Monday, January 09, 2006

Hoping For Better

What a week last week turned out to be. It started off on a high note, being allowed to leave work early on Monday afternoon. That was definitely the high point, though, and by the end of the week it seemed like something that happened in another lifetime.

For one thing, computer problems were a constant theme over the course of the week. The IT department installed an "upgrade" to the network software on my Mac, and it's been a real pain in my ass ever since. Unfortunately, they haven't yet figured out how to fix the problem, which means that my network connectivity has been spotty in the meantime. That's a real issue given what I use my Mac for. There were times when I was tempted to throw the stupid thing out the window, and we don't even have windows in our office. I suppose that means I would have had to throw it through the wall, which I would not have been adverse to trying. I hate Macs in general, even more so now that I have more experience working with them, and this has not helped. I'm hoping my Mac and my PC will experience catastrophic meltdowns at approximately the same time so I can get a PC that's hopped-up on steroids and dispense with this stupid two-computer setup.

Still, that was the extent of my problems...until my Thursday morning commute. Shortly after getting onto the interstate, one of my car's tires blew out. I was in the left lane at the time, passing a semi. Fortunately, I was able to get over to the right and off onto the shoulder with no problem. I wasn't thrilled about changing a tire so close to a relatively high volume of traffic moving at a high rate of speed, but seeing as how I really had no other choice, I got out to do just that. Fortunately, as I was getting my spare tire and the jack out of my trunk, a state highway patrolman pulled over to give me a hand. I've rarely had occasion to feel grateful to the Ohio highway patrol, but in this case I was. With the officer's help, it took only a few minutes to get the shredded tire off and the donut on, and then I was back on the road.

Of course, at this point I was still twenty-five miles away from work. My first thought was to go ahead and go to work and worry about the tire afterwards. I wasn't very comfortable with the thought of driving that far on the spare, though, and I had already called to let them know that I would be coming in late. That being the case, I drove back into town to get my tire replaced and the rest of them looked at. It turned out they all needed to be replaced, which I pretty much expected. They were approaching their mileage limit, but I wasn't thrilled about sinking so much money into a car I'm not planning to own for all that much longer. It couldn't be avoided, though, and now at least it's something I know I won't have to worry about again.

By the time I arrived at work on Thursday, I was late by about an hour and a half. At that point, it seemed like the worst was over. Friday was our deadline day, which made Thursday a busy day, but busy isn't a bad thing. There was plenty of work to be done, but it was mostly smooth sailing, and by the end of the day I felt pretty good about where we were. It seemed like just a few touches would be needed to finish things up on Friday morning.

It would not turn out that way, however. I got my first taste of what Friday had in store for me when I went out to my car to leave for work and discovered that my locks were frozen. It took several minutes for me to get in, and I had to do so through the passenger's door and then climb over into the driver's seat. Not a big deal, but not a good way to start the day, either.

When I got to work, I found deadline day in full swing already. All catalog pages have to be approved by the company president and his wife, who is the former head of our department. That's true even when they're on vacation in some distant locale, as they were last week. The pages are e-mailed to them, and they e-mail their feedback. When no one heard from them on Thursday, it was assumed that the pages were fine as they were. However, there were changes waiting in various e-mail inboxes when people started arriving on Friday morning. This necessitated a flurry of last-minute changes on top of all the usual deadline-day changes we normally encounter, and no one was even sure whether or not it was all due to a possible miscommunication, nor did we have any way to find out. It was a full-blown snafu, exacerbated by the fact that two of our graphics people (half the staff) were out sick.

As we were dealing with that, it came to light that a mistake had been made on our weekly newsletter, which had already been sent to the printer and posted to the website. Even better, the mistake was made primarily by me. It was based on an oversight: this was the first time for the newsletter to fall primarily under my jurisdiction, and I didn't know (nor did anyone tell me) that there was any difference in the way it was proofed as opposed to the monthly catalogs. Therefore I made a change that shouldn't have been made, and it was not good. Fortunately, we were able to alert the printer and make changes before the printing run began; at a cost to the company, of course, but that was deemed to be better than letting the newsletter go out with the mistake on it. No one blamed me, since I wasn't told about the nuances of proofing the newsletter, but that didn't stop me from feeling like a moron.

Needless to say, I was ecstatic when the workday ended on Friday. I was ready for a low-key, relaxing weekend to soothe my frustrations. I got the relaxing weekend. Brandi took me out for dinner that evening, and we went out to have a few drinks later that night. For the rest of the weekend, I didn't really do too much besides watch football and read. Does life get better than that?

Still, I found this morning that I apparently needed something more than that to calm myself. I found myself irritated as soon as I arrived at work, for no apparent reason. It didn't exactly change as the day wore on, either. A couple of weeks ago I met with my new boss to bring her up to speed on exactly what I do, and during the course of the meeting I made a couple of suggestions for things that aren't currently being done that I would like to do. Some overheard conversations today suggest that these things will be done, but that they're being assigned to someone else. I'm not totally sure that's the case, my information being based on hearsay, but I'll be pretty irritated if it's true.

The week is very young, though, and if that's the worst that happens all week, it'll be dramatically better than last. Our deadline is out of the way and I now have all the information I need for my new task (at least I think I do; but then, I thought that last week too), so I think things should be good.

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