Saturday, January 23, 2010

Changes in work, changes in life.

What a week. I think this was maybe the hardest week I've gone through, at work and at home.

I work at a zoo, for those who don't know. I build exhibits, shipping crates, shift doors, tree stands, display cases, sign frames, and whatever else needs building. It's a pretty good job. I get to work with animal trainers and I get to know the animals on almost a personal level. I get to help develop educational exhibits on various biological topics, (loved doing the bioluminescence exhibit). Most everyone there are good to work with. I get some good benefits, health, dental, vision, good vacation time, after I passed my five years investiture, I get some nice money paid into my retirement fund. And I works side-by-side with a good staff. We have a graphics designer, a graphics printer, a sculptor/welder, and electronics guy (who is my best friend there) and me, the carpenter.

Those are the good things. The down sides include working with city government (Ssssslllllooooowwww------), and my supervisor. She's incompetent and a micromanager and feels she needs to get involved in every single detail of the zoo, even when they don't involve exhibits. She doesn't understand her place. And she makes it difficult for me and my co-staff to do our jobs, because she'd switch priorities at random times for what appears to be no reason, and would have to know the details of every single thing we do, even if the answers aren't possible to know. There are many other ways that she makes things difficult, which I can't go into at this time, because of time and computer memory constraints.

The economy of the whole country is a mess right now, and so is the economy of the city. In December, halfway through the fiscal year, the city was $10 million dollars in the hole. We just got a new mayor in November, the previous one spent money like it meant nothing, building a new city Hall, a new baseball stadium and a new events center. Then she made the choice to not run again. Bitch. So the new mayor looked at the budget when he got in and said "Holy shit! we have no money" We all knew it, even before he was elected, under the other mayor, we as workers had to encumber 8 furlough days to help with the budget. In December ALL spending froze. If I needed lumber or screws, Tough shit. Make do with what you have. The only spending that were not frozen was for animal care (food, medicine, etc) and public safety. Nice, eh?

the non=profit group that goes hand-in-hand with the zoo were raising funds to ship two giraffe cows from different parts of the country. Our previous giraffe cow died last summer from old age. The new ones arrived in late November. Wonderful for the zoo, good press, and hopes that the slough of animals that had died the previous year was to come to an end. We had already lost our Grizzly, our Polar Bear, two Alligators, a Kudu bull, a cheetah, and a matriarchal chimp. Our sharks were moved to a nearby aquarium so the tank could be rebuilt (not cheap) and so were our sea lions transported to another zoo so their exhibit could also be rebuilt. It was like death zoo. The planning for the shark tank didn't consider the lining, which would cost $25,000, and so that has been delayed, and by now the sharks had grown so large, they won't even fit in their tanks. The sea lion exhibit also met delays, and we might not even break ground for it until 2012, 5 years after the entire thing was supposed to be finished.

Our zoo director left in November, 2008. Better job in Hawaii. Operations Manager was interim director until a new one was hired in April. She had to learn the ropes of this new place, and had to deal with all this shit, on top of us in the exhibits department not being efficient due to our supervisor. Over the summer our department participated in dialogue seminars to try to help us iron out the difficulties. Didn't help much. We eventually got the attention of the union representative to talk to someone high up in HR to scrutinize our supervisor.

In November we got our giraffes. One arrived from California in good condition, the other came from Ohio. When she arrived, her neck seemed crooked. Our vet staff and Large Mammal curator and keepers examined her, provided muscle relaxers and did everything they could to comfort her, but her condition worsened until it deemed necessary that her have a surgery. She had a fracture in one of her neck vertebrae. During the procedure, she was given anesthesia. With smaller animals, this isn't usually a problem, but with large ungulates, there is a risk that the legs can give out when knocked out. And there are other risks too. Giraffes are such large animals that the right dosage is often hard to calculate. Too much and you risk putting her life, not enough and it won't be effective. I am not entirely sure what happened during the procedure, as the vet staff kept as much of it quiet as possible, but she didn't survive the anesthesia. She died.
Before Christmas, our area was threatened with a cold front coming from the south. It wound up being one of the widest temperature drops in the history of the area. All keepers took preventative measures to keep the barns warm. The temperature in giraffe barn is hard to regulate, being that it is 24 feet tall and very wide, but extra hay bales were brought in to block gaps in doors and leaks, extra propane heaters brought in. They did all they could. The building is over 25 years old, and there wasn't any money to build a new one soon. The other giraffe died from hypothermia, right around Christmas.

