Showing posts with label supervising. Show all posts
Showing posts with label supervising. Show all posts

Thursday, June 14, 2012

My "Career" ~ Part 9 ~ A Cold Wind

It was one of those ominous days.

Instead of a nice ease-into-spring May day, the wind was howling at 60 miles an hour.  I'd never seen anything quite like it.

My main supervisor, Laurel, had one of her rare days off.  We pitched in and covered for her.  Everybody covered for anyone who had the opportunity to take a day off.  It was the least we could do.  Everyone worked damn hard.

Peter called.  But this time, he sounded strange.  "Hey, we're flying in today."

What?  Just like that?  Flying in today?  

"Can you make reservations at a restaurant?  And make sure all your supervisors are there....and Bonnie from HR."

"Laurel is off?  Well, can you call her at home?  Can she be there?  She really needs to be there."

I called my four supes in.  I told them that their presence was required at a "dinner".  I told them that Bonnie from HR would also be there.

We all glanced around the room at each other.  Somebody made a crack about, "do I have to update my resume?".  We laughed uncomfortably. 

I reached Laurel at home.  She asked what was up.  I said, I don't know, but it doesn't sound good.  Laurel said she'd be there.

I called the East Forty and made a reservation.  The East Forty was the most "upscale" restaurant in our little middle-of-the-prairie town.  Since the president of our division was flying out with Peter, I figured McDonald's drive through would probably not be conducive to whatever conversation was forthcoming (although, in hindsight, the image of the president and Peter in the back of my Ford Taurus, scrunched together with Peg, Cathy, Laurel, Tracy, Lynnette, and Tasha, with Bonnie from HR sitting on Peter's lap, all yelling out their orders of Big Macs and large fries, with a chocolate shake for the prez, makes me feel a whole lot better)

My staff and I were, naturally, the first to arrive at the bistro.  I wore a light spring sweater decorated with blue and yellow flowers.  When I'd purchased it, I thought it was lovely.  Now it seemed hideous.  We sat there in the anteroom, with the fireplace crackling, and we ordered drinks all around, because our mindset was, if this is bad news (which we all knew it was), why not be half slockered?

Again, like earlier in the day, uncomfortable black humor was tossed about.  "I wonder if Target is hiring", somebody said.  "Gee, I hope nothing happens to the plane.  It is pretty windy out there."

When Bonnie from HR showed up, she kind of took a seat unobtrusively, and waited quietly.  We knew that she probably knew something, so we basically gave her the cold shoulder.  Bonnie had always been one to throw her weight around, and make herself feel all warm and fuzzy in her perceived superiority, so we didn't even feel bad ignoring her. We felt entitled, under the circumstances.

Eventually, Peter and the prez alighted upon the lobby.  Peter would not meet my gaze, so I, at that point, just thought, you know what?  The hell with you.  The two drinks I'd had before had bolstered my bravado.  I made the decision then that I would henceforth ignore Peter.

So, there we all sat, at that long dinner table, and we placed our orders with the wait person, and we choked down our fish or prime rib, or whatever we'd blindly managed to order.  If anyone felt comfortable, it was not the six of us.  I think we managed to grunt a response here and there to snippets of awkward conversation.  Mostly, we just fidgeted in our chairs.

And the prez, after everyone had been fed and sated, cleared his throat and announced, "Your division is the best division in the company.  You have exceeded; no, well exceeded everyone's expectations.  Everyone looks to you as the gold standard.  I can't tell you how proud we all are of you and your department."

"Now, let's all go back to the office, shall we?  Let's continue the conversation there."

And the cold wind stirred the crackled leaves past our window.

To be continued.......... 

My "Career" ~ Part 10 ~  Thank You ~ Goodbye

My "Career" ~ Part 11 ~ Breaking the News

My "Career" ~ Part 12 ~ Loose Ends 

My "Career" ~ Epilogue

Previous Chapters:

My "Career" ~ Part  8 ~ "Everything's Great!"

My "Career" ~ Part 7 ~ Another New Boss?

