Thursday, February 10, 2005

On Being a Retard

Interesting observation I've made. There are two possible states for occupational performance: Awesome Employee and Complete Retard.

The mistakes I mentioned in a previous post were bad enough and visible enough to spark an inquiry into my previous work practices, which apparently came up with a number of different problems people had with me (few of which ever came up to me to give me a chance to improve). I now have a performance plan to adhere to, and if I do not, I get canned.

It was interesting to see the things that people thought I was doing poorly. They included response time on assignments that typically boil down to people running in, dropping something on me, and expecting me to finish that assignment right away, regardless of whatever else I'm doing. The assignments I was not finishing also included ones I didn't know I was supposed to be doing and ones no one told me were mine to do. I'm being vague here, and not in a "will remain nameless, but the initials are..." kinda way.

That's all good. Because, screw it. I will do this performance review, in the middle of crunch, half-sick, exhausted, and pissed for the lack of life outside of work. It will be my opportunity to say, "Yes, I do have that many assignments given one day and due the next, and yes, I am receiving jobs from all these different directions." I can say, "Haha, I beat you by doing exactly what you wanted me to!" I'll really shove it to the Man, I tellya.

The performance review isn't really what's bothering me. It's the aforementioned Awesome<=>Retard spectrum (or lack of spectrum) that gets to me.

Case in point. Up until a couple of weeks ago, I was awesome. One of the bestest editors evar. I edited the writers in such a way that the writing improved, the writers felt respected and like they had a say in the edits, and that the project as a whole benefitted from my input as to how to improve the dialog and fix tiny logic holes. I had a glowing review in September that had a few tiny marks on things that were chalked up to not having a chance to be properly trained (since I was pretty much dropped on the project a month or two before crunch started).

Now, a couple of visible (and admittedly pretty major) mistakes later, I'm a complete tool. Every time something comes up that I need to respond to, one of my many supervisors emails me and checks that I responded to it. "Did you send this to the guy with the what-not?" why yes, yes I did. I sent it yesterday to that guy's co-worker. Had I known that that guy had taken over today, I would have sent it to him. By the way, I also sent it to that guy three hours ago. "Are you going to make sure these guys see this?" Yes. As a matter of fact, I got the thing a minute ago, and haven't had a chance to forward it on. I am, believe it or not, working on something else from time to time, in the moments when my thumb isn't exploring my rear end.

I understand that a lack of trust is the issue, and that it is my fault the trust was violated. However, big mistakes have been made all around on this project (as they are on every project), and some of them make mine (in my opinion) seem pretty minor. For example, a miscommunication between departments led to the complete removal of a pretty major character, and the resulting rewrites. Other mistakes possibly led to an extension of crunch time for the entire team, holdover of personnel who had been assigned to other projects, and so on.

My mistakes were pretty big and visible, and they represented a failure to perform my duties to their highest quality, and so yeah, I should be punished. In a lot of ways, this company has been gracious with their willingness to give me a second chance. I did, after all, screw up. And apparently, according to this performance review form, I've been screwing up for a month or more now.

And the company "understands" that I've been stressed on crunch, and that I'm not handling it very well. And maybe this isn't the line of work for me, because I can't seem to sacrifice my health, my free time, and my relationships for the work. Maybe that's true. But over the past few days, since this inquiry happened, I've gone from "Good employee and awesome editor who needs some training" to "complete screw up who needs Mommy and Daddy to hold his hand at all times." Despite the fact that I've since held successful meetings with the top-level folks in the company (and meeting-making is one of those skills I need but have never been trained in here). Despite the fact that a CEO of the company replied reassuringly to my apology after one of the mistakes. Despite the fact that this week I have juggled detailed email conversations with important people from four organizations while combing our website for inaccuracies, writing articles for upcoming press coverage, answering questions from our localization partners, keeping my buglist on zero bugs, and, y'know, trying to find mistakes to fix in the text that's actually in the game.

It's okay. I have plenty of time to do this stuff, because an email clarifying that we are all required to work Saturdays put me back to 63-hour weeks until further notice. Awesome.

In other news, spring is coming. It can't come soon enough for me.