Wednesday, November 12, 2008

When Good Pet Owners Go Bad

This past week has been a nightmare. We had an urgent problem at work and I ended up having to work from 6:00 AM until midnight most days including Saturday, Sunday, and Veteran's Day. That's 18 hours a day of hustling my buns to meet impossible deadlines. Most days I didn't even get a lunch break. There were meetings on top of meetings. All of this was building up to one big meeting, for which I had to prepare and present a huge document. By the time that meeting came, I was so exhausted that I could barely hold my head up. The stress was so intense that I couldn't sleep all week. At best I had a few cat naps.

When all was said and done, I was told by a meeting participant that he wasn't interested in my document nor my presentation, and I was dismissed. On my drive home, I got stuck in gridlock for over an hour while the police cleared an accident scene. I hadn't eaten since 6:00 AM, and now it was 7:00 PM. When I finally made it halfway home, I stopped at a fast food restaurant. I was the only person in line and I ordered one cheeseburger, totally breaking my meat-free diet and being way past caring.

It turned out that there was someone in the drive-thru who had ordered a dozen burgers. I had to stand there for 20 minutes while they made his burgers, and I nearly collapsed from starvation and exhaustion. I don't know why they couldn't have just handed one of those burgers to me. It's not like the drive-thru customer would have to wait another 20 minutes for me to get my burger. It probably would have taken 30-seconds out of his schedule.

Once I got my burger, I feared that I was going to throw up with each bite that I took. I was shaking all over and nauseated. I only ate half and threw the rest away. That night I couldn't sleep again. I contemplated drinking wine until I passed out, but ended up chugging a medicine cup of good old NyQuil instead. Never mind that I didn't have a cold. I just wanted to sleep. That did the trick.

With the big meeting over, I had hoped to have a relaxing day today and take care of some personal things like putting food in the refrigerator and vacuuming up all the clumps of grass and mud on the carpet. Instead, I woke up to dog poop and dog vomit all over the house. I had done such a good job of putting myself to sleep that I didn't wake up to let the dogs outside during the night.

After cleaning up one mess, I got called into a phone conference, followed by another, and yet another. It went on all morning. I needed to go to the bathroom so bad, but I couldn't even get a few minutes between all these meetings. To top it all off, I realized that my son and I had a dental appointment. I raced out of the house to pick him up from school and get us to the dentist. I told my hygienist that if she finds any cavities for either of us, I didn't want to know about it.

The good news is that neither my son nor I had cavities. The bad news is that my son "needs" a $60,000 surgery done on his jaw. I told the dentist that's not going to happen. As long as my son can eat, he doesn't need cosmetic surgery. I'm more interested in investing that kind of money into his education, and yes, we have dental insurance, and no, it doesn't cover 100%.

We got home from the dentist and I had to race outside to clean stalls and a week's worth of manure in the paddock, feed the horses, put on their blankets and put them to bed. I then went back to work for several more hours, trying to cook dinner for my family at the same time with what little food we have in the house thanks to me not being able to do the marketing over the weekend.

By 8:00 PM I decided that I was going to relax and not let anything get in my way. I drank some Sweet Dreams tea and swallowed an antihistamine to help me sleep and settled on the couch in front of the TV with a blanket. Then my husband informed me that one of the horses was having a problem. He could hear a lot of kicking and banging. I hiked outside and didn't hear anything. The horses were all just fine. My husband said it almost sounded as if someone were beating his truck with a metal pole. I went out front to look at his truck and it was fine. A little while later he said the banging started up again, and it was so loud that the sliding glass door was shaking.

I must have given him a look of total exasperation, because he put on his pants and went outside with a flashlight to figure it out himself. It turned out that Bombay had run out of water in his metal water trough and was throwing it around in his stall. My husband came back in to ask me what he should do. I told him to just let Bombay out of his stall so he can drink the water in the trough outside. I doubted that the hose would turn on because it felt as if it were below freezing outside.

