Monday, May 31, 2010

Ms. Boss

I keep saying that I'm waiting for my work life to go back to normal: 8-hour days of minor managerial duties interspersed with repetitive paperwork. Usual, safe, boring days that drift by, each one much like the last.

I had a meeting with my boss today. He tells me that I will never get back to that version of normal. The business is growing too fast. There will be no time for me to return to my paperwork. He needs me on the big stuff: leading projects, making decisions, motivating people. Everything else will have to be delegated.

He says that pretty soon I might need a personal assistant, and that he'll be happy to see me hire one. I guess this means that I'll have to start drinking lattes, just so that I can yell "You call this a latte?" at my P.A. And I'll have to start dry cleaning my clothes so that I can send her to pick up my dry cleaning. There are certain expectations to live up to when you become an executive.

This morning I was planning to hire one new employee. After the meeting with my boss, and hearing all the projects he has in mind to start a.s.a.p., we agreed I'll hire two. (Neither of those being a P.A., for the record. I'm not quite ready to go there yet.)

It's pretty crazy times. We're still not fully settled in after the move, and he's already looking ahead to the next big thing. I guess that's business for you.

Don't worry - I've booked a week off coming up soon. And although my job description has jumped up one or more levels of responsibility, I'm not planning to continue working over 9 hours per day for the long term. At least my hours have got to go back to normal a.s.a.p., or... I don't know what. I'll just make sure it happens, is what.

I'm actually pretty excited by the change. I don't mind delegating the boring elements of my job. Sometimes it's nice to have some mindless, routine work as a break, but too much of it is numbing. Sounds like I'm going to be focused almost completely on the creative, social, and problem-solving elements at work from now on. I can dig that.

My boss told me I am becoming an executive. Really? How did my life take this turn? When I was a kid I wanted to be a writer, a ballerina, or an astrophysicist. Business executive wasn't even on the radar. How does one end up with a career like this by accident? Life is weird. But good.

Friday, May 28, 2010


I could use a personality tranfusion.

My work hours are finally starting to lighten up, however at this point I'm so burned out that I don't have the energy to celebrate. I haven't been writing here because I can't think of anything I want to say. I'm sick of talking about work, but I haven't done much else, and I'm too tired to have any strong opinions.

I've been taking steps towards a more normal life. I made plans to see some friends. I FINALLY made an appointment with my massage therapist. I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to that.

I've taken some time to stop and smell the flowers. Literally. I got outside last weekend and buried my face in every blooming lilac tree I passed. That helped.

I also did some birdwatching. Ken and I were driving through the light industrial area where we work, and saw multiple families of Canada geese herding their youngsters near a grassy area. We parked and got out to watch the goose parade. Most families had two adults and two or three goslings. One bunch we came across consisted of four adults and 23 babies. That's a lot of babysitting! One of the babies had a sore foot. He was limping along at the tail end of the procession, and he kept sitting down to rest. The last stoic adult goose never left his side.

The cutest part was when the goslings had to jump down off a curb to cross a parking lot. The jump, all of 6" high, was so daunting that each baby bottomed out on the asphalt, bumping his fuzzy yellow chest on the ground, then unfolding his skinny little legs once again to toddle off, bum a-waddle.

In other news, my Kindle arrived! After getting excited during the purchase and paying about a million extra dollars for the Faster-Than-Light-Speed-We-Literally-Get-It-To-You-Yesterday Shipping option, I let it sit on my dining room table in the cardboard box for two days. Opening it up and figuring out how to operate it seemed like it might feel like work, so I didn't want to do it. But last night I finally summoned the energy.

It's a very neat little thing. The whole "electronic paper and ink" is much better than I expected, and also kind of weird. I can't get my head around the display staying "on" when the device is asleep. It's because it works like an Etch-a-Sketch in that no power is required to maintain the image once it has been set on the screen. It also gets way better cell phone network reception in my house than my actual cell phone does. I don't understand how that works, but whatever. It's cool.

