Adventures in Staffing: a Day at the Office – Memoirs
Woke up at 6:10 AM. Correction, hit snooze at 6:10 AM, and proceeded to snooze until 6:36 AM. Reluctantly, I slithered out of my bed, away from the covers and the loving wife that I could still be comfortably spooning. I slapped my hand against the switch panel on the wall in the bathroom, accidentally turning the exhaust on instead of the light, then nearly crapped my boxer shorts because it sounded like a 747 taking off just above me. Having cancelled the ear shattering noise from the exhaust, I cranked the shower on, brushed my teeth and decaffeinated (that’s slang for urination, in case you missed it). I nearly forgot again, but narrowly avoided breaking my daily challenge with a stupid picture of my bed head to post on this blog later. Propped against the tiles, the water from the shower nozzle covered me in warmth and comfort as I continued to contemplate my destiny. A shower and a shave later, I’m forced to get dressed. Socks, shoes, slacks, belt, long sleeve button down shirt, and a classic Johnny Carson tie was the ensemble that I chose, and frankly speaking, I looked good. Checked on the kids, made a simple lunch (hot pocket, pretzels, granola bar, banana, diet Dr. Pepper, and some fruit snacks), kissed the wife goodbye, and left the house as I flipped the bird to our cats (FYI, I don’t like cats).
It was 7:20 AM when the car turned over. I was cutting it close for being on time, but still on schedule. Based on the geography of where I live versus where I commuted to work, I had severely limited options when it came to selecting the best route to the office. Checked the traffic app and it looked like I had one choice, drive thru the airport again because the Beltway was backed up well past normal. The drive was relatively smooth, stop and go at the usual intervals, Greens Road was a mother, but otherwise fine. The morning radio host was worrying himself sick about some social justice issues (which was obnoxious), but I mainly listened for the traffic reports and news updates and not for the commentary, and never flipped stations because it took too much effort. I arrived at 7:53 AM and sat in my car for 5 minutes to mentally prepare for the day ahead.
At 7:58 AM I was walking up the staircase to the second floor of the office complex. I made it to my desk a minute later, sent my on time indicator email (our equivalent of a time card) to let the folks at corporate know that I was on time, and then proceeded to devour the banana while I made sure to prioritize my workload. My workload was peculiar on the basis that my job requires me to do very little (almost nothing) some days, to bouncing off the walls busy on other days. Today appeared to be a relatively slow day. A handful of men were filling out their applications and there was a bit of paper work to audit.
Auditing our 15 page long applications was like playing the most drawn out and boring version of “Where’s Waldo” that one could imagine. You looked through all of the pages and you tried to find missing data, and then when you found the inadequately filled out document, you had to call the employee/candidate in and tell them to fill it out, otherwise they couldn’t go back to work tomorrow. Those calls usually generated positive feedback like, “why didn’t ya’ll mutha’ (expletive deleted) catch that in the first place.” “I can’t make it there today, so I quit I guess.” And my personal favorite, “I gotta come up there because you can’t do your job? How’s about you give me your check for bringing me up there and wasting my time.” Fun fact, on the day in question not a single employee processed by yours truly was missing any data from their employment file. I do, however; work with 2 other employees who clearly did not feel the need to hold themselves to the same standard, as such I found myself dealing with their disgruntled employees.
There hasn’t been a job order all day today. 10:48 AM, and it’s been nothing but interviews with new candidates, paperwork auditing, and making less than pleasant phone calls to the aforementioned disgruntled employees. At 11:33 AM I finally caught a break: an engineer candidate that found our ad on Careerbuilder came in to apply. He was a Caucasian male, in his 50s, dressed neatly with a tie, and was very well spoken. We made small talk about the weather, and then about his work experience. He had worked for Exxon, Shell, Diamond and a host of other companies on contract assignments. 2008 came and with it a bad economy that destroyed tons of jobs, including his. In 2009 he started an engineering consulting firm, and said he had a lot of success up until recently. His resume was in order, and he had brought copies of his degree, certifications, and whatnot. All seemed to be going so well, until I asked him the question, “do you have anything in your background that I should know about before I submit your resume to clients?”
“Well,” he replied, “I did have a domestic abuse charge in 2008, but I served my time and I’m ready to go back to work.”
“Ok,” I answered. “And that’s it, right?”
“Oh yes sir, I’m clean as a whistle after that,” he chimed in with a smile.
I ran his background through a service we use that does a national criminal background screen. I figured he was lying about his criminal career, purely on the basis that a domestic charge is usually just a misdemeanor, and the time served is rarely more than a few days to a month or so. We chewed the fat for a bit longer until “BOOM!” his background popped up on my computer screen. 1 Assault on Family Member – Impeding Breath, 1 Sexual Assault – Minor Age 12, and 1 charge of Child Pornography on his Computer. When challenged on these facts, he gave me a very long and drawn out story of how his wife misunderstood what he and their daughter were doing, in a room alone naked, and that she hit him and that he pinned her against the wall not realizing that he was choking her. The daughter called 911, the cops arrested him, and it was all a big misunderstanding. Oh, and the child pornography was just some “art” that he downloaded. His wife left him and somewhere along the way he found Jesus, because of course he did. I thanked him for his time and asked him to leave. He extended his hand out to shake mine, but I declined, I try not to engage in any physical contact with pedophiles as a general rule of thumb.
Lunch time occurred at 1 PM and it involved a variety of activities. I ate my hot pocket (pepperoni pizza style, the suspense was killing you. I could tell) and other assorted snacks. Had my daily ration of caffeine, and watched a bit of Saturday Night Live on my iPhone. Got up, stretched and had a lovely walk around the building, where I got to witness one couple (2 dudes, yay diversity) making out in a car and one couple (a girl and a guy) screaming at each other at the top of their lungs in Spanish. I couldn’t tell you a whole lot about the verbal altercation, but apparently the guy was a not being all he could be (his man card was likely being revoked), because the girl kept calling him a “puto.” I may not have known a lot of Spanish, but I knew enough to know you don’t ever want to be called that. I called my wife shortly after that, and we discussed the normal topics, love, the kids, plans, stuff that happened, our ever dwindling budget (which was non-existent these days), etc. My lunch drew to a close and I headed back to my desk.
At 2:09 PM a guy came by the office today to put in an application. I asked him a few pre-qualification questions and hit a huge snag on the criminal background. He told me that had just gotten out of jail after 20 years confinement for a Murder charge, but that it was in self defense and that the family of the victim had a high power lawyer destroy him in court. He told me that he feared for his life from the man attacking him and that he had to do what he had to do to survive the experience. Now, imagine my surprise when I pulled up his criminal charges and subsequently dug up this news article about his alleged “self defense” Murder case. Give it a read, then run to the bathroom and vomit. You’re welcome. Welcome to my job…
3:27 PM saw the office get a call from a client, they needed 4 general labor employees for a 2 day assignment – 8 hours each day, $8.00 per hour, by 4 PM that day. If they did not receive their 4 bilingual