He was taking a while out there, so I went out to see what was going on. I totally forgot that I had laid out breakfast for three horses outside, and Bombay was munching it all down. Had I not gotten off my rear in one last effort to solve yet one more problem, I would have had a much bigger problem on my hands: A horse that would have probably colicked or foundered due to eating too much. I got the water running and filled up his trough, and then put him back in his stall for the night.

My boss says that everyone has to work around the clock until April to meet another impossible deadline. It's not going to happen. I'll get another job before I'll let someone suck up so much of my time that I can't even take care of my pets and family. This is just one more side-effect of a lousy economy. Small businesses start getting more competitive because there are less funds. Companies lay off employees and dump the work of 5 or 6 people onto each of the few who remain. It makes you feel like you have to give every waking moment to your employer in order to keep your job, but the effort isn't worth it if you end up with a lame or dead horse because you were too frazzled to remember to check the water levels in the troughs, and too tired to deal with the problem effectively.

I'm going to try to go to sleep now. Wish me luck.


Beckz said...

Wow that is alot going on. Sounds like the day that lasted forever

dp said...

That sounds hellish. Best of of luck extricating yourself from your work life -- it is so hard not to live up to employer demands when you know that work may be hard to come by.

lytha said...

oh nm, i am so sorry: (

it sounds like you work for microsoft but i don't think you're in that area. microsoft sets its employees against each other and they eventually start having mental and health problems. in fact, the local psychologists recognize customers that walk thru their doors as microslaves on the edge of breakdowns at first glance. i would never work there under any circumstance. i prefer small friendly startups but now i'm in a foreign land and jobs for technical writers are so rare.

i check every day and get this: in germany when you apply for a job, after your successful interview, they make you do several days of unpaid "test work" to see if they like your work. i've done this for three firms, each requiring 3 full days of work from me (onsite) where i get my hopes up, and in the end, my best work was not good enough. it's so depressing (and would be illegal in america) i am losing hope and even considering a career change, even though i love technical writing.

i don't know if you particularly like where you work, but it's horrible that the job market has forced employees like you to feel trapped into working insane overtime. how dare they tell employees they should expect to sacrifice their health "through april"!!

i'm so sorry to hear this, please tell us what happens.

~unemployed in germany

KD said...

WOW - you poor, frazzled thing! I thought working from home was supposed to be less stressful. I hope things calm down for you soon.

Jackie said...

Ugh! What a week. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have survived it. I certainly hope that's the end of it and that you don't have to work around the clock like that until April.

One nice thing about horses, is even when you're crazy busy and a little scattered, they'll let you know what they need. As long as they've got something good to eat and drink, and get cleaned up after, they'll survive your crazy weeks.

Andrea said...

Oh my, that sounds horrible. I do hope you get some sleep. I hope you make your deadline too.

And if you go on a meatless diet and then eat some meet, it's kinda gross.

Sorry things haven't been going well, I do hope things turn around for you.

Jenn said...

Oh, man, what a week! Get plenty of that well-deserved shut eye!

And I know exactly what you mean about the "Do more with less" attitude of companies. Mine has it and it's kickin' my butt. We have about 1/2 the employees we had three years ago but they keep piling on more and more stuff to get done and give us less time to do it. By the time I get home at night I just don't have the energy to do the things I really WANT to do, like spend time with my family and my horses. I have a feeling something is going to have to give pretty soon, and I bet you can guess what it's NOT going to be.

Top all that off with a moody, lazy, angsty teenager and life is GRAND! :P

Katee said...

Good luck! Don't work yourself to death and make sure you leave yourself a little time to play with the horses.

ranchette said...

what a rough week. hang in!

Fantastyk Voyager said...