I like the idea of being able to carry around multiple books without worrying about the weight of them. I also love that there's a dictionary embedded in the Kindle, so you can look up any word on the go. I love reading books that challenge my vocabulary, but it's always been frustrating when I want to take them on the road. I'm not about to carry around my 1,500 page print dictionary. Except now I kind of can.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Not Over Yet

In Canada this is a long weekend, and thank God for that. I could sure use the rest.

Things at work should settle down in a few more weeks, but currently there are still around a zillion things to do and they all need to be done right away. I'm still working 9.5 to 10 hour days with barely enough break time to inhale some food now and then. I can't wait until it's all done.

I love the new workspace, but it's disorienting to be in a new building after 8 years in the old one. For example, my new desk drawers are on the right side of my desk. They used to be on my left. I keep habitually swiping at the air on my left to get to my files, but there's nothing there.

I went back to our old space to look for a step-stool that got left behind on moving day. Those little suckers cost $90 each to buy new, so it was worth the time. The new tenants had already started renovating the space. I went in thinking I knew where to look for the step-stool, because I knew which room I had last seen it in. When I got there, that room didn't exist anymore. All the internal walls had been rearranged. Like I said, disorienting!

(I did find the little step-stool. It was in a corner, crying because we had left it behind. Poor thing. I brought it to the new place and reunited it with its friends, the archived files. Then everyone was happy again.)

There's a gym in our new building, right next door to us. The gym owner is very keen to get us all signed up for memberships. He talks to me because I'm in a position of authority, trying to sell the gym to me and my staff. He's a nice young guy, but we have nothing in common. I asked him if he was getting away for the long weekend, but he said no. There wasn't enough time. He won't go regular camping. It's only worth it to him to go Extreme Camping, on uninhabited islands, with no tent. Of course. Extreme Camping. Like I said, we have nothing in common.

Speaking of my indoorsy, nerdish tendencies, I just ordered a 6" Kindle as a reward to myself for surviving the move. If you have a Kindle and you hate it, please don't tell me in the comments. I really need something to look forward to. I'm not sure if I'll love it or not, but I like the idea of being able to download new books anywhere. Lately I have trouble finding time to go to the bookstore, and the books I've been grabbing from paperback spinners at the supermarket are pretty crap. The last one was so bad I chucked it in the recycling bin at the end of the first chapter. So, I hope the Kindle works out.

Alright. That's it for me for now. I'm going to go out and wander around downtown with Ken, rain or no rain. What are we going to do? Whatever the heck we want, for a change!

Saturday, May 15, 2010


We made it!

The move is over.

The phones work. The computer network works. The internet connection works. Hurray!


Packing Day (Thursday):
25 employees, 2 professional packers, 400 rented plastic bins, 800 zip ties, 600 room I.D. stickers.
Done in 8 hours. Not bad!
I even had time to go to the locksmith and to get keys cut for all the employees before dinner. 25 keys x 1 minute per key = a helluva long time to stand around listening to the irritating whine of the key grinder. I should have brought earplugs.

Moving Day (Friday):
2 employees supervising the old location, 2 at the new location, and me bopping back and forth with my cell phone ringing every 2 minutes.
One 30-foot straight truck, 2 cube vans, 12 movers.
Done in 14 hours.

Although it was a long day, it was actually pretty great. Mostly I was ecstatic simply because things were going well. Every time I picked up the phone it was news of another success.
"Your phone lines have been cut over to the new location."
"Your internet connection is now active."
"We've finished re-assembling the server rack, and everything is working fine."
Yahoo! Yipee! Sweeeeeet!

Also, it was a beautiful day for an adventure. I bummed a ride in the straight truck on the first trip over. I love sitting up in that high cab that you have to climb a ladder to get into. Of course I had to squeeze into the middle, and scootch my feet way over, because the giant stick-shift took up the entire floor space at the centre of the truck. I didn't care.

Then I got to work the lift gate on the truck while we were unloading. I'm sure that was against every health and safety regulation in the book, but whatever. I gets to operate heavy machinery! Good times!

