toxic jobs

Personal stories about toxic jobs and workplace woes.

December 16, 2006

set up to fail

Elise is married with teenaged children living at home and she works as a freelance editor. The work is usually straight-forward and stress-free, but a recent six month contract assignment with a well-known publishing company was so stressful that she nearly had a nervous breakdown.

"It did not occur to me that a department in a big company would still be in the Dark Ages computer-wise," says Elise, "so it was a big shock to start work and be confronted with a DOS prompt rather than the familiar Windows screen."

"It had been well over ten years since I had worked with a DOS based system," says Elise, "so I had to request help to get started."

Someone very reluctantly came to her assistance, but worse was in store for her.

"The documents to be edited were formatted in a very early version of Word Perfect requiring keyboard moves about which I knew nothing," complained Elise. "Without a mouse I was a dead duck."

A request for training in DOS Word Perfect eventually led to some unhappy looking guy turning up and whizzing through the basic functions faster than she could comprehend.

"After ten minutes of this sort of hopeless training," sighs Elise, "I requested a manual and half an hour later one appeared and I struggled on as best as I could."

By the end of her first day she had learned enough to get by, but wait for it - there was more misery in store for her!

"Apparently this department had its own peculiar style of editing," says Elise, "and I didn't discover that everything I had done was not in accordance with it until two weeks later when the Managing Editor returned from leave."

After reasonably inquiring why she was not informed of the peculiar style that differed from every other place she had worked, the Managing Editor blamed Elise for not asking someone!

"Hello?" complained Elise. "How on earth was I supposed to ask someone when I did not know that what I was doing was not in accordance with the department's peculiar style?"

"I have no idea why this vital information was not given to me upon commencement," says Elise, "and anyone who has ever had to re-do two week's worth of work through no fault of their own will appreciate how angry and frustrated I was at the end of the first month."

"With five months to go, I wondered what was next and I didn't have to wait too long to find out," sighs Elise. "To add insult to injury, the Managing Editor then decided in the third month to change the style slightly to make it conform with industry standards - the style I had first used - and I had to re-do the lot.

"I felt totally stressed as I had no control whatsoever over my work," says Elise. "I've never hated anyone before in my life but I came close to absolutely despising the Managing Editor for putting me through such a humiliating and stressful situation."

"I just hope that telling my story will help someone else avoid a similar toxic situation."

Read more by Elise on this issue:

denied training
Hit the ground running

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Copyright 2006-2014 all rights reserved Toxic Jobs



Index A-Z Toxic Jobs and Workplace Woes

Previous 10 Stories