Miz Shoes

Yeah, It’s a Cheap Shot

This is what a three-million dollar ad campaign looks like:


And you just know that the bright lights at the agency were just pissing themselves over their own cleverness: it's a sign that says it's a sign.
Oh. My. Gawd. We are so funny. A sign. That says it's a sign. Get it?

The other ones in the series say things like "You're in one of the few places we're not." Huh? You mean you don't have a clinic on the train? Well, but the train stops right at the hospital, so sometimes you are where the hospital is.

Or in the immortal words of Firesign Theater, how can you be in two places at once when you're not anywhere at all?

Another one says "Get a better health plan by the next stop." and then has the web address. So I guess that works if you are a commuter with a wireless bluetooth connection on your cell phone. Or something like that.

It's a sign. It's a sign that's a sign.
Miz Shoes

Thelma Makes Coffee, Selma Doesn’t

I think that the person I replaced had multiple personalities. One of them filed obsessively, cross-referencing, color-coding, duplicating entries, creating mind-boggling obscure abbreviations, and on and on. The other one tossed all of her files into one big manilla pocket.
I'm serious about this. I have a spreadsheet that I supposed to be working with that has thirty-one fields. Color coded. I tried to duplicate it, but the most fields I can conceivably use for this project is ten, and that's only if I pad it.

The documents that come about from the work requested in those spreadsheets, which are the things that I would file by State, Location, Year and Month, are dumped higgledy-piggledy into a single lump.

Of course, all filing by my predecessor stopped some time around the beginning of this year, so that means I have plenty of filing to do. And no file folders to do it in. I don't know which of the personalities ordered office supplies, but she must have been on vacation.

Now that I have my digital camera working again, I'll post the view from the 18th floor outdoor lunch room. And the hair cut.

Did I mention that here? It's been such a brutal summer that despite my desire to become an old lady with a long grey braid down my back, I whacked off all my hair. It's going to Locks of Love, where some poor kid will be happy to have my curls.

My hairdresser kept telling me that she was afraid to cut it as short as I was telling her to cut it, because my hair had been sooo long and she didn't want me going into hair shock. I told her that having spent the first seventeen years or so of my life as the only person with curly hair in my small town, any potential traumas and hangups I may have had about haircuts, I had gotten over by the age of ten.

You can't do anything to my hair that I didn't suffer through early on. Pixie cuts? Check. Pageboys and bobs? Check. A side part? A middle part? Check and check.

I think the last time I cried over a haircut, I was about 20 and it was the first time I got a GOOD haircut. But I digress. It's short, and as far as I'm concerned, it could be shorter still. It is just too hot this summer to have hair longer than an inch.

Anyway. It's hot. It's late. I'm going to the cool end of the house, and so to bed.
In my newest job, I am a glorified secretary. The official title for what I do is "Executive Assistant". But since the Skipper books his own travel, and can touch type faster than most secretaries, and keeps his own calendar, the secretarial portion of the job is minimal.
In fact, the majority of my work is low-level, designing-in-Word kind of stuff, and I'm down with that, y'all. The only problem I have is that I've inherited the work of an anal-compulsive. Things are cross referenced, abbreviated, listed multiple times, high-lighted, boxed, color coded (even though things are printed in black and white), available in multiple sizes, and in general, balloxed beyond all recognition.

It is so bad that even using a search field I can't find all the iterations of a person's name or phone number.

This just brings to mind what I used to tell the nurses at Jackson. Just because you can use seventeen different type faces in a document, it doesn't mean that you should.

Or, look. You went to school to learn certain things, and so did I. I mean, I could, theoretically, start an IV, but it would be messy and painful and you wouldn't want me to do it to you. Likewise, you could, theoretically, design a newsletter, but...

They never got it.

I'm getting it now. This is an unusable document, and I get to re-engineer it. But without stepping on the toes of the actual art director and her junior designer.


On the up tick, they have an espresso/latte maker in the break room. Do you people know how much coffee I can consume in the average day? Whee!
Miz Shoes

Back on the Train Gang

It's my first day at my (latest) newest job. I'm an executive assistant for a guy I've worked for twice before in the past 15 years. I hope that this one sticks. He's a great boss, and an intensely odd fellow. I absolutely adore him.
We once had a screaming match over whether or not he should have told me that Joe Dimaggio* was a patient at our hospital BEFORE he checked out. Our conversation was at top volume, held in the middle of the office, and went something like this.

