I haven’t broken all my fingers (yet), or been in a terrific accident, or stubbed my toe on a rather large writer’s block, I have just been taking an extended leave to kind of settle in to the work schedule and things that I want to accomplish. Furthermore, sitting and working on a computer all day really takes away your motivation for being on the computer at home. Having said that, this post will likely be little more than an extended recap, if you read the beginning of a section and find it boring, sorry, but try the next section and see what you think.
I have officially graduated Investor Services Training! The last two weeks or so, I have been faithfully reporting to my workstation in the Outbound/QC Area on the third floor of an incidentally historical building in downtown KC.* I say it is a workstation because it is not really a cubicle in that it only has two “walls”. Imagine if you will a + now at each open “quadrant” there is a desk facing the center with a dual monitor computer. My workstation is one of those sections. My neighbor is a kindly older woman with what can only be described as a splendid disposition. On my other side is a rather obese gentlemen I don’t know so well but has two large containers of candy almost perpetually full.** The person sitting on the opposite angle was a friendly guy who had the most fabulous sweaters. He moved away to New York which was more than a little bit of a surprise to me as I appears I am the replacement body.
*Which also houses the Kansas City Garment District Museum, likely the smallest museum that I have ever had the opportunity to tour. Not to say that it is not full of interesting stuff though. Just not a lot of it.
**It’s not like I don’t have candy. Each station comes with a clever little rolling file cabinet with a cushion on the top (presumably for someone who needed a quick spot to park their bum when visiting you about something). In top drawer of my file cabinet is a quarter bag of dried banana*** chips, a half bag of York Pieces (imagine M&Ms that taste like York Peppermint Patties), two and a half boxes of Lemonheads, and three packs of Trident Tropical Twist. Unrelated to food, there is also in that drawer a Hello Kitty notepad and about a dozen plastic pens from a large hotel chain that will remain unnamed.
***I feel terrible but every single time I try to spell the word “banana”, the very first thing that runs through my head is that Gwen Stefani song. B! AN! AN! AS! It’s awful. Like every time I spell “tomorrow” I have to spell it “tom” “or” “row” because my friend, who is an English teacher mentioned it to me once upon a time.
I would like to say I attacked the position with gusto, charging bravely into the face of my career and fearlessly attacking situations with what little mastery I had practiced in the bullpen. But,( appropriately as baseball spring training winds to a close,) as many an eager pitcher is apt to find as he exits the bullpen and goes into the starting lineup, it is not all sunshine and strikeouts. Going to be some nerves there, definitely some control issues, lots of feeling unsure of oneself, especially as a rookie surrounded by larger men with vast amounts of experience*. So I did what any smart enough person in that situation would do. Despite praise from the learning and development staff as well as from my peer trainer, I asked for extra coaching, in this case, a further amount of time under observation. I figure at this point it is better to appear dumb and get the right answer rather than try to do something I was unsure of and really botch somebody’s account up.**
*And facial hair. Not joking around, I’m not sure how I fit in because I don’t have a beard to stroke while considering a particularly perplexing situation. I’m not thrown off by it, nor am I under some false notion that I could grow out a beard. It is more of a casual observation. One of those observations wherein you cannot unsee what has been seen. Beards are literally everywhere at this place, even a fair amount of women with superfluous hair on the upper lip.
**This is a rather difficult point for me. For a long time I relied on my brain to figure out a situation quickly and understand derivatives. That may have been effective in public high school language classes but is more than a little dangerous in all other areas. And thus I have a hard time asking for help on things, it is a general sense of not appearing weak I think. Won’t delve too much into that, but if there is one thing I can afford to be at this stage in my career, it is humble.
But as this week winds down to a close, I’m starting to get the hang of the job. Seeing some familiar type cases, talking to a lot of financial reps and offices. Generally building a bit of a good rapport around the group. Trying to keep myself engaged yet attached. My group, like the inbound call teams, are in a unique position in which we as individuals are not responsible for a lot of the action that goes around the company, but rather are part of a system. If there is a breakdown in any part of the system, there will likely be some upset people. So when we are on the line, there is an understanding that we represent the company as a whole and while we may not be responsible, we must take responsibility. There is an art of separation there that I am still trying to navigate and some of my peers confess to still try to navigate every day. What it comes down to is that there are good days and bad days. I’m grateful to have the opportunity on a case to case basis to really help someone get something done and most of the time, that feeling is enough to keep me motivated.
