Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Fight Club

Just five minutes ago I wanted something from Incompetent Supervisor number 2. He's around 30, with grey short-cropped hair, a bit fat, and completely full of his own importance. He's the type that will butt into your nice and civilized conversations with other team members and spoil them by just going off on a tangent on a completely unrelated topic, probably about some piece of technology that he owns.

I used to hate him dearly because of his pretentious ways, also because he never thought it would be civil to introduce himself to me (I'm supposed to be working with this guy) and also because since he hadn't introduced himself he chose to ignore me.

Then one day I was surfing the agent folders on the net drive and in the folder of my colleague A. I found this photo of Wanky Supervisor. It was the photo that is taken from everyone at the beginning of their employment with SUCKS for the doggie-badge (security badge), and looking at these freezed time-frames from the past that everyone carries around their neck can be quite fascinating.
In the case of supervisor cum wanker I was looking at the photo of an almost completely different person. He is much younger, a slim twenty something, almost laughing into the camera, looking eager, smiling without the cynical smirk that defines him now, defiant, innocent. It's easy to imagine his breezy coolness, which now just comes across as jaded, being real back in the day.
When seeing this photo I pretty much stopped hating and started pitying him. And what the hell does it do in A's folder??

My pity is well tested day by day though. Today superwankor was chatting and playing very cool with some other wanker from technical services. I needed some information off him, so I positioned myself in front of them and said "excuse me..."
They just finished their banter with me standing there and both went off in separate directions, and I had to walk after superwankor and say his name (loudly) before he actually turned around and looked kind of annoyed that I was so persistant.

While he gave me the information, I asked him about the thirty outlook reminder message boxes that you see every day on his screen. He said, "oh yeah, I'm having a busy time..."
I thought the reminders business on his screen had been a joke, honestly.
Wouldn't just having a to do list with dates and real priorities help him keep a clear overview much better? Oh well, I doubt this guy wants to be clear...

Haven't smoked grass today or for that matter yesterday. Maybe next week.
If grass makes me too mellow (and thus taking more shit than I should), the lack of grass makes me energetic, devil-may-care, even aggressive. I get fantasies of hitting people.
I can only imagine it as a most delightful feeling - just take one of these people who pass you by every day, simply ignoring you, denying you existance - and then making them feel your existance in the most painful way imaginable. Since it would come as a surprise you could have them on the floor, kicking their ribs in, before they even know it. That'll get you fired but might not land you in prison, even though you'd probably have a conviction after...

Right time for some more moronic questions and some quality music on the iPod.
I'm still not "online" i.e. answering phonecalls, so I can shut my ears. For now.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Friday Afternoon Lull

So it's friday afternoon. The email queues are empty, all free donuts have been eaten, Metafilter has been extensively browsed, and when boredom set in I even looked at the technical support procedures on the Intranet. These tell me quite a lot about how I should do my job. Trouble is, my supervisor never mentioned the documents and in fact some of the things he told me are different from the documents.
No do I go the extra mile and try to conform to the policy, and furthermore do I go and disturb my supervisor, who will not have the time for me new start since he'll be busy with his reports, to get a crystal clear idea of which should be logged as what - or do I wait until someone finally gets round to reviewing my support emails (which I started sending two weeks ago), and in the meantime contribute to the inconsistency of the database like so many of my colleagues. My German work ethics would demand the first, and even though I'll probably do the first, it seems like so much self-inflicted pain for nothing. At this company I've been given a desk and a salary and then some generally very, very vague instructions on how to proceed, and for the rest of the time it's basically as if I don't exist (to my supervisors - the colleagues are excellent). Since they have so many employees I feel reduced to a very, very small unit. The unit has been bought and put into a place into the apparatus; sets of policies and procedures have been installed in the unit; input and output channels have been connected; by all rational calculation the unit should by now start functioning.
However if your supervisor and generally NOONE gives you the feeling that they have a good overview and a clear sense of direction, or for that matter any enthusiasm for what is being done or is to be done, and they basically ignore you - it feels like the company doesn't give a fuck about you, the unit.
Which is probably a pretty close approximation of the actual facts.

It is true, there is a lot of fluctuation. Almost nobody here seems wanting to stay "forever", or as Ali (an Algerian guy) put it: "You always know: One day I will leave." Then he said: "Fuck, in two months I'm gonna be in Canada."

I first promised the company to stay for at least a year (I had to, they were offering me a "permanent position") - then in the first week when it revealed its ugly, american, fascist machinelike face to me I was pretty close to quitting then and there, seeing the obsession to log everything, watch the worker's computer screens, this whole apparatus which is placed above human qualities like communcation and common sense (the concept of "softskills" actually never made sense before I came to this place - I thought everybody had them, but boy was I in for a surprise).

However now I know the place where we do the technical support is much different from the place where they do customer care for the global players. It seems like an oasis compared to what appears like some sort of modern western sweatshop (actually the "emotional work" in the callcenter has been said to be "the new factory's work" of this century).
I'm easier and have promised myself to stay for six months at least, after which I will have access to super-cheap (and legal) copies of highly demanded popular software, and get a pay rise.

