Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Gotta Keep Your Head Up...

Driving into work this morning I heard "Keep Your Head Up" by Andy Grammer - one of my favorite pop songs of early 2012 (I have no idea when it actually was released, I just have heard it a lot this year).

My favorite lyric set from the song is:

"The glow that the sun gives
Right around sunset
Helps me realize
This is just a journey
Drop your worries
You are gonna turn out fine.
Oh, you'll turn out fine.
Fine, oh, you'll turn out fine.
But you gotta keep your head up, oh,
And you can let your hair down, eh."

I also like this part:
"Only rainbows after rain,
the sun will always come again,
it's a circle, circling,
around again, it comes around again"

Anyway - these days - for me - and for many people I know - life kind of feels like a roller coaster.  And not at all in that "I'm a kid and love, love, LOVE rollercoasters," kind of way - more in the way of an adult looking at a wooden roller coaster with rusty rails and thinking, I'll get on this thing cause my (kid, niece, nephew, friend's cousin, whatever) wants to go and they need an adult with them...but I think I may lose that awesome apple filled churro I just shoved down my throat for "lunch."  Oh, the things we do for the love of children!

But seriously - I have several friends who have been out of work for a long time - and not by choice.  And they're not stupid people - they're licensed engineers, with advanced degrees, who know how to formulate sentences and have conversations with people without mentioning protractors or calculators.  People I would hire if I had the ability to hire anyone.  It's tough out there for people searching for work.

Personally, the company I work for has been under attack in the media recently - and it seems that everyone in the NY metropolitan area thinks that me and all my colleagues are living the high life, stealing from the impoverished working class people of NY and NJ, all under the direction of management staff who are supposedly lazy, dysfunctional, and ineffective.  There are literally articles in the paper every single day (from the NY Times to the Asbury Park Press) reinforcing the idea that everyone that works for the company I work for is corrupt, overpaid, and stupid.

I am capable of brushing off such insults when they come one at a time.  I can take criticism logically, and understand that the basis for the attacks has no real merit, and that the public and the media are really looking for an easy target.  But reading these scathing, demoralizing articles every day starts to make me second guess my job and makes it more difficult to face each day of employment with a positive outlook.

On top of the media attacks, the executive leadership of my company (who are all politically appointed) are literally reacting to the media frenzy by unilaterally changing the benefits structure for all employees, in a very drastic way - literally in a way that will force lifestyle changes for almost everyone I work with.

And, the sad thing is - I consider myself a pretty hard worker.  And I work with lots of other hard working people - reliable, smart, ambitious, "get the job done" kind of people.  People who keep coming to work and getting jobs done in the framework of an organization that has, in the past several years, cow-towed to the media and the public, changing policies at the drop of a dime to try to quiet the storm of politicians and journalists who have made a living off of blaming my company for everything from the failing economy to the resident of a NYC borough who went bankrupt supposedly due to fare and toll hikes.

It all seems so unfair.  And unfounded.  At least from where I sit.

I used to love working for a public agency, I thought it was noble - something to be proud of.  Especially because of the wide array of businesses that my company represents - working here is truly unlike working anywhere else!  And I have many colleagues who, I know, feel the same way.  But the constant bludgeoning of our work by the media and others who have absolutely no clue what we do day in and day out is discouraging.  Add to that our executive management's decision to modify everyone's compensation and benefits in one fell swoop with no regard for an individual's past performance, current title, or aspirations is very frustrating.  We've been fed the "party line" that the working people in the agency are the most valuable assets...and now we're being slapped in the face with major compensation changes - I'm talking several thousands of dollars per employee per year, at a minimum.

It's hard to maintain pride in working for a company that makes such drastic changes in response to a firestorm of negative media coverage - a lot of which is politically driven.  The irony is in the fact that our past practices, currently under scrutiny, were all initiated under the auspices of past politicians.  This whole mess makes me frustrated with the political system in general, and the public's ability to so quickly admonish an agency that has been a GIANT supporter of public employment and investment in our area for over 100 years.

Anyway - despite the media and political haters that I have no control over, I've got to remember to keep my head up.  And hope that someday the media frenzy will calm down and that I'm able to feel positive about my job and purpose at work once again.  

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