About three weeks ago I passed a milestone that most of the people I know these days have not experienced. As of February 14th,2010 I’ve been with Global Crossing for 10 years. I’m very thankful for this. I have always felt under qualified for this job, no matter what specific duties I’ve been doing and I know it’s only the Lord’s grace that allowed me to obtain this vocation and has kept me employed all these years. Coming out of the military, I was very fortunate to be looking for work right at the height of the technology/telecom boom at the end of 99, beginning of 2000. I often joke that the industry was hiring anyone with a pulse, thankfully mine was detectable that day. People would hear that I was ex-military and assume that this is why I got the job I have now. I can honestly say that there weren’t too many transferable skills from my Army Signal Corps training and this civilian telecommunications job. The technology and equipment in the military(at least when I was there) was about 5 years behind the civilian industry. All the more reason to be thankful for the interview and subsequent hiring. I’ve held several roles here at GC and have learned a lot about the industry in the process. Here are a few of my thoughts on the last ten years in the “cup and string” business –
What was once huge is soon insignificant. I still remember installing my first DS3 (28 T1s(T1 is 24 single telephone lines)). It took forever! A complete disaster too. And it was a huge deal for a customer to buy an entire DS3 for their building. Now, we install DS3s in a week or two, sometimes in a few hours depending on what cabling or fiber is already pre-run to the customer. I remember talking to a field technician once who told me that he remembered it taking forever to install a T1 for a customer “back in the day” and me having a tough time believing him. Well, he was right. Services that we wouldn’t have dreamed of providing, we’re now installing at break neck speeds. And the need for good ole’ American “bigger, better, faster” is still quite alive and well. Good for us, I suppose.
Companies don’t owe people jobs. I already mentioned what I consider to be a huge blessing – being hired. In my 10 years, I’ve seen the other end of the spectrum plenty of times. We’ve gone through multiple headcount reductions, especially when we were in chapter 11 bankruptcy. The reactions to a layoff are as diverse as the people being let go. Some graciously walk out, some are weeping, some are downright angry and not afraid to show it. In watching this over the years, not only does it increase my deep thankfulness for sustained employment, but it forces me to think about how I view this job. How would I react if I got that pink slip? What would I say in that exit interview? What would I do as I packed up my desk and did the infamous escorted walk to the car? Would I be able to keep the red Swingline stapler? It’s caused me to mentally hammer out a few things. But the most important one in my mind is this – GC doesn’t owe me a job. They hired me when they needed me and one day they may not need me anymore and they’ll let me go. I have no actual right to be angry if they let me go. They are a company trying to make money and if they think I’m costing them too much $, the right thing to do is to cut me. Of course, I hope they’ll ask me to take a pay cut first.
Companies don’t owe people retirement contributions. This is my first job with a 401k. It’s pretty cool. I feel all grown up and stuff. Like, ya know what I’m saying?! Seriously though, I’ve been contributing to this thing for years. It’s gone up…and it’s gone way down. The company matches…and the company stops matching. The reactions I’ve witnessed to these ever-changing company practices are stunning. It sickens me to see how quickly we take a privelege, a kind gesture from an employer, and assume that it’s an entitlement they owe us and can never cease supporting. I’m very thankful for every dollar matched. But my employer doesn’t owe me this benefit. That’s why it’s called a benefit!
They’re just phone and data lines. Man, I used to get so stressed out when an installation had gone off the tracks. I used to get so worked up when a customer called yelling, screaming, swearing and threatening to call our CEO (which happened just this week, btw). I do still react to the urgency of the business. But, compared to the early years, I’ve learned to take each fire drill in stride. After all, we’re just installing phone lines here. I know, I know, most lines these days don’t even have traditional voice running over them, it’s all about the IP packets these days. But still, it’s just telecom. We’re not transplanting organs here. We’re not performing first responder triage. This aint stroke victim blood clot removal from the brain (although, I did once install a video-conferencing network to link hospitals together enabling real time brain surgery consultation to save early stage stroke victims). Yes, I understand that when businesses can’t communicate it costs them money. I understand that stock traders lose money when their latency is miliseconds, nay nanoseconds behind the competitors circuit. I know it’s all wrapped up in the giant capitalistic monster and that’s all good. And I do react with a sense of urgency when things run amuck. But – I’m not going to chew my nails to stubs over a late technician. I’m not going to talk on the phone all the way home, through dinner and while my kids are being tucked in to make sure I watch every little step of the turn up process (unless my boss tells me too, of course). It’s just not worth all the worry. All the world-stopping escalations eventually get resolved. Same goes for the victories too. You get something installed quickly or resolve an issue using great customer service and you’re likely to receive a “Kudos” email (which, much to my disappointment years ago, does not include a delicious granola packed chocolate bar). Only two days later, one keying mistake or service oversight lands you squarely on the customer’s hit list. I don’t get too stressed about the strain and I don’t get too animated about the “atta-boys”.
GC is really a great company to work for. With all of the ups and downs over the years, all the layoffs, bureaucracy and organizational changes, one thing is sure constant. People are always trying to get hired back into this place. Why? Because it really is a great company. Perfect? No. But the pay is very fair, the work environment is safe, clean and well lit ( 🙂 ). The management is mature and reasonable. The benefits, in my opinion, are still very good. I still remember people’s faces when I told them I got 20 days of paid vacation from the day I hired in. The only other employer close to that at the time was the US Military with 30. Works for me. They have always been understanding and supportive of family needs, they’ve never asked me to do anything immoral. Overall, I have really enjoyed working here and hope that I can continue to do so for many more years. Unless of course that mailman position opens up at the PO.
Anyway. I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to jot down some words of thankfulness for my job. Especially in this economy. I often feel overwhelmed by the grace of God. He has been very faithful.