My "Career" ~ Part 6 ~ "Who Do You Think You Are?"

My "Career" ~ Part 5 ~ Welcome to the I-Land

My "Career" ~ Part 4 ~ Phil

My "Career" ~ Part 3 ~ Karma

My "Career" ~ Part 2 ~ Evil Bosses

My "Career" ~ Chapter One


Monday, May 28, 2012

My "Career" ~ Part 5 ~ Welcome to the I-Land

Three people.

That's how my new department began.  Well, four, if you count me.

The office facilities guy had dusted off a dank corner of the building, an area that had been used to pile broken-down computers and various unwanted office furniture.

He had assembled a glass-walled cubicle in the front of the room, and from there I sat and gazed out three employees.

They weren't even actual employees; they were temps.  I was yet to be convinced that the company had the utmost faith in this new enterprise.

Somebody from the home office in Philadelphia flew out to show me how to use my new software; how to view the inventory and the real-time production stats; and to show the four of us what the hell we were supposed to be doing.

Bugs in the system?  Perish the thought!  There were nothing but bugs in the system for....oh, I'll say...about a year.  Thus, the majority of my eight-to-nine-hour days were spent on the phone to IS in Pennsylvania.  I got to know those two IS guys really well, although our conversations weren't exactly uplifting.

ME:  The system seems to be frozen again.

IS GUY:  (sigh)

My three temps were real troopers, though.  They put up with all the starts and stops and they diligently logged every error that popped up, and they tracked their downtime, which was most of the day.

We bonded.  We were there alone on that island, the one that no one dare visit, except, of course, for Phil.

For Phil, having another place to wander off to, was a dream come true.  He could only hide out in the men's room for so long, after all.  So, when he wanted to disappear, he stopped by and visited with us.  No one would think to look for him there, if anyone actually was ever looking for him, which they weren't.

One of my three girls was Gaby.  She was a German emigrant, and smart and sassy.  Phil kept calling her "Gabby".  She'd correct him every time.  "It's GAH-bee".  And every single time, Phil would say, "Oh, I thought it was 'Gabby'; like Gabby Hayes."  She would just stare at him like he was insane, and then look at me with eyebrows raised, silently imploring, "Who the hell is Gabby Hayes?"

The most unfortunate aspect of all the system downtime was that I was never able to shoo Phil away on the pretext that I was "busy".  Because I was never busy.  Unless I was on the phone to IS.  So, Phil would just sit there, and drone on and on about Omaha (no offense to anyone from Omaha, but I've driven through Nebraska.  It ranks right up there with the most boring landscapes on the face of the earth; and I'm from North Dakota!)

Eventually, though, the bugs got worked out enough so that we were able to bring on more temps.  (The company still didn't want to take that last step of actually hiring anyone).  

We got quite the unit going after a time.  We had about 17 people within a few months.  And once the system actually started working semi-regularly, it snowballed.  Our company was huge, and we were entering claims for every office in the country.  We kept having to add people.

And the facilities guy had to set up more cubes to accommodate more people, and he had to find someplace else to throw the musty furniture castoffs.  We began to take over!  At least the unused space, that is.

And the company finally said, hey, let's hire some of these guys.  Gaby was my first official employee.

Remember Dave?  Dave, who saved me from the evil Connie?  Dave was the brains behind the IKFI outfit.  He had his minion in Philadelphia who functioned as the titular head of the operation, but she answered to Dave, like we all did.  And this project was Dave's baby, so he remained actively involved.

Dave would call me from time to time and yell at me for something or other.  Normally, that would stress the hell out of me.  But I don't know how I knew, but I instinctively did, that Dave was testing me.  He wanted to see if I would crumble.  I just didn't.  But to be frank, I couldn't have possibly been doing anything wrong, because nobody knew what was going on anyway, and we were just making it up as we went along, so I wasn't fazed by the yelling.

During one of those yelling sessions, I sort of raised my voice, too, which is something I never do!  And Dave's response was a soft chuckle.  So, then I knew for sure.  Bastard.  And I say that in a fond way.  Phil always shook in his boots whenever Dave would call and harangue him.  I, however, caught on to the game.  I liked Dave.  He expected a lot out of his people, but the one thing he hated was for people to back down.