Me: You should have told me. I would have prostrated myself on his floor and begged for an autograph.

Boss: No. He's a fucking Yankee pig.

Me: Hall of Fame Yankee pig. Joltin' Joe? Married to Marilyn? American icon? Worth prostrating for an autograph.

Boss: No. Fucking Yankee pig. And a real asshole.


Well, it went on like that at some length. How could you NOT want to work for a man who has no respect for one of the greatest of all baseball players ever, just because he played for the (Evil) New York Yankees.

The boss and I agree that the designated hitter rule is an abomination and only National League play is real baseball.

Anyway. I'm back on the train in the morning. There will be photos, of course, of unpardonable sins against sartorial reason, and other crimes, like putting on foundation while in public. But I'm so in love with the Overheard In New York site, that I may start putting up actual eavesdropped conversations.

It's late. I put in a ten-hour day, and I'm making dinner while I write this, so in the immortal words of S. Pepys, and so, to bed.

*face lift.
Miz Shoes

I Lied

I lied when I said that I wasn't going to ever write about my old place of employment ever again. I made a mistake, and went and really poked around the web site, and I'm so disgusted, that I just have to share.

But this time, I really mean it. Never again. Unless they sue me for this.
On the front page, the word "surgeon" is spelled wrong. And spelled wrong again on the jump. Of course, who needs to use spell check, a dictionary, or even proof read anything, because, (repeat the PR mantra after me)"It doesn't have to be done right, it only has to be done."

There is no more interactivity on the site. Newsletters, meeting reports, minutes, everything is now a PDF, and not a third generation, interactive PDF either. Just a straight PDF, and not even those are made correctly. The pagination is off, leaving widows and orphans in the text, page headers floating in the middle of a page and blank pages piling up at the end of the document.

Things that are done with cut and paste include things like header for a page jump, stuck in the middle of the rest of the pasted text. Paragraphs are not spaced with any regularity, so sometimes there is a double space, and other times it's just a long, mashed run on.

The cafeteria menus are particularly wretched, appearing in a variety of type faces and sizes, and with items repeated because (again) there is no proof reading done by the Pointy Haired Boss or his new pet girl.

Finally, just to make you laugh, the so-called media section consists of the listing of the PR staff. It is also out of date, seeing as half of the people on the list are no longer in the employ of the institution. While you're looking at that page, take a good hard look at the phone numbers listed for the PR staff. Most of them don't take their own calls. They all list the front desk as their private number.

At JMH, we have a single standard of care: we treat everyone like shit.
Miz Shoes

The Last Post Ever About My Old Job

Really. I promise. I have to spew this, and then I can let it go forever. I think. Maybe.

The RLA and I went out the other day to a pretty good Mexican restaurant, and who did we see there but the Boy Wonder, my former co-worker. And did he have stories to tell.
Which, as it happens, I would rather have not heard.

The Big Guy, one of our other team members, left to go to the Health Plan. The Database Guru took early retirement. Took is a liberal use of the word, because it was really more of a "You will retire now, take the pathetic excuse for a package we are offering, be glad of it and don't let the door hit you on the way out. You have four days to pack and go."

That left the Boy Wonder and the Pointy Haired Boss as the only two people in the web group. Boy Wonder had to pick up all the work from the Big Guy and the Database Guru, in addition to the work he already did, and that was pretty much everything to do with the intranet.

The Pointy Haired Boss was left doing my work, which was the web site. But. The PR director left a couple of weeks after I did, and Loogie never came back from medical leave (the hospital wouldn't let her, even though she wanted to) and the interim staff over in PR wouldn't know how to supply content to a web site if their lives or jobs depended on it... and we all know that it doesn't.

That meant that all the PHB was doing was updating the cafeteria menus once a week, and the employee newsletter once every other week, and the calendar on an as-needed basis. He does this by cut and paste, and he doesn't do it right, because when the page displays there are misspellings and various type faces and sizes.

