Sunday, September 13, 2015

First Responder

This has been, at least on a personal level, a lousy summer.

From March until early August, I held down a temp position at a company that does billing for ambulance services. In the five months I was there, I witnessed a 90% turnover by the staff, near-constant drama (both within the workspace and pre-existing) from certain co-workers, unprecedented managerial incompetence, and a general dearth of "book smarts" in a situation where "street smarts" didn't always suffice. From a personal perspective it was consistent work and challenging without being overwhelming, but the office environment uniquely chaotic.

I'm not sure if I could pinpoint an exact low point in this ocean of drama. Within two weeks of when I started, I had to take a personal day for my father's doctor's appointment. On the day I was gone, there was a catfight in the break room, the woman who trained me on a profanity-laced tirade, the ladies' restroom was trashed, and another woman went into false labor. I came back that next day to see 10% of the desks in the office vacated and a thick air of tension. The manager warned repeatedly before and after "The St. Patrick's Day Massacre" that the drama stays outside the office, but the revolving door of personnel never made that possible.

After about three months in the office, I was put on a special project. I had been working on billing, but they were shifting more people into processing insurance claims. There was a group of 12 or 13 of us assigned to work on three agencies in the Atlanta metro area; about a third of us had to be trained on how to do insurance. There were some growing pains, but in general the people who were transferred into this project were doing okay. The corporate office in Phoenix wasn't impressed, so we were summoned into a conference call meeting one Friday afternoon. They pointed out one mistake after another, some obvious and others that were close calls. One member of the team took an error personally and after the call ended she nearly started crying. Then another member of the team started talking about her troubled teenage son, and the whole thing turned into a therapy session. Suffice to say, it was uncomfortable and preposterous.

Then, on August 4th, it abruptly end. I was sitting in the parking lot checking my messages when I received a phone call from my temp agency. The fact that they were calling when they did was not a good sign, and my suspicions were confirmed soon after. Initially the company claimed that I had nodded off at my desk --a false and damning allegation-- but they reiterated I wasn't a good fit. I was now a free agent again, forced to budget my money while I was stuck at home with two sick parents. I had hoped to take a road trip or some kind of mini-vacation, but circumstances quashed that quickly. I adore warm weather, but this was one summer where the heat did me no favors.

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