Wednesday, 22 June 2011

RESOLVED: wanted to talk

Post title is an actual log subject from work this week.

The organisation (I haven't named them here; I don't speak for them, can't speak for them, so it's easier to make a nominal point of anonymity even if a large proportion of readers know which org I'm talking about) I work for is currently moving the call centre down from Wellington. This week we get 50% of the call volume, next week we're going to 100%. I pulled the morning shift for the first three days of this week - Monday I then went straight into Payments to help with a pay run that was unexpectedly complicated, so ended up pulling a nine hour shift. I heard a rumour there was daylight that day, but couldn't say for sure.

Today, the 22nd, is four months on from February. From Twitter and from first-hand contact with the public, I can develop a picture of the emotional state of the city - perhaps not in high detail, but enough to make out the shape of it. And while psychologists are telling us we can cope, there are people who are questioning that. There are even some who've committed suicide already as a result of the ongoing stress and uncertainty. There's a peculiar phenomenon in human psychology - if you put two people in confinement (whether that be prison, solitary, a POW camp, whatever), and tell one that they will never get out, and refuse to tell the other anything, in many cases the former will be able to handle it better. It's not, strictly speaking, the situation itself that is proving so hard, though it certainly is extremely difficult. It's that there's nothing to look forward to. We don't know when it's going to end or how bad things are going to get.

I think it's not irrelevant to this that February wasn't even the beginning. Remember that we had that 7.1 on September 4th - February was six months after that. We are now ten months, not four, into the intermittent shaking, the questions without answers, the property damage and emotional stress, the loss of landmarks we had believed would always be there. We had thought that September was the worst, that after that things would slowly taper off - there would be significant aftershocks, sure. There was one in October, another on Boxing Day. But go back to January and ask any random person on the street and nobody expected any of what we're going through now. So now? We don't expect things will just calm down and stop. We can't. Last time we believed that, things got suddenly and unexpectedly worse by magnitudes (6.3 of them, to be exact).

The two big shakes last Monday (13 June) only reinforced that.

After last night's 5.4 and the dozen or more that followed overnight I was expecting a bad day on the phones today. It was surprisingly calm, with most people in pretty decent moods, and I had some really nice chats with almost all of them ending well. Yesterday was far worse, actually. It's a little inexplicable, but that's how things are now.

I will say, last week was the first time I wasn't able to say that I felt things were improving. Now? I'm not sure. I suppose they are. We're about to get some definitive news, proper long-term stuff of the utmost importance, and that's going to go a LONG way towards fixing some of the communication breakdown that we've been noticing lately. Some of us, at least, are going to be told when their release date is, and as much as the reparation money, the sheer emotional relief of that knowledge is going to do a lot of good. But beyond that, I can't say. My confidence in the future is, shall we say, shaken.


(Because hey, at least we can joke, right?)

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