Saturday, March 14, 2009

The first day

We started in the morning, and it took 4 hours to fill out all the paperwork and be fingerprinted. We were all starving by the time we got a lunch break at 1:15. When we came back from lunch – only a 30 minute break so I was really glad I'd brought a lunch instead of having to go find one – we starting the training part. Turns out that was just more bureaucratic CYA, since we were told how to wear our seat belts, drive safely, call the cops if we get into an accident, etc. Not a bit of it covered stuff that any common sense person who drives wouldn’t already know. We covered extensive amounts of EEO, non-discrimination, and avoidance of harassment of various types. It was again nothing that people wouldn’t already know if they’ve worked any length of time, especially if they have ever been a supervisor. And all of us there had been, so we were fairly bored as the teacher went through it all.

There are 6 of us in this training class. We come from various parts of the panhandle, so the training class is in a central location for all of us. That means a 45-60 minute drive for all of us, converging on this one place in the middle. I feel a little sorry for the people coming from Central time, as they have leave really early to get to the class by 9am Eastern. (The training area is about 10 minutes into the Eastern time zone.) Thankfully, the timing worked out well for me; I dropped Alex off for school, drove, and got there a few minutes before the start time.

On Monday, we will start learning how to use handheld computers, more information about what our job actually entails, and I’m not sure what else. I know they gave us enough manuals to use 3 trees per person! It’s literally a whole box of stuff. Part of it includes the manual that we will use to train our crews. They have the entire thing written out so we just have to stand there and read it verbatim while trying to make it sound a little interesting. Which is exactly what our teacher was doing for us. While on the one hand, that makes training rather boring, on the other hand it does speed up the training process since you don’t have to actually learn what you are teaching. Considering how many nationwide training groups will be done, I can see how that could be beneficial, even if it will feel silly to just read aloud.

It appears that this “first phase” is actually going out to all the streets in an area and making sure there is a record of every residence. “If someone is living in a tent but has a mailbox up, that counts as a residence.” Some of the newly built homes and streets might not be on existing maps, for instance. A “production” group will be doing the majority of that work, it seems, with my team doing a quality control spot check of various areas. How the areas are chosen, I have no idea, but I’ll get a list of areas to check and I’ll assign people to do it. As that part is only supposed to take the 4 months, I’m not sure what will be done after that.

The census count itself doesn’t start until 2010. Since it was starting so early, I had first thought that possibly we took the census in 2009 to publish in 2010, but it appears that is not the case. There are apparently numerous positions involved, and people sometimes get shuffled to different jobs even mid-contract, so I might or might not actually be doing this position the whole 4 months I was originally quoted. Then again, they might have additional positions once this one is done, so I might be working with them longer than I’d thought. There’s still a lot of unknowns there, and our teacher can’t really tell us much because there’s the possibility of someone assuming something that isn’t true and it causing a problem. Better to just not say anything at all. See my previous comment about bureaucracy…

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