Monday, July 16, 2018

I did it!

This has been an amazing week. Eva started a new job on Wednesday. She's gone from a place that seriously mistreated and undervalued her straight to one of Canada's top 100 employers. She could not be happier. 

And I didn't get this blog written and vetted until this morning, or it would have gone up Friday.

On Thursday, I passed my certification. I am now an Order Support -- Delivery Management Specialist.

So I have clarified that I can tell you what that means. I just can't tell you who my company's clients are.

If there is a problem with your order -- let's say FedEx can't find your address, or you got the wrong colour widget, or you want to return something for replacement or refund -- you call our service department. They can do some limited things. If they can't do what you need done, it comes to my team and we action it.

That's all I do. But it's surprisingly complicated. So complicated that it took two weeks of classroom theory to learn just a few of the many, many ways that things can go pear-shaped and how to make them right when, or ideally before, they do.

I did well in class. I usually do well in classrooms: it's theory, and I soak that stuff up like a sponge. But in every classroom until this one, the only purpose of learning was to puke my knowledge back up on paper in pretty patterns so the teacher would behold my puke and give it an A.

This time I had to apply what I had learned. First by means of a test for certification. I had to correctly research, action, document, and disposition a task at random.

That test was supposed to come after first break this past Monday. Well, the power went out for the first hour and a bit, and that pushed everything back. I didn't want to go Monday anyway...I wanted (needed) practice first.

The rules: they would screen your task and make sure it wasn't (a) too easy or (b) too difficult.  You got two shots to pass. I kind of kept my head down on Tuesday, practicing what I could. Most of the tasks that came in fell to one extreme or the other, and the few in the sweet spot I simply worked without being graded on. But I kept half an eye on the proceedings.

People were failing.

Not all of them, but more than a few. It was a little disquieting. I waited for my turn. It never came.

Wednesday. The tasks coming in to my station made me the class laughingstock. Things nobody had ever seen before, mysterious tasks that had no business being assigned to anyone at my level -- in more than one case, in my building. "What the is this", one of my supervisors said to me, sotto voce. "Ken's getting all the bizarre things today!"

No kidding.

Wednesday afternoon and there are still three people left to have their first attempt at certification. Everyone else in the class of 22, both those who have passed and those who haven't, are told to sit back and let whatever task comes in be screened for the three of us to action if suitable.  I was instructed to go to whoever's station had the suitable task and work it there.

Two people left, besides me. Guess which two stations got the only suitable tasks.

THIS. IS. TORTURE. I have worked nothing today except picayune procedures I knew after my second day of class.

Needless to say, I did not sleep well Wednesday night. And by "not well" I mean "barely at all".  Yes, it wasn't an all or nothing proposition...I did have a second attempt if I needed one...but needing one would be its own pressure to add to the pressure I was already feeling, which was almost crushing me. Unbidden images of crawling back into Walmart with my tail between my legs and begging to be rehired started coursing through my cranium.  I would shut my mental eye and silently scream, THINK POSITIVELY, Ken! Instead of saying "I won't succeed", tell the truth! I WILL FAIL!"

Not helpful.

People are trying. Eva, Mark, Kathy and many of my friends are sending me affirming thoughts. Moreover, my classmates are doing the same. It feels wonderful...and also terrible. Because these people I am working with are nice people. All of them. I've yet to meet somebody who makes me shrink away and sputter. I'm sure such people are there...any place that size has to have a few, it's axiomatic...but I haven't found one.


Thursday. I am the only person left to get a first attempt. Oh, sweet Mercy, they let me practice a few tasks before one is selected for me.

10:00 a.m. I am as ready as I will ever be. My thinking is to get this failure out of the way so I could have another day to practice...a day in which hopefully some Goldilocks tasks would fall to me.

My grader approaches, introduces herself, we make small talk and I tell her how scared I am. She puts me (sort of) at ease, letting me know that there was limited help available to me...if I could explain to her, for instance, that according to procedure I needed to click a certain button that I could not find, she could point that button out for me.

That helped.

Behold: THE TASK. (dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum) It's 10:03 now and at about 9:50 I had just completed...perfectly...a task IDENTICAL to this one. Truth be told, a pretty easy task--and I'm not just saying that, it truly is. I got lucky.

Still...careful, Ken. Step by step, don't skip anything. Review everything...the devil is in the details and this devil wants to pitchfork you straight back to hell Walmart.

"If you've been bad when you die, you go to Hell. But if you've been REALLY wicked, they give you a tour of Heaven first." -- unknown

I doubt many people would think of a call centre as heaven. But you kind of get the point. I want to be here so bad my teeth ache. This is not nights. This is Monday to Friday, 11:30-8. This is a fun environment in which I have already made a couple of friends and everyone seems to at least like me a little.

I disposition the task and am immediately told to go into 'Coaching' mode. To be 'coached' in Walmart terms is a bad, bad thing, synonymous with discipline, and of course my mind flashes there and so does my mouth. "What did I miss?", I blurt out.

"Perfect", she tells me, and gives me a high five and a radiant smile.

I sigh so hugely that I lose weight.

I have passed.

I belong.

Thank you to each and every one of the people who have offered support. To Eva, always and forever. To Kathy, forever and always. To Ashlea, who referred me to this place. To Haley. from the last place, whom I wish I could import into this place. To Nicole. To  Amanda. To Philip and Mase and the rest of my classmates. To freaking EVERYBODY.

I am on top of the world.

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