Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The Deadline Approaches

The deadline for the next catalog at work is next Monday. The days leading up to the deadline are always hectic in our department, as we struggle to compile the pages of "hot new" releases (with a flurry of new announcements seeming to always come near deadline, this is never a smooth process) and make last-minute changes to the rest of the pages so the contents can be finalized, the index can be printed, and the whole product can get one last once-over before it goes to the presses.

The way I see it, the person in our department with the most reason to freak out would be me. The deadline is what it is, but I'm constrained by when other people finish their parts and pass the pages onto me. If the deadline is on a Monday and the last pages aren't given to me until late Friday afternoon (and generally they are), that's my problem. I have no real problem with that--it's just the way the proofreading job works, and that sort of high-pressure situation is one in which I thrive. I'm not prone to stressing out. It's just the way I am, and I know that most people aren't wired that way. Still, I'm at a loss as to why everyone in my department was so edgy today. It seemed like everyone was on everyone else's nerves, and I expected a full-scale meltdown at any moment. It never came, but still, the general atmosphere made for a tense working environment.

For me, deadline week is always a flurry of activity because of the number of pages that are last-minute projects by their very nature. This is actually a light month for us, as we're only putting out one standard catalog, but this week is as frenzied as ever. Of course, the pressure for me is ratcheted up by a number of side projects that take precedence over the regular catalog and have a tendency to come up during deadline weeks. I don't mind this, either. I actually enjoy the added pressure, and I take great pride in the fact that I've yet to struggle to get everything done by deadline in the nine months I've been there. I guess that's why it bewilders me when everyone else is stressed out: I'm the last line of defense, and I haven't yet been overwhelmed or failed to get things done on time, even when placed in tense situations due to pages taking longer than expected to be delivered to me. I don't mean that to sound as self-centered as it probably comes across, so let me put it this way: even given the tightness of our deadline, I don't think it's necessary for people to get snippy with each other. One way or another, things will get done.

Still, it's a busy week for all involved, and I'm no exception. In fact, I haven't yet had the opportunity to speak to someone about a pay raise, and it's likely that I won't have time this week to seek out the person in question (although I will definitely try if the opportunity presents itself). If that turns out to be the case, it will definitely happen next week, as the post-deadline week is always my least busy. I'm feeling more confident about asking for more money, at any rate. I was told today that my name came up in the most recent upper-management meeting as someone who has gone above and beyond the call of duty, and these employers do seem to be interested in rewarding that sort of behavior. Actually, I've already been rewarded on a limited basis--the head honcho gave me a pair of tickets to the Detroit Tigers game this Saturday. It can be argued that a pair of tickets to a game between two crappy teams (the opponent is Kansas City) isn't much of a reward, but they're good seats and I love baseball, so it works for me. That isn't to say that I don't want, need, or deserve more than that, but at this point it's nice just to be recognized.

The company I work for has exploded in terms of size and revenue over the past few years, and given the way the company owners approach the business, I have no reason to believe the company will not continue to grow. It puts me in an interesting position. I'm low on the food chain right now, but how long will that be the case? I don't expect it to change overnight, but I do expect it to change. The powers-that-be are never satisfied with the status quo, and there have been several minor reorganizations in the relatively short time I've been there. I've been somewhat immune to it, since I have a specific job that I enjoy (for the most part), that no one else wants, and that I am very good at. I have been given additional responsibilities, but I haven't had my job description totally changed, as others have. I can see that continuing to happen, especially given some of our recent innovations. Our number of publications is increasing, particularly online, and eventually there will come a point where it will be impossible for all these publications to be proofread by one individual (of course, even now a small amount of the proofreading duties fall to someone else, a fact that needles me, but that will be brought up, probably at my next review). I have no basis in terms of information to back this, but on pure conjecture I wouldn't be surprised at some point to find myself overseeing a proofreading team of sorts.

That would be an interesting challenge for me, I think. I would love to be in charge of the proofreading policy. I think having one person with sole responsibility for it (in terms of management, if nothing else) would eliminate a number of inconsistencies which plague us now. Having no control over even a small portion of the duties right now, I can't stop those problems from creeping in. The problem I think I would have would be in trusting the work of other proofreaders. Especially at first, I think I would want to recheck everything they checked, just to ensure it was done correctly (I'm not a Nazi about such things in general, but when it's my job to be one, I go all out). That problem could be eased, however, if I were to be given a hand in hiring other proofreaders and responsibility for training them.

I'm getting way ahead of myself, of course (and rambling again...go figure). As I said, I have no real reason to believe any of this will happen, and it presupposes I'm still there when it does (which will depend upon several factors). Still, it's interesting to think about, and it's definitely better than feeling like my job is a total dead end with nowhere to go. With this company, at least, I know there's always somewhere to go. There may end up being nowhere else I want to go, but I do know that they try to accommodate anyone looking to move up or around. That's definitely a good thing to know.

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