Over a year ago, the company where I work bought a new software package that they believed would eliminate the need for most of the people in our department. Anticipating this, they laid people off, only to find that though it’s a decent piece of software in its own right, the sales claims about how much it could do were grossly exaggerated. To make a long story short, with fewer people, the work piled up, and rather than hire back the experienced old employees, they started outsourcing the work to another “service.”
Another software system designed to further automate our work went “live” yesterday. Each of us got perhaps 10 minutes of hands-on training. When it was my turn at the console, I asked an innocent question that turned out to be most awkward for the trainer. “How do I navigate from field to field when I’m filling out this document?” Ooops. Every answer he gave made things go horribly wrong. The cursor did not jump to the next field, and the field started to grow and began spreading across the screen. “I’ll get back to you on that, “he promised, “but your time’s up now.”
Today, ominously, our work trickled down to nothing. Most of the employees were sent home, forced to go without pay or use vacation time, because the company has a contract with the outsourcing firm. What work there is must be given to them instead of to the actual staff. I’ve never been in this situation before; in every other place I’ve worked, when we’re caught up, they discontinue the outside service.
I had to stay, though; it was my job to keep checking on the new application that is meant to replace me. It sat frozen on my computer screen like a bloated and very dead Frankenstein monster, expected any minute now to snap to life and start working, but nothing has happened for two days. Other than that, there was very little to do; the work just wasn’t there.
I just got an email from COBRA about “affordable” medical coverage when I lose my job. It’s starting to feel like the Twilight Zone around here.