I really like the idea of affecting change. Stories about single persons inspiring movements or vast amounts of change fascinate me. That is part of the reason I like dystopian novels. From Orwell’s 1984 to Bradbury’s Farenheit 451 to Ayn Rand’s Prometheus to the wildly popular Hunger Games, they all feature individuals who truly affect change in their respective worlds. It is a fascinating concept to me and while I personally don’t feel like I can affect change in the world at large, I like to try and do little things that will make a difference.
As an example, I like to wear ties. The current dress code where I work is “business casual”, meaning dress slacks, polos, no sneakers or tank tops, etc. I have a lot of dress shirts and I inherited a whole slew of ties. So my general dress shirt and tie combination was rather regular attire to the point I was jokingly told to tone it down because I was making the other guys look bad. This in turn sparked a discussion where perhaps a couple of guys would wear a tie on a certain day in sort of a show of solidarity (but mostly for fun). Not sure how the discussion turned but the general rundown was that if we really had the balls, we would wear bowties. Thus, every Friday is Bowtie Friday. And from the original group of 4, its looking to grow. Can’t get over how such a little thing could really be making some waves. I’m very excited for it. Wonder how little things like that are charted by Human Resource type people.
Speaking of things that I’m excited for, the race season is nearly on us. My first race scheduled is Rock the Parkway followed by a KC area favourite, Trolley Run where I’ll be vying for a good enough time to make the 5K team for the KC Corporate Challenge. For those not familiar with KCCC, it is essentially what intramurals were to college except replace organizations with local corporations. There are a host of events, soccer, volleyball, swimming, track and field, and a handful of others. Corporations are sorted by size into divisions and compete for the distinction of corporate challenge overall champions. I signed up for 5K, Half Marathon, Traithlon and soccer. I really couldn’t be more excited, especially as I found out one of the guys in my group actually is an individual champion at KCCC, in the 100M Dash. It was age group, but still, very impressive. Will likely be putting up some videos if I can get a new perspective and put a better layout on them detailing some of the race experiences I have.* Going to visit the new Ultramax store here in KC this weekend, excited to shop for a new racing top that doesn’t get stuck when pulling it on after the first transition. Maybe something with racing stripes. Or flames. I wonder if Ed Hardy makes a line of athletic, moisture wicking, racing tops.**
*Haven’t been creating as many videos as I had anticipated. The new laptop that I have does indeed have a decent camera for recording but leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to sound. The test videos I took sounded like I was in a far-away tunnel of some sort. With a cold.
**OMG LOL Puh-lease no thanks.
If you’ve read this far, congrats! This is pretty much the end. It is funny because while you may have taken time out of your day to read this, I have taken the opportunity to read a lot more in recent weeks too. I finished Perks of Being a Wallflower which I found to be extraordinarily similar to Catcher in the Rye.* Also finished Michael Crichton’s “Pirate Latitudes” in which I found out Michael Crichton died. In 2008! I had no idea. Some fan I am. In any case, the book was really good and the man will be missed. A terrific author and producer, I know his books made up a huge amount of my reading list coming through grade school. My favourite? Probably Jurassic Park. Classic stuff.
*Be on the lookout for a post on teenagers.**
But what came in the mail yesterday is a different sort of book. Yesterday was the release of Etgar Keret’s new short story collection “Suddenly, A Knock on the Door” (Review Here***) and I admit I’ve only read the first and title story. It is a scant 6 pages or so and it made me feel, (as with most of Keret’s stories), that I never want to write again. I’m no critic and in the grand scale of things, I haven’t read all that much but I know that I like Keret and his first story in this new collection made fat tears well up in my eyes with simultaneous joy and frustration. Just how can so few words be used with such dramatic impact? I warn you, Keret is not for everyone. But say you are bored at a bookstore (if there still is one open near to where you live) you could do much worse than seek out Keret and spend 5 minutes reading an impossibly short story that may change the way you look at the world. This is Crazy Glue .
**More the use of teenagers in stories. Teenagers are hard to figure out generally. Even being a teenager for the better part of a decade myself, still don’t have a solid finger on it. Just a bunch of hormonal weirdos. Well that is pretty much the definition. Maybe I don’t have to write a post on that at all.
***I’ve only skimmed the review. It looked like it had spoilers.
Excited about writing more in the near future. It felt kind of good, shaking off the rust a little bit and putting some words down. See you next time, space cowboys.
By the way, “legit-sies”? I’m trying to make that a thing. I like to imagine the tier looking something like this:
Correct<Yes<Right<Right-on<Uh-huh<Mm-hmm<Of Course<Absolutely<Legitimate<Legit<Too Legit To Quit<Legit-sies*
*Legit-sies broken down as follows: Legit-sies<Very Legit-sies<Super Legit-sies<Hella Legit-sies
Comments and/or revisions about this list can be sent to me directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org