Taming the Wolf

Anxiety over work has pretty much dominated my life for the last few months. Our corporate headquarters is planning on taking over a significant portion of our network services. Could be good, could be bad. They aren't giving us enough information to really know what is going on, just lots of power points filled with corporate buzzwords. Some of what they plan makes sense on paper. Problem is every IT project they've implemented in the last several years has been a failure, so I'm not optimistic they will get any of this right. The likely outcome of all this is that we will provide a much lesser level of service to student, faculty, and staff alike, and I will either be out of a job, or reduced to a help desk flunkie. Dealing with that uncertainty hasn't been fun. However since the wheels of the corporate juggernaut move pretty damn slow there is no immediate threat to my job. In fact its quite the opposite. Over the last two years our network admin group has been reduced from 2 network admins, a webmaster, a dba/programmer, an administrative assistant, and an intern, to 1 network admin, and myself who acts as a dba/programmer/webmaster/netadmin as needed. At the same time they've increased the number of computers on campus by around 50% and added 5 remote sites (4-8 hour drive remote) that we need to support. We are stretched very thin.

So when my boss, the other/senior network admin turned in his two week notice last week I was less than thrilled. Since in 12-24 months we won't need another network admin we don't think they will replace him. That leaves me as one sad, lonely little fat man. As I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to stay on top of everything some of my co-workers are busy jockeying for position, trying to increase their place in the pecking order and pad their resumes, or just generally panicking over the direction the company is going. None of this is helping. And just to add insult to injury I get no promotion, and no raise because I don't have a bachelor's degree. They're confident I can handle the work, but I'm not qualified to have the official position. Gee, thanks.

One benefit of working at the university is I can take classes for free. I'm now about 6 months away from completing my bachelor's degree (three lousy classes). I also have my Pennsic vacation coming up in about 4 months, and I don't want to change jobs before then since I won't have enough vacation time at the new job to go. Of course I'm trying to imagine the discussion with the department head as I get ready to leave for 2 ½ weeks to go to Pennsic.

“So, how many times a day will you be checking your cell phone and email while your gone.?"

“None.”

“None, but what if something goes wrong, you're the only one that knows how to fix things around here.”

“Gee, guess you should have staffed appropriately, sucks to be you.”

“Really, we need to be able to get in touch with you.”

“Really, I will be living in a tent city in the middle of Pennsylvania. Giligan's Isle style, no phone, no lights, no motor cars, not a single luxury.”

“But we have to be able to reach you.”

“No you don't, look up the definition of a vacation....”

And so on.

I may well be fired if I actually go on vacation, but hey, I've never collected unemployment, I probably have a goodly amount built up if I need it.

Last week after a particularly bad day of freaking out over this whole mess I had one of those very interesting dreams. I won't go into great detail, because describing my dreams in detail would be even more boring than my normal postings. The major point is that I was being chased by a large wolf. I had started to run when it suddenly occurred to me, “Hey, I'm bigger and stronger than this thing, why am I running?” I turned and faced the wolf. It leapt at me but I grabbed it by the muzzle and wrestled it to the ground. I would hold it til it settled down then let it up, at which point it would attack me again and I would repeat the process. Eventually it quit fighting and did not attack me again, I had tamed the wolf.

The dream seemed very applicable to my work situation. I can deal with whatever they throw at me, I just have to stand my ground an take control. I have to tame the wolf.

I went to work that day feeling refreshed and confident. Of course as the day went all to hell and things got progressively worse it occurred to me that I can't even make my terrier sit....

Oh well, did I mention that I have lots of unemployment built up?