Nevertheless, the PHB was "overworked" by all of this (it was cutting into his solitaire time and his on-line hunt for dates) and so he got a new employee. The department secretary/billing clerk who had taken a class or two in web design at night school and wanted most desperately to join the web team, finally got her wish and is on half duty learning from the PHB how to do the cut and paste.

In the meantime, the entire medical information services group is being outsourced piecemeal. The guys who sold us our web program are back in town, pitching new services. Since we didn't buy what we really needed the first time, and since we didn't buy enough licenses for everyone to do their work, I'm guessing that they'll just pick up the whole thing.

None of which is what I was told by the Senior Vice Weasel President when they threw me out the door.

Further, the PHB will be staying on at the hospital until he retires. Now, he's over 60. He was eligle for early retirement. He is a manager. He was in the DROP, which was an early/extended retirement program. According to all the promises made to the hospital staff, only managers would be laid off, only people eligible for early retirement (55 and older) would be forced into early retirement, and only people in the DROP would be expedited through the process and sent home.

Except for the PHB, beloved by his incompetent director, the Balding Middle Management Ken Doll. Beloved and protected and allowed to continue on, playing solitaire, sleeping at his desk, and searching for love on the internet while I file for unemployement and wonder what the fuck happened to being good at your job as a requirement for staying employed.
Miz Shoes

Maybe Yes, Maybe No

I have an interview tonight at the local book store. I'm so excited at the prospect of working at something that won't drain me emotionally and creatively, and since it's dealing with the great unwashed, will also give me fodder for this blog mill.
The Noble Dog Nails is doing well, and for MJ, who asked, Thor looks just fine. He's a handsome golden with a thick, thick coat. Poor Nails couldn't get through the fur to do any damage.

Our old vet used to say that Jack Russells are suicidal. Just clueless as to size. Nails thinks he's really Godzilla, in a very tiny dog suit.
Miz Shoes

She’s Gone Where the Goblins Go

I received a call today from one of the guys I used to work with. They couldn't wait to tell me the news. The PR director from hell has resigned to take a new position with AvMed. To which I can only say, pull your money out of AvMed now, before she wreaks havoc on their image.
I hope it was as voluntary a separation as mine was. I'd like to think that someone finally told her that things DO have to be done right, and not just done. That it was about the quality of her work, that it was about her, personally.

I'd like to think that, but I doubt it happened that way. No, it happened like everything else has happened at the hospital: ass backwards and inadverdently.

This woman, this incapable, ignorant bitch managed to ruin lives and destroy institutions that I worked hard to build (the publications office, the web) and now she is simply walking away, with no compunction and utterly no comprehension of the harm she did to the hospital with her incompetence.

Ah, fuck 'em anyway. I have a new puppy, and a new batch of lox brining away in the back of the fridge. On Friday, this miserable year will come to an end, and I can pin my dreams on 2005.
Miz Shoes

Mid-Life Crisis

It's occured to me, as I sift through the detritus of my home studio, that I really don't have to go back to work as a corporate art hack. I could change careers. No, really, I could.
The question, of course, is what should I be now that I have ostensibly grown up.

On the one hand, I'd like to be paid to be a smart ass. That means either doing stand up, or comedy writing, or taking over as the new, female, emergency back up Dave Barry. (Which I fully feel capable of doing.) I could sell my manuscript (finally). I could try to parlay this blog into a money making enterprise.

On the other hand, I would just adore going back to school to become a chef. I would not adore the long hours and back breaking work involved to become the oldest sous-chef in the worst diner in Miami.

On still another hand, I really would love to lock myself away in my studio and just sew and bead and make things. I don't even mind selling the things I make. Unlike the RLA, by the time I finish a piece of artwork, I don't want to live with it, I want it out of the house, preferably forever.

On yet another hand, maybe I should just get a part-time job at a Starbucks or Borders... you know, something where I could go to work and never have to engage my brain at all. The only down side I can see to one of those jobs is dealing with the public, and I hate the public. I'm not even too keen on people.

So maybe I should go to work as a vetrinary assistant, and make minimum wage, and swab dog poop for a living. Or not.