A terrible thing to happen. for sure. We lost two giraffes in as many months, and the press reported this and the locals began angrily questioning the zoo, stating that the zoo should be shut down, the keepers and Director should be fired (or worse!). There ought to be investigations! Someone should lose their job for this! It was vicious. There were investigations, and for both incidents, it was found that the zoo did everything they could. These things happen. Animals die all the time. It was just bad timing that these two giraffes died so close together and soon after their arrival.

Now, January of this year hit the city like a baseball bat. The mayor had a tough decision. paycuts or layoffs, throughout the city. The following couple weeks, there were countless meetings, negotiations, speculations and brouhaha. What came of all of it was layoffs. The City in total laid off 147 firefighters, 155 police officers, and 59 non-sworn employees, 10 of those from the zoo. My best friend from the zoo was laid off. Also, in our department, guess who? The woman who has driven our department to a screeching halt, has tarnished our name to the whole parks department, who has wasted precious time and money in misguided efforts, My supervisor was given the boot. I am not the kind of person to revel in other's misfortunes. It is not good news to lose your job. But I think, if anyone deserved it, it was her.

It will be a strange week at work this next one. The four of us will have to forge the way we do things, and we will also have to mourn the layoffs of all our friends who lost their jobs.

At home, things have not been well either. those who have been following my blog will know that about two years ago I came out of the closet to my wife of (now) ten and a half years. We decided the best thing for both of us is to separate and eventually divorce so that we both can move on. Neither of us relished the idea, because we do both love each other, but it is the right thing to do.
Last week, our son woke up at four o'clock throwing up. He had eaten too much junk food the previous day, he wasn't sick with a bug or anything. I spelpt through it, as I was dead tired from the happenings at work. When I did wake, I saw him sitting on the couch, pretty sad-looking. My wife had taken care of him overnight, I tried my best to help him, but every suggestion that I made, she took issue with. i got fed up with it and called her on it. We got into a major argument. Eventually we both realized that the argument wasn't about the care for our son, but it was that our progression seemed to be not progressing. We both calmed down about it. I went to work, but this was weighing so heavily my mind I could concentrate on work. I went home and allowed my wife to sleep. After she woke, we discussed things, and we decided that the first thing we should do is not sleep in the same room anymore. Eventually, I shall move out, to my home state, and begin life as a single man again, and she shall stay until the house is sold. When it does, then she will decide if she wants to move to near where I am, or if she will have explore other opportunities. Either way, life will not be the same.

I'm tired of writing this down. There is a lot more behind this, but I can only type so much without becoming exhausted and a little overwhelmed. If any of you readers have questions, I'll do my best to answer them. If you don't, that's fine too.

Have a good day.

1 comment:

Rammy said...

OK Leigh, hold on for a long long comment - I hope that the Google comment box does not break ---

You must have a real boat load of stress right now - I can't even imagine. I have had stress too but it is stupid to have a stress level competition - I will give you the stress level prize tonight. So now you are the proud winner of the stress award prize from Rammy Urriah - for what ever that is worth.

Well anyway I guess it is good to move along sometimes - even though it must be hard. But I can think back on things that have happened to me that seemed sort of bad - but things usually ended up OK. My theory is that the people that survive (like those people in Haiti) are the ones who have a positive vision of a future. Or I guess I mean have a picture in their minds of a positive and happy future.

I was watching a video on Jordon's website about a guy talking about teens killing themselves and stuff and thinking they must not have that positive view of their futures and I guess they see no way out.

Then I started thinking about what it would be like to be an old person and not having a hope for many more years of life. Then I thought... well when I get to be old I hope I will be remembering the future that I helped create by leaving (for lack of a better way to say it) positive vibes in the world. I would hate to have lived a whole life that didn't do anything good for people, but I guess a lot of people do.

I think the thing that always makes me feel bad is when I can't see a good future. When there is a lot of negative stuff that fills my brain it can effect the future because it effects the present.

Yikes - this is supposed to be a comment - not another post - I better end my ramblings right now!

Just remember there are people who are sending you good vibes!

your friend Rammy

PS I don't CARE if the whole would can read my comments