Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Where Is Samuel L. Jackson When You Really Need Him?

Week before last, one evening after work, I saw Alabama focused on something under the side table in the living room. Every cat owner knows that intense, huntery look, and I immediately thought she'd spotted a bug. Pushing her out of the way, I saw a skinny long thing, and I thought a lizard had gotten in.

But no.  IT WAS A SNAKE.

A tiny snake, I think maybe a baby (I don't know anything about snakes).  Dark colored, maybe 7 or 8 inches long, and very skinny. It reared up its tiny head and struck at Alabama. I grabbed her to get her out of the way, and yelled for Greg. He picked it up in a kitchen towel and took it outside and let it go.

Neither of us is phobic about snakes, but seeing one in your house is a whole different thing. How did it get in? Where did it come from? Might there be a nest of snakes somewhere, in the attic maybe?  It's the kind of thing you keep thinking about afterwards.  Could it have gotten into our bed? Should we start checking our shoes for snakes?

The next morning I got up at 6 to do my workout dvd and pack my lunch for work, and saw Sydney playing with something under the dining room table. I bent down and looked closer and saw ANOTHER SNAKE.

Or maybe it was the same snake, it looked more or less the same to my panicky eyes. Greg was still asleep, so I froze for a second. There was no way, I thought, that I could take my eyes off the tiny snake. It would slither across our ceramic tile floors and be lost forever in our house, and then we'd just have to move. So I got a kitchen towel and picked it up by its head. It wrapped its little body around my wrist, and I had one of those moments where I just had to keep perspective and not freak out.  Still in my workout tank top and baggy pants, I took it into the front yard and flung it (and the towel) as far away as I could.

What the hell, though? Was it the same snake? Were there dozens of tiny snakes living in our house somewhere? How did it/they get in? Would it/they come back?

It's been over a week with no further snake sightings, so Greg and I are beginning to calm down. Both cats seem very disappointed, though, and clearly wish to see more snakes.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

I'm Tense.

Hurricane Isaac is turning more and more westward, which is good news for us here in Orlando. However, my husband has to go drive his delivery truck all over Tampa tomorrow, which will be getting the outer bands of the storm. He can tell me that he knows how to stay safe, and he won't do anything dangerous, and his company won't ask him to do anything dangerous, but the truth of those statements don't help at all. He was already in for a pretty crappy week, with all the Republican National Convention traffic, and now I'm just glad that he has a vacation day on Friday so it's at least a short week.

I did make progress last week at work, verifying that those six sections should be combined into one, and I got that done. I'm getting closer to actually having to forecast how many agents will be needed and when, and actually start putting together schedules. I did do this at my last job, but not frequently, and not on the same scale as this. Part of my brain feels pretty confident that I can do it and do it well, but part of my brain just wishes it were done already so I can stop feeling like there's a cloud of potential doomy failure hanging over me.

On Thursday afternoon I was moved me to a new area at work, a much larger cubicle in a very quiet department in a building across the road from the call center.  They really did listen to my complaints and they worked to find a solution, an empty space in a technical department. Everyone there is very quiet and not overly friendly; I got there early Friday morning and said "Good morning!" to the first couple of people who came in, but when they both just looked at the floor and mumbled "morning" at me without looking up or introducing themselves I kind of gave up. They are certainly not the outgoing sales people that I was surrounded by in the call center. I was doing tedious work all day Friday, having to go back and manually combine the historical call data for all six of those sections, for every day, for thirteen weeks. I don't know, maybe I'll get used to the silence and the people, but for now I kind of miss the energy of the call center.

Here's a picture I took with my iPhone on the way home from work one day last week, at 4:30pm. The sky doesn't look like that today, it's been that solid gray that, for people up North, means snow.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

1) Take a note. 2) Make a list. 3) Repeat.

So week two is over.

