Thursday, September 14, 2006

The first step... (post-Uni)

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."


Summer 1999.

As I indicated a while back, I was having trouble finding work in the city. While I did well on all the aptitude tests and that sort of thing, my professional credentials didn't do me any good outside of the industry I wanted to break into (which is notorious for being guarded about letting in new people), and I just couldn't manage to convince people to take a chance on me. Finally, a leasing agency accepted to take me on a 6-month term to handle some of their admin work and give them some to speak with their French dealers and customers. And so began my thousand-mile journey. And that single step landed squarely in a pile of dog shit.

The leasing company I worked for had started out as a small, little engine that could type of company. But it had been bought out by a bigger company, which in turn had been bought out by another company. So now, it was sort of lost within the corporate shuffle and treated like the red-headed step child it was (our division did small consumer leases, while other divisions handled huge corporate transactions - I don't even know why we were worth buying).

As my first "office" job, I couldn't wait to put all my smarts and work ethic to good use. But then, I started noticing that people weren't exactly putting everything they had into their jobs. Or even a bare minimum. Here's a quick sample of the type of people I was dealing with:

1) Our manager had been brought over from another division. She was one of those people that couldn't ever find a way to deal with something she hadn't seen before. And yet, in her mind, she was the only person allowed to make a decision. I learned quickly to go behind her back as much as possible. I swear to God, she was one of those managers who had a Big Book of Management, and she was screwed if whatever was going on wasn't in that book. I actually hid the book on her once. That turned into quite a day.

2) Our portfolio officers were a lovely combination of the following:

A divorced single mom who loathed all men and spent her day talking on the phone to Lord knows who about it, then cried about not getting any opportunities in life.

Her best friend, who was too busy being her social worker to do any real work.

A lady who had immigrated from somewhere in Indonesia, and hardly spoke English, even though she had been in the country for over 10 years. Then, during those 10 years, she forgot her native language, so she was running on about 1/3 to 1/2 of a language.

The sales and IT guys had built a fake network stocked with some of the most gonzo porn I've ever heard of. And I'm fairly open-minded about these things.

To top it all of, there was this old guy who was a former member in the South African army, and when he went to talk to you, he got all like 1/2 an inch from your face and stared you down into submission. He also carried a nasty looking knife, and looked like he'd cut you with it. His assistants were two hot Asian sisters, and no one knew what the three of them did.

There were a few solid workers: the admin supervisor, the business analyst, the accountant and his assistant, and we banded together to stay sane.

So I worked there, then got home, opened my velcro-fortified fridge, and slept in my circus tent.
How did I not kill myself again?


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