I've worked for four days now and so feel at least a little qualified to start forming opinions about the new job. (Yes, of course I started forming opinions in the first five minutes, but those were just the knee-jerk sort.)
For the next several weeks, I'll continue to work on the project dealing with doggie DNA, logging in samples and such, then I'll get trained on the cattle project. For now, I'm in a good-sized room with two other women. One of the women constitutes the "customer service" department for the doggie DNA project, the other is a scientist working on that same project. I sit at one computer, reading the forms submitted by clients and entering their information in the system and labeling their dogs' samples, while listening to the conversation going on between the other two.
It's mostly mocking towards the clients, which is unsettling. Familiar, too, as so many workers in the welfare department had such contempt for the clients, but still unsettling. These two women are dog lovers themselves, the one even works with doggie events, but they make fun of the clients' passion for their animals. That's a peculiar dichotomy. I'm not a dog lover myself, but it seems that one dog lover should have a certain amount of empathy towards another. Not to mention the fact that the income generated by the test these dog lovers are purchasing goes towards these women's paychecks. I don't mind a certain amount of gentle teasing or laughing at folks, but this goes beyond that.
Most of the people there seem nice, at least so far. One young man appears to be sort of an office manager and customer service manager all rolled into one. He is always busy, having a lot of his plate. I like him, but sometimes get info or instructions from him that conflict with what I'm told elsewhere (primarily from the customer service woman). I've learned already to run what he tells me by someone else before blindly following his instructions. He also doesn't quite recognize the difference between taking a break and loafing around, thinking that if I'm sitting at my desk reading a book, I'm at loose ends instead of on a regularly scheduled break. I'll have to do like we used to do in the big welfare offices--put up a sign reading "break" when appropriate so folks can tell I'm not waiting for further instructions or a new project.
I feel a certain amount of sympathy for this nice young man with so much on his plate. The other two women don't, saying he asked for everything on his plate, but I can see his side of it, too. Monday he asked me to maintain a log of the different test statuses of the samples mailed in by clients. Okay, no big deal, I kept daily logs at my last job, too, and it didn't take long. But then I asked the customer service woman about the log (which would have been her responsibility prior to my arrival). She didn't know where it was in the computer, had taken no steps to find out where it was, and so hadn't been doing it--this since October, when the log was first set up. That was just weird. Or lazy. The info generated would have helped figure out what was bringing in money and where to target further sales attempts, but getting the right set-up on her computer would have taken five minutes of dealing with the nice young man, so she didn't bother. The nice young man did take the few minutes to get the right set-up in the right place on my machine and it takes five minutes at the end of the work session to enter the desired info. It's not rocket science, it's counting.
On the other hand, those in "management," who are not really trained management sorts but simply the people running this small company because they were part of setting it up or somthing, do a couple of management things that are not okay. Yesterday one of the more senior sorts came in about several complaints sent in to the company about 'the customer service department.' He sat right there in that room and brought up the complaints with her while the scientist and I were also in there. That is so not okay! If problems with someone's work performance have to be dealt with, they have to be dealt with in private. Period. You don't get to correct someone (or try to find out if someone needs to be corrected) in front of co-workers. If the issue goes beyond the one employee, then it can be brought up later to those affected, but even then in general terms. 'The customer service department' defended herself well and 'the management sort' backed down, but the things complained about probably did happen--I've heard the same sorts of things being said to (and about) clients in just my few days there.
And Monday the nice young man got confused, mistaking my break for me being at loose ends, so he asked me to go help someone with another task. The thing was, that person didn't want or need help. She had a system worked out, it only took a few minutes, and having another person there would have slowed it down considerably. She was annoyed by his interference and showed it plainly, but after a minute or two of venting she acknowledged that it wasn't my fault and I sat looking at a magazine while she finished, then took my portion of the work back to my work site. It would have been better for him to have found out who needed help and where, before throwing me in where my 'help' would really have been interference.
Training, such as it is, is hit or miss. I'm told how to do one thing, then when something different appears, I ask about it and am told how to do it. But, instructions aren't clear and on one occasion, I was told to do one thing when working with a particular subset of samples, but then later found I was supposed to be doing that on all samples. That irritates me, as I'm much prefer to get all the information at once and then figure out how to most efficiently process things, instead of finding things out piecemeal. The problem with finding things out piecemeal is that I don't know what I don't know, and so keep getting tripped up.
My hours have changed already. The initial craigslist ad said the work would be Monday through Wednesday, then when I got offered the job, the schedule had changed to five days a week from nine to one, and yesterday it was changed to ten to two (except Thursdays--I said I could not work those hours on Thursdays, as KidThree has her regular pt/ot appointment at 2:10 on Thursdays in the town up the road). Other than Thursday, working ten to two is not a problem--I'm most productive in the mornings and so can get more work done around home here; I just wish things were better organized there. And, the customer service woman asked if I would be open to working more hours, as she would like to work from home a couple of days a week or work a four-ten schedule. I am open to more hours, at least on Mondays and Fridays, and said so. She was quite pleased, so maybe I'll get a little more work (and so a little more money).
On the positive side, the customer service woman and the scientist are funny people and I enjoy listening to them banter back and forth about this, that, and the other thing. I'm trying to keep my mouth shut as I figure out more of the structure of the company, who goes where and why. It's not like the military or civil service, where there is a clear organizational chart and manuals full of instructions for almost every job. The work itself would be boring except that people are so interesting and a lot about them comes through on the forms they are filling out about their pets. I like trying to learn what I can (or what I can guess) about this person or that and their family structure and how they feel about their pets. There are people who name their pets ordinary names like Spike and Rocky and Shadow, but then there was the man who named his dog "Found Her" and those who give their dogs first, middle and last names and those who give their dogs names that are the canine equivalent of Moxie Crimefighter (the name of some poor girlchild born to some celebrity somewhere).
It's all interesting and I'm enjoying it more than not, but this doesn't strike me as somewhere I could work for years and years, not unless I were by myself somewhere in a little room to be left along to do my portion of the work. The work itself is not hard and I'm getting through it too quickly, which the nice young man likes but the customer service woman finds problematic, as she then has to find other things for me to do. A couple of times I've wondered if her habit of doling out instructions one at a time so that it takes twenty iterations of a task to get the full picture is not an intentional thing. It's hard to say.
At the very least, this job will generate some much needed income.
But that doesn't make up for the fact that there will be no more Lemon Supreme pies. Last night, on a whim generated by the sight of our local Baker's Square as KidThree and I were driving past it, I stopped in to see if they had any Lemon Supreme or French Silk (chocolate and whipped cream) pies left. They did have three Lemon Supremes in the refrigerator, but no more French Silk. The next day (today) was to be the restaurant's last day, so I asked what time pies would be delivered in the morning so I could come in to pick up a French Silk one for KidThree to enjoy. Oh No--they were not going to have more pies delivered!! KidThree was not going to get her last French Silk pie!! The horror of that was mitigated by the fact that Mom here was able to get a Lemon Supreme pie, and I bought KidThree a Caramel Pecan Something-or-other that sounded like it might be acceptable to her caramel frappucino-loving self.
And now it's time to face the day. Yesterday I got there at the same time as my office mate the scientist, and was greeted in the parking lot with a slightly mocking, "ready for another exciting day of doggie DNA data entry?" I'm glad today I'll be arriving after she's already there.
Thank goodness I was able to have Lemon Supreme pie for breakfast.