Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Who Needs Sleep?

You know how I'm always making a much bigger deal of things than I really need to? And it keeps me up nights, worrying about things that don't require my worrying? And it stresses me out so much that I start feeling sick all the time?


Work has been stressing the hell out of me lately, and as a result, I'm not sleeping well, and as a result of that, I'm walking around all day in a tired haze, my nose is stuffy and runny (although that might have a little bit of something to do with forgetting my Claritin all weekend...), I'm getting headaches every single day, and I'm generally achy. Whine, whine, whine.

So what have I been stressing so much about? Well, to make a long story short, a giant company bought our small company and everything has begun to change. And we all know how I am about change.

Some of these changes are minor, such as having to wear safety glasses over my glasses (they make me look like a giant bug), and having to wear these "safety shoes" in which, ironically, I slipped on the ice in the parking lot a few weeks ago. The shoes were uncomfortable, but I've discovered that if I wear hand-knit socks, they're actually pretty comfortable once I get past their weighing eleventy-million pounds (steel toed, you know, because I'm so likely to drop things on my feet while I'm in the lab...). Since I know a sock knitter quite intimately, this little bit of change is no longer a concern. I'm not uncomfortable looking like a giant bug, either, because whom am I trying to impress?

The next bit of business is the new bonus system. Seeing as we didn't have one before and we have one now, you'd think I'd be totally stoked about this, right? Well...yeah...kinda...but here's the deal: it's performance-based, and my performance directly affects the bonuses of everyone in the lab, and everyone else's performance affects mine. No pressure. Some of the things the performance is based on are not a big deal. Safety is one of them. Seeing as my little accident in January is the only lab accident we've had in years and years, and it was classified as a "near-miss", we've totally got that one in the bag (besides, I have steel toed shoes and bug glasses. How can I lose?). Another thing is making up the business we lost from one of our clients who went and got their own mercury analyzer (jerks...), and took $8,000 a month away from us that we now need to make up. I'VE BEEN WORKING OVERTIME.

The biggest bit of this, though, is that they want us to get ISO certified for heavy metals. Oh look, that's me! This certification involves changing all my test methods to match a complicated set of criteria, plus more blanks, spikes, standard additions, QCs, and much, much more, so every run will take much longer than it does now, and I'm already running around all day like a chicken with my head cut off. I haven't taken more than ten actual lunch breaks since New Year's. It's getting ridiculous. Not only will this lengthen my runs, but OH GOOD HELL THE PAPERWORK. Right now the most paperwork I have to deal with is documenting in my lab books the results of my daily tests, and keeping records of instrument maintenance.

Now the plain fact is this: when things have changed in the past, I've rolled with it. It's caused a bit of stress in the beginning, but I quickly get used to it and that's just the way it is. When we switched from the graphite furnace to the ICP-MS, I thought I'd never figure it all out and I lost a lot of sleep then, too. Same thing with switching from the CVAA to the DMA. Mercury is SO MUCH BETTER NOW, but it was stressful at the time. So why am I wigging out about this now? Because I'm me. Duh.

The last thing that's been stressing me out lately is that we're trying to sell the old GFAA (it's been sitting there for more than two years, it's about freaking time). The problem is that they want me to get it up and running again, and they sent over test samples for me to run on it to demonstrate that it still works. Now, here's the thing: back when it was working, it didn't really work. I pulled up some of the old data today, and the QCs were just ridiculous. It was a piece of crap then, and I'll bet one of my spindles that it's still a piece of crap.

The plan is to get Richard to come over and tune it up a bit and help me get it up and running, and then run the samples they sent over to us.

Now, really, I shouldn't be stressing about this. I examined the issue more closely today. I printed off the old SOPs for how to run the furnace and the specific instructions for how to prepare and run all the standards, samples, and matrix modifiers. I poked around the old software to re-familiarize myself with what's what. And you know what? It's starting to come back to me. I think I can do this. Especially if the big company decides to approve getting Richard to come over. The best part? The samples they sent came, and they sent me pre-made standards, a blank, and the samples are already prepped. They couldn't have made it easier for me. See? I totally had nothing to worry about, and yet the past few weeks I've been stressing myself out. Unnecessarily. Yep.


Bast said...

You need a paperwork wench and general lab gofer so as to allow you to actually focus on the important stuff.

I work for yarn.

kim said...

I agree with Bast. You need some sort of lackey who will help you with all of this nonsense.

Those boots sound awful. I'd cry a million rivers if they made me wear heavy footwear. I really would. It sounds sarcastic, but I'm dead serious.