Processing the day’s memories

I had a pretty good week, all-in-all. Compared to the last month, it was downright relaxing, and I got caught up on a lot of work. However, we’ve had a couple of emails from our university’s president about the economy, and drastic measures are being taken to address the issue before it becomes terribly negative for us. They’re preparing potential budgets in case our state allocation is slashed, and most travel, non-necessary maintenance, and other general expenses have been halted.

I guess this all culminates for me in fear of losing my job, because that was the nightmare I had last night. It’s a reasonable fear in today’s economic climate, especially since I know two people who were recently laid off, but during the day I feel pretty confident in my place at the university. My annual evaluation scores are high, my work is valuable to the institution, and I’ve been placed in some pretty instrumental roles. I feel like I do good work there, so I should be secure.

But you never know. They could always decide that it’s cheaper to do away with the computer labs and outsource computer support (which it is). That’s why I try to do a lot of things that aren’t traditional computer support, because if that’s all we did (the traditional turning-of-screw-drivers and replacing-of-hardware), we wouldn’t be worth what they pay us. I’m told that people up above recognize this, like us a great deal, and value what we do. And I know that the students want to keep the labs going and strong, because we put them first and make sure they get the best service we can provide. But despite knowing all that, I’m apparently still afraid of losing my job.

If I did get terminated, I’m not quite sure what I would do. Ryan has quickly shifted gears into freelance web design/development, and for the moment at least, that seems to be going well for him. I suppose I could set myself up as a computer technician and go to people’s houses to fix their computer problems. I’d also try and get a part-time job temporarily, and really step up my writing so I could get some things out for publishing and selling. I’ll be the first to admit that giving my work away for free is pretty easy when I have a good salary, a home I can pay for, plenty of food, etc. But when it comes right down to it, a guy’s got to get paid.

Hopefully, though, it’ll never come to that. I really like my job and the University, and I want to work and serve there for a very long time. I’m behind on my Reflections on Blogging series, but some of the things I’ll be writing about with that are academia and my committment to it. It’s something I really believe in, and want to continue supporting.

I think I’m good, but it does make me nervous.

Daily Routine

When I worked at the hospital (Cox North Food Service), my day had a very set routine. There were about seven different positions one could have, but you began with the position they thought you were best suited for (though, of course, it depended as well on what they needed most at the time) and you were trained on successive positions as you mastered those that came before. I began on one of the more complicated positions, but it was all routine.

Arrive at 4 p.m., place sliced bread into plastic baggies and seal shut with a heat stamper thing (to keep everything sterilized and clean), put bread into fridge, prepare metal palletes and trays and plates, set out condiments and butter and get eating utensils in place. Put trays together for the meals, then break down the meal line and put everything back away. Light cleaning, then go up to the floors and retrieve the meal carts, bring them back down, deliver to the people washing the dishes. Take clean stuff from the dishwashing machine and put it away. Squeegee and mop floor, go home around 8:30 p.m.

Every day, the exact same thing. You knew what you were getting into, and generally there were no surprises. Your mind could wander while your body did its job, and I enjoyed it.

Now, every day is a surprise, and as I contemplate the upcoming week, I feel harried. I feel like I have a ton of stuff to do, a dozen different tasks to complete before next Friday. This is the last week I have without a preponderance of meetings for the next month and a half, so I really have to get as much done as I can because this is my last chance for dedicated work-time.

And on top of that, I have a two hour presentation looming in October that I haven’t really begun preparing for. And I hate PowerPoint, but I know that for a two-hour gig, I really should have some sort of visual component.

I know I’d be bored if I went back to such a routine, but sometimes it’s really attractive. I like my job, but the constant inability to schedule out a day and know what I’m going to be doing is a little stressful. Still, the sort of stress and the flexibility and adaptiveness my job demands is why it pays more than the hospital did when I was preparing meals. I guess it’s a decent trade-off, but I can’t help but think back to our days in trigonometry when we all decided that it would be easier to just become garbage collectors.