Friday, April 10, 2009

A Week in a World of Cutbacks


Fridays are generally quiet days for me, or at least that's the theory. Hoever, it's the one business day I can get my errands done, so it often turns into a more hectic day than I want.

Today, of course, is Good Friday and so is very much a quiet contemplative day. Savouring fresh brewed coffee. Listening to gospel music on CBC radio. Enjoying the bright sunshine pouring through the east windows, warming the house and my soul. (Also showing how dirty my windows are, but oh well!) Clouds linger behind Tuktakamin Mtn. to the south and Estakwalan to the west (I have a 270 degree view from the kitchen table thanks to the extensive windows in this house and view above the neighbours' houses), threatening to hide the sun later in the day.

Soup is bubbling on the stove - time today to do things that require time, like making Ching Po Leung soup. A dried vegetable mix from the Asian grocer in Kelowna, it contains lily bulb, pearl barley, lotus seeds, dioscorea, longan, fox nuts and polygonatum (yes, I copied that from the package - sounds interesting, ney?!) and I threw some pork into the pot with it all. I adore pot barley in soup, any soup. Will let you know how this all worked out.

Friday is always 'decompression day', even if it's an errand-laden day. The newspaper is a fast-paced, high-pressure, high-stress environment. Every so often, but less often than you'd expect, someone has a mini-crisis that requires a personal time-out in the washroom for a fit or cry or both, or a brisk walk to Timmy's down the street - more for the walk than for the coffee. No one comments on it because we've all been there and look on in compassion, never censure.

On a scale of 10, this week was a 12:
  • long weekend, meaning double deadlines (Friday and Sunday papers) and all deadlines moved up
  • several staff including me having one day a week cut back, a loss of 8 or 10 hours a week, depending on the employee (x4= 40 less hours a month for me, the equivalent of one entire week, 25% pay cut)
  • two sales people and one graphic designer out on medical leave, everyone else picking up their work which isn't unusual but makes a crazy week go slightly over the top
  • visit from one of the company grand poobahs, on Thursday, calling a meeting with all sales staff half an hour before deadline - WHO DOES THAT?!!
  • and the fallout from that meeting, including news of that one of the graphics designers has been laid off effective 5pm that very day.
So, with the designers already maxed out trying to do all their work in less hours, who will do her work? and when? and how? We're 'encouraged' not to work overtime (automatic double time in BC, not 1.5 time like Alberta). The Overflow basket may indeed overflow.

People at the office and in general are feeling the strain from the economic situation. BC just posted the highest lay-off rate in Canada so I suppose - no, I know - that we are fortunate to still be employed. The total external and internal situation is taking its toll, though.

I looked around me on Thursday and saw raccoon eyes, worry lines, bodies limp with fatigue. On-the-ground management is not exempt - in fact, they are taking the brunt of it, having to follow through with the dictates of VPs and senior management. We are aging before our very eyes.

For most staffers, this long weekend is a time for family and friends: the children's Easter Egg hunt, family dinners, walks along the trails that are newly freed from ice and snow, maybe watching sports on TV (Go, Kevin Martin!!). It's also a time to catch our collective breath, roll back shoulders sore from tension, quietly think through the events of the week without the distractions of telephones and emails and faxes and hubbub - measure the situation, weigh our options and regain the fortitude required to deal with the coming week.

Bryan is still up north, until Tuesday perhaps. I've got some gardening to do - spring bulbs to plant, rocks to rake. There is a box of materials for a book job to sort through - mostly interview notes that George wrote before he died; I need to get a handle on that, figure out what all he did and where he was going with it, figure out what I'm going to do and where I'm going with it. Thank goodness the deadline has been rolled back on that one, and I will (eventually) get paid for the work.

I've been invited for Sunday dinner with friends. That completes the weekend. Holidays like Easter are meant to be spent with family and friends, and my family is dispersed like thistle down this weekend: Bryan up north; Becca and Chad to Edmonton; Marlon, Krista and Abby to Calgary. Safe travels, all my loved ones.

Calm, peace and joy with them, and with you who read this.

1 comment:

  1. I miss easter eggs with you Mom. maybe next year I'll come do some at your new house. Had an awesome time at the show in Edmonton, minor black eyes included (minor shot to the nose).

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