilligan's Island. My boss and I were to meet with the executive team. We had interviews scheduled for 3 straight days. Well, of the 25 people or so we were to see, we ended up seeing about four. We pretty much got blown off. We were not a priority. And for the last year, we’re still not a priority. I have done everything in my power to get these people to listen. Meetings upon meetings, emails upon emails, calls upon calls. Ultimately, there's always something more important going on than Sarbanes-Oxley. Sure, I understand they want to conquer the world, grow the business, acquire, deal, synergize. But without Sarbanes-Oxley compliance, none of that shit matters because Uncle Sam can make your life and your shareholders' lives miserable.

So they procrastinate. Requests for action fall on deaf ears. Management thinks they have a whole year to get this project done. And they are conceivably right. But when you do virtually nothing for the first three months, it's awfully difficult to make up the time. And so we've been behind the eight ball since day one. Last Thursday, it call came down. The auditors were in town and they weren't happy. Why? Because our work, which I had scheduled to be completed way back in September, still had not been done. Can't do the work if we don't get anyone's time or attention. So out of nowhere, management made the auditors a promise. A promise I found out via phone call. “We *will* be done with all work and have it all packaged for the auditors first thing Monday morning.

Shit, it was inevitable. I knew it had to come. I swore I'd never work on a weekend again. Yet my client promised the auditors the moon, and now I had to deliver. What upset me was the fact that if they had just made some slight consistent effort along the way, we wouldn't be painted into a corner. Their apathy resulted in my loss. My loss of freedom to spend my weekend leisurely. Ever feel what it's like on Friday knowing full well the weekend is gonna totally suck? It's depressing. And I knew there was sooooo much work to complete. As I packed up after a long miserable Saturday, I
looked at the pile of work yet to be completed and I knew Sunday was gonna be bloody Sunday. It kept me up and I couldn’t sleep. So I didn’t.

Sunday was really me against myself. Could I pull out a miracle and get everything done? I had three helpers who got lots done. It was my job to review all their work. I knew I was in for a long night. I decided to open up the betting lines. I asked them to pitch in a dollar and the closest guess to when I leave would be the winner. The latest guess was 12:45 a.m. Although ineligible, I was figuring 2 a.m. They were all gone by 6 p.m. I told them I'd send out a time stamped email when I left. Like I said, twas a long night. Not having slept the night before was really going to test me. Vison blurred and hands started shaking, beads of sweat forming, mind wandering. But there's always that second wind. The second wind got me through the last binder. Time stamp, 6:09 a.m. On my way out, every nerve frazzled to the core, I looked at my sign, T.G.I.M. Mondays *do* suck. But *anything* beats the hell out of being virtually locked in a cage on the weekend with an immovable deadline, working for a job you hate, and busting your ass for people who don't give a shit.

I'm glad I got this post done. I'm still falling asleep here at the keyboard. I'm ready to relax and chill out. Fall asleep dreaming about writing for a living, far away from this corporate bullshit, but having the last laugh at writing stories about just how utterly ridiculous life and people in the workplace are. Will someone out there please find me an agent?

PS Sincere thanks {and apologies} to Island Girl for my blog template. It was wonderful, but I had to keep typing the post twice because of all the funky characters. Whew! Don't worry, Robotnik. Your CD is coming.


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