Things progressed to the point that I had to have an assistant.  I did get to take a day off here and there, and somebody had to be around to monitor the "stats", and to put people into different queues when the workload required it.  I didn't have the option to hire an actual assistant, so I made Kristen an unofficial one.  She was smart.  She had no business doing data entry, which is a fine occupation; don't get me wrong, but people should live up to their potential.

So, Kristen handled things for me when I was away, and when I finally got the go-ahead to hire an assistant, well, guess who?

I essentially found myself playing mother hen to all my chicklings.  Jobs were scarce in my town, so people took jobs that were beneath their skill set.  I set about instilling some self-esteem in them.

After about a year, I still was working with a mix of regular employees and temps.  Whenever Dave would give the go-ahead to do more hiring, I would gently nudge certain people to apply.  One of my temps, Jessie, was an awesome producer.  Far and away the best in both production and quality.  And it frustrated the hell out of me that whenever a job opening came along, she wouldn't apply.

I pestered Jessie a lot about that, and she always brushed me off.  Then, one day, she came into my cubicle and sat down, and was silent for a good long while.  Finally, she said, "I can't apply.   When I was sixteen, I worked in a convenience store, and I stupidly, stupidly stole some money out of the til.  I have a record.  I can never apply."

After she went back to her desk, I picked up the phone and called the HR lady.  I asked, what would it take to get Jessie hired?  HR Lady said, write a letter; lay out your reasons for wanting to hire her, and you have to VOUCH for her.

So, I did.  Jessie got the job.

Everybody there had a story.  And little by little, they all found reasons to love the IKFI island.

Of course, this love did not sit well with the Claims folks...........

to be continued......

My "Career" ~ Part 6 ~ "Who Do You Think You Are?"

My "Career" ~ Part 7 ~ Another New Boss?

My "Career" ~ Part  8 ~ "Everything's Great!"

My "Career" ~ Part 9 ~ A Cold Wind

My "Career" ~ Part 10 ~  Thank You ~ Goodbye

My "Career" ~ Part 11 ~ Breaking the News 

My "Career" ~ Part 12 ~ Loose Ends 

My "Career" ~ Epilogue

Previous Chapters:

My "Career" ~ Part 4 ~ Phil

My "Career" ~ Part 3 ~ Karma

My "Career" ~ Part 2 ~ Evil Bosses

My "Career" ~ Chapter 1

Monday, May 21, 2012

My "Career" ~ Part 4 ~ Phil

(Scary in its familiarity)

With Connie gone, we were rudderless.  That's just silly, really, because Connie was a bust at being a rudder, except for those minions who constantly found excuses to stroll into her office and ask for her "advice".

The regional VP (again, we'll call him "Charles", since I can't remember his name) took over the sad task of supervising the supervisors.

I remember one early meeting with him, in which he expressed the sentiment, "I can't believe you guys don't already know this". 

Charles did send us off to learn how to use personal computers.  Up until that time, we didn't have computers (computers??).  We had CRT's.  CRT's did nothing except the very explicit task of allowing us to process claims.  I'm surprised, in retrospect, that the supervisors didn't have typewriters in their little glass-encased coffins. 

I knew nothing about personal computers, naturally.  I sat in that class, and dragged the mouse as far along that long table as it could possibly go, because I couldn't get the stupid pointer to point to the stupid thing that I wanted it to point to.  The instructor finally noticed my contortions, and said, "pick up the mouse (dummy)".  And everybody laughed and laughed, but I bet they didn't know that, either.

Then, one day, it was announced to us that a new manager would be joining our "team" (I always hated the term, "team", because that made it sound like we were all in it together, when, in fact, we were all in it to slash each others' throats, to be frank).

Phil had apparently once worked with our (at least my) guru, Dave, in Omaha, Nebraska.  What a smart man like Dave ever saw in a dolt like Phil remains one of life's mysteries.  Phil was a moron; scratch that ~ a lazy moron.