But I feel like I can quit anytime. I fight the urge to become too comfortable in what is, effectively a cushy (if slightly spirit-crushing) job. I feel best when I remind myself that there is a huge gap between this place, where I have arbitrarily put myself, and my person, that I don't belong. Take a step back in your own mind, and when you see things laid out before you you can play.

Anyway what I was going to say is that despite nice material conditions I don't feel obliged to this company any longer, at all. Just the way I have been treated at the beginning shows that they don't feel obliged to me, period. It is an ice cold rational pay-for-work relationship, with the possibility to be terminated withhin one week during the first six months. The unit can be chucked out at anytime should its performance not "live" up to expectations.

Furthermore - the training I've received so far is a mess, or rather, it was left completely up to me to train myself. Which wasn't that bad. I enjoy getting paid for reading books about software for four weeks and I was interested in getting to know these eight tools products. My mind seems to map software very well, even after years I still know which button or checkbox does what in the third submenu of a submenu of a submenu.
I was a bit pissed off, when, after a month had passed, they suddenly turned up with a schedule and asked me to do it again.

Today I took one hour off for lunch instead of half an hour (and I was 10 minutes late this morning). For that, I haven't received so much as a comment from anybody.
I don't really know this corporate culture, maybe in their way of doing things they will just come up with disciplinary measures. That would be like these people: Not saying a single word to me themselves (which would expose them - to communication, as a human being...) but rather let the rules and regulations do the work.

What they would really like you to do is internalize the rules and regulations; so when they sit inside your head you will give yourself disciplinary hearings. They're trying to nourish a fear of the apparatus, so for example when Training Mum came to tell me about a new rule (i.e. asking the customer at the end of the call if he was satisfied), at the end of her speech she said: "This will be taken into the monitoring parameters - you know that all the calls are monitored, right? So they will notice if you leave it out. And are you familiar with the concept of mistakes and fatal mistakes?" ... What the fuck - please! I'll do it if you ask me nicely, but just laying down the rule like "it's the rule now and you should adhere to it or you will get fucked by the system - and by the way I have nothing to do with it" pisses me off.

Training mum just passed me by and flashed a slightly pained smile. I'm getting paranoid, time for the weekend...

So I'll close my trusty firefox browser now. I've done the following things to it to make it look like and email window:
- disable all the toolbars
- download an extension called "Web Developer"
- with the help of the extension, disable images, animations, page colours, javascript and styles. Nicely reduces a web page to pure text. This is actually quite relaxing...
- Changed the windows colours so the application status bar will be in the same grey as the outlook bars
- resized the firefox window so it fits into the outlook new mail window, the lower part, where you write the mail.

This is since I'll be fucked if they ever see me using "SUCKS business assets for other than work purposes", AND decide to actually, for one time, follow up on the rules.

Cheers for the weekend me hearties!

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Pushing it

Today I couldn't be arsed to get up. Smoking weed in the evening always does that to me, I think it somehow fucks up my REM phases. 7 hours of sleep without being intoxicated previously are much more refreshing anyway.
The second thing weed does to me it that it makes me feel much more free. Of the obligation to force yourself to get up and go to work, for example. Since I remembered my supervisor isn't in today that is just what I did. I had a nice lie-in, then just a wee hit before I started on my 45-minute bus journey.
When I turned up at my desk it was past 11, and John, the stand-in for the supervisor, said matter-of-factly: "Oh, I thought you weren't in today."
Damn. So I could've also gotten away with just not showing up at all.
Actually, since I'm not yet answering phonecalls, only e-mails, they don't log my times ... as soon as I will be required to use a phone they want me to log in (and out when I go to the toilet, on breaks, etc), and then it's 1984 proper.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

We Have Really Strict Rules So We Can Ignore Them

Went outside for a smoke this afternoon with a Tech2 who's been here for a couple years. I told him I'd seen another job on the web and considered applying. This would be a nice job with 20K per year starting salary (this job yields just under 14), but definitely more demanding.
"Well" I mused, "if I had this job it would be project-type work and it would be on my mind after work, too, taking up my mental capacity. This job on the other hand takes up next to no mental capacity. "
"And you only really work for 4 hours a day" said the Tech2 guy, "the rest of the time you do... other stuff... isn't it so?"
I'm afraid it is. I will hit Send now because it's already after five and I don't wanna blog in my freetime, you see?

Welcome to SUCKS

I recently started working in a major company, SUCKS. The company, which has over 15K workers, supplies customer relations management to lots of "global player" companies.
I'm now a Tech Support Level 1, which means I get to do all the dirty work.

The purpose of this blog is to keep a record of the things that happen here, and to document the stuff going on here, i.e. unbelievable wastes of time, no efficiency, gross incompetence, carelessness, lack of common sense. I'm sometimes just left standing with my mouth open.
Will try to be not too self-righteously indignated at stuff though, and remain calm and detached.
Like you are supposed to be when giving technical support.