Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Work Story

Found the following passage yesterday. I wrote it in May 2009, based on the timeline in the story. It's a semi-true tale of my life working a shit job in Tucson. I was there for 15 months, straight through to February 2010, good riddance. It's incomplete, my tale. But whatever.

I turned the air conditioning down, singing along to Blue Oyster Cult, Cheap Trick, and all manner of classic rock tunes. Sure, I'm quite the character now, but I know that, once inside, I'll have a case of the Mondays such that I should be driving to the nearest hospital.

It's with each step toward the building that my mood sinks. Five minutes ago I was shouting the boys are back in town. In another five I could probably turn this place into Waco.

Dolly Parton was right, that big-titted hick - What a way to make a living. And we're expected to do it for at least 40 years.

I entered the building via the side patio door because there was no one out there. This was the smoking patio. The one nice spot in this fenced in, Shawshankian hellhole, and it was a present to those filling their lungs with delicious nicotine.

My cubicle sat directly in front of the stairs on the second floor, thus giving me the pleasure of smelling the already stale smoke blanketing each of these addicted idiots.

I entered the building via a security badge and placed my lunch (marked "Anthrax" with scotch tape so no one would steal it) in the refrigerator.

I worked at a healthcare company. This division handled worker's compensation claims. So I was doing data entry for ten dollars an hour. I was making twice that before I was laid off.

I had spent the bulk of nine months there trying to decide whether management treated the workers like children or just enjoyed fucking with us. Case in point, anyone who wasn't management didn't have a company email address or a phone at their desk. All communication from bosses to peon was done either via random sheets of paper tape to a wall or on a whiteboard. You know, the way roommates who hated each other communicate.

I approached my cubicle and looked towards the whiteboard to see what I should be working on. Was I entering individual claims or editing them? Or was I entering or editing hospital claims?

But there were obstacles to handle in order to get this information. Number one, the names of who was doing what on my team were always written in tiny letters and half way down the board. So that, often, I couldn't see where my name was, even if I was standing up at my cubicle.

The top of the whiteboard was for more valuable information, written in large letters, such as "Happy Monday!" or "Welcome Back!" or "Don't Kill Yourself Yet! It's Casual Dress Week!"

Number two, even if it was written in letters big enough ti read, today there were four two-liter soda bottles blocking my view. So I assume my name wasn't on the board and I worked on what everyone else who's name was not on the board was doing.

Could I have stood directly in front of the whiteboard and saw if my name was there? Sure. But the less I walked around, the better. Our production was monitored. We only got 15 minutes of time away from our keyboards. Let's say I took four piss breaks at 90 seconds each throughout the day. That's six minutes right there. Then you had to allow time for getting water or coffee (The one plus of my job: free coffee). You also must allow a five minutes slot for a shit.

So walking over to the whiteboard just to actually see what I was assigned for work today? No.

We did have two 15 minutes breaks and a half hour lunch. Those I spent in the break room because the patio was a smoke fest and we weren't allowed to be at our cubicles during break because then management would wonder why you're not working. And we weren't allowed Internet access. So why be at our desks anyway?

The other day management circulated a memo reminding everyone to shut down their computers at the end of each day. The memo included step-by-step directions, with screen shots of how to properly shut down a computer.

The day before hey gave us all ice cream. So, yes, we were indeed children in their condescending eyes. Thus, I was not surprised when people began dropping dead after eating the ice cream. I stayed away from it. I thought they would be handing out Hoodsies or ice cream sandwiches. But they went all out, with buffet-style make your own sundaes.

The only problem with that was tubs of ice cream and topping out in the open. Turned out, someone pretended to grab for a scooper six or seven times while dropping some arsenic or whatever the hell it was into each container. It was quite a scene. It looked like Jonestown in the cafeteria. I never thought I would hear the phrase "Ice Cream Sundae Massacre," but there it was in that night's news.

They were still investigating who the perpetrator was while they had counselors there to help the survivors get through it. Oh, you thought they would have closed down? No way. If they had, they wouldn't have paid us either.

The official body count was 15, with another 11 taken to the hospital. The first one own was the girl who looked just like Meg Griffin's friend who was in the cult in that early Family Guy episode. Just a weird smirk and a blank stare. it was a wonder more people there didn't have that same look.

After that the woman who looked like an Ork from The Lord of the Rings turned to cult girl and fell flat on her Rocky Dennis face. By then everyone was panicking, especially the eight or nine pregnant women with their ice cream craving. A few of them went next.