One thing I decided to do in this new job is buy a pretty black leather case to carry around a notebook in (a spiral-bound notebook, I hate those pads and how the pages get all curly at the top when you have to keep flipping them over the back).  I was determined to carry it around with me all the time and write down everything. So many times I'll hear something and it just seems so obvious I know I'll remember it, but then an hour later I've already forgotten. And since everything at this job is still new to me, sometimes I don't know immediately if a piece of information I've just received will turn out to be important or not.

So I've been writing everything down, all the time, and going back over what I've written to compile lists of things that need to be done, lists of questions, lists of problems. I have to admit, I am fond of lists, I find them comforting.  On my third day it occurred to me to keep a record of what I do, so every day I keep a running list of what meetings I've been in, who I've talked to, what I accomplished, etc. I don't know why, really, except that I'm trying so hard to be organized and to not get overwhelmed. And I suppose a part of it is that I really don't know how long it'll take me to get everything working and figured out, and I want to be sure if someone comes up to me in a week or two and wants to know what the hell I've been doing, I can say HERE, I have documentation!

Because holy crap, I feel like I'm not getting anywhere very quickly. When I interviewed for this job they made it sound like everything was in place and it just wasn't being used, so they wanted someone to come in and use the tools they had. The more I get into the scheduling/forecasting program, I am realizing why they never used it or liked it. It's freaking broken. A giant chunk of it is not working correctly, and I doubt if it ever did.  I have finally managed to coordinate a techie guy at my company with a techie guy at the software company, and tomorrow afternoon he's scheduled to remotely access our server to try to figure it out and, please please please, fix it.

Also, and this is HUGE: it was set up wrong initially. The way it was done split all the numbers into six sections, basically, and that wasn't necessary for this call center at all. So now I'm having to look into going back and re-doing the basic configuration.

Do I know how to do that? No! But I have a manual and access to their help desk and trainers and I am hopeful that I can figure it out and get it done. But it's going to take a while. And in the meantime I'm still struggling with computer problems of my own, like my email not working, etc. It's frustrating.

Who the hell knows when I will actually be getting to do any of the stuff they said they expected of me when they hired me, like forecasting and scheduling.

On Wednesday morning I got called into the office of the Director, and he told me that as of that day my boss was no longer with the company. WHAT. They said they were not going to replace him, so I assume he got fired. Now I'm reporting to a guy in a whole different department, which is a little weird. And he so far has been pretty distant, in that I have had no contact with him of any kind since the meeting where I found out he was my new boss. I was kind of glad to have my notebook filled with every damn thing I've done since I started, just in case.

I feel slightly adrift because there is literally no one who knows what I'm doing or what the status is on the things I'm trying to do. Frankly, I kind of prefer working independently, and have actually been getting more done now that I don't have to worry about putting together those time-consuming reports that my previous boss kept asking for. But it's weird.

The need for what I am doing is so obvious, I can't imagine they are going to let me go. Plus I think they would have already if they were going to. But it's a bit disorienting.

At the same time, now that I can see how sucky this broken program was, I can understand why they never liked using it and finally just abandoned it. Poor little broken program. It has so many awesome things it can do, I feel like if I can just get everything to be right they will be amazed and they'll love it. And I'll be the rockstar who pulled it all together.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The New Job: Week One

It's been a long time since I was so happy for the weekend.

The hardest part of this job for me is going to be that it's not clearly defined. They want me to come in and tell them what needs to be changed, what processes can be more efficient, what procedures can be put in place to maximize profits.  This means a lot of putting numbers in various spreadsheets and then analyzing them. It would be so much easier to come in and just be trained to do something, to look at how it's been done before and how other people are doing it and then do it myself, instead of having to make it all up from scratch.

I have a lot of trouble not putting too much pressure on myself. Since there are no defined parameters, there's nothing stopping me from feeling like I have to do everything right away. Friday afternoon my new boss (who seems nice) asked me to put together this giant mass of numbers to look for a pattern, and I'm either going to have to make a miraculous discovery about Excel tomorrow morning or tell him that it'll take me forever to do what he asked for, and make sure he thinks it's worth it. Especially given that the main program I need to be using is not set up at all yet, so no changes can really be made until that's done.

