Thursday, July 8, 2010

The latest scuttlebutt from Design Associates and the life of Pixie

I suppose scuttlebutt is more like gossip, isn't it? But as my Georgia grandmother, M, once said as she removed the Virginia Slim from her lips and tapped the ashes into a fern, "Honeh, it ain't gossip if it's true."

So, some of you remember that the ever-awesome Intern Timmy left DA back in May for a higher-paying intern gig at another firm, and more power to him. Well, in the past couple of weeks, the ever-awesome Liz (if you remember her from the Pomme de Terre saga) left DA to a non-profit organization. For more money than architecture was paying her. And to be fair, it wasn't hard for someone to pay her more than DA was--our base (hourly) salaries are low because we get paid overtime and profit sharing, but if you've had no raises and no overtime and no profit-sharing for almost two years, som'n's gotta give. Before she left, Liz confided in me in the ladies' room that working at DA had actually been kind of a step back. "I used to do all the things that Howie does, back at my old office back east," she said. "But working for Howie, I get micromanaged and get forced to jump through intern-like hoops and do redlines, economy notwithstanding, y'know?" And she's right--working for Howie has been really tough during the recession, as he doesn't have enough to keep him busy and ends up getting over-involved in the project instead of getting out of his staff's way and letting them succeed. So, vaya con Dios, Liz!

Meanwhile, Audrey, our female partner at DA, took me to lunch recently to talk about all the intern stuff I was doing and to get some ideas for how to improve intern (and architect) mentoring at DA. It felt really good to talk about the work I'd done on the big seminar I'd just given, and it was even cooler to watch someone so accomplished take notes while I talked. We discussed how to teach and model good communication skills, how interns could teach managers, and how hormones affect alcohol tolerance. Um, that is to say, we did each have a glass of wine. Riesling. Yum.

My longtime friend and confidante, Vinnie, met me for a long drinking-and-talking session at the Oxford Hotel's bar (opened the day after Prohibition was repealed--yes!!), and he noted the confluence of Audrey taking me to lunch with another interesting bit of news. The week before we went to lunch, Guy's office, Acme Architects, landed a big healthcare job that meant they were going to have to hire a passel of well-qualified architects. Now, being that the market is flooded with architects these days, they shouldn't be hard to find. But with Winston, one of my former DA colleagues now working at Acme, Guy confided that Winston would likely be recruiting from DA's ranks. And why wouldn't he? If you haven't had a raise in two years, and you've been at 36 hours for 18 months, why not go work elsewhere for more money on a challenging project? Vinnie's angle was that Audrey was also trying to shore up the Pixie angle--make sure she knows she's well-liked and respected so she doesn't bail on DA for greener pastures. Perhaps so--Guy said that my name did come up in Acme's higher management's discussions about who to recruit. However, Guy and I both decided that me working at his firm is our "if Pixie gets laid off" plan. We've rather liked not working together for the past almost-four years.

Speaking of working, last week DA had an office meeting and announced that we were all going back to 40 hours a week. (Longtime WAD readers may remember when this all began.) The news left me with mixed emotions, as most things do. On the one hand, I had been looking forward to having the extra four hours when all this started. And while I didn't get a lot of writing done, per se, I did use the time to do errands and cleaning that I usually did over the weekend. But that was when I actually got to work half-days on Fridays. Frequently, the four-hour cut was used for vet and doctor appointments, or a long lunch with friends at other firms. Perhaps I didn't defend the time fiercely enough, but it seemed like I wasn't as productive as I could have been with the half-day gift I'd been given. And now, we were being allowed the full 40 again, and the very sound of it made me exhausted. What kind of wimp had I turned into?

Plus, whatever brief elation I had at getting the extra time was whooshed away when I realized that at the moment, I barely had 36 hours' worth of work to do. There wasn't much left to do on the CDs for Gestalt's 9th floor project I'd been working on, so what was I to do with the time? I managed to help Norman out a little bit with some Revit stuff on his projects, but then Wednesday, Sven whoomped! a big, fat, marked-up set of 9th floor DD drawings from the contractor on my desk. "Here's Glasnost's comments," he said. "And when are 9th floor CDs due?" I peeked up at him. "In a week," I replied. So much for not having 40 hours' worth to do.

So, I know that's a lot of catch-up, and that's not everything that's been going on, but I at least owe y'all a decent explanation of what's been going on. More later.


Miss Kitty said...

Here's hoping for the best at Design Associates. Although, if you and Guy had to work together again, there would follow many more "are you pissing in this toilet room, or breakdancing?"-type discussions to follow. And more WAD fodder. Or maybe divorce. Okay, scratch that. Bad idea.

My word verification is "lingerhe." WTF?

Scarlett said...

Maybe Guy's firm will hire Howie??
ha ha.

Its nice to be wanted, even if you know that you're quite content with the way things are.

Also, clearly, Pixie KICKS ASS.

In case no one realized it on the blog.