Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Things I've learned at work

Today marks the end of an era where I work.    Tomorrow, the company I work for will be merging with another agency.  The past couple weeks have had me thinking a lot about my career.  Where it's going, if it's going, what happens next, and what happened in the past. 

Before you start thinking I got laid off, I didn't.  I have proof:  They gave me a new telephone with my name on it.
See?   It's a Bat-phone.  Connects us directly with all the other offices.   I think it is a slightly cooler version of the system we already have.  I think this is going to be a good thing.   We get more companies, they get more companies.  My boss can retire without worrying about what happens to her clients or employees.   I get to freak out a whole new group of people with my eccentricity and terrify them with my ability to absorb information and make myself so useful that they don't want to get rid of me.  I also get to break in a new priest this year.  And a new organist.  (Pray for me...)
It got me thinking about all the things I've learned at work over the years, and I thought I'd share some of them with you. 
I'll start with my first job and try to mention something from all of them.  
1.  If you're drinking out of an aluminum can, make a dent in the side.  That way if you're really drunk or really tired, you won't drop it.  (Man working at the museum as part of a work release program.  Convicted felon turned museum curator.)  I still do this.  I don't drink beer, at least not out of cans.  I don't know why I still do this.
2. Sometimes when you're in the middle of something you have to keep going even if it hurts.  I learned this in my first paying job at a restaurant when I put my thumb down on something called a 'burn skillet'.  I taped it up with masking tape and kept on going because it happened in the middle of dinner rush and I am insane.   It wasn't very long after that they moved me out of the kitchen.
3. If you want salad to last more than a few days, tear, don't chop the leaves.
4. There are people in this world who don't know how to mop. 
5.  You may be the only person who smiles at someone who comes in your place of work all day.  You don't know what happened to them before they got there.  Be gentle.  You can serve God at a homeless shelter or at McDonald's dropping fries.  Be Christ's presence wherever you are.
6.  On a related note, all work is holy.  All work is important.   There is no such thing as an unimportant person. 
7.  Some jobs just suck.  Some bosses lie.  Don't stay until it makes you ugly.  Leave before you start dropping Sicilian curses on someone because you're tired of the abuse. 
8.  No one in a restaurant gets paid enough.  Be mindful of that when your dinner doesn't turn out exactly how you want it and be respectful in how you bring up what you're unhappy about.
9. If you can't afford to leave a tip, you can't afford to eat there.  Get take out---it's less trouble.
10.  All children are everybody's children.  Your community raised you, not just your parents, do your part.  Be kind to the kids in your life, pay attention, play fair, and pay your taxes.  Someone paid for your education and your reward is not living a society full of broken uneducated morons. 
11.  It really is true that some teachers really are just mean.  The only thing worse than that is a principal who is just mean.
Okay, now I'm going to talk about my current situation.  Customer service.
12.  Some people are creeps and jerks because their lives are hard and creepy.   Try to be respectful of what someone's got to work with before judging them. 
13.  You aren't going to like everybody, but you will have to deal with them, so do your best to keep it civil.
14. People change.  This can be a good thing.
15. You will meet people at various points in their lives.  You can watch them grow into something better than they were.  Be patient.   The mean little twit with an attitude problem can grow up to be pretty cool.
16.  If you want to compliment someone, do it.  It will probably make their day.
17.  Speak up when something seems wrong.  Drawing attention to a problem and talking to the right person can go a long way toward fixing it.
18.  Almost everything is open to negotiation.   Offer to fix a problem before walking away.
19. Always question everything.
20. Keep pressing zero.  Ask for a supervisor.  Insist on a living breathing human instead of a machine.  People can help you.   The words "I need help with this right now and I'm not going to go away until I get it" go a long while.  Smile while you say these words.  Mother's right: You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.
21.  The internet knows almost everything.
22.  Don't dismiss anyone as worthless.  There is no such thing as a wasted kindness.
23. There is no such thing as a stupid insurance question.  Insurance is weird.  Weirder than you can possibly know..
24.  If you're good at what you do, you can afford to help people no one else will.  It doesn't pay off all the time, but it pays off enough that it's worth doing.
25. Ask for help, tell people the whole story, and smile.  There's usually a way to make it all work out.
Last but not least the place you end up that you never intended to end up in can be somewhere you need to be.  Be open.  God doesn't think he's funny, he knows.

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