Phone Call

Maria, who answers one of our phones, got an obscene earful from an abusive customer yesterday morning. The caller had received an email from our office on Saturday, and wanted to know why someone was working on the weekend “if the State really has a budget shortfall.” Marie hardly knew how to respond; as far as she knew, the message was automatically sent by a computer.

People work weekends around here. Reasons include:

  • Our office has telephones which need 24/7 coverage for law enforcement purposes.
  • We are obliged to meet deadlines which have been written into laws.
  • We have processes which need daily monitoring.
  • We do a substantial amount of automated data processing on the weekends.
    • Although the email discussed above was not generated in this manner, identical emails are routinely sent by one of those programs, weekend or no.
  • Some activities are done or run during off-hours because they would interfere with normal business during the day.
  • In the short run, overtime’s cheaper than hiring staff.

The actual reason is that Margie worked nearly 60 hours last week–for 40 hours pay. She’ll be vacationing next week, and was making an effort to get her desk clear before leaving. She’d generated the e-mail because the job got stuck in process, which she’d noticed and had cleared the jam. Marge returned the call, and simmered the rest of the day. By Friday’s end she’ll definitely be ready to leave the place….