I literally almost cried at my desk. Then I forced myself to calm down and regain perspective. He doesn't have a clear idea of exactly what he asked, that's why he isn't doing it himself, that's why they hired me. There has been zero reason to think everyone isn't fine with my progress so far, and yet my default position seems to be to beat myself up for not doing enough. I don't know why I am so hard on myself, but it's going to be my focus now to STOP DOING THAT. I'm a smart person, things take as long as they take, that's all.  Realistically, so far I think I'm doing great, really.

Everyone who works there has been so nice. It makes me kind of sad to remember my former job, in retrospect the lack of financial support seems crippling. Everything is just so pretty and new and clean at this new company. At my former company, due to budget cuts they wouldn't give me a 2012 calendar. At this new place, they set up a giant pile of fancy office supplies on my desk (although now that I think of it, they didn't include a calendar, ha) and told me to just ask for whatever else I might need.  Maybe tomorrow I'll ask for a calendar, just to see what happens.

Unfortunately my desk is in the call center. My boss and the director of the call center both sort of apologized for that, apparently this company has grown so much so quickly that they are running out of space. It's not bad, except for the fact that this call center is dedicated to sales, and therefore they try to keep a very upbeat and energetic atmosphere. Which means relatively loud music. Seriously, sometime try to look at millions of teeny numbers on a spreadsheet the size of Canada and make sense of it while Call Me Maybe reverberates in your head. I actually tried earplugs on Friday, but they didn't help.

They also put me right next to Loud Guy. I am familiar with him, he works in every call center that has ever existed. And he never stays seated, he stands up and faces every direction and paces to and fro as far as his headset cord will let him. And because this is a call center with only one type of call coming in, he says the exact same sales spiel every single time. I know it by heart now. And I can tell by the slight variations if he's getting close to a sale, or losing it.

On the other side of me is Trainer Lady, and her tiny cubicle is piled high with cardboard boxes full of training binders and brochures and things. There's almost no room for her chair because of all the stuff stacked around her on the floor. She's been very sweet to help me with my computer woes (I still don't have access to the department drive), even though she's an older lady who admittedly is not an expert with computers.

Overall it went well, I think.  Last night Greg and I celebrated with dinner at the Melting Pot, a place I have wanted to go but have balked at the price. I had a dirty martini and steak and shrimp and cheesecake dipped in chocolate, and it was a very nice and celebratory Date Night.

Tomorrow begins my new determination to be nice to myself for a change, dammit.

Blurry pic our Serbian/Greek server took with Greg's iPhone

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Starting My New Job Tomorrow

Well, my summer vacation is over.

The first whole day is just an orientation deal.  That's interesting, they certainly didn't have that at my old company.  I don't know how paranoid I should be about posting about my new job, so I will refrain from saying the name of the company. I will say that it is a huge hotel chain, one of the largest on the planet. BIG company, much bigger than my old one. I will be working with the timeshare division. Hopefully one thing I'll learn tomorrow is how the employee discount for hotel rooms works, that could certainly come in very handy.

On Tuesday I'll start my actual job job. I'm pretty nervous. I don't even know where the restroom is. This company is doing so well that they moved into this new building just a few months ago, and already they are outgrowing it, which means that the guy who will be my boss couldn't even tell me where I would be working. I might have an office, I might be stuck in the middle of the call center. I hope they can find someplace at least a little quiet and a little private.

It's kind of a terrifying thing to start a new job, but especially after so freakin' long at one place.  It's been forever since I started all over with a whole new place. It's weird, though, I kind of feel like I got sucked into a black hole at my last job. I never intended to stay there for so, so, so long, and I was never especially happy about it. I feel like I have finally broken free. Now I have a good resume and profiles on multiple job hunting sites, so I am trying to think of this new opportunity as a step, not as a place to stay till I die.

I'm still nervous, though. I'll just feel more comfortable when I know how it'll be.