Thursday, January 11, 2007

Inclement Weather? Get To Work!

Today it is snowy and icy here, in Oregon. All the schools, and most of the community colleges and universities, are closed for business. But I went to work anyhow, even though I have to commute from a little way's out of town. I had to go, since my evil global biotech company is open for business and I have no vacation time left after the Christmas holiday.

My company doesn't believe in such a thing as "inclement weather." They have a "weather hotline" phone number that employees can call to find out if the company is closed for business due to bad roads or whatever, but in eight years of working here, I've never known them to use it. I don't even call it anymore.

A new employee named Dan (who is also a regular reader of this blog – Hi, Dan!) was talking to me and another lab rat about this a month ago. Being new and perhaps a touch na├»ve about the company, he asked when the company had used the hotline in the past. I and the other employee immediately burst out laughing. In my time here, there have been incidents of seriously icy and snowy road emergencies, major floods, massive power failures, a major gas leak a stone's throw down the road, tornado-strength winds, and even a minor earthquake, and the company has never closed or sent its employees home early.

A couple years ago there was so much ice and snow that the roads department declared a state of emergency and broadcast a warning to the public to stay off the roads unless it was a life or death situation. My company was still open, though. I have an SUV and was able to make it to work in four-wheel drive. I think a horse-drawn sleigh would have been a better choice. Cars were stranded all along the way. Many folks simply had to take what leave time they could because they couldn't get there. The parking lot out back of my building has a slight incline. The asphalt was so icy that the cars parked there were sliding down the incline and bumping into each other. The management caught a lot of flak from the employees for that day. Management's excuse was that the top two people in the company, whose job it was to make the call to close, were traveling abroad and the folks delegated to make the decision didn't know they were supposed to do anything. We all rolled our eyes at that one.

You know the motto usually associated with the post office, right? "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds." (HERE is a link to the interesting story on that, by the way). Well, perhaps my evil global biotech company should have a similar motto:

"Neither ice, nor flood, nor earthquake, nor lava rolling in the streets, nor a nuclear explosion stays these lab rats from swift completion of their experiments – or else!"

If I just lived at work it would solve the whole dilemma, don't you think?

UPDATE (1/12/07): At the end of the day yesterday, presumedly in response to complaints from employees, management sent out an email saying that the weather hotline had been discontinued. Instead, we are to base our weather policy on what the nearby university does. However, I found out that the university hasn't closed due to weather in 20 years. In other words, no real change in policy, and Management has only "passed the buck."


Michelle said...

I am not a fan of frivolous lawsuits but I would think that a person who felt compelled to risk life and limb by driving in dangerous weather due to a poor company policy might just have some legal recourse if they were, indeed, injured as a result.

Our company (private school and residential counseling for at-risk-youth) has some similar policies.

Anonymous said...

Working in a lab during power failure? How you did THAT?

Angry Lab Rat said...

There's not a lot you can do in a lab without power, but if memory serves me right, the times they happened I spent the time doing badly-needed organizational stuff like cleaning the fridges, cleaning lab benches, and updating my lab book.