After the first truckload was dropped off, I jumped back in the cab and we headed back. 2 blocks later, the truck cacked out. The engine was running, but the gas pedal stopped working. (Better than the brakes!) The driver put the pedal right to the floor, but the engine wouldn't rev. We crawled along at walking speed, four-way flashers on, in the left-turn lane. What now?

The driver shut the truck off. We all crossed our fingers. He turned the key. The engine caught. Gas pedal down: VRRROOOM! The truck was alive! It must have had a Windows-based engine. Just needed a reboot and it was good to go.

Unpacking Day (today, Saturday):
10 of the most loyal, committed, employees, who showed up on short notice when I and the other manager realized that Monday (our official Settle-In day) would not be enough time to get ready for Opening Day on Tuesday.
Lunch provided at the expense of the business owners, to thank us for sacrificing our Saturdays.
400 bins. 800 zip ties to cut off.
Lots of trying to figure out how to re-jig things in the new space.
Furniture Tetris.

On Unpacking Day the imperfections of the process, minor though they were, became evident. At least two of my LCD monitors have movers' fingerprints permanently embedded in the screens. I haven't tested them all yet.

Our new furniture, gorgeous though it is, presents some challenges with the locations of the electrical, voice, and data cable outlets. Either the outlets are right at the desk, but completely hidden behind a built-in cabinet or modesty panel, or they are so far away that I have to go out and buy a bunch of extra-long cables and extension cords to run around three sides of the room. :-pppppp

In the final analysis, I'm totally thrilled with how well things went. When I think of all the nightmarish worst-case scenarios that were totally possible... Well, I don't have to think about those anymore. We're in. Everyone loves the new place. It's beautiful. It's bright and spacious.

And tomorrow I'm going to take a day off and forget about it completely, with any luck.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Crap Update

The relocation of my workplace is scheduled for May 14th. As you all know, I've been working full tilt on the move and construction project for two months now. I was finally getting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Count-down to moving day! Soon: over with, done, finito! I'll get my life back!

Then I got a call from All*stream, the phone company that provides our business lines. "Aw, shucks, I'm so sorry, but it seems that it will be impossible to move your phone lines over to the new location on May 14th. I'm not sure when we'll be able to do that. There's a facilities issue. It could take one week to resolve, or it could take two months."

Say what?

First of all, I placed my move order on April 9th, and they waited until May 4th to kindly inform me that we're screwed? Unacceptable. Not being able to even give a ballpark estimate of when it will be resolved? Double-unacceptable!!

They blamed B*ell. They said the lines belong to B*ell, All*stream just rents and resells them, and B*ell isn't cooperating. If we switch all our lines over to B*ell maybe we can get faster service?

Miraculously, my phone hardware sales guy had an internal contact at B*ell. After a lot of back and forth and time spent, the final verdict was that she couldn't help. She said that B*ell has service contracts with all its resellers and that it would be illegal for them to give preferential treatment to B*ell customers. She can't get the lines any faster. End of miracle.

Do you know how much havoc it would cause if we had to change our move date at this point? Not only have we made arrangements with professional stuff movers, copier movers, water cooler movers, mat provider movers, etc. , we have already informed 1200 clients of our move date. We don't have e-mail addresses for our clients. We have 1200 home phone numbers. This means that we may have to inform all those people that their next appointment location is still at our old place, and then half of them will show up at the new site anyway, and it'll be a huge disaster.

Next hope for a miracle is R*ogers business phone services. They may have some lines available to offer phone service to our new building, separate from the B*ell quasi-monopoly. We'll see. A very friendly sales rep called Annemarie is supposed to get back to me by 5pm tonight with an answer one way or the other. The suspense is killing me.

If we don't get our phone lines moved, then we have to postpone the whole relocation. For how long? Anyone's guess. The light at the end of the tunnel blinks out. Darkness. Despair. Doom.

If you're the praying type, you know what to do. (Please and thank you.)