My industry recently saw the early retirement of approximately 20,000 people nationwide. In my city, we lost about thirty people.
In comparison, I guess that’s not a lot. But in practice, that equates 240 work hours per day that have to be absorbed by those of us that remain. It’s pushed us all a little too far and tempers are flaring from the stress of it. It’s been going like this since the end of January, and until all the vacancies get filled, it will just continue to get worse. At the moment, nothing’s getting filled because everybody is still internally shuffling positions. It means that when a guy from over there takes a position over here, ‘over there’ is left with a hole.
What makes it almost unbearable is that my part of it all deals primarily with customer services, regardless of which hole I’m filling on any given day. And the temperament of customers can sometimes get ugly. Especially if they have to stand in a long line for longer that what would ordinarily be appropriate, behind a guy who has a time-consuming issue and, well, also needs a bath.
What makes it even worse is when our supervisors have to scramble to cover places and positions with half the available staff because several more decided they couldn’t be available on whatever pretty day it was. Seems like nice weather always makes folks too sick to come to work.
So how could it possibly get any worse, you might ask? Several others are on vacation. We’re spread thinner than we’ve ever been since the early retirement was offered, all of us are working tons of overtime, and we’re all yelling at each other as though each of us is experiencing permanent PMS. Even the guys. The customers are yelling at us, we’re yelling at each other, and the supervisors are yelling at us and themselves.
Don’t get me wrong, the overtime is wonderful. It’s not very often that it’s in unlimited supply where I am. I’m even grateful for it. And while working it can be beautiful come payday, it makes us all sort of resent it when we can’t get a load of laundry done at home, or a floor swept. Or heaven forbid we’re able to make a meal. Most days when I get home, at least lately, I’ve got just enough time to be glad I’m home before it’s bedtime. And I’m just too tired to even contemplate anything else, let alone actually do it.
Needless to say we’re eating out a lot. Which means we’re standing in long lines being the agitated customers we were glad to have left behind at work. And this brings with it a whole host of other complaints, like traffic, that has us wondering why we even bothered venturing out at all.
But the worst of it? The absolute final straw? Today I waited in a longer-than-should-be-necessary line at a fast-food place to get my evening meal, for what seemed like an hour, only to hear the cashier complain about being shorthanded while the guy in front of me needed extensive conversation. And a bath.
And after all that, on top of the day I’d just had, my hamburger was missing a bun.