I dunno. Maybe I'll just float along in an undecided fugue state until something falls in my lap.
Miz Shoes

Horse Dead, Still Flogging

I received another check from the hospital yesterday. It seems that despite the conditions of the letter of separation, the hospital has cut the checks for my sick leave and vacation payouts already.

They were supposed to be cut after the last regular severance check, which would have put them into next year. Better for me to get that lump sum next year, when my employment status, and tax status is so tentative.

Better for the institution to pay the debt in this tax year.
So it's a win-win. They can screw my tax status by paying me, thereby inflicting yet another insult or injury, and at the same time, benefit their own bottom line.

Oh, please. I know it isn't personal. It is a global disdain for workers' well being.

On another note, I am stalling as hard as I can, because today is the day I go get my mother and install her in her new Alzheimer's home.

I've been having nightmares all week. I know this is the best, if not the only possible course of action, but that doesn't make it any easier.

Last night I dreamt that I had these red, crusty, ring-worm type sores on my ear lobe, and my shoulder. Only they weren't whole rings, they were horseshoe-shaped, and the center was black and sort of leathery. Truly disgusting.

I'm not suffering from suppressed guilt, am I?

Miz Shoes

An Open Letter

Dear Mr. President of the Hospital Where I Used To Work,

I'd just like to say what a pleasure it's been working at the hospital. I'd like to say that, but I'm afraid that I can't. You see, in the last twelve years, this institution has gone from one that made me proud to work there, to one where I cried on my way in, every day.
It was getting to that point when you came, so I can't blame you for the depths to which it has sunk. Many people do, but that isn't fair. No, the seeds of its destruction were sown many years ago, and I'm afraid that you are merely bringing in the sheaves.

Some of the senior management you inherited was incompetent and corrupt. Some of the senior management you brought in to replace those people were even worse.

One of the most recent casualties of your reign was a man I've known for twelve years. He was down in the pharmacy when your man came in. Your man tossed him out. Your man then went on to overbill the hospital on a regular basis, and even put in for reimbursement on his trips to strip clubs and fishing get-aways. My friend would have seen that and blown the whistle in a New York minute. That's why he was sent away.

What reason is there for sending him away now, after that particular whistle has been blown, and blown by someone who was left in nominal power because he was thought too insignificant and weak to do what he did?

Some of the most incompetent and stupid of the senior management you inherited, you let remain in power. Your PR director, for example. I have had a long and bitter struggle for integrity and devotion to duty with that particular bitch, and every time, she has won.

What does that say, that your PR director's position on talking to the media is "If you don't talk to the press, they can't misquote you." This institution has devolved into a bunker mentality. Is it Hitler in the Eagle's Nest, or merely Nixon praying in the halls of the White House?

I guess that I'm particularly bitter about the PR director, because it was she who told me, all those years ago: "Nobody wants to hear what you have to say. All you'll do is tell us what we're doing wrong, and it doesn't have to be done right, it only has to be done."

You were supposed to be our saviour. You were supposed to come in here and pull this institution up from the waters it was foundering in, and bring us back to fiscal health and management well-being.

I'm not seeing it. I never saw it. The old president may have been barking mad there at the end, but he always cared. You and your team have treated us like less than dirt. That was why I laughed when my VP told us that those of us who were going to be laid off were going to be treated with dignity and respect. You didn't treat us like that before you laid us off, why should we believe that dismissing us would improve our lot?

I had been ordered to put together a team to do volunteer work for Hands On Miami Day. Nobody asked if I wanted to, I was ordered to do it. I was livid with rage, that I should be asked to shanghai people to do field work on a weekend when we were all waiting for the ax to fall on our necks. I wasn't allowed to refuse, but neither did I work it like I had the first year, when I offered to do it.

Two days after Hands On Miami, I was laid off. My VP knew that he was throwing me away, and yet he still expected me to happily organize an after-hours event for the public face of this hospital. Oh yeah, respect and dignity, all right.

And while I'm venting about respect and dignity, let me tell you about my last responsibilty. My manager, oh he of little brain and pointy hair, had dicked around with the servers for a good nine months before we finally got my new content management system installed. He installed it while I was sitting at my father's deathbed. No less than 15 minutes (FIFTEEN FUCKING MINUTES, DO YOU HEAR ME, YES I'M YELLING, 15 MINUTES) after my father died, my asshole boss said, "While I have you on the phone, could you walk me through adding a row to a table in HTML?"

