Molly Swenson
A DOLLAR SHORT

Is this really happening?

By - Jul 6th, 2009 11:51 am
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mollys-cubeI accidentally parked in the wrong garage and had to walk three blocks to work. Walking back after dark wasn’t going to be any fun – at all. Also, I realized that I forgot to lock my car, but it was too late to turn around go back. Then I got my period in the elevator, but didn’t have any tampons with me. That was right after my bracelet broke and sent seed beads rolling all over the conveyor belt at the security entrance. I tripped getting off the elevator and knocked into the geeky guy from my training. “Sorry. I’m so sorry,” I mumbled as I rushed to the bathroom to pull myself together. This is how my second night of training started.

I didn’t allow myself any caffeine before coming to work because I had gotten so jazzed up the day before. I thought maybe my anxiety would be better if I was au natural. What I forgot, however, is that I am an addict. As such, I NEED caffeine – it helps me type quickly and with better accuracy and it helps me articulate clearly when I’m speaking. Since my cube farm job is in a call center, these things are important. Also, I had to get my new water bottle approved before I could take it into the call center – make sure it sealed up tight with no leaks – and ran out of time to actually fill the water bottle. I sat at my desk, uncaffeinated and with cotton mouth, trying to clearly speak into my headset. Did I mention the sneezing fit I had halfway through the first part of the call simulations? Yeah. And no one, not ONE person, thought it was funny when I said, “Don’t worry. It’s not H1N1.” (Note to self: cool kids don’t like to jokes about pandemic viruses.)

Before work, I had stopped at Target and picked up a new lunch bag. I forgot to get a watch. I sat at my desk begging the universe for some indication of the time, but got nothing back. I think maybe I had some goo in my third eye.

The woman doing our training has a verbal tick. Verbal ticks make me crazy. That’s right, I was always the girl in class making a hatch mark every time the professor said, “Got it?” I know – it’s rude. I can’t help it. Our trainer says, “Right?” at the end of every sentence she reads from the training manual. And at the end of every paragraph, she says, “Do you have any questions?” But she doesn’t actually wait for anyone to ask any questions. I think I’m sensing a pattern.

My second night of training was not entirely successful. I couldn’t keep up. I kept dropping important words and phrases. The technology overwhelmed me. I forgot to use the appropriate, soothing voice. I was tired and frustrated. Somehow, learning all this new stuff was incredibly stressful AND somehow boring at the same time. I spent a little time wondering how it was possible to be in a total state of fight-or-flight while simultaneously having a bad case of ennui – and then I realized that my pondering had set me back. The rest of class was about two simulated calls ahead of me.

In theory, our breaks are 15 minutes long. Pretty standard. But the break room is about 2 miles (give or take) from the classroom. And the bathrooms are in the opposite direction. By the time I pulled my brand new and clearly labeled lunch bag from fridge, I had 6 minutes to eat and be back in my seat. I made myself sick gobbling up half of my field-trip style lunch before shoving it back in the bag and rushing to sit down. The woman next to me rolled out from her cube and said quietly, “Oh My God. This is SO easy. I am SO bored. I mean, I knew what the job was, but I guess I was hoping it would be a little challenging. I can’t BELIEVE the training lasts two WHOLE weeks. Ya know?”

I was glad she rolled away again quickly and missed the shocked look of disbelief on my face. Yes, I was bored. But easy? I was not finding this easy at all. I started paying more attention to the other trainees than to my own screen. By the end of the night, I was convinced that everyone there thought the training was easy, and I was the only one floundering. I am not going to graduate to the floor in two weeks, I said to myself repeatedly. I shake my left leg when I’m nervous or stressed – yes, another one of my many charms – and by the end of the night, it positively ached from over-use. As I predicted, the three block walk back to the car was unpleasant. And very, very long.

Categories: A Dollar Short, Voices

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