Time to look forward

Today I did something that I wasn’t really proud of at work today. I snapped at someone whom I consider a friend and whom I respect, even though he did absolutely nothing to deserve it.

It’s been a really stressful time at work these last few weeks. We’re currently facing a labour crunch (of course, who else isn’t here in Calgary?) as there has been a smallish cycle of turnover with no relief brought in yet. So we’re back at doing multiple roles again.

I honestly don’t know how much more I can take. For two years now, I’ve been doing everything from customer service, systems and network administration, shipping & receiving (both coordinating and lugging 70 lbs boxes up and down stairs), purchasing and supply chain management, documentation and technical writing, office coordination, events planning, human resources stuff, basic finance and accounting, psychiatrist (someone needs to listen to the workers when they bitch); basically bouncing from role to role and back again (“floating in the ether” is the way someone put it). I’ve touched upon all levels of the company, from doing the grunt work at the bottom (ex. communicating directly with customers) to trying to figure out how to improve things from the top down (or at least as high as I can go).

The worst part of it is that I’ve essentially assumed managerial duties but without the authority of a full-fledged manager (so I can’t thump anyone in any meaningful way if they’ve screwed up, nor can I reward anyone if they’ve done an exceptional job and I have no power to fix things the way I want them to be fixed, especially if it requires financial resources to do so). This makes it difficult to make any policies and procedures I create to fix problems stick in any meaningful way. Therefore, I’ve noticed that problems that have been dealt with and/or fixed in the past, keep cropping up and have to be dealt with again, usually on short notice. I then usually have to deal with these problems myself, in addition to dealing with the other responsibilities I currently hold (which seems to increase every month).

I can’t count how many times people have said to me “Reg, if you leave the company, the company is doomed”. However, I’m beginning to think that no matter what I do, it really won’t matter in the end.

Anyways, I’m sure I’m not the only one who says they hate their job. But that really isn’t true. I actually love my job and what I do. I love it when people come to me asking for help (although these days, it’s eating up into the time I need to finish my work, which is starting to get mildly annoying). Where else can I touch upon all aspects of the company and have some level of influence in how everything operates, after only two years of working there? Sure, the pay sucks (small company), but I was never in it for the pay (if I was, I would have left after the first year). It’s offered a number of unparalleled chances to grow, personally and professionally.

No, my problem is that stuff I fix doesn’t stay fixed. My problem is having to deal with the same problems over and over again. My problem is the reactive mentality of the company and the complete lack of foresight and proactive thinking. My problem is that I keep getting overruled when I identify high priority items that need to be fixed in order to function, only to have to watch my warnings go unheeded and then have to clean up the mess afterwards when what I foretell actually happens (it’s this one item that really kills me). My problem is that I’m 90% of the time a happy-go-lucky person and 10% of the time a bitch, but it seems that that is reversed at work these days.

I’m beginning to think that I’ve progressed as far as I can go here. Perhaps it’s time for a (really long) vacation. Anyone know of any good places to go? Or of any “solutions” that can help solve my current dilemma? 😉

Countdown to Destruction

So everyone at work pretty much knows what I do. Here’s a quick snippet:

Operations & logistics, office coordination, human resources, supply chain management, marketing, technical writing & documentation, business development, product enhancements & refinement, software development, system and network administration, technical support, customer service, Magic & Miracles.

Just to name a few.

So let’s just say that there may be something coming down on the horizon that may require me to put on the ol’ SysAdmin hat again.

Looks like I’m going to have to re-teach myself all about DNS, Firewalls, Network Security, Mail, and probably a whole whack of other stuff all in just a day. Fun times, especially since I haven’t touched that stuff in over a year.

‘Cuz, it isn’t like I have anything else better to do.

Nope. Nothing at all.

Grrrr.

Now, where was that magic wand again?

Crack that whip (although if you hit something you’re not responsible for, you could be held liable)!

It occurs to me that a Spam Filter is much like a Tamagotchi. It tries its best but it really needs some TLC before it can reach it’s full potential.

I recently added some spam filtering to our work’s email server as I had gotten sick and tired of the deluge of spam hitting us and I was finally able to find some spare time to actually do it (a rarity in my job setting as I keep getting more and more responsibility while at the same time still responsible for all of my prior duties). It worked for the most part, but was still letting things through.

However, a few hours of training the Baysian classifier later, I found that it was catching about 98% of the spam we were getting (I anticipate with more training with a broader sample set, I can push that figure even higher). Suffice to say, I was quite impressed. Yet, it should come as no surprise that there were some people who still weren’t satisfied, wanting stuff from the web forms on our web site to come through, even though the entries were spam itself (which is why I continue to let the stuff through even though it’s been marked as spam, but I guess that some people just don’t appreciate the subtleties of what I do). Oh well, can’t please everyone.

Of course, it wasn’t until later that I found out that all the non-company stuff that’s on that server (all a part of personal favors given away from upper management) was possibly broken. I’ve tried my best to fix it, but really, I don’t think I should be doing it for free, and here’s my line of reasoning why:

  1. Stuff that has nothing to do with our company isn’t my responsibility
  2. Stuff that has nothing to do with our company is essentially stuff that has to do with another company
  3. If I do work for another company while not being employed by them, that would make me a consultant
  4. If I’m a consultant, then I should be paid a consulting fee or compensated proportionately to the added responsibility to ensure that they get quality work from me

I know it sounds like I’m complaining, but really. If something really, really bad happened, it would be my head on the line which sucks since I don’t have access to the resources needed to test things that are outside of the company’s scope. With all of my responsibilities at work now (which almost rivals Ben’s in terms of the sheer number of roles and scope), I really don’t think I should be touching anything non-company related, as I really don’t have the time right now to clean up any messes that may result from it.

That, plus I’m a lazy bastard. Whatever.

Anyways, I know what I’m going to do: I’m going to move our mail server off that machine onto a local one, and let all the other non-company stuff on that machine fend for themselves. At least this way, I’ll finally learn how to set up a mail server from scratch, which is the closest thing that relates to my career path that I’ll be able to do in this company in a very long time.