Many have expressed confusion, concern and apathy towards the events surrounding my alleged first day of work. I say "alleged" because I have done such a fine job of blocking out the emotional trauma that I now refuse to believe it actually happened.
But in the days since, I have come to better understand the type of environment where such a clusterhug is possible. It doesn't explain why a situation would arise where I find myself asking three different people "Are you my boss?" and all respond "I don't think so... maybe?" Maybe I shouldn't ask it with tears in my eyes and pain in my heart as if I were asking "Are you my real Daddy?"
Allow me to elaborate on what I have figured out so far. In my 10+ years of professional work experience, I have come to expect a certain organizational structure in professional settings. Typically, the lowest level employees are hired by and report to a manager. Managers, in turn, report to Directors. Often, Directors report to Vice Presidents or other "C level" officers. And at the top of the
phallic overcompensation pyramid is the CEO. I made this simplified chart to explain the words I am using.
If you learn complex concepts better through visualization and/or you are illiterate, here is a pretty picture for you.
However, my new environment is something entirely different. You see, I was hired by the research group associated with the School of Medicine for a public university. But I don't work for any of those groups. I work for the IT department of the hospital that is affiliated with said educational institution. At this point you're probably thinking, "Wow. Healthcare and education are pretty disorganized. Way to go on finding a job that is at the epicenter of the two." But you're forgetting the "public" part of the university. That means this cloud of chaos sits comfortably in the black hole of government bureaucracy. For The Win!
Essentially, I am being paid by the research group to not work for them. But they figured that as long as I would be hanging around, I might as well see if the hospital needs anything done. So far, that is the extent of my goal planning for this year.
The hierarchy in these organizations is completely unintuitive in that there isn't one. The person who hires you isn't necessarily your boss. And the people on your team could all have a different boss because they may be a hospital employee. Or a university employee. Or a state employee. The guy that sits 6 feet away from you may do the same job, work on the same projects and go to the same meetings as you do. But you will most definitely have different managers, both of whom have little to no experience with the work you do as if it were merely the answer to a trivia question. Like how people only know two Pink Floyd albums by name. "You're asking me what you should be doing? Hmm... that's a good one. I feel like I used to know this. Something something data... server... connections? Oh well. Have a nice day."
They give it a fancy buzz name like "matrix management." But really it just means that your boss is everyone and no one. Which begs the existential question, if you don't have a boss, are you really an employee? What is this place other than a collection of animated shells exerting common effort to a support a larger, yet equally vague entity in exchange for a piece of paper that represents other pieces of paper. Heavy stuff.
At this point, here is my understanding of how everything works out. The only thing I know is what direction money is being thrown. And that it is all overseen by a shadowy puppet master whose unquestioned supremacy is sealed by a blood oath. Or so the legend goes.
Five Guys isn't part of the org structure. I just list it here because there is one about 75 yards from my desk, so I spend a lot of time there - which explains where a lot of my money is going and where these extra pounds are coming from.