Sunday, July 09, 2017

over the cliff

This coming Tuesday—unless there's another sudden change in plans—we're moving to our new office down the street, which is located in a building that houses what we all call "the main branch" of our company. Monday is our final packing day, and I'm already 80% packed. I just need to label my computer equipment so it doesn't get mixed up or lost. Monday is also "belated Fourth of July party" day: I've bought all the elements for an enormous and extremely unhealthy lunch—stuffed burgers, pornographically huge hot dogs, potato chips, and cookies. (My coworker will take care of the soda situation.) I've nixed the coleslaw for simplicity's sake: it's all about the burgers and dogs.

We'll pack up the rest of our office-related possessions in the morning on Monday, stuff ourselves silly in the afternoon, and if our boss keeps his promise, we'll be leaving the office early. The movers have told us that they'll be barging into our office very early on Tuesday—around 7AM—to take our stuff to the new office, so we can simply go straight to the new office on Tuesday to begin the Great Unpacking. I've seen our new space: it's much larger, mainly because it's going to accommodate eleven people instead of our current three.

The truly interesting bit will be getting to know my new coworkers. The composition of the new crew is a bit confusing, so follow me closely: we're supposed to be taking on eight staffers (six men and two women) who currently work in other departments, thus bringing up to ten the number of people under my current boss. But two of those staffers are at the ends of their contracts and will be moving on to other things, either leaving the country or finding other work. My boss says that we will therefore be hiring two newbies right away. Where the newbies will come from, I can't say; they might come from completely outside the company, or they might be shunted over from different departments. One way or another, the R&D department will have ten employees under one manager—a significant expansion in the size of our department, and a minor victory for our boss, who has wanted to expand for a while.

Originally, there was talk of me becoming a supervisor, but I told my boss quite frankly that I'd rather not supervise anyone and would rather think of myself as a peer of and not a superior to the newcomers. I don't know how this is going to work out; the flow chart of authority still isn't entirely clear to me, and I suspect the boss himself is still thinking things through. First, he needs to figure out what projects the newbies have been working on before being shunted to R&D; next, he needs to find out the newbies' strengths and weaknesses; after that, he needs to see whether I and my coworker actually need to become supervisors.

As for taking the measure of my soon-to-be-coworkers' strengths and weaknesses, my boss wants to inflict my infamous "language obstacle course" on the eight newbies. I now feel very guilty about having created that test. I asked the boss whether he was serious about doing this, and he looked at me as if I were stupid. "I want to find out if these people are any good," he said, "and if they're not, then I'll send them elsewhere." By this, he meant not that he'd fire them if they failed my test, but that he'd shunt them over to different departments if they turned out to be linguistically incompetent. I told the boss that I'd thought the obstacle course had been developed for potential hires, not for people who are merely moving from one department to another, but his feeling is that the test can be applied more universally than that. So at some point soon, I'm going to have to inflict my obstacle course upon my new coworkers. I'm not looking forward to how that's going to affect the office dynamic, but this is not my call. (Sorry, future colleagues. But welcome to R&D, I guess!)

So this coming week will be a time of excitement and upheaval, at least in terms of moving to a new physical space and meeting new coworkers (whom I'll soon be abusing). We're plunging over the cliff, but overall, I find this radical change to be more exciting than worrisome. Perhaps cliff-plunging is the wrong metaphor to describe the situation.

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