Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Exacting Payment

 I should be an old hand with these accreditations by now. I've been through five of them: order support tier one; chat; order support tier one again; order support tier two three days later (and oh, was THAT an ordeal)....now payments.

I was never anxious before exams in school. Ever. But directly tie my result on an exam to my ability to earn money and yeah, butterflies. Butterflies the size of cement mixers. 

You get two chances to pass these things, three if they really like you. They like you if you contribute in class and if you are seen to be making an actual effort to learn. I always ensure they like me. Just in case I need that third pitch. I did need a second attempt with one of these accreditations, and it's not like you get to pick the task you get. If it's something that would tax a tenured agent, they won't expect you to take that task for accreditation....but you'll still have to work it (with all the help you need) and wait for another. 

Second attempts are beyond stressful. Avoid avoid avoid, as in a void you might be falling into if you fail twice. I do not want to have to go back to working for a living, you know?  

We have 60 new payments agents between two classes, and only one accreditor most of the time. You're given thirty minutes to complete a task -- they can extend it to 45, again, if they like you -- but any task that could possibly take that long is deemed too difficult. So if you're taking that long...don't take that long.

As usual with these, I wanted to go somewhere smack dab in the middle of the class. As usual, I didn't get my request in fast enough and ended up towards the end. This was fine, I thought. I had worked a mix of tasks, and right now in the mornings we're getting a lot of the same task, called a C61. That was at the top of my list of ideal tasks to draw for testing, and I figured I'd get to go midmorning today, on the second day of accreditation.

It ended up being 12:30 PM.

We're working from home (another reason I wanted to keep this job). My Webex training room-mate had already passed yesterday, so he took no tasks this morning at all: he was there solely as my first layer of support. They did this because if all the newly accredited agents took tasks, the wait time between them would be such that the students left to pass would have to wait and wait and wait to get the chance. 

Practice practice C61 C61 C61...hope I get this and not some random task out of left field. 

Task comes in. I have barely enough time to register I have something called a P05 that I had never seen before when I was suddenly in a different Webex room with...who the eff are you  OH SHIT IT'S GO TIME AND I'VE NEVER EVEN SEEN THIS TASK....

deep breath

archive through my head to retrieve any information I know about a P05 before I go to the procedural documents

and suddenly I was back in grade 13 taking my final English exam. Our teacher that year fell gravely ill over the Christmas break; we had a sub for the rest of the year. We were told that NOTHING from September through December would show up on that final, on the grounds we'd already had a midterm. 

I will never, never forget striding into the library where they held that exam, sitting confidently about to turn over my paper and begin, when I heard gasps and profanities all around me, the loudest from my soon-to-be-best friend Jason. A guy down the row from Jay got up from his carrel, pushed it over with a clatter, and stormed out, never to be seen again.

Well, this oughta be interesting.

I turned the paper over.

EVERYTHING on the exam was stuff we had learned from September to December. 

As you know, I was bullied pretty badly from grades four to eight, encompassing three schools, one of them twice. One of their favourite torments involved stealing or desecrating my notebooks.   So after awhile I stopped taking notes at all. Instead I would sit with my head down on the desk, appearing for all the world to be asleep, and concentrate...hard. Teachers learned to put up with this quirk after one of them slammed a ruler down on my desk, millimetres from my head. First, I struggled not to shit myself. Then, I regurgitated everything the teacher had said for the last half hour in elegant point form, adding in some outside knowledge because why not. 

That teacher lost his mind. He grabbed me and practically threw me out of the classroom. I was sent to the office for the first and only time in my scholastic career for being a smartass. I asked the VP: "what was I supposed to do, give him the wrong answers?" and explained why I didn't take notes. I was never bothered (for that) again.

And that's how I aced that exam. I learned later I got the only A+; the rest of my class appealed and had the exam graded on a curve.  Thank you, bullies.


I performed a less intensive version of that for just a minute today, while I gathered myself. We'd only had six days of class and practice, and it was the last six days, so I didn't have to go into a trance and time travel like I did in grade thirteen English. I took about three deep breaths and scoured my mind for P05. 

Nothing. But wait.

Somebody had said -- on the second day of class -- that tasks ending in 05 were "timeouts", and they were ridiculously easy to fix. Go into one screen in SAP, uncheck something, back out and save the order, and that's it. 

I couldn't believe my luck when Cynthia said "if you want, I can test you on this task you just got."

I want.

You know I passed, right? I wouldn't be writing this if I didn't. I'm not going to ratchet up suspense. That's cheap, and while I'm easy, I am NOT cheap.

Look up P05 in our compendium of how-do-I-do-this. Open the first document that pops up and skim through it so I understand exactly what's going on, chattering the whole time because I'm still nervous as hell, even though my mind archive had assured me I was golden.

Notice the PR doc doesn't mention notes. Recall -- it would have been hard not to -- that we must document everything we do in SAP, even if it's nothing. Put in exactly what I did and what happened when I did it, finishing with "closing"...and closed the task. Took maybe three minutes. Could have taken 30 seconds if I was only being tested on getting it done as quickly as possible. They want to see you work through those PRs. They want to know you know how to find instructions, not just follow them. 

Cynthia: "okay, just so you can relax, you passed with 100%." 

Oddly, that didn't help me relax. For two or three hours afterwards, my guts were roiling worse than they had been this morning. I felt like I'd cheated: the task was waaaay too easy. There are much, much more difficult tasks, and I'd better see as many of them as possible in the next three days because after that the training wheels come off.

I find out my new schedule tomorrow, hopefully, and it's almost certainly going to suck. On my last shift bid, I was ranked fifth of 54 agents, and got a great schedule, 10:15 am to 6:45 pm, Monday to Friday. This time I'm 48th out of 103. Why the drop? I was still being ranked strictly on my order support standings. But the 40 tenured payments agents are ahead of all of us. I can console myself that I'm really top ten, still, but that doesn't help me get a decent shift in this bid.

Call centers. Almost all of them have bids like this. If you don't like that, you're free to go back to retail, where your schedule can change every week.

We'll see what I get, and whether anybody else wants it. In the meantime, I am now something I never imagined I would ever be: a payments specialist.

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