Archive for October, 2012

More Downsizing

The fiscal year ended on September 30th. The company usually downsizes every October. The layoffs started today. So far, only the millennial has been let go in our group.

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Baking For The O Team

The local Obama team has been calling on a regular basis trying to get me to volunteer. I usually let the call go to voice mail when I see an unknown name on the caller id. Last night I answered the phone without checking the caller id. I was expecting a call from Cindi with details of Marge’s lame brained plan to buy and operate a food truck. It was the Obama team calling, not Cindi. I politely declined the opportunity to canvass our republican infested neighborhood. Instead, I agreed to bake cookies for the volunteers. Then I found out a local chef is providing the main meal. Quelle surprise! My cookies will be served after a meal prepared by culinary school graduate. I have a few days to figure out what I’m going to bake. Perhaps I should call Marge and get her opinion since she used to cook for a halfway house.

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Dinner At Six

Carol and her mother were in town this weekend to celebrate Carol’s birthday. Carol’s mother has been staying with her in San Diego for the last few weeks. Every year Carol flies her mother to the states from Australia for a visit. Carol and her mother stayed at Mike’s house. Carol was on the go all weekend but managed to have last night free so she hosted a small dinner party at Mike’s house. It was an early dinner since Carol and her mother had an early morning flight back to San Diego.

Carol fixed a beautiful simple meal of grilled rack of lamb with roasted fingerling potatoes, red onion and beets with pan fried Brussels sprouts. Sue brought a chocolate Bundt cake that was served with whipped cream and fresh raspberries.

It was a nice evening except for Kurt arriving an hour late looking like he just got out of bed. He called from Home Depot to let us know he would be a few minutes late as guests were sitting down to dinner. I found this rather odd. What could he have possibly needed at Home Depot that caused him to be an hour late for dinner?

One never knows about Kurt. He inherited a small fortune when he was twenty-five. Kurt doesn’t work. His job is managing his wealth. When he was between cars he borrowed Scotty’s 5 series and drove it to San Diego to visit Carol. (How does one with wealth end up between cars for several weeks?) Scotty was in P-town on vacation with his husband and saw pictures on Facebook of Kurt and Carol and the BMW in front of Carol’s house. Scotty wasn’t too surprised because Kurt has been known for his unorthodox behavior. Still, one doesn’t usually take a borrowed car out of state unless you ask the owner.

It was good to see Carol and her mother. It’s been almost ten years since she left Denver for San Diego. She fell in love, got married, had a kid, fell out of love, got divorced and is now in the middle of a nasty custody battle. Carol has a successful career so her husband wants monthly support payments even though he has his own business and recently bought a new speedboat. Carol plans to be back in Denver for the Christmas holidays so we made tentative plans to get together again. I wonder what excuse Kurt will use for being late for dinner next time.

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Two Laptops

I now have the distinct pleasure of schlepping around two laptops for testing. It was decided that I will now test the applications on Windows 7 in addition to XP. Thankfully, the applications don’t run on a MAC.

Two weeks ago I received an email from the VP advising me another laptop had been ordered and to contact Manish to arrange for delivery. I email Manish to let him know I will be in the office on Thursday morning. I ask if I can get the laptop before a meeting at 9 because I need to leave the office at 11 for an outside appointment. Manish responds with “OK”.

Thursday morning arrives. I get into the office at 6:30. Manish is not online so I send another email asking to meet before my morning meeting. I continue to check to see if he is online every half hour. He never logs onto the network. About ten minutes before my meeting I get ready to leave my office since it will it take at least five minutes to walk to the meeting location on the other end of the building. Manish arrives with the laptop at 8:55 and proceeds to power up the laptop and download software. I wanted to confront him about his lack of communication but I hold back because one does not want to piss off desktop support for fear of never getting future computer issues resolved.

The company outsourced desktop support to a third party vendor so I know Manish is a contractor and not an employee. Still, his lack of communication is unacceptable. Manish’s inability to properly plan made me a half hour late for my meeting. Thus his inability to do his job affected my performance. That is not a good thing.

I realize desktop support is a crappy job. There are a lot of stupid associates who constantly nag the desktop support group with questions. That’s not an excuse for providing poor service. One needs to do their best every day. If you can’t communicate with a user you need to find a position that does not interface with them.

Three days later I receive an email customer satisfaction survey from the headquarters corporate IT department requesting confidential feedback on my recent IT service experience. I give Manish a poor rating on the five questions in the survey and start to provide details in the comment box which happens to be limited to 140 characters. That’s not sufficient to express my dissatisfaction so I enter my phone number and ask to be contacted if they really want my feedback. I doubt anyone will contact me.

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Pack Your Bags

The company I’m contracted to has two locations. The south campus has two six story buildings while the north campus has a four story office building and a huge manufacturing plant that sits mostly empty since the factory jobs were moved off shore a number of years ago. In its heyday, both the north and south campus were filled to capacity. The company has downsized dramatically over the last seven years with most of the downsizing taking place after the company was acquired by two private equity companies. The south campus only has two floors occupied in one of the buildings and the north office building seems to be 40% empty. The company has decided to close the south campus. The company will relocate the 350 employees from the south campus to the north campus. Another 150 employees will be forced to work VO.

The employees moving to the north campus are not happy. They will now have a hellish commute. Most live in the southeast and southwest suburbs so their commute will be at least 40 miles each way on the busiest highway in the area. I live 26 miles from the office and my commute on a good day is 35 minutes. On a bad day it’s up to 90 minutes. Add in a snowstorm or blizzard and the associates living on the south end of town may have to check into a hotel so they can make it to work the next day.

I don’t think the private equity owners don’t care about the impact on the workers. All decisions are driven by the need to reduce expenses and increase profits. The company expects to save $7m a year by moving out of the south campus. That money will go into the pockets of the private equity owners (think Mitt and Bain Capital although two other PE firms own the company). Any employees who quit can easily be replaced given the current 8.2% unemployment rate in the area. It’s a win/win decision for the company. Not so much for the associates. I suspect the PE owners think the relocating associates should be thankful to have a job.

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Saved From The Frost

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We got our first snow of the season last night. It was just a dusting of snow but it still counts as the first snow. It was 85° on Wednesday. Yesterday the high was 48°. The high today will only be 43°. Thanks to Canada for sending a cold front to our area.

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