email: cavebear2118 AT verizon DOT com

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Some Background

I mentioned being well off and know many of my blogger friends arent, so I thought I should explain a bit.  It wasn't easy at first.

I failed out of college in the early 1970's because I was screwed up.  I worked years at minimum wage in some department stores.  I took a government exam in 1976 and scored a perfect 100% in several categories.  "Screwed up" doesn't mean stupid. 

And all THAT got me was a temporary summer job as a GS 5.  At the end of the 3 month job, I was offerred a permanent position as a GS 5.  In 1976, that was $8,000 annual.  At the time, I was kiting checks to pay the rent, had 4 other really crazy roommates, and could barely get a decent night's sleep. 

My job was to keep track of furniture, and purchase carpet and drapes to other government offices at the General Services Administration.  Which meant I was at the very bottom of the heap.  But we also purchased those things for Congressmen and Senators, and Presidential Committees and Commissions.  There were 4 older guys who had been doing the same thing for years before me.  

I did it a LOT better!

And believe it or not, geometry does have some practical applications.   I could calculate office space areas better than my co-workers, deal with drapery contractors better than them, describe available government equipment better, and as minor as it sounds to me today, just process the daily paperwork faster.  I realized I was in "my right place". 

I was quickly assigned to the Congressional and Committee offices.  I probably talked to more Congressmen and Senators than some professional lobbyists. 

From that, I was assigned to write telephone orders.  No idea why.  Maybe I was just good at finding out what people needed.  Maybe because my resume' included programming in Fortran and Cobol.  That stuff was easy.

From there, I went into telecommunications policy management at the HQ.  Well, I always could write instructions clearly.  And I spent 20 years doing that.  Bought my house with that promotion. 

I'm no computer genius, but I figured out ways to translate vendor telephone records from proprietory and damn secretive files into Windows Access and then Excel spreadsheets.  Created an entire video Conference network and records-keeping.  Much acclaim.

But in the last 3 years, top-down decisions sent me into an office that didn't have the slightest idea of the program I was managing.  Worst 3 years of my career.  Fortunately, the last few months involved a new supervisor 2 levels above me from private industry.  He invited us to describe what we were doing.  My co-workers had 1-3 items.  I had 25.  He was shocked.

He talked to me privately in his office a few days later.  He had talked to folks at his old company.  They told him they had 5 people doing what I did.  Well, I sort of knew that, but the statement was very satisfying.  He asked me a very interesting question "how do you manage it all"?  I answered honestly "In constant desperation, its just me and I have to".

I'll give the private industry guy some credit.  He said I needed some serious support, but he didn't have the funds to do it.  To which I responded I was retiring March 2006 (in 3 months).  I had told my immediate supervisor that I was retiring then, a year earlier but apparently she choose not to tell him that.  I did not know that.

I am told that I was replaced by 3 FTE (Full Time Employees) and the program fell apart in spite of that. 

Sorry, but I'm kind of glad about that.  I offerred to stay employed as a contract employee at my current salary to train my replacements and they just dismissed the idea.

I do often have nightmares where I am still employed in the various offices I worked in, but mostly because the jobs I held are done so badly.  Nightmares are weird.

I WAS offerred the job of my immediate supervisor because she rather suddenly retired 2 months before I did (gave a week's notice).  But her job was really stupid and I did not want it.  To be precise, her job and the job of all the other people in my last office was to coordinate policy among the other offices.  Nothing to do with what I did.  Oh sure I could have done it, but I was already on my my to retirement.

Just wanted to explain all this.


Ramblingon said...

Here is where I want to say sincerely that I enjoyed the honesty of this blog.

The Selvage Fairy said...

When you are treated badly and rise above with dignity, the cosmos will pay back the abusers eventually. It IS quite nice to get to see the result.