Saturday, May 14, 2011

We're all going to die

Today's the 4-year anniversary of me starting work at Large Nameless Agency. What have I learned in those four years? 

Well, if there's ever a full-blown outbreak of a killer disease, we should all kiss our collective ass goodbye. By the time LNA manages to come to a conclusion and drafts an action plan after endless rounds of meetings and squabbling over just who gets to tell teams where to go first, the zombie apocalypse will have wiped out all but a handful of hardcore survivalists hunkered down in bunkers. When an agency takes a month to figure out just where to physically assign a new employee because a couple of branch chiefs are getting territorial over who controls a vacant cubicle, it's got a bad case of bureaucratic sclerosis. We have a student intern coming for a 10-week stint this summer, and I swear it's taking longer to secure a work space for her and ensure the necessary tools are in place (e.g., a computer) than she'll spend working for us. It's bizarre.

Then again, I've seen the same thing happen many times in the past 4 years: new employees come in and no one knows where to physically place them -- after you've overheard a few phone conversations where someone is calling around begging for a cubicle, an abandoned monkey cage, a janitor's closet, a space of some sort to park the new guy in, you start to wonder if anyone at LNA ever does any advance planning. Why do they hire people if they don't know what they're going to do with those employees once they're here?

My own experience with LNA should have been a clue that what seemed like initially like an unexpected glitch was in fact standard operating procedure for this outfit: I spent almost a full month in a "temporary" cubicle while the branch chief tried to figure out where to stick me and several other new hires back in 2007. They'd hired us all, knew we were coming, and yet when we arrived, nothing was in place. From the reactions, you'd think it was all a total surprise, like it was unexpectedly raining new employees and they'd had nothing to do with posting the positions or interviewing and then selecting the candidates.  Very, very strange.  Eventually I and two colleagues were told we'd been assigned cubicle space in a building, and that everything was set up and waiting for us there.

We went to check out the new space. You know what we found? Totally empty cubicles. There weren't even chairs. When we asked about chairs, we were told to "go borrow some from a meeting room." When we asked about computers, the answer was "ITSO says they're there." Oh? Then why is the cubicle completely empty? It took another week to get the cubicles set up with computers, and probably another full week to get them working. When we asked about office supplies -- some post it notes, some pens, whatever -- we were each handed three red lead pencils, and that was it.

I don't even want to think about what a mess the human resources office made of getting my accrued leave, existing insurance plan, and other items transferred over from the Park Service. The best way to describe it is to simply say, if there was something they could manage to fuck up, they did.

All things considered, I'm more than a little surprised I'm still here. Maybe it was just a case of the combination of the Atlanta smog, heat, and humidity drained me so much the first few months that I didn't have the energy to think about leaving -- and by the time I did, I'd gotten used to the dysfunctions.

1 comment:

  1. I know of two dudes who could make sense of your workplace: Hieronymus Bosch and Dante Alighieri.


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