Okay so because I'm generally over dramatic I'm sure I've said this before but I promise, those other times I didn't mean it because this has been, without a doubt,
I've been on site at a chemical plant that makes catalyst since last Monday. Someone from our parent company was with me to show me how to do everything and I was supposed to be observing so that I can service the system if needed in the future.
Our first day, he assured me this was a two day job tops and said he was already looking into changing his Friday flight to Wednesday. He seemed to really know his stuff which I appreciated.
Then, we went to do our first task. He found a totally unrelated issue and sent us on a wild goose chase for the whole day trying to figure it out before discovering it wasn't really a major issue at all. So that's one day down.
Tuesday morning he came in and said there was probably only one more day's worth of work. We sat around and did nothing most of the day and I ended up having to stay until 7 PM because by the time they finally did start it was already the end of the day.
Upside: I was able to finally submit my NYU Stern application, realizing that the more I just stared at my essays, the more likely I was to hate them and want to start from scratch. That's a plus because knowing me I might have put it off until the very last minute.
Now, this isn't to say this guy is solely at fault. The people at this plant, for the most part, seemed to enjoy chatting much more than actually getting anything done. Normally this is fine with me but they were in a serious time crunch here, and that meant that they were putting me (the observer, supposedly) into a serious time crunch as well.
I started wondering if maybe some of them didn't like their wives because they seemed to not even want to go home, almost like they'd rather stay late hours than just get shit done and go home on time.
The days dragged on in similarly unproductive fashion. The engineers we needed to do our work were constantly in meetings updating their supervisor on the progress on the project (none) and what still needed to be done (everything). It was such a waste of fucking time and reminded me how awesome my boss is in that he just lets us do our work without forcing us to stop and sit in a room for an hour and just chat about progress when we could be actually making it.
By Friday, there was discussion of coming in on Saturday.
Oh, hell no.
I tried my hardest to encourage everyone to hurry the fuck up. They had given me a lot of things to do outside the scope of the project but rather than waste time arguing I just tried to finish them as quickly as possible. We were doing tests on a number of transmitters, and for whatever reason the guy out in the field making sure valves were opening and closing came inside and sat down to chat after every. Single. One. I kept saying "Okay, next one!" in an attempt to get him to stay outside and get things moving but no one else was having it.
Around noon, the guy who actually knew this stuff left to go home. Suddenly, I went from observer to sole systems engineer and had to figure out a project I was mostly unfamiliar with, looking through logic to determine why things were coded the way they were. It was miserable.
When he was gone, things seemed to go even slower than they had. Little things went wrong that I tried to fix but couldn't figure out. It was 4 PM and my planned beach weekend was rapidly becoming a weekend in a windowless control room. I was trying to figure out an issue but it just wasn't working. I asked if we could skip it for now and go back - sometimes things just need time to initialize and my brain needs time to defog before I can figure out what the problem may be. To make matters worse, the operator guy was sitting there and laughing every time something went wrong because he knew I wanted to leave and I guess found it hilarious that I couldn't.
The guy who needed to go outside to check things straight up just ignored me. I kept trying to troubleshoot the problem but just couldn't find anything anywhere. I grew so frustrated by their total lack of caring about getting this done that I did the unthinkable.
I started to cry.
Being a crier is the worst - silent tears invariably stream out any time I am mildly upset or frustrated. It doesn't mean I'm sad or being bratty, it's just a physical reaction I have.
I left the room to call my boss and ask him if he had any ideas on what the fuck I should do. He apologized for me being left there alone and said that was never his intention. I tried to pull myself together to go back into the control room. Unfortunately, when I did, I just realized they had been sitting there doing nothing that whole time and I felt my eyes welling up again.
I didn't want anyone to see but I am sure one of the guys did. He came and spoke to me and said not to worry and told me that "feature creep" is a common occurrence:
You go somewhere to do A, B, and C, and you choose your time frame based on that, but then once you're there they decide they was D, E, F, and G done as well, and suddenly your time estimate was way too short and you feel incredibly pressured to get everything done in the same period of time.
Realizing I was going to have to go back Saturday, I left around 5 to get to my shore house. My week sucked but I wasn't going to let it ruin my Friday night. I had a great time and left at 6:30 the next morning to go back and hopefully finish. My boss met me there this time, thankfully, and when we were walking in, the guy who saw me crying gave me a very sincere and thorough apology for the way everything was going, and told me I should never let a customer make me feel stressed and pressured to do more than I explicitly needed to do (which was, let's remember, OBSERVE). I was glad he did it in front of my boss so my boss could see that things really weren't going so hot down there but I still came in even though he was and could have easily done things on his own.
We finished around 3 PM on Saturday and I went home and didn't get up off the couch for the rest of the night. Most days the previous week were 10-12 hour work days and I was just beyond exhausted.
I had to go back yesterday to finish more things and a worker came up to me and told me he heard I had a breakdown on Friday. I doubt he was trying to be mean but it was pretty upsetting to me as I thought I had been able to keep it together in front of most people but apparently not. It was a really awful work experience, one that I'm sure is not uncommon but I hope not to see again.
Oh, and I have to go back Friday.
My real issue here is that I'm too timid. I'm young and a woman, and as such I feel uncomfortable trying to order people around and run the show, even though that's what I should have been doing. Maybe with more experience my confidence will grow as well and I'll be able to do these things.
No outfits because I had to wear my flame retardant jump suit and steel toed boots all week and, of course, now I'm sick with a throat infection or something and feel like shit.
But forget about all of that, I now have TWO APPLICATIONS COMPLETED AND SUBMITTED. Two more to go and I think I'm done for now. Cross your fingers!
How was everyone else's week? Hopefully less frustrating and embarrassing.