Wednesday, June 18, 2008

...End of the World As We Know It...

Ok, so it's been a while, and the last entry was about as negative as it gets. Unfortunately, I'm back with few improvements.

The past 5 weeks have been spent preparing to be re-audited. I have basically done nothing but work, and the final week before the audit nearly pushed me over the edge. It started with a push in production that required the staff to work an extra hour, extending my day to 8am-6pm. Knowing the audit was coming up, I backed out of a business trip to Dallas, TX, and sent Dave in my place. I spent Saturday, 30 May, at work handling paperwork, then worked as much as possible over the following week. Dave left on Thursday morning, so I asked my landlord to watch our dogs Friday night, and worked until 11:30. The nice part about that night was being conveniently in Boonton when Beth called to say she was in from North Carolina, and invited me to dinner nearby. It was a great way to break up the monotony of staring at pages and pages of notes and the computer screen.

That Saturday, I played in a soccer tournament called Goals for Life. This was the second year for me at that tournament, and it was just as fun and just as hot as last year. The money raised goes to Breast Cancer charities, and we get fun goody bags with coupons, small gifts, and sample products. The games are full team, full field, 20-minute halves, guaranteed three games. So, we played at 9am (win), noon (win), and 3pm (tie). We finished the tournament tied for first place with another other team, and ended up winning because we had scored more goals. As the winning team, we received Goals for Life t-shirts, which were only Medium & Large, and appeared to be men's sizes. Oh well, one more shirt to use for soccer practice! By the time I left the tournament, the heat and sun had given me a massive migraine, and all I wanted to do was sleep. I lazed on the couch with Orion for a couple of hours, then headed down to Newark airport at 1am to pick up Dave.

Sunday, I was back at work around 11am, feverishly writing policies. Much of what I needed to do was reliant on paperwork that had yet to be provided to me, but I was doing the best I could. I left at 6pm, just in time to make it to the championship game of my spring soccer league.

The weather was disgusting, extremely hot, and humid like it was going to rain any second. Rain would have been a relief, but it held off until long after our game was over. Our team started the game short two players, who arrived a few minutes later. We had no substitutes, while their team had two or three. We played hard, and both teams made mistakes that should have resulted in goals, but somehow didn't. After both forty-five-minute halves were over, the score was still 0-0, and we all looked as if we had taken baths. Not wanting to leave the season in a tie, our team voted to play sudden-death over-time, five minutes in each direction, but the other team didn't want to play anymore. Even though they had subs and we didn't, they voted to finish with penalty kicks. In the end, their keeper was too much for our strikers, and we lost. Though it wasn't really worth anything, what a sad way to end the season!

On Monday, it was back to work. Dave and I took separate cars, so that he could leave at
regular time, while I continued after-hours. I finally left at midnight to get a couple of hours sleep. Tuesday morning, I packed an overnight bag, and we took one car. At 6pm, I sent Dave home, and my boss and I worked through the night. Many times that night, I was on the verge of tears, feeling like all the work I had put in just wouldn't be worth it in the end. Once I even told my boss that I was quitting. We didn't sleep at all that night, and around 6am, I washed up and changed my clothes in preparation for the auditor's (and my staff's) arrival. Throughout the first day of the audit, my boss and I maintained positive attitudes, while we each quietly spaced out and tried to shake off exhaustion. We had been told during the previous audit that a company at our level would normally take about two years to achieve the standard they were looking for; we had five weeks. Many times while he was examining our paperwork, the auditor nodded his head and said, "I'm impressed." I finally left at 6pm, feeling confident that we had achieved our goal, though might not receive the top score. After a 34-hour workday, I was exhausted, but it was Wednesday, after all. I grabbed a half-hour nap on the couch, showered, and headed to the Junkyard for some musical relief.

The following day was much the same, and we ended up receiving only two major deficiencies, with four or five minor deficiencies. All of the problems were related to history, either because we were lacking it due to our shortened time frame, or because forms that we had to pull were filled out before our current procedures were in place. These items were beyond our control, so we were very happy to receive the score that we did. The manuals we created are amazing, considering how quickly we did the job, and I'm very proud of my work. The auditor even asked to copy some of our forms and policies, to use as examples for other companies. He was shocked by what we had accomplished.

I still haven't really recovered from the work and lack of sleep over those weeks. Even a week later, after going to bed at roughly 11pm (very early for me) the past three nights, I'm exhausted. We have been working on this audit since mid-January, and my stress level has been so high for so long that I'm having difficulty taking it back down to a normal level. Besides that, our wedding is now less than four months away!