Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Bon-bons and Computer Games

As many of you may know, I have been at the Client From Hell -- a bizarre combination of clueless management, passive-aggressive developers, and a heady dose of marriage counseling -- and I'm scheduled to roll off in January. At this point, if I have to talk to another client, I may snap and actually tell them exactly what I think.

That would not be good.

I was supposed to be here for only three months, which made the hour-long commute tolerable (although I bitched to high heaven about it). I should have known. Three months turned into six turned into nine and here I am a year later still commuting 120 miles a day and trying to manage a warehousing project that has run amok. It has been...well, hellish. The worst client I have had. This gig has driven me closer to quitting my job than anything else in the last 12 years.

Oh, I like the individual people quite well. They are nice. Occasionally clueless, but for the most part with good intentions. But the company has re-org'd five times in the year, had three rounds of layoffs, and some plan that includes reabsorbing part of the business back into their parent company. As you might guess, morale is at sub-basement levels. About half of the people who were laid off in the last round were given an end date of 12/31 so they could wrap up current projects.

On one hand, it's nice that they know what's going on over the holidays. On the other, it's quite insulting. "Oh, we don't think you're good enough to keep, but you're on an important project right now, so you need to stay and finish it." Um...No. Sorry. The resumes have been printing at record speed. People are disappearing on a daily basis. I thought I'd be immune to it, since I'm only a contractor, but it sucks the life out of you. I've been dreading going to work every morning, I've had anxiety attacks and insomnia, can't deal with the slightest frustration, and (as my husband so succinctly commented), I'm a hideous bitch.

So, I talked to my boss today about a sabbatical. I don't think you can call it a sabbatical if you're not in the academic world, but the idea is the same: no work. And I shouldn't say I "talked" to him, as if this was a discussion about the possibility of time off. It was pretty much, "I'm taking twelve weeks off. How does this work?" He's entirely on board, which is good. My only concern is not losing medical coverage during this period, and I don't know how that is going to fly. I'm willing to do something "back office", like write a class or edit books, etc, to make it a zero-sum for my company and for me. My boss insisted that regardless of how we work it out, there should be some time when I'm just "gone" and no one expects time from me at all. Financially, we're fine. No bills, no mortgage; the Adorable Husband assures me that I can go back "when I'm ready."

I don't want to quit -- the grass is almost never greener, and I'm treated very well -- but a few months off is something I'm really looking forward to. Get back to doing the things that I want to do, the things that have fallen by the wayside as my stress and apathy have sapped urge I have to do anything. I'm barely even reading books right now -- which is probably reason enough to put me on life-support. I've offered to write a class, or do a few interviews, or whatever. Mostly, I'm just looking forward to playing computer games until my eyes fall out, stitching, reading, and finishing both the Irish part of the site and the Ireland travelogue.

THe Adorable Husband thinks I'll last about six weeks and then have to go back to work. We'll see. I'm sure he'll have an office pool by the time I actually stop working. "How Long Will She Last?" I suppose it depends on what I end up doing. I can't actually play computer games for days on end (ok, well, maybe a few days), and I have ridiculous requirements for input and amusement: four books going at one time, TV while I'm sorting, indexing, scanning, etc. We'll have to see how it goes.


Mr. Phouka said...

This is the "adorable Husband" in this post, I did NOT and would not (as i value my life and would not like to be maimed in some horrible dishwasher "accident") call my lovely bride the thing I have been accused of. I may have carefully implied she was not as pleasant as she could have been, but that is all the credit I am prepared to accept.

laurafingerson said...

Hey now -- a "sabbatical" is where academics take time off from teaching and service commitments (sitting on committees, supervising students, etc.) to do research for one or two semesters. Academics apply to their institutions for sabbaticals and get paid either their entire salary or a portion of their salary during the time away. But they are WORKING!

However, a "leave of absence" is unpaid. My fall semester was a leave of absence, since I was planning on doing NOTHING related to work after the twins were born. And yes, this most certainly was true. Now I am back on the payroll, although part-time, and I am thinking a full year's leave might have been good.....unfortunately, we still need to feed and clothe ourselves....

You, thus, are taking a glorious leave of absence with no worries or deadlines or commitments! And, no newborn twins! Your life will be very good.