Donkey-work

It’s the last couple days at my job, and I’m working harder than I ever did in the past 4 months that I’ve held this position. That’s a particular thing about taking on a coordinating sort of role: The work is never cut and dry, and the projects rarely have a definitive start and end… Or at least none that fits into the relatively short span that I’ve been here. So in leaving, I’ve got to summarize the projects I’ve been working on, and try to convey some of the knowledge I’ve gleaned, and basically do what I can to make it so that someone else can take over.

It’s making me nostalgic for when I’ve left cafe jobs: I’d simple pull one last latte at the espresso bar, look at the clock, shuck my apron, and say goodbye. I’m even looking back with great fondness on the afternoon last June when I was surprised to find myself laid off from the construction site: One minute I was installing nurse call switches, and less than an hour later I was drinking beer in the sunshine on my patio with another (ex)coworker. It sucked in some ways, but it was also pretty relaxing.

Today, I spent 7 hours teaching my boss and my coworker how to use client management database software. My boss kept asking why we’d do it this way, instead of simply using spreadsheets, and kept suggesting that we needn’t bother with documenting *all* of our client communications in the database, just some of them. Look, I told him, you certainly could do it that way, and you might even do well at it… But then why did you invest in this software, and why did I just spend 4 months mastering it?

The entire debate was a pretty good indicator of the primary struggles that the company is facing, with few established protocols for doing anything. The other person I was teaching was my coworker who’d driven in from another city up-island, and she was similarly frustrated. In fact, when the boss was out of the room, I learned that she’d also suggested that she no longer work for the company, on the same day that I did. My boss told her that I was already leaving, and she felt bad, so agreed to stay, though with many reservations.

“They just don’t get it,” she said, “How much donkey-work goes into all the stuff they want us to do.”

Poor donkeys.

It wasn’t until the end of our day together that I learned that she didn’t know how to use the software for custom mail-merges, which is one of its primary time-saving functions. I was livid. How could they have had this woman on staff for longer than me, and never even taught her this most important of skills? She’s a great learner, far better than my boss is at understanding the applications of the technology, but has been given little to no support in developing this… Even though it would be infinitely beneficial for the company to have more competent staff.

So we’re getting together again tomorrow, for more teaching. Fuck, I’m so glad I’m getting out of here.

I’m still a little nervous about starting trade school next week, because I’m hardly expecting the atmosphere to have changed much from last time… But at least it’ll be a completely different sort of frustrations.

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6 responses to “Donkey-work

  1. Poor donkey. Good luck on your new ventures.

    • feralgeographer

      Thanks Button! The poor donkey now is my soon-to-be-former coworker… When we got a chance alone yesterday, I did what I could to encourage her to quit, or at least demand higher wages, because they’re walking all over her… It’s so crappy :(

  2. You are much more thoroughbreed than donkey, still I like that expression.
    Don’t worry too much. OK? Don’t want to ruin the wedding pictures:-)

    • feralgeographer

      I’m actually kinda scared of horses, and find donkeys to be more my style: Affectionate, hardworking, etc. ;)

      I assure you, the wedding pictures will not be marred by my wrinkled brow of concern… Because I actually bought a serious amount of makeup for the first time in my life! I’ll try to keep the laughlines around my eyes though, because they’re what makes me, me.

  3. Ah, trade school. The second time through, I’m sure you’ll be among fewer imbeciles, because the people there aren’t there on a lark – they’ve got something resembling career commitment, and focus. The only drawback that I can see is (and I thought of censoring myself on this, sorry if I was right) is that they’ve also be inculcated with a year or so’s worth of real live workplace sexism, rather than the theoretical stuff.

    I bet your figurative skin is tougher now, though.

  4. feralgeographer

    Oh, my figurative skin is on a whole ‘nother level compared to a year ago! And while I suspect you’re quite right, as to the effects of a year working in the trades may have had upon my soon-to-be-classmates, maybe at least some of them will also have had excellent kind journeymen who kicked that disrespectful crap right out of them… Maybe even journeywomen! Also, it’s true what you wrote: At this level, trade school is much less of a lark, and I hope that’ll bring a welcome difference in attitude among my peers compared to the entry level.

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