Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Sometimes, work sucks

...or, it's always darkest before the dawn (I hope!)

So I am on a two- or three-week business trip to do some testing of equipment my company builds (and I helped design). This project has been crazy. Our customer keeps squeezing the schedule down to the point that we have to do six months worth of work into three months.

This leads to cutting corners. The essential work is getting done, but documentation is a bit dodgy, although it's the best we can do. Our customer knows full well how squeezed we are, but they nitpick away at what we've done. At our review meeting today, it came just about to the point where the testing was called off. We have a deadline and if the testing isn't complete by a certain date, the whole project gets shut down.

The worst case is that I could lose my job over that, although I think that won't happen. But it could.

On the other hand, if we can slog our way through the next couple weeks and get the testing done, it will definitely be a feather in my cap and may even open the door to better assignments (and maybe even a promotion).

When I started working in the 80s, it was not uncommon to expect to work for the same company for a whole career. In those days, it was assumed that American technology was superior to, or at least the equal of, any other country's. You got a job with a good company and you were set. At least that was what I believed at the time.

Maybe that was naive. Maybe that never existed.

So now here I am, in middle age, doing some of the best work of my career and it might not be good enough. Maybe I'm just more aware of my own vulnerabilities. Maybe I've just grown cynical.

I hope not. I hope that this current funk is just the darkness before the dawn. Maybe in a few weeks all this testing will be successful and I will be more firmly established at my company than ever before... maybe even tapped for a leadership position.

I have to hold that carrot of a favorable outcome out in front of myself. Sometimes it's the only thing that keeps me going. If I take care of my own business and everyone else does likewise, this might just work out.

I hope so.

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