"I know," I agree and shrug, Homer Simpson's plea playing at the tip of my tongue: But whaddaya gonna do?
"I hate it here," H continues. "It's too dark, the ceiling is much lower ... and how do they expect us to share a work-station!?!" She shakes her head in frustration. "And I have to share with W! He's a good guy, but ..." And she carries on, venting her helpless rage at me, though I can do nothing to help her and am, in fact, in the same situation. All I want is to make the best of a bad situation. Whaddaya gonna do?
The company for which I work is retrenching. Again. Despite reporting a profit last year, despite paying out bonuses at 133% of expectations, it had just announced yet another round of lay-offs (in my 3 years there, I have survived 3 previous rounds, during which time my department has shrunk from around 130 people to - at last count - 22 bodies).
To frost the cake, last weekend my department moved, leaving our relatively luxurious enclave on University Avenue to a cramped and very crowded office on King Street. And H is right: it is a dingy place and the ceilings are a lot lower. Worse, most of us are "looking forward" to sharing workstations for the next couple of months.
That's right. Smaller cubicles and, instead of one phone, one computer, one monitor, we're supposed to fit two of each. Worse still, most of us will be over-lapping shifts with one another.
To suggest morale has hit a new low is an understatement.
Which doesn't mean I enjoyed listening to H carry on with her complaints. Truth is, I want to tell her to shut up, but know that will only make things worse; better to let her vent.
Well. It gets better.
I'd been assigned to share a desk with D, a rather interesting man who immigrated here from Iran some years ago. D works the overnight shift, so we were to spend 6:30 to 8:30 in the morning, three days a week in close proximity indeed.
But there was a screw-up and I ended up at another station - it looked as if I would spend only 1 hour at the same time with B, at the end of the day. I wasn't going to complain.
However, yesterday, my supervisor C, who 6 months ago was one of us, before he was promoted, drifted by and told me I would have to move. Apparently, the empire-building apparatchik in Human Resources (gotta love corporate newspeak!) won't abide a change in her floor-plan.
I argued half-heartedly, but C insisted there was nothing he could do.
Well OK then. I'm kind of addicted to my pay-cheque and too bloody lazy to actively seek out alternative employment.
So I arrive (a little late, but never mind that) this morning, only to find my computer is right where I left it last night.
Fine by me. I log into my phone and fire up the Microcrap-infested beast, then settle in to read the morning paper (unless something's broken, we don't get a lot of calls at 6:30 in the morning).
But a little before 8:00, C saunters in and tells me I'll have to move.
"Now?" I ask, calling towards his receding back-side.
He stops long enough to turn and nod.
I put myself on Not-Ready and follow after him to complain. But ... well, Human Resources insists its floor-plan be adheered to.
Okay. I power down, then crawl under my desk and commence to unplugging various wires, pile the equipment and lug it over to D's desk. "Looks like we're cubicle-mates after all!"
We examine our tiny space and discuss how best to arrange things, then begin moving things to and fro.
(You knew there was going to be a 'however', didn't you?)
However, guess what? This cubicle has only two electrical outlets - which works for one computer and one monitor. Even more amusing, it has room for only 1 phone and one line for the LAN.
D and I exchanged exasperated grins. "How are we supposed to work at the same time?"
"I'll talk to C," I tell him and hie myself down toward C's semi-luxiurious, glassed-in cubicle.
"There's a problem," I say, and go on to explain the situation.
Naturally, C has to check out this latest snafu for himself. Coming out from under the desk, and with a visible effort to contain his frustration, he acknowledges that this isn't going to work.
I shrug and stand around.
A few minutes later, I see him waving and I approach his "office".
"Why don't we change your schedule?" he says (and I manage to not wonder out loud if Human Resources will approve). "Would you mind starting at 8:30 instead of 6:30?"
Hmmm ... Would I mind starting at 8:30 in the morning instead of 6:30? Gosh. Hard decision.
I drag things out as long as I dare. "Well," I say at last, "I suppose that would be okay. Sure, that'll be fine. Meanwhile, I'll grab a smoke until D's shift is over."
C nods, and I go for my coat and hat, elated - I hate the shift I'm on! I'm more than fed up with passing out by 9:00 o'clock at night in order to make it in to work more or less on time.
But ... (Oh come on! You must have known that was coming!)
But C wants to see me when I come back upstairs.
"8:30's okay," he says, "but you'll have to come in at 6:30 on the weekends."
This doesn't compute. I shake my head. "What?" You've got to be kidding! "No," I say. "That's ridiculous. My sleeping patterns will be all over the map. No way."
C looks harassed. "Okay. Well. We'll have to find you some place else to sit."
And so, I suppose there'll be more corporate inanity to deal with on Friday.
Is C using Human Resources as a scapegoat to hide his own incompetence? Or is the woman running that department truly a neurotic pip-squeak Napoleon, so in love with her floor-plan that she'll happily create chaos and sabotage the workings of her own company in order to satisfy her lust for pitiful power?
No doubt, I'll have another clue or two on Friday.
(Why do I find it so hard to force myself to write again?)