Sunday, April 25, 2010

no wait, the job that is (lyn)

Around 10 last night I discover a call on my iPhone from the Census Bureau.  It had been left earlier in the evening.  Training is starting on Sunday at 9 am.  No mention of why it didn’t start on Saturday.  And, instead of being in the neighborhood as promised, it’s very far downtown, where the streets have actual names.  Before leaving my sleeping son, I grab an umbrella and a couple of WeightWatcher snack foods.  I’m ready for my new job.

I arrive on time for class, and am relieved to see 21 normal looking people, all of whom live on the Upper Eastside, and all of whom were contacted late last night.  

Had we been given an agenda, it would have read something like this.

Opening Remarks
Introductions, and then apologies for how disorganized everything is.

Swearing in Ceremony
We are all asked to stand, raise our right hand, and take an oath of confidentiality.  All information cannot be revealed to anyone, under any circumstances, or, I could be fined up to $250,000 and imprisoned for up to 5 years.  This is serious stuff.

Form Completion 
One of the four leaders goes through the five forms we need to complete, line by line, in excruciating detail.  I could have filled these out in 15 minutes at home with no explanation. 

Another leader reads about 10 pages from a manual about the importance of confidentiality and our role in insuring it is kept.   This could have been done in about 30 seconds.  DO NOT REVEAL ANYTHING YOU LEARN ABOUT ANYONE INTERVIEWED FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIVES.

Lunch (not-paid)
I was worried about this part of the day, but am relieved to find open a little coffee place across the street that serves sandwiches and salad.  I have a salad with free foods like tomatoes, olives, peppers, and cucumbers with balsamic vinaigrette dressing.  Mostly everyone else goes to MacDonald’s or Dunkin’ Donuts which are nearby.

Doing nothing (and getting paid)
This is the unproductive part of the day where I sit in a cold room, and wait my turn to get fingerprinted. I read over 200 pages of a big-print trashy book by Stuart Woods (I ordered big-print by mistake from the library), two New York Magazines, two People magazines, a magazine from Kellogg (as in graduate school, not cereal), and a Crate and Barrel Catalogue for outdoor furniture.


So for the entire afternoon, I am simply waiting.  When I get restless reading, I text.  Or, I eavesdrop on conversations of others nearby.  That’s how I learn of the person who works for a “cheap” group of lawyers and hates it so much that she comes to work everyday without makeup and the same pair of black pants (the exact same ones she is sporting today).

Three hours into waiting I get hungry.  I am so glad I brought a couple of WeightWatcher snacks.  Once I take them out, two women near me ask if I’m on WeightWatchers and we discuss that for a while.  They never comment on my weight (or lack thereof).  

Finally, at 3:45, my name is called.  I go up to be fingerprinted, but the woman doing it is a novice and smudges my thumb after successfully fingerprinting my other four fingers.  So we have to start over.  Twice more my prints are smudged and twice more we start over.  It’s now 4pm, and the building is unexpectedly closing.  A janitor has come up to the training room to tell the surprised leaders.  They thought we had the room until five.  I'm told that I'll now be fingerprinted tomorrow.

What a great job I have!

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