Wednesday was my last day at my workplace, a large state agency in Austin, Texas. An incident the week before I left kind of typified my experiences during the past few years.
As the lone technical writer in a large IT organization, I didn’t belong to any one team. I should have belonged to all the teams, since I did work for all of them. I wrote the Help for about 30 different software applications, did other editing and writing work, and taught writing classes to the agency. For one project, I read every single page of our web site and worked with the many content authors to try to improve their writing. I also belonged to a department, one in which all the other members are business analysts. Believe me, it has always been all about the business analysts. In short, instead of belonging to all the teams, I belonged to none.
So, a typical event. Along with the other people in my department, last week I was invited to a birthday lunch for a coworker, which I accepted. When the time came, I looked around and could not find any of them. They left without me. I knew where they were going, but I do not usually have a car at work, so I could not follow. This group included my boss, and the department only has six people in it, so I wasn’t overlooked because of the sheer number of people involved. Not only that, but they only sit one row away from me in our cube farm. No one stuck a head around the corner and asked me if I was going. Need I point out that this was the last chance any of them would have had to go to lunch with me?
Individually, these are all nice people. They just seldom treated me as part of their group.
A few weeks ago, too, I got a talking-to by my boss, who said someone had complained that I made too many personal phone calls. Aside from there being no rule about personal phone calls, the actual truth is that usually I go for months making no phone calls at all. It’s just that with the house sale, and the moving, and the storage unit, and the packing, I have had to make many in a short period of time. You would think that anyone could understand that. When I was telling another manager about it, he said, “I never hear a peep out of you.” Our division actually usually doesn’t care about things like that, but we’re sitting next to another division that does. But let’s not say anything about the interminable vapid conversations I have to listen to every day from the cube next to me in the other division (and snoring, when that person falls asleep, several times a week). I guess having personal conversations is okay as long as you aren’t doing personal business on the phone. I guess sleeping is okay, too.
Pay is also a big issue for me here, because for the past six years I have received a rating of five out of five on my reviews but have only had one raise. Part of the time we had a wage freeze, but when we didn’t have one, attention was not paid to the fact that my pay had fallen behind that of other employees who used to make less than me (even after I pointed it out to them). I do the work that was done by four writers when I started here. I stay on schedule and deliver quality work. I knew that coming to work for the state would mean taking a pay cut, but for the first few years I worked here, it looked like I would eventually recover the pay rate I was making before I started. I did not. 15 years ago I was making $10K more than I make now. Thank god for the benefits, which continue after I retire.
A friend at work has urged me to write a “f–k you” essay about our workplace, but this is about as close as I can get. I know it’s not funny. She could have done a much better job of entertaining you all, because she is hilarious. Let’s just say, I’m glad to be finally getting the f–k out of Dodge.