Friday, March 12, 2010

First Two Weeks

I'd been nervous about how I'd adjust to a return to a regular office job. The answers: very well and not so well.

Day one: "Onboarding," in which a twenty something woman hands out some prepared information packages and proceeds to be unable to answer any questions after rapid-fire run down of every item in the package. The group (there are about ten of us) sits in stunned silence. Once again, my theory that HR people fill any Special Needs EOE requirements is reinforced.

We did go around the room, introducing ourselves and saying our new role. I noticed a far more diverse group than at my previous company, which pleased me, not least because I got to hear the Chinese woman next to me say "catastrophe analyst."

An hour or so later and I was upstairs at the client's office, situated at my desk. It's a mellow crowd. I work in the Risk Management group, not known for spontaneity and horseplay. The admin who is teaching me is a lovely woman, and we get along very well. She's about ten years older than I. The thing about it, though, is that she has a trait that I've found often in my travels: she knows her job but cannot explain something to save her life. Worse, she can't glean from my questions exactly what I'm not understanding, and adjust her information accordingly. Here's a sample exchange:

HER: Oh, they don't need to fill that part out. It's IFM. We don't have an agreement with them.

ME: What's IFM?

HER: Facilities Management.

ME: We manage the facilities for a chain of retailers and we don't have a written agreement with them?

HER: Well, we probably do, but we don't have it with the person requesting the certificate.

ME: But isn't the person sending me the request one of our people?

HER: Yes, but they're not the ones asking for it.

ME: They're not? They sent it to me.

HER: Yes, but they're only asking because the mall asked for it. We don't have an agreement with the mall, so they don't have to put it in.

ME: So if we don't have an agreement with the mall, why are we sending them a certificate?

HER: So we can go on the premises.

ME: Of the people we are contracted with already.

Her: Yes.

You get the idea. This entire conversation could have been avoided if she had said, "Our client, whose facilities we manage, rents space in a mall, which is the property owner. We need to go into our client's shop to fix their air conditioner, but before we go onto the property, the property owner, the mall, needs to see a certificate of insurance to show we're covered in case we do any damage while we're there. So our employee is requesting it to give to the mall so that we can go onto the property."

This has been going on for two weeks.

How shall I describe my job? In a word: mindless. I take large Excel sheets and break them up into separate files for people. I organize hard files that have been neglected forever. I scan old binder contents to send to storage. I print files for people who email them to me (yes, I do). I take requests for certificates and forward them to insurers, and when I get them I send them back to requesters.

So on one hand, it's not stressful, and for that I'm grateful. It's just a lot of data, and learning what data goes to whom, and in what form.

So it's not crazy, and the day goes by pretty quickly, and they are being careful not to overburden me. Nice. But it's not exciting, not by a long shot. After a year of living on unemployment, I'm thrilled that I'll be getting a paycheck come Monday (yay!!!) Im also happy to see that my skills have held up, and that my work standards remain high. I think I could be a rock star here. Famous last words, I know. It has been only two weeks, after all.

The not-so-good: Adjusting to being inside all day, at one place, SITTING. The sitting all day is awful. No matter how many trips to the beverage station or the bathroom, I still feel like a big slug. My legs ache from the inactivity, and I've put on a few pounds. I look at the other women, at the prevalence of what I call "office butt," (and the male equivalent, "office gut,") and I vow to start riding my bike in next week. The city bike garage is directly across the street from our building.

The people in my department are all exceptionally nice. I think one of the guys has a little crush on me, mostly, I suspect, because I've walked out with him and chatted with him, making conversation. We share an interest in cycling. He's very sweet but socially awkward and very stiff in his affect and his motions. I suspect a bit of Asperger's. I've had another person with this crush out on me before; I guess I have enough affect for the both of us...

Happy Weekend!!!


SP said...

You got the best job for meeting guys!!!

Anonymous said...

Love the updates as always. "City bike garage" ? how awesome is that!!! do tell more about that.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

I was just blog-surfing and read your blog with waves of deja vu. The first week at a new job always makes you feel as if you had stumbled into a Mel Brooks movie. Hang in there. You sound intelligent and savy to the dynamics of human nature. I wish you only happy surprises this upcoming week.

A former teacher, counselor, now {thanks to Hurricane Rita} a blood courier -- and a writer struggling to get published. Roland

JC said...

Hi Guys - I'm glad you enjoy it, Roland. Blood courier, Hmm? You know, one thing I've learned is that there are many incarnations inside us, and they can all happen in the same lifetime. I wish you lots of inspirational material for your writing.

KB: The bike garage is owned by the city. I think there is some free parking, but also yearly memberships for super cheap, where you get a locker and shower facilities, and s parking section for members. There's a bike shop on the premises. It's pretty cool. I used to just change in my old building bathroom, but I'd rather not walk through an office building in bike gear again - you'd think these businessmen had never seen spandex. It got creepy.

SP: not quite, but thanks for being optimistic.