The Things I Have Noticed Now That I Am Back at Work

It is fun to watch people walking from the parking lot to their desk location. You can tell who is who by observing their gait, speed and demeanor. Those who are happy to seize the day walk a bit more relaxed and look around their environment. They may even crack a joke or share some random thought with a passerby. Those who are in a hurry are usually the ones who want to get their shift over and done with. The scowls on their faces can seem menacing and if you are in their way, you better watch out. I am tempted to give them a hug and tell them it will be okay but I am sure they wouldn’t appreciate the gesture. They tend to walk out in a hurry too.

You’d think these are the same people that drive out of the parking lot like a bat at out hell (and actually come to think of it into it) but at some extent we are all guilty of this. It sadly makes me realize how conflicted we all are in terms of living under the premise of free wheel and valuing life. No one wants to be at work because they have better things to do yet they are willing to trade safety on the road for a couple of extra minutes on the outside. I wonder if these people know that they could kill a fellow coworker with their speeding machine and lose their free will. I’ve heard it has happened before.

Add to this the people that fight over parking spots and you can tell how exciting it is to make it across the lot alive. Parking is so bad that if you show up after 7am chances are you will need to park in a remote location. Between the wait and the shuttle ride people get antsy and belligerent. No wonder there are so many disgruntled employees in the company! Coming mad to work can be contagious; it rubs on your coworkers quickly. Plus who wants to spend 30 minutes trying to get from the remote lot to the turnstiles. Not good.

Once I finally make it to my desk, the fun continues as I overhear the many conversations happening around me. Organizational drama is cool too as long as it doesn’t involve you. The little telenovelas playing in my surroundings are worth showing up to work. Whomever said the technical field had boring people needs to spend a day in my world. Smarter people have more convoluted escapades. Hehe (Some are better storytellers than others.)

The animosity between teams and within the teams are palpable. There is the old way of getting the job done, the new way and the way no one should be doing it but that still occurs. Honestly, the one thing I could get less of is passive aggressive messages. They are everywhere!  Maybe people didn’t realize that being direct was better but when you have no idea who the culprit is, or are concerned about other’s feelings, it is hard to demand compliance or behavioral change without ruffling some feathers. We should put secret cameras in the fridge and convenience store areas, and during off hours to figure out who these disruptors of the peace are; the elves that come in the middle of the night and make things disappear or leave them in disarray. You’d be surprised who is behind these shenanigans.

I have gained a new respect for people that do their jobs, mentor, coach and take time to get to know their coworkers. Being the new kid is difficult enough after a layoff, but the people in my group have gone above and beyond to make sure they get to learn about me and patiently listen to my stories. They laugh, I laugh, and together we contribute to make the engineering organizations successful. The dedication these men and women have for their roles and the passion that they display when training and developing classes is amazing. I can’t wait to be out on the field with them.

Not much has changed in my environment since the last time I worked there. I’m in a building that used to be an electrical wire shop and still has some manufacturing and testing facilities around. It can get very loud and hot. The furniture is nice so I can’t complain. The new phones are portable and have headsets which no one used before 2012. Amazing how long it takes to implement technology in such a big firm. I’m almost convinced my new computer is my old computer. The number on the account seems familiar.

The observation that surprises me the most is how apprehensive people are about job security. Most groups fear being replaced, disbanded or relocated. My friends in engineering sound deflated, beaten, overworked and stressed. I didn’t realize how low morale was until I got back into the company. Almost makes me glad that I was one of the first to go; I had more employment options to consider. I can’t imagine a market flooded with 5,000 engineers. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

Truth be told, my favorite part of coming back was getting congratulatory IMs. It shows how well known, loved, respected and missed I was. In the end, it is the people that build and link the system that supports the products and tools we create. It shows a lot of people considered me an equal and in some cases an excellent mentor and coworker. That’s what truly matters; not what you did but how you made others feel. Impressive really that a community can learn to let go and later re-admit people into their inner circle. The nature of the beast, perhaps?

I can tell you that I don’t run to the parking lot anymore nor I swing by people without saying Good Morning or Good Evening. I’m more relaxed and calm, and certainly enjoy my position a lot more than engineering. Hopefully the users and clients will not make me regret the decision. After all, life is full of open doors to walk through. I hope the folks that feel trapped find their door. Life is too short to hate Mondays.

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