Friday, July 23, 2021

Lots of Lessons Learned

I haven't blogged much for several reasons. Talking about my running has been a major thing I enjoy talking about, and when I'm having injuries there is a cloud of depression that hangs over most things I do. Even when I've climbed 10 13ers, like I have in July this year, when I strain a calf muscle by pulling a knot in a workout nine days ago, I don't want to talk about it. It's depressing.

On the work side, working at a small company almost anything I say I realize could be traced back to the person who did it, and I don't want to give away other's information. ...And work has been super difficult and depressing at times the last year plus. Rewind to just before the start of the pandemic in the USA and I was in mental health therapy in part for a work issue. That's resolved and I've graduated from therapy. 

However, just changing one thing, or even many things, doesn't necessarily change why a role is difficult. My new role is a manufacturing engineer, and I've learned I'll basically always be able to get a manufacturing engineer role... because it's not a role people really want. It's a role that burns out people. Management expects you to keep the production line running. Design expects you to implement their poorly communicated changes. Testing expects you to prepare the product for the testing with all of the necessary information they need (even though they don't tell you what information they need). And the technicians expect you to give them all the information they need to build the product. Then someone drops a random project on your desk with no quarterly goal, no documentation, essentially saying, 'drop all that other stuff and do this thing, which you won't get any recognition for, has no documentation, and will put you behind on all your other work.' 

In design, where I spent most of my career this far, you know the requirements, you know what you have to design, you know the purpose it serves, and you know it takes time. So when you go into work you have an idea of what you're working on for the day. I basically have no idea how my day is going to go on the drive in to work. It's fun to ride a bucking bronco on Friday night, but it's stressful when you're expected to ride it five days a week. 

A few weeks ago I went to a dinner party with eight total adults. (My girlfriend and I were the only two that did not get coronavirus in the pandemic, those non paranoid people...) At one point I talked to a woman who was recently promoted to being the head of manufacturing for a large division of a large company. I asked her if she was stressed out, and she replied she absolutely was. I told her if she wasn't making at least $150k she was being underpaid. (I don't make very close to that by the way.) It was fascinating to see this woman, younger than myself, obviously skilled and smart, but in a position that seemed to require a decade plus in experience above where I am now. I realized again how manufacturing is so hard. The expectations are so high. One of the people responsible for New Shepard flying Jeff Bezos into space a few days ago, for manufacturing integration, is a guy in his mid to younger 30s, who totally doesn't want to work any more, and wants to go live in a cabin in the woods. As someone told me his backstory, I laughed inside, because here is another guy who definitely knows about the FIRE movement and is not going to work until his 60s at all. And yet here he is, working on the "start" of a commercial space movement in a position with potentially huge career growth.

Where am I going with this? What is the solution? Frankly I don't know. I have some ideas, but they sound so utopian that I kind of don't think it's possible... but then again I kind of want to try and see what happens. 

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