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March 28, 2002--

It felt like the end of a typical Friday. Relief not to have to come back to work the next day. Relief that two straight days away from work were in store. Four-thirty came and I turned off my computer, locked my desk, and walked out imparting to my two remaining co-workers the usual end-of-Friday salute, "Have a good weekend." It was a feeling different than leaving work on a Monday evening, or Tuesday, or Wednesday and Thursday. The body was more relaxed, the outlook more cheerful, the stride to the gate more deliberate. Half way home I realized that today is Thursday. I did have to come back to work tomorrow! How did that happen?

Then it hit me and I understood what I did. I misinterpreted a feeling, the universal feeling of Friday afternoon, for another feeling that is closely related, one probably just as universal. My boss wasn't around. The boss left for a long weekend shortly after lunch today. You know how you get almost a physical sense of relief when your boss isn't around? Atmospheric pressure drops a few milibars. I don't mean relief in the sense that you can goof off and forget about work. I mean you are free from torment, free from one's jailer coming around making life even more miserable for you. Giving you more Employee Evaluation Forms to fill out. Giving you more Action Plan Worksheets to fret over. Giving you more Employee Development Plans forms to tear out your hair over. Fighting with you over performance reviews. You know the scenario. You're already overworked because some months ago, in a near gleeful air of Lean Initiatives they embarked on their "reduction in force" escapade and "temporarily" froze wages for the coming year, while giving the top brass big time raises. So now you're doing the work of one and a half people, for less money. And they want you to develop initiatives and action plans and create synergies that do little more than keep you from doing the job for which you were hired in the first place. Oh, these things do have the added benefit of making you lose your mind so they can fire you for incompetence. You just didn't fill out the goal setting management forms adequately, here's your corrugated box, I'll escort you to the door.

I misinterpreted the feeling, being distracted by the work at hand, calling vendors, filling out order forms, locating lost inventory, chasing parts people told you they needed the next day only to have them come back later saying we don't need it at all, in other words doing my normal job. That the feeling of relief I was enjoying for the moment was not the "end of the work week" relief, it was "the boss was away" relief. I got faked out. I guess that's how deeply I was concentrating on the work at hand. Did my two co-workers know what I meant by my statement when I left? Heck, I didn't even know what I meant! When I got half way home and realized that it really wasn't Friday, I wondered what they thought; did they think I had a vacation day planned tomorrow and didn't write it on the board? Were they going to call me at home to find out if I was planning on coming in next morning? At least I got a chuckle out of it on the drive home. It gave me a moment to ignore the idiot drivers going so slowly in the passing lane while people whizzed past them on the right. And tomorrow I get to do it again, this time for good; it is Good Friday after all. One more pleasant feeling of relief, at least until Monday.

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