Phil got himself all situated in Connie's former office, and proceeded to thumb through his stack of women's magazines, prop his feet up on the desk, and promptly fall asleep.

Needless to say, we didn't have any respect for Phil.  At least those of us who were not consumed with kissing anyone and everyone's ass (LeeAnn).

Anytime that Phil woke up, he'd take a stroll around the office and see which supervisor he could offend. 

He'd sit in the extra chair inside the given supervisor's glass-walled cubicle and regale his hostage with tales of his glory days at Mutual of Omaha (wasn't that the company that sponsored that "Wild Kingdom" series, with Marlin Perkins, who always sent his assistant, Jim, out on the really dangerous assignments, while Marlin sat back in the studio and lisped his way through the narration?  Yea, that's the one).  I bet all the Mutual of Omaha guys talked that up a lot at every client meeting.  "We have Marlin Perkins, you know!"

With the supervisors he really liked, Phil would regale them with tales of the sex-capades that he and his wife had had the night before.  Phil was a geek, so picturing him as a sex God was nearly impossible.   Luckily, I was spared the details of Phil's extracurricular activities.  But, of course, like anything and everything that happens in an office, I heard about it secondhand.

Phil was big on grand pronouncements.  Once a month, he'd gather the entire staff together in an open space, ostensibly to announce the latest quality results, but in actuality, to pump himself up to the group.  "Three years ago, before I came here, you guys were nothing.  Nothing!  Now just look at you."  And we'd all look around at each other and roll our eyes, and think, yea, we were drooling idiots before you got here, Phil.  We could barely manage to write our own names.

Unlike the majority of the supervisors, I, unfortunately, did not suffer fools gladly.  Oh sure, I tried to stay awake whenever Phil chose to sit in my extra chair and impart his MOA wisdom.  But when he started pulling the, "you would be nothing without me" business, I admit; I bristled.

We used to have competitions from time to time; the kind of thing where one unit is pitted against another, to achieve some kind of production goal.  Because where would this world be, really, without a seething hatred for anyone who was perceived as a competitor?

During one of these exercises, my group (naturally) kicked ass.  But in order to spoil my pride in my group's accomplishment, Phil lolled on over to me and pronounced, "Your people are always the first ones to leave at the end of the day."

Something snapped in me, and I whirled around from the white board that I was erasing, and hissed, "My people work their asses off, and you damn well know it!"

Red-faced, Phil slithered away.  And I thought, ohhh shit, I'm in trouble now.

I didn't see Phil for awhile after that.  He visited other supervisors, but he avoided me.

Eventually, we had another one of those musical chairs supervisor/unit moves, that had absolutely no purpose, in which everybody had to pick up, pack up, and move to another location on the floor.  In essence, switch places with somebody else.  I never quite understood the reasoning, but because we'd done it so many times, I didn't question it.  I just packed up like everybody else, and moved.

Luckily (?) for me, my unit ended up situated right outside Phil's office.

I used to go around every day, from person to person, and answer my staff's processing questions.  The skirts we wore then were short, and Phil would stand in his doorway and ogle me, and make inappropriate remarks, which I pretended that I didn't hear, but I would surreptitiously roll my eyes at the person I happened to be assisting at the time.  All of shared a common loathing of Phil.

Out of the blue one day, Phil peeked around the corner and summoned me into his office.  He said that there was a new project upcoming (brand new!).  A new department, really.  Part of Claims, and yet not part of Claims.  It was data entry.  Phil said that "he" had chosen me to head it up (BS ~ "he" didn't have the power to make any decisions).  Phil said that this was a pilot program for the entire company, of which we were but a tiny satellite office.  I think I asked, why me?  I felt like I was being punished.  It felt like a giant step backwards.  I had gained a lot of claims knowledge, and now I was being asked to throw that all away?

I said, "Can I think about it?"

Phil said, "Sure".  "Think about it overnight".  "Then come back and tell me, yes."

Thus, I had no choice.  I felt like a loser.  Like all my peers would snicker about me behind my back.

