I’ve been doing a lot of interviewing at work recently … mostly phone screens to weed through candidates for some of the open positions in my group. One recent candidate actually refused to answer a technical question I posed to him over the phone … not a promising sign for someone who purportedly wants a job. My employer prides itself on ‘raising the bar’ with respect to hiring new employees … the interview process is quite grueling. I suspect that I was hired on largely because of my hard work while a contractor … I doubt I would have been hired on the basis of my interview alone. It is humbling to see people who are more qualified than I be turned away … it makes me wonder if there is a future for me in this job. Yet I am reminded that my future is determined not by my employer or by my abilities, but by my Master, who seems to have placed me here for His own purposes.
I am slowly becoming more experienced and improving my skills in Perl, but there is not a lot of scope for such improvement because of the extent of less challenging work. Most of my time is spent writing test plans and manually testing various system components, rather than writing code to perform the testing. I am beginning to assemble considerable knowledge of the systems I support, but I’m not sure how valuable that will be to me in my ongoing career. In my experience, many employers seriously undervalue the accumulation of business knowledge by their employees … they seem to believe that there is enough overlap of such knowledge that they can afford to let experienced employees go, either through layoffs or pay practices that are not competitive. It seems a penny wise, pound foolish philosophy, but is nevertheless widespread.
Lately the train has been full … perhaps as we approach the darkest and wettest time of the year, more people are unwilling to stand at bus stops or drive in the rain. I find that I usually have to share a table with two or even three other passengers, which can be a bit snug. One day recently I was typing away on some blog entry or other, and I noticed that a passenger beside me kept reading as I wrote. It made me rather uncomfortable … I usually get a chance to edit and rephrase before anyone sees what I write. We humans such strange, social beings … why should I care what a total stranger thinks of my rambling? And yet it stopped me from writing some of the things that I would ordinarily have said.
Kathy seemed discouraged last night … she feels overwhelmed by the competing priorities of home-schooling and parenting, not to mention the ongoing burden of keeping the house. She misses the teenagers who were available to help when we lived in the Duckabush. Once I started this job in April, she began hiring several helpers for as much as ten hours a week. She seems to feel that she is neglecting the older kids’ schooling and not giving David and Sarah enough attention … truly a lose/lose situation. My parents are helping, frequently babysitting and tutoring the older three … but Kathy still seems to feel that she isn’t able to do a good job in the time allotted. I certainly know how that is, feeling much the same way about my work situation … I wonder if there is something that can be done?
It is easy to feel overwhelmed during this season … so much to be done by Christmas. Neither Kathy nor I do very well when faced with a deadline … we both tend to procrastinate and many things end up slipping between the cracks. Last night I finally paid some bills that badly needed paying … but there are still several Christmas gifts that need to be sent to out-of-town relatives, and we are rapidly approaching (if not already passing) the shipping deadline for packages to arrive by Christmas.
In the midst of all the hustle and bustle it is easy to forget why it is that we celebrate Christmas. Joshua is memorizing Luke 2:1-19 and Kathy is doing a fairly detailed study of Advent with the kids each day. I think we just need to get our shopping and shipping done, and settle in for a delightful season of joy, as we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior.