Friday, February 02, 2007

"and the beat goes on..."

"Everyone needs to work. Even a lion cannot sleep, expecting a deer to enter his mouth." Hitopadesha (14th century India)

My office is full of brand new service coordinators working for one of six supervisors. Over half of the case workers have probably been around a year or less. A generous third have been working this job six months or less. There is a six month probationary period where one can be let go without the usual rounds of warnings.

On Wednesday, one of the ladies who was just about to complete her six months, was fired. She was a very, very, nice woman, who seemed to be handling her work well, and it was a huge shock to all of us new workers. There was quite a bit of fear and stunned whispering in the office yesterday afternoon. The mood was only slightly altered today. To everyone's credit, I've heard no bad gossip, only the whispered shock, worried about how she was going to manage and how she might be feeling, and who might be next, because no one can fathom what she did wrong.

There is a huge amount of paperwork and constant deadlines for this or that, some of it federal, some of it exposing the state to legal actions if it isn't completed in a "timely manner". We must handle phone calls, emergencies, vendor problems, consumer problems, regular visits to consumers and vendors... and paperwork documenting everything as well computer database case notes to ensure billable hours. There is probably an art to keeping the flow going and all the balls in the air, but I think one has to love the work to begin with. All of the new service coordinators that I've met are hard workers who seldom come out of their cubicles (I want to call them cubbies ;-) )except to travel to the printer, their supervisor, their hard case files or to head out to see consumer/clients and vendors (oh and the various trainings and office meetings). We nod at each other in passing and have minor conversations on the way to somewhere else - there just isn't a lot of time for socializing. It made the whispered conversations and expressions of quiet shock, stand out that much more.

My reaction to all of this was also one of shock and a touch of fear. I have a mostly closet case of insecurity that comes out into the light of day now and then. But being the fairly direct and honest type (and only because I needed his initials on some paperwork), I asked my supervisor: "Should I be worried about my job?" In the ensuing conversation, he said I didn't have to worry, that I was doing fine. I haven't decided if I really believe him.... which is what an unexpected coworker firing does to the folks left behind, I think.

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