Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Hell really hath no fury like a pregnant woman scorned

I'm a little annoyed at a work situation right now, and I need to vent for a bit. I need to explain some background information, though, about my co-workers to give a better idea of the whole picture. It'll probably confuse you, but mostly this is just for my sanity that I'm writing this post, so I apologize if I'm not providing all the info you need to get it.

I am a magazine copy editor, and I work with three part-time proofreaders who work throughout the week to assist me. Proofreader #1 is talented, is a big help, and almost always comes through if I need her to work extra hours or something. She and I get along the best, I'd say. Proofreader #2 is good at her work, but she is the kind of person who doesn't like to plan ahead, so if I need her to work more hours, she says she doesn't know if she has plans yet if I ask too far ahead of time, but then she pulls the "oh, if you'd asked sooner, I could have" if I wait to ask her about it closer to time. So, I can't ever win there. October is a busy month for us, and I asked if she could work just ONE of the Sundays in October as an extra reader (I needed an extra reader for all five Sundays), and she said no to all of them. Proofreader #3 is pretty worthless, to be honest, but she's better than if we just pulled someone in off the street.

Our magazine's weekly deadline is on Sundays. The number of readers I have throughout the week can vary as long as we get the workload done, but there have to be two readers on Sundays because of the deadline. Usually that's me and Proofreader #3. If either of us needs a Sunday off, we just have to see if Proofreader #1 or Proofreader #2 can fill in for us. This usually isn't a problem, especially because, as I said, Proofreader #1 really steps up in situations like this.

That being said, I try not to take off many Sundays throughout the year, just because it is our deadline day, and quite frankly, it's best if I'm there then. In 2006, I've taken off exactly one Sunday: my one-year wedding anniversary. Proofreader #2 covered for me that day (#1 was unavailable), but only after she got the feeling that I was pissed (I was) that I was going to have to work on my first anniversary (she'd originally said no to working for me).

So, back to the present. My hospital offers a series of childbirth classes (newborn care, infant CPR, etc.), and most of the classes are offered during weeknights. However, the breastfeeding class is only offered once a month on Sunday afternoons and no other time. The best time for me to take this class is December 10 because the next class isn't until mid-January, which may possibly be too late. About a week ago, I asked Proofreader #1 if she would work for me on the 10th, and she said she should be able to. However, yesterday she suggested that I check with Proofreader #2 instead to see if she could work for me since I've already got Proofreader #1 working this coming Sunday as a third reader (because it's a busy weekend) and on December 3 filling in for Proofreader #3 (which just came up yesterday). (Confused yet?)

So, I asked Proofreader #2 yesterday about the 10th, telling her why I needed that day off. Her response? "There's no chance of that happening because I'll still be recovering from the convention." This convention, which is work-related in San Antonio, ends on the 6th. Yeah, thanks again, #2. I asked Proofreader #1 again if she could work for me since #2 won't, and she said she would--but then she still laid some guilt trip on me, saying, "I just hope no holiday parties come up that I'll be missing." I'm sorry, is the timing of my baby not convenient for you? Should I just reschedule everything to make everyone else happy here?

So, that's the first annoyance. The second involves my actual maternity leave. I'll be taking off a full 12 weeks, which means 12 Sundays that I won't be able to work, leaving #1 and #2 to fight it out between themselves as to when they'll each be filling in (#3 should be there most Sundays as usual). Proofreader #1 was kind enough to initiate correspondence with #2 and #3 to ask them if they knew of any Sundays during the time I should be gone that they know for sure they won't be able to work. You know what Proofreader #2's answer was? "I don't plan that far ahead, so I don't know when I'll be available. Sorry." It's not like this is a surprise; they've known for a while now that they're going to have to fill in for me while I'm gone. I'd also brought up the fact that it's possible I may go early, so they'll need to have a system for who's on standby in mid- to late January, just in case I miss those Sundays. Proofreader #2's response was, "I sometimes go to Pittsburgh then, so I don't know if I can commit to anything." I'm afraid it's going to come down to Proofreader #1 filling in for me 95% of the time, which isn't fair to her.

What ticks me off the most is that I put so much into my job and look out for these specific co-workers--and take very little time off that would require them to cover for me (I haven't taken a week off since our honeymoon in July 2005, and I've taken exactly two weeklong vacations in five years)--yet I feel like I get nothing but crap in return sometimes, especially from #2. (And no, there's not really anything I can do...while they work under me, I'm not technically their supervisor, and they're all contract labor and not technically considered employees of the company, so I can't force them to work certain times.) To think that I'd actually considered taking just six weeks off so I wouldn't inconvenience them any more than I had to. Ha! What a joke. I wish I could take six months off instead. Or longer. I hate feeling like I'm being considerate of others, then not getting it in return. Maybe that's selfish of me, or maybe it's naive of me. Either way, I hate being made to feel like I'm inconveniencing everyone here.

(It's worth noting that all three of these women I work with are unmarried, older than me [#1 in her 40s, #1 in her 50s, and #3 in her early 60s], and have never had children and generally give off an anti-child vibe. So, no, they don't understand what it's like, in case you were wondering. I'm sure that could explain some of it, but I don't see why that should be taken out on me.)


At November 22, 2006 5:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't care if PR#2 is 90, she doesn't need 4 days to recover. Hello. That is lame. I don't blame you for being pissed! They need to be more flexible. That really is not asking too much!


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