I came back the next day and told Phil, "yes", like I had been instructed to do.

And I bid adieu to my staff and to the world of claims.

And I had absolutely no idea what was in store for me.

To be continued........

My "Career" ~ Part 5 ~ Welcome to the I-Land

My "Career" ~ Part 6 ~ "Who Do You Think You Are?"

My "Career" ~ Part 7 ~ Another New Boss?

My "Career" ~ Part  8 ~ "Everything's Great!"

My "Career" ~ Part 9 ~ A Cold Wind

My "Career" ~ Part 10 ~  Thank You ~ Goodbye

My "Career" ~ Part 11 ~ Breaking the News 

My "Career" ~ Part 12 ~ Loose Ends 

My "Career" ~ Epilogue

Previous Chapters:

My "Career ~ Part 3 ~ Karma

My "Career ~ Part 2 ~ Evil Bosses

My "Career" ~ Chapter 1


Friday, May 11, 2012

My "Career" ~ Part 2 ~ Evil Bosses

Being the highly successful (and the stats proved it) supervisor that I had become, I was looking forward eagerly to my first performance review.

My unit had kicked everybody's ass, and we had a good time while doing it.  At Christmastime, somebody somewhere in the office had suggested a decorating contest, and one of my people thought it would be fun to wrap our cubicle walls in Christmas wrap, with bows and the whole bit.  It looked pretty.

My first inkling of things to come should have been the rap on my clear glass cubicle wall from the evil assistant formerly assistant manager (now the actual manager), CONNIE, announcing to me that the the branch VP considered our decorations tacky and unprofessional.  (Really, hasn't everybody done that bit by now in every office everywhere in the world?  It's become such a cliche that our little area rejects the idea every time it comes up.)

With the wisdom of hindsight, I realize that the VP never said that; the evil manager, CONNIE, did, and she was too cowardly to claim ownership of her own bitchiness.

Regardless, we had to tear it all down.

Then, one Saturday, when we had mandatory overtime (we always had mandatory overtime), I made the unforgivable mistake of bringing caramel rolls for my staff. 

The problem was that all the other supervisors, except one (my friend and mentor) didn't bring caramel rolls for their staff.  This one-upsmanship made them feel sad and inferior.

And they apparently complained about it, too.  How it made them look like fools.  Because they were too selfish and self-centered to think about their own people, and how dare I shine a spotlight on that!

But I didn't know all this at the time.  I found out about it at my performance review.

You see, CONNIE (I like to use all caps, to accentuate her own sense of self-importance) was the insecure type who loved (loved!) having people fawn over her.  And there were certainly enough kiss-asses in the office who were eager to do it!  We had our lunchroom, in which all the supes were expected to congregate around Connie every day at twelve noon, and tell her how pretty her hair was, and how, no, she didn't look like she'd gained weight!  Not at all!  And how smart she was; such a dynamic decision-maker!  I, admittedly, have always had a hell of a time faking things.  To my detriment.

Nevertheless, when that fateful September day rolled around, I was oblivious to the blindsiding that was coming.  My review began innocuously enough.  Connie recited my unit's stats, and mumbled something about them.  I had to strain my ears, but I think she gave me props for my unit's achievements.  Although it's all become sort of jumbled in my mind, in light of what was yet to come.

Then, after the formalities were over, Connie leaned back in her chair, behind her obscenely oversized oak desk, and gave me the real what's-what.

"You are trying to make all the other supervisors look bad."

 "You're trying to show everybody up."

"You don't stop in and say goodnight to me when you leave at the end of the day."

"I don't like you."

"If you can't become part of my team, I will replace the team."

 This, folks, is what one gets for contributing to the success of a company.  

Jaded?  Not at all, no. 

Here's the scoop, kids.  You can be the biggest screw-up on the face of the earth.  You can have absolutely no skills; no intelligence.  You can be semi-literate.  You don't even need to be able to walk upright.  All you need to do is kiss ass.  

I didn't kiss ass.  And I was threatened with being fired.  For doing a hell of a good job.