Is that respect? Is that dignity? Is that even fucking human? Huh? Anyway, I came back to work from my father's funeral and was given 3 months to convert the entire web site over to the new system. Yes, the PHB had taken three times that long to install the software, but I had three months to convert the site. By myself. Working longer hours, maintaining the existing site, creating hundreds of PDFs for secretaries who couldn't do it themselves, and never complaining. I did it in the time alloted too, which is ridiculous. Nobody should have been able to do it.

For my efforts, I received a thank you note from my boss. I was nominated for Employee of the Month. I didn't win, though. That honor was given to some gomer who sat in the server room during a hurricane that never hit and never disrupted power. When I finally did complain about that, the director of my department said that Employee of the Month didn't have anything to do with work, it was a perk that was doled out where and when needed for morale in any particular group.

Respect? Dignity? I don't think so.

Imagine my surprise when no less than two months after I finished that conversion, the PR director decided to outsource the web. Why another department was allowed to cut my job is something I don't like to ponder too much, but there it was. She also cut my counterpart in her own department, the lovable Loogie, my editor and bane of my existence. Imagine how much greater my shock when Loogie called me at home yesterday to tell me that she wasn't fired or reassigned, after all. She's going back to the PR office to oversee the firm that will be doing the web. She was given that news by the PR director one day after I had been separated from the company.

Respect? Dignity? Not having to do with individuals? Yeah, right. Tell me another one. I have some dry land out in the Everglades for sale, if you're interested.

In conclusion, let me say that I think it's really nice that those good old boys in management still have their jobs. My boss, I see, has been updating the web in my absence. I can tell, because it isn't done right.

But then, it didn't have to be, did it? It only has to be done.

Yours truly,

A bitter, bitter, bitter ex-employee
Miz Shoes

Day One

I slept in. All the way to 7:30AM. Whoopeee.

After a cup of coffee, and the delicious realization that I didn't have to put on make up today, I sauntered off into the living room, where twelve years of employment and hard work has been packaged into six cardboard boxes.
I pulled out the office sweaters and the Happy Bunny desk sign book, the spare pair of socks, the container of mints, and the squishy brain that sat on my monitor.

I sorted out the tech books. Outdated systems and program version learning guides went into a bag for the used book store. Usuable manuals and in-depth guides went into smaller box, for me to finally read and work through.

I pulled out my desk calendar, marked the day of separation (free at last, free at last) and the upcoming jury duty and interviews.

I sat on the couch, depressed despite myself.

I went back to the boxes, extracting the cables, cradles, docks and chargers. Those will go to my studio. Ditto the radio/cd player.

My awards and framed samples will go into storage. I sigh. I sit on the couch and remind myself how much joy and relief I felt yesterday when I sneered at the senior vp and told him to spare me the platitudes.

I wander off to refill my coffee, pet the dog. This is going to be fine, I think.
Miz Shoes

See? I TOLD You So

I got to work this morning and was greeted by the PHB. I was to report to the HR office immediately.
So I did. And then I was fired. The PR office decided to outsource the web, thereby rendering my job pointless. Even though I'm an MIS employee, and even though there should have been some interaction with the group that actually built and maintained the web, there appears to have been none.

I'm sure that management was lying about that. So much for my hard work.

I'm pretty sure, too, that laughing in the VP's face when he tried to shake my hand and tell me how much they valued me and all the work that I had done for the institution was bad form on my part to.

All I have to say is:

Free at last, free at last; thank God almighty, we're free at last.

This is at least as liberating an experience for me as losing my portfolio was twenty years ago. I'm not kidding. I loved that book. I was proud of the work in it. Some of it should have been tossed out years prior, but I couldn't because I loved whatever it was. Having my portfolio stolen allowed me to rethink how I presented my book; my work. I was free to reinvent myself artistically because those pieced that I was attached to emotionally were gone. I could start new.

Kind of like today.
Miz Shoes

It Can ALWAYS Get Worse

Yesterday sucked.

I'm twiddling my thumbs at the office these days, what with there being no content provider, anymore. I'm explaining things about server technology to the PHB, not that I actually understand server technology.

