Friday, May 16, 2008

Plumb Whipped

Those who know me well know not to cross me in May. Beginning the first of May and continuing until about the end of the third week, my desk is piled high with data files that have to be processed with enough lead time to get client notices out before midnight on May 31st. I end up working nights and weekends to keep ahead of the folks producing the notices and generally finish my part along about the 25th. That is, except for that inevitable lone client whose file gets lost in the mail or whose tape drive breaks or who just can't find time to pull things together, so that we are always beginning to sweat and worry that this will be the year we won't be able to say "we did it!". I've been doing this every May since 1982 and every year I wonder if this is the year that will put me in the loony bin for keeps.

This year has been a little different because we have contracted our printing to be done off-site. The front end work load is still there, but we don't hear the incessant racket of the printer and we don't see the notices piling up in the mailroom and we aren't crossing every finger to insure that the mail inserter doesn't break down along the way and require a part to be flown in from Outer Slabovia for its repair.

A lot has changed in the 26 years we've had to hurdle this May mountain of work. In the beginning a lot of the data had to be entered into the computer by our data entry people, because our clients weren't on computer. Then the clients got on computer and we had physical problems creep in with disks that arrived mangled and tapes that didn't contain complete files. Nowadays about 3/4 of our clients are able to generate a file and get it to us within minutes via email or ftp. That has resulted this year in all the necessary files, save two, already in our office. Here it is the 16th of the month and I'm down to under a dozen that I still have to process. Those will be done in a day or two and there will be almost two weeks left in the month to handle the printing. Unheard of to get it behind us that quickly. Of course, there are still those two that haven't made it...

So, anyway, I get pretty grumpy along about now. I'm tired. I'm having allergy problems. (I think it's those gardenia bushes that are blooming their hearts out right now.) All I want is to have a free minute to decide for myself what I want to do, and it's not to tackle another pile of programming chores. Last night I found myself snapping at the dogs, and I don't snap at my dogs. We ended up going to bed early to get some needed rest. I plan to take the weekend off as well.

Maybe I'm getting too old for this stuff.

Nah. I've got a few more years left in me.

Lord, have mercy.


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