Monday, April 20, 2009

Yep, I'm still alive

To my many friends and family members that have been woefully ignored over the past 6 weeks, I offer my utmost apologies. This job has ended up being substantially more time consuming than expected. I do manage to read my email every couple of days, but I'm so tired and mentally worn out that I haven't the energy to respond most of the time. Here's hoping that subsides a little bit soon!

Once we completed training, we were assigned to various districts, and had crews assigned to us. By "us", I mean those that completed crew leader (CL) training that our boss thought would actually make good crew leaders, and that meant not everyone in the class actually ended up with the job they thought they were going to have. To some extent, that even included me...

My boss designated me as the floating crew leader. This means that I don't actually have my own crew of people to manage. When the other crew leaders have employees that need a little hands-on assistance in the field to shore up areas that they may not have fully grasped in the original training class, they call me. If other CLs need help doing employee observations - everyone gets observed whether they need additional training or not - they call me. When enough people either quit or are terminated, the office will schedule new training classes, and I teach them. Those new employees are then assigned out to join existing crews. Should another CL need time off for some reason (got sick, taking vacation, etc) then I am the 'substitute' leader for their crew until they can return. And my phone number has been passed out to everyone's crews so that if they run into a problem while they are working and need help, they can call me if their CL is not able to answer their own phone for whatever reason.

At first, I was a little disappointed that I would not have a crew myself. My boss told me that he gave me this job because he thought I had such a good grasp of the material and thus would be a good fit for it, but I was still a little bummed. I've quickly come to realize, however, that I think I have one of the best jobs.
  • I get to bounce all over the place, meeting lots of people instead of dealing with the same people over and over.
  • I like to help people, so being a "help desk" for hundreds of people makes me feel good.
  • I enjoy coaching people who are struggling so they can do their jobs better. Many times, they just need some reassurance that what they are doing is correct, and then they are off and running.
  • Anyone who knows me should understand that teaching new hires is a rewarding job for me. Meeting people that have been out of work for a while and are almost in tears at the opportunity to be gainfully employed is special too, even if I didn't have anything to do with the hiring process.
  • I don't have to deal with personnel issues like finding out why so-and-so didn't report any work this week, or verifying timesheets to make sure they were entered properly and sound reasonable, or terminating people for whatever reason.
  • Not having direct reports means my trip to France this summer for my parents' 40th wedding anniversary will not cause any problems for my boss. The office just won't schedule a training class during that time, and other CLs will have to deal on their own for a bit.
The downsides?
  • I am fairly attached to my phone from 7:30am-9pm because I never know when it might ring. If it's a call from someone in the field who is unsure of a situation, you can't really make them leave a message for a time that is more convenient for you. If they are stuck, then they need an answer or they'll have to stop working and go home. That's bad. (Think how many calls the regular CLs get since their people generally call them before they try me!)
  • "Don't work more than 40 hours per week except for the rare occasions when overtime is approved." That was drilled into our heads during my training class. BUT... there's only been one week so far that I've been able to keep it under 40 hours. Every other week has been in the 50 range. (Some CLs have closer to 60, depending on the size of their crews and how many problems they've had to handle.) That's not only tiring, but it's killing my desire to do my own cooking and to eat only healthy foods. After I've been working for 11 straight hours, "picking up something on the way home" sounds much more appealing than the prospect of getting home and cooking. Thankfully I have a number of meals frozen from when I was prolifically cooking during my period of unemployment, but it's still a challenge. Which is not to say that the extra money is not welcomed and being pushed into savings for when this job is over and I don't know if/where I'll work!
  • The lack of ability to plan times to take care of personal business is a little frustrating. Even on days where I think nothing is planned so I should be able to do my own thing, I never know if I'll get a call that a computer in Panama City has died and the office needs me to come pick up a new one to drive down there to exchange so that person can keep working. It's a 2-hour drive each way... Depending on the situation, I can sometimes tell the people that they'll have to wait, but sometimes I have to drop everything and go handle the problem, which means any plans are thereby rescheduled. It's disconcerting to have your whole life in a constant state of flux.
So, I hope this catches up everyone who asks how my job is going. It's time consuming, it's sometimes challenging to figure out how to work around all the quirks in this software, but I'm working with some great people and having a lot of fun with it. I'm getting a distinctive farmer's tan going, too, so I'm trying to find some shorter-sleeved shirts to combat that!

Hope all is well in your assorted areas of the world!