way back at the beginning of the year, a friend of mine asked on facebook if anyone was looking for a new job. i had worked the night shift at heritage residential treatment center for the last 9 years, and it was a good job. i felt like i was helping people, it allowed me a lot of freedom to play during the day, and 90% of the time it was the easiest job in the world and i just did homework, read books, watched movies, or played games. but it was time for a change. for one, that other 10% of the time stunk. getting sworn at, swung at, and other such niceties do make it hard to have a whole lot of job satisfaction. for two, while i have always been a night owl, it's really hard to sleep during the days with little kiddos running around. on more than one occasion i have had to go on less than sleep than i'd want. my record was going 96 hours with two 1 and a half hour naps mixed in. i'm pretty proud about that one. :) third, while the pay wasn't horrible, it was never going to pay the bills when the time comes for us to buy a house. and finally, "nightwatch" wasn't helping the resume. since i'm studying information technology, i figured it was time to get some work experience behind a computer. so when my friend said he was looking for some people to work in "account creations" at vivint security systems, i got bold and jumped. change is scary.
i loved the work environment of vivint. they were definitely going with the google vibe. they had lots of perks and bonuses. ping pong and pool tables were everywhere. they offered free amazing meals and unlimited sodas. and they just talked it up like it was a fun place to work. and it wasn't bad, it just wasn't for me. my job was to sit at a computer with my little headset on and wait for a call from a salesperson. i would then set up accounts for new customers, check credit, conduct surveys, and test to make sure the security systems were working. first off, know how much i hate talking on the phone. i'm not an extremely talkative guy period, but without the benefit of being able to see the other person, i hate it even more. and know how much i detest pushy people, which is a quality found in the most successful of salespeople, no offense intended to my salespeople friends. :) so i was asked to sit there, not really able to do anything while i sat there, and wait for an obnoxious salesman to call, and attempt to set up a system, all while being told to always be going faster. i hated it. i sat there just dreading the next phone call. so, with my wife's permission, i handed in my two weeks notice, and would focus on school for the next few months.
as soon as school was over for the semester, it was back to the job hunt. i applied at a few places, anything that had "data" in the job title really, but my lack of any experience at a keyboard at all didn't help. we eventually got a notice in the mail saying the us postal service was hiring data conversion operators. so i tried to apply, but the job wasn't appearing online where they said to go. it was a little frustrating. but two weeks later (and two weeks will be a theme) it finally appeared, so i applied. two weeks after that, i got an email inviting me to come take a test to see if i qualified for the job, but the soonest i could take the test was in two weeks. the test was, in essence, an iq test with postal forms. well i passed that test and two weeks later i was back in taking another test, this one just a simple typing test. i was actually more worried about this one since i'm not a blazing fast typer, but i managed to pass it too. two weeks after that i was invited up to the offices to do an interview and get the feel for what the job would actually entail. two weeks later i was starting training, which was, you guessed it, two weeks long. :) it was a long, and way too drawn out process to get a job, but i got it so yay.
training was painful. they simply put you in front of a computer where you learned how to do something, then you were tested on how to do it. if you weren't fast enough or had too many errors, you failed and had to take the test again. you had two weeks to pass 40 or so such tests, or they would walk you out to the curb and say you're fired. like i said before, i'm not the strongest typer, but i had never 10-keyed at all before, and that is much needed when putting in zip codes. our laptop doesn't even have a 10-key to practice with, so i was at a disadvantage. i took the zip code test (which was like a 30 minute test or so) 18 times. i wanted to throw the computer across the room that day. but i passed it on my last try of the day before the weekend and was able to rest easy for a couple days. i grasped most of the concepts pretty quickly, so once getting past the zip codes, it was smooth sailing and i finished with a few days to spare, so the job was mine.
when you place a letter in the mail, it goes to your local post office where it is put on a conveyor belt and each piece of mail is scanned. the computer reads the info, then sorts the letter according to where it needs to go. for those pieces of mail where the computer can't read (bad handwriting, colored envelopes, incorrectly addressed, etc), it sends that scan to us at the remote encoding center. so i sit at a computer and an image of a letter pops up and the computer asks for what it needs, whether a zip code, city/state, or local address, which i then attempt to read and input, or reject. very boring. i was bored just typing that description. but the pay is nice, and the benefits will be nice once i qualify for them. but i'm called to overtime at least three times a week right now, and i have been denied every day off i have requested. some may love the extra pay, but i would much rather spend those extra hours with my family. vivint tried to go with the whole google vibe and try their best to make their employees happy with all the little perks; usps goes in a different direction and bleeds their employees for all the work they can get out of them, but pays more so they some people are cool with that. the other day i got called to overtime with 3 minutes left of my shift. those were not a good 2 extra hours for me. and this will only get worse come december when i'll be working 12 hour work shifts, 6 days a week. add in my hour commute to work each way, and i'll essentially be putting in 84 hour work weeks, all the while missing out on the Christmas holiday season that i love so much. it's going to be hard. but i've always believed you don't have to love your job, you just have to love why you do it. and i love this little family of mine. these paychecks will be nice and will go a long way to helping us creating a little heaven here on earth, even if i can't be a part of it for a while.
now my soapbox time. here's a few observations i've had since starting this job (and know i'm not really as passionate about these as this may all sound. except the first one. definitely the first one.): if you want that letter delivered, realize someone has to be able to read that address, so learn to write legibly for goodness sakes!... give up on cursive. it's a dead art form with no purpose. like latin, pennies, and the kardashians. just pointless. get over it... stop with the dumb abbreviations. you might know what you meant by "o-town". i don't. there are thousands of "o-towns" across the country. stop trying to be cool. you're not... there are a exorbitant amount of letters going to sweden, chile, new zealand, and singapore. how many people actually know someone who lives in singapore?... zip codes are 5 numbers long. or 9 if you want to include the add-on code. if you have a 4 digit zip code, you don't have a zip code. we will ignore that. if you have a 10 digit zip code with two dashes in it, that's a phone number and doesn't belong in an address. an email won't help either... now i say all this, but ignore it all. if everyone learned how to properly address a letter, i'd be out of a job. except for the first one. don't ignore that one. learn to write people. :)