Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Impending disaster

It seems that all the bad things happen on tuesday. Some numerologist would probably look at 2004 and say that's a six and tuesday, being the third day of the week, is half of six so you'll only have half the fun on Tuesdays... But I just think Tuesday's suck lately.


The last time Oklahoma State University was in a financial crisis, the administration worked hard to ease the minds of the staff and let us know that layoffs were a last resort. That time around, only a couple of people were laid off, although they did eliminate several unoccupied positions and didn't re-hire for several vacated positions. This time it's different...

Lately, it seems that the administration of Oklahoma State University couldn't care less about their staff. People are being laid off and let go across the University, seemingly on a whim. When employees leave, their positions are not being filled - case in point, the IT training division. They've gone from a staff of seven to a staff of one in the past 6 months through reassignment and attrition.

We've heard nothing from the administration. In fact, the rumors are that the administration is responsible for the layoffs.

What has been happening is that, as people leave the University, their workload is being redistributed among the survivors.

Imagine you are on a trail across the continent. You start off with a bunch of mules, each well packed but not overburdened. An older mule dies so you take its load and distribute it among the others. None of the others really notice the difference. Another mule dies and, out of necessity, you again redistribute the load. The stronger mules are able to bear it but the weaker ones are showing some strain. Now, imagine that one of your weaker mules runs away during the night. You again redistribute the load. The stronger mules are showing that they're feeling the extra weight but they start out fresh every morning.

Eventually, you come across a trading post where you can buy more mules. Unfortunately, you seriously overpaid for your four biggest mules and can't afford to buy much in the way of replacements. Of course, your lead mule has decided that he doesn't like sleeping on a blanket at night and has demanded fresh hay so you load down your mules with hay, as well as everything else they have to carry, and neglect to buy a new mule.

Don't you realize that even your strongest mule will eventually give way under the weight? Do you see that, even though you may make it to the end of the trail, all of your mules will be dead?

Such as it is now at OSU, especially within the IT Division. Some I knew were being culled from the herd even before we began the journey. Others I knew would bolt at the first chance. But now that the unbreakable ones are starting to buck and resist having their load strapped on every day I worry. I worry that someone will lose their mind or, worse yet, their will.

I'm just rambling now. There are way too many thoughts and too many analogies to put it into words that would make you understand if you're not living it. And, if you are living it, I'm sorry.