Aw jeez! I'm so sorry for you. That's why, when I was laid off, I just sighed with relief!
I find out now that many of the major employers are on hiring freezes until February. So, I will just go to school and collect unemployment and try to really enjoy myself. I just hope the money holds out- it certainly doesn't help when your nestegg is riding on the stock market and has lost 1/3 of it's value.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Thanks, everyone, for the well wishes. I got a full 8 hours of sleep last night and woke up feeling refreshed. Even the dogs cooperated by not using the carpet as their bathroom. Bombay gave me a big hug as if to thank me for solving his water problem the night before.

Lytha - I know that the stress of being unemployed can be way worse than the stress of impossible deadlines, so my heart goes out to you. That three days of free service is a raw deal. As you know, in America there are probationary periods, but at least you are being paid and given 6 months to learn what the company needs. Right now I am mainly a software tester and technical writer, but I'm thinking of getting more into technical writing and web design.

I know right now is not the time to be changing careers, but now that the American government is well aware of its own economic problems, both the current administration and future administrations are working on it. I have faith it will be fixed.

Back when the campaigning first started (when Hillary was in the race), I questioned the campaign reps about where their candidates stood on unemployment and an unstable economy, and they all sounded confused, like they hadn't thought about it because the economy was fine. By the end of the election, that was the biggest topic.

C-ingspots said...

That sounds horrible - I'm so sorry. is just too short and your family and your peace of mind and your health are far more important than your job. I know that we all have to work and support ourselves - that's a given, however...take stock and decide for yourself what's really important and what's not. No one can or has the right to decide for you. Your employers should realize that if they demand too much, shit really will hit the fan. Things can always get worse. Maybe they will, maybe they won't - we're not in charge of anything really. Money isn't everything. Take care of yourself first and don't be afraid to pray for some help and guidance. This too shall pass. Nothing happens in life without a reason. Have faith that everything will be ok - because it will. I will remember you in my prayers NM. :)

Tj and Mark said...

OMG. That was an incredibly tough day, glad you recuperated. I wouldn't have too much hope in the government fixing everything in the economy though, be prepared for a really deep recession. I have a bad feeling about all of this. I love your horsey blog, thanks for sharing. Tj

sue said...

just wanted to say that I will send up prayers of strength and energy!!!! so that you can manage thru all of this......

Shirley said...

NM, that was one tough day! You may be on the right track that you don't need to put up with a job that dosen't allow you to care for the commitments you have to your family and animals. There are always options, and don't be afraid to change!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

What a nightmare, NM. I always thought that working from home would be such a low stress alternative. Apparently not.
I'm really sorry this weeks' been really testing you and wearing on your patience and draining your reserves.
I'm sending you some positive vibes and energy that good things are ahead and that new excitement-filled doors will be opened soon for you.

Hang in there, my friend :)


Laura said...

Wow - that all sounds really tough. I hope your work situation can get sorted out somehow. I wish companies could realize that working people to exhaustion just isn't productive at all. It's all about money and meeting impossible deadlines I guess.

Glad to hear that you got a bit of rest, that will help a bit.

Victoria Cummings said...

NM - Sorry things are so tough - It's in the air right now all over the country. Good thing your husband has good hearing and was persistent about the noise. I sleep with the window cracked over my bed so I can hear if anything is going on in the barn in the night. Hope you get some much deserved rest!

Lulu said...

I don't comment often....but this time I can definitely say, "I feel your pain!"!

I work in the IT field, and we are smack in the middle of the "4th Quarter Rush" right now. I won't be able to stop and catch my breath until after the first of the year....and even then, the company will have a fresh budget to start the games all over again. sigh....

Hang in there. I have found that being thankful for a paying job goes a long ways. Without the job that makes me crazy, I couldn't afford my 4 legged babies. They are worth the stress.

Callie said...

Holy Crap! What craziness! Geese, I hope it settles a bit ! BTW! Come on over and get your reward! Sounds like you deserve it for sure!

Rising Rainbow said...

sounds pretty awful to me. I hope you can find a way to take better care of yourself before the stress kills you off.