I cried.  I cried during my review.  I didn't want to!  I couldn't control it.

She wouldn't even offer me a Kleenex.

Connie was cold, and she was evil.  But I wasn't stupid.

After a sleepless night, I determined to stop into her stupid office every stupid day at 5:00, and say, "Goodnight, Connie!  Have a nice night!"

I needed that job.

I toned down any sort of motivational perks for my staff (okay, I just kept them on the down-low ~ I still did them).

I praised to the high heavens the stupid, incompetent other supervisors that I had the supreme misfortune of having to work with.  

I downplayed my group's superior stats, but my unit knew.  They were sort of my co-conspirators in the whole operation.  They knew how good they were, but they knew they couldn't say how good they were.  Not out loud.

I also did one more thing.  I created my own new mantra:

Karma is a bitch.

To be continued..........

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

My "Career"

(Yes, I had a career impersonating Meryl Streep.)

I suppose all the upper-middle class gals in 1973 took it for granted that they would be going to college.  That wasn't the world I lived in.

I fleetingly considered enrolling in community college, as a journalism major, but I was semi-serious at best.  The people I hung around with didn't go to college.  We got married and worked as office clerks.

In high school during the dark ages in which I lived, there were three course majors one could choose:  general, something a step above "general", of which I don't remember the term, and college prep. I initially enrolled in the college prep program, and stuck that out for a couple of years, agonizing through algebra and geometry, and (gasp) science.  But things were only going to go from bad to worse in my junior year, at which time I would have to take chemistry and physics, and I thought, no. 

I excelled at the subjects I liked:  English, history, languages.  I sucked at math, and still do (thank God for calculators....and my ten fingers).  I hated science, and detested dissecting things.  I didn't really care about the chemical makeup of a leaf, although leaves are pretty, and I like to take pictures of them.  And therein lies the rub.  I have my head in the clouds, and not buried in the pages of a chemistry book.

So, I didn't go to college.  I got a job.  As an office clerk.  And then I got married.

I've written about most of my jobs in previous posts, and most of them in actuality (not all of them!), I enjoyed to one degree or another.

When I had the opportunity to work in the health insurance field (for $6.25 an hour!), I was just trying to get out of a bad situation, and I figured, well, it's another office job.  I've certainly done those!

Turned out, there were things one actually had to learn to be a claims examiner.  Technical terms and procedures.  My only leg up on the other 36 people who started with me was that I knew medical terminology from working on the medical floor of a hospital for eight years (and really, that's what got me the job.  I found out later that somebody else's references hadn't checked out, so they hired me.  I was the last hire, and I was a replacement.  Ahh, the ego boost!)

We started work on the vacant third floor of a bank building, because the company had made a commitment to open a branch in our town, but didn't actually have a building yet.  So, we all worked side by side, row by row, in that stuffy room for three months, being trained by impatient, less-than-tactful trainers from Philadelphia, who took every opportunity to denigrate the less-than-stellar recreational choices in our little town.  Bite me.

At some point during the training, the three supervisors, who had been hired in advance of the rest of us, announced that they would be promoting two more people to supervisor, and three people to assistant supervisor.  I applied, of course, for one of the assistant supervisor positions (I was no fool).

I didn't get it.

All five people chosen had insurance experience.  Because, you know, that's the only qualification needed to supervise.  But those in a position to hire can be stupid, and not to generalize, but they usually are.

Eventually, the spanking new building was ready for occupancy, so we all drove our cars down the winding parking garage exit for the last time, and at last moved to our permanent location.  I settled into my own little cubicle, put my head down, and did my work.

At some point, one of the original supervisors, Connie, got an undeserved promotion, to assistant manager, so that created an opening for a new supervisor, and thus a new assistant supervisor.  My quality and production were such that, now, when I again applied for the assistant supervisor position, I got it. 

My duties were to process claims (still) and to go around every day, from person to person, and sit with them to answer their questions.  Oh, and to do some kind of needless paperwork whenever the supervisor had the day off.