And then the phone rings.
My best friend here, a woman with more than twenty years with this institution, and pretty much the brain trust in her division, was on the phone to tell me that she had just become a victim of the downsizing.

My mentor. My friend. My sister-girl. Unemployed. At one in the afternoon, after breaking our lunch date because she just had too much work to do.

Because the administration of this institution appears to have been raised by wolves, and by that I mean every single one of them, and I'm sorry if that is an insult to wolves, not only was she fired in the middle of the afternoon, the meeting she was supposed to chair at 4 was not cancelled. No. She went to leave, to say goodbye to her staff, and there was no staff available. They were all in her meeting. The one she was no longer there to chair.

The VP who fired her kept saying the usual shit about how hard it was for him. How much it hurt him. How terrible it was for him. Yeah?

Fuck you, buddy. How terrible, how painful, how hard do you think it was for her? Oh. I'm sorry. That means you would have had to pull your nose out of your own ass long enough to smell the air. Not going to happen.

Of course, there was more. My mother's caregiver seems to have snapped her last thread binding her to reality and is having some identity issues regarding who, exactly, is my mother's child. As in: her, or me. I cannot move mummy fast enough. Assuming, of course, that the caregiver doesn't kidnap her and move her away.

Oh, yeah. Fucking blue skies here. I sent the RLA out for a pack of Shermans. I was an ex-smoker for all of three weeks.

In unison, gentle readers: BITE ME.
Miz Shoes

Have Reached Bottom. Am Digging.

In the never ending "will they? won't they?" of my job life, the newest news -- only two days old -- is that there WILL be layoffs in my department. Because the first round of layoffs, that aren't really layoffs, didn't save the hospital enough money.
Yeah. No shit, assholes. How could it? What happened is that a manager is "laid off". Meaning that they don't have their job anymore, but based on how long they've been with the institution, and what they were doing, or what they did 15 years ago, they can go down the food chain and tell some other poor schmuck that that schmuck's job is now the manager's job, and the person who really loses their paycheck is the poor schmuck, and not the manager.

Sometimes this results in the manager taking a cut in pay. Other times it doesn't. In my own department, we had managers reclassified, and theoretically demoted, but in reality, they just had their job titles changed, and the money and the power remained the same.

So how does that, how can that, save money.

Over in the PR office, Loogie, my web editor and the only person supplying content for my site, had her position eliminated. Now we are on hold for new content. Forever, no doubt.

Six years ago, when my position of graphic designer was eliminated from that office, the director told me that she had every intention of cutting Loogie, too. She told me she didn't know how or when, but that Loogie was next on the list to go.

In what is, I am certain, merely a coincidence, Loogie and I were the only two Jews. With the cuts in staff, the PR department is now white and Hispanic. Gone is the last Jew, and the last two women of color.

I'm sure it's only a coinky-dink, aren't you?

Yesterday we had another department meeting. Our VP showed us a video of some random Civil War epic. I think that it featured Jeff Daniels, hard to tell under all that bad facial hair. He was giving an inspirational talk to a group of potential Union deserters, just prior to the Battle of Gettysburg. It was supposed to motivate us to fight for the life of the hospital while at the same time throwing our jobs away to save it. He told us we had to look at the big picture, that the hospital was what we were fighting for, not our own livelihoods. Because the hospital is a representative of the greater good. We serve the uninsured and the poor. Well, I kept my mouth shut (for once and it was a fucking miracle) and didn't point out that without our jobs, we would be the poor and uninsured.

We were told to suck it up and love our jobs, and put on happy faces, because people can't think that this is a bad place to work. People shouldn't see our dirty laundry airing and choose not to come here to be healed. Dude, nobody chooses to come here, whether the worker bees are happy, shiny, smiling drones or not.

And nobody wants to wear the happy mask anymore. We don't believe in our leaders. We don't believe in our managers. We don't believe in our government, who gives us more responsibility for the county's healthcare, but cuts the dollars we're supposed to do it with.

It is, in microcosm, what happened on Tuesday. We don't care about the economy, we don't care about healthcare and education, we don't care about the future.

We care about keeping our small piece of the status quo, and fuck everyone else.

Rome is burning.

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