sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
So, in 2009 I was laid off from a job I'd had for fifteen years. It was a shock, but not entirely surprising. I'd survived several previous rounds of layoffs and with the economy in the toilet, fundraising (it was a non-profit) was down, so budget cuts were the order of the day. And as the highest-paid admin assistant in my department, well, you take your savings where you can.

In 2011 I found a part-time job doing data entry for a company that runs a loadboard (an online marketplace where brokers needing loads moved can find truckers, who need to find work moving loads). I did that for about two years, then got promoted to full-time. I made outbound calls to get insurance information on carriers (truckers), took inbound calls for billing, freightmatching, customer service, and activation and training on the various software packages we sell for accessing the loadboard.

Did I mention it was a call center. It was. I'd never worked in a call center before, and I never will again, God willing. You're chained to your telephone for eight hours a day. Every moment of your time is monitored and judged, and your calls are recorded. And judged. And you're expected to achieve a variety of conflicting goals all the time. (It got to be a joke amongst my team. Whichever "metric" was trailing would become the focus of frequent emails from the managers about improving it. We'd change focus accordingly, only to have another metric fall--and become the focus of frantic exhortations to get that one back up. It was a never-ending treadmill of incompatible goals. You CANNOT physically do everything they want you to do at the level they want it done. You CAN'T.)

So you learn to focus on what really matters--which means, whatever measures YOU are getting assessed on. In my case, it was outbound percentage. I was supposed spend 30% of my on-the-clock time doing outbound calls. So I set my phone in "after call" so that incoming calls (another "top" priority among many) wouldn't reach me and stayed in that state all day every day so I could make outbound calls. I wasn't supposed to do that, but what the hell. Occasionally I'd get an IM (yes, not just emails, we got IMs too) to take a call if the queues were backed up, but mostly I avoided incoming calls for months.

Then we got new phones, and they took "after call" away from us. And expected us to do outbound calls AND take inbound calls AND document everything AND do all the other back-end stuff without any time to focus on it. And bumped our outbound quota to 35%. And while our department was responsible for taking inbound calls (to help another department) when that department made their monthly goals (with our help), did we get any rewards? No. Just them. And that's when I decided my job had gone from tolerable (didn't love it, didn't hate it, it was just a job) to intolerable.

The company provides (an actually pretty nice) anniversary luncheon each month for people hired in that month. At the last one, I was pretty much the only person from my department in a room of a dozen people or more. They all talked about how much they liked working there, and how they were left alone to do their job and didn't have people looking over their shoulders all the time and micromanaging them, and how the company felt like a family. I listened to these people and thought (but didn't say), "I work at [COMPANY], where the hell do YOU work?" But apparently the call center is very different from the rest of the company there.

Maybe all call centers are like that. I don't know. But I do know that there'd always been fairly high turnover in the call center, but nothing like the turnover in my department in the last few months. One guy decamped to the Billing department downstairs "where the managers have souls." Others have found new jobs and left. I've been looking for work for a while--

--and now I have a new job. I'm going to working at OHSU (Oregon Health Sciences University if you're not from around here) in the organ transplant area. I'll be temping at first, but have every hope of getting hired on as a regular employee. I gave notice at work on Friday. I'm really, really looking forward to this change.

It's exciting. And a little anxious-making. I'm going to have to master new skills, learn a new schedule. Especially my commuting schedule. OHSU is hard to reach, parking is extremely limited (and expensive, if you drive at all) and I will probably end up taking public transit. Bus? Tram? A combination of the two? That remains to be determined. Learning the job will probably take longer, but I'm looking forward to that. It will be important, useful work with people who will treat me like an intelligent, capable adult and not a cog in a machine. other news. Today is my 17th wedding anniversary. Snippy and I tied the knot on a very rainy February evening seventeen years ago today. To celebrate we went to The Melting Pot, where we enjoyed choose fondue, salads, meat entrees (French Quarter--spiced shrimp, pork, chicken, steak and sausages--for me, and half teriyaki marinaded sirloin and half filet mignon for Snippy), and dark chocolate fondue on bananas, strawberries, marshmallows and fudge bites for dessert. We talked a lot, decided to plan a getaway to Disneyland for our 20th anniversary, and generally had a great time. We also had a photo taken of us, which we plan to send to my mother back east. She'll enjoy that.


sinanju: The Shadow (Default)

August 2017

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