Thursday, March 20, 2008
To pick up on how my employment situation has affected my blog/creative output:
My primary function (assisting with grant applications) is very seasonal. Plus, there is a limited amount I can do without information from the applicant. So, even when a grant is due, I have a considerable amount of "free" time. During which I would edit photographs, craft essays, and go surfing for topics or supporting evidence.
Until fairly recently, grant applications have been paper-based. Then, about three years ago, a number of agencies switched to electronic submission. Most NIH grants are now electronic submission only. Which means that there is even less for a secretary to do.
Finally, there are only three researchers who use my services on a regular basis. Even though I assisted with a grant application every month but three last year, there still was not enough for me to do.
Now, the average manager would probably respond, "There's always something to do." I accept that; but it doesn't necessarily mean that I would know what else needs to be done.
In any case, our primary boss started noticing. I do my best to be discrete in my surfing (mostly work-safe sites), and I typically have a "boss key" handy, but I was occasionally caught surfing. So, the boss said something to my immediate supervisor. A caution which was repeated to me twice – once in '06 and once in '07.
The first time my supervisor reported this caution, I responded with my view of the situation - pretty much as I've detailed above. My supervisor responded by saying it seemed like I needed to transition to another function. But nothing more was said.
When she repeated the caution in '07, I responded by listing the things I am doing, and how I spend my down time. I solicited ideas for other things to do, but she had none.
That's the point at which I started to apply for other positions. About the same time, I noticed the department was hiring part-time personnel to assist in our billing area. I immediately began researching whether this might be a function I could take on.
To make a long story less long, I sold management on the idea that I could serve the same function as the part-timer while continuing with my grant-support functions (as well as my web master job).
I'm not getting paid more for this (at present), but I do believe there is greater job security. Our business manager (who joined the department late last year)was especially impressed that I took the initiative. She has also told me several times what a good job I'm doing, and how glad the people in the billing area are that I have joined that corner.
So, now I have fairly full days at work. While I miss the opportunity to indulge in my creative pursuits, I do feel less anxious about being caught or being in a situation where I might lose my job. I feel more useful, as well, which has given my self-image a shot in the arm.
I have been unusually quiet. If not for a few "Idée d’jour" and photographs, you might think I fell off the earth. You might think, as Brother Dave possibly did, that I was seriously depressed.
I was moderately depressed, something that seems to be common for me in the dark months. I was under the weather for over a month. The two combined for a greater depression.
But I was also tired of the sound of my own voice. I didn't have anything to say. What little I did have to say, I couldn't think of new ways to say it. There are, after all, a limited number of ways to say "I hate Bush".
I intend to maintain this space. I know I will be glad of the creative outlet once the quality of light springs my seratonin level back to normal. I won't make promises, but you're likely to hear from me more often.
Picture details: ISO 100; f/8.0 @1/60; zoom lens, 150mm; taken ~ 5:30 p.m., 14.Mar.08