And the business kept expanding.  More processing units were added, creating more available supervisor positions.  Thus, having my foot in the door, so to speak, I got to be one (not a foot; a supervisor).

I had, I guess you would say, a novel approach to supervising.  I tended to motivate people; to train people; to believe in people; to give them the opportunity to live up to the expectations I had for them.  And I tended to want to have fun while doing all that.

Perfection?  Ahhh, yes, that was me.  Especially the wintery day when my mentor, Carlene, and I stepped outside to have a smoke.  It was frigidly cold that November day, so I said, "C'mon!  Let's sit in my car!  It'll be much more comfortable!" 

"You know," I said to Carlene as we were sitting there in the front seat, engulfed in a blanket of white,  "Maybe I should brush off the windows, so we can see out."

"My snow brush, of course, is in the trunk, but let me just go grab it and do a quick dust-off."

So, I switched off the ignition, grabbed the key, and ventured out to retrieve my trusty snow brush.  Since it was early November, I hadn't yet transferred my brush to the back seat, where it would be within easy reach for any snow-related emergency.

In fact, my snow brush was so far forward in the trunk, I, at five foot two inches, couldn't quite reach it.  I had to climb into the trunk to be able to grasp it.

And that's when the jolly Dakota wind decided to make its appearance.


Darkness overtook me. 

I lay there for a moment, prostate and stunned.  And then I just started laughing.  "It's kind of cozy in here," I remarked to, obviously, myself.

Feeling my way, eventually, I pushed up upon the inside of the trunk door, and, prayerfully, discovered that it wasn't actually latched; just closed.  I climbed out, sauntered back to the driver's side door (to hell with cleaning off the windshield!), climbed in, and casually mentioned to Carlene, "I was trapped inside the trunk!"  Her response?  "I wondered why you were gone so long."

We made a pact that we would never mention this incident to anyone.  That pact lasted, oh, two minutes at the most.  Once back inside, Carlene whispered it to her assistant, who then initiated the whole call train, passing it along to an examiner in her unit, who passed it along to the next examiner, and the next, and inevitably it made its way to the people in my unit.

I was gratified, at least, to be able to provide my "number one of all-time" assistant and good friend, Peg, with something to mercilessly tease me about for the next eight to nine years of our lives. 

Flash forward to the third week of December.  The unit got together and bought Christmas gifts for me and for Peg.  When my turn came, I stood in front of the unit and opened each gift, as everyone gathered in a bunch before me.  I opened two gifts, and they were both lovely.  I felt humbled and embarrassed that they had spent money on me. 

The third gift was oddly-shaped, so I was eying it warily all the while.  My group imperceptibly inched forward as I reached for the package.  I tore open the wrapping, and pulled out.......a long, flat object, that looked to be a paint stirrer.  Up one side of the stick, someone had lovingly etched in red, "TRUNK PROP". 

My folks, one by one, began to keel over in fits of mirth.  I looked at Peg, and she looked at me, knowingly.  She had been the main instigator, of course.  I cried so many tears of laughter that I could no longer focus my eyes. 

The laughter of 16 people spilled over the walls of our unit, sprinkling the corridors of Acme, drawing curious onlookers.

See, my people liked me.  They thanked me.  They respected me.  They made hilarious fun of me.

They gave me a trunk prop.

And all that, combined, got me into a whole shitload of trouble.

To be continued........

My "Career" ~ Part 2 ~ Evil Bosses

My "Career" ~ Part 3 ~ Karma

My "Career" ~ Part 4 ~ Phil

My "Career" ~ Part 5 ~ Welcome to the I-Land

My "Career" ~ Part 6 ~ "Who Do You Think You Are?"

My "Career" ~ Part 7 ~ Another New Boss?

My "Career" ~ Part  8 ~ "Everything's Great!"

My "Career" ~ Part 9 ~ A Cold Wind

My "Career" ~ Part 10 ~ Thank You ~ Goodbye

My "Career" ~ Part 11 ~  Breaking the News

My "Career" ~ Part 12 ~ Loose Ends 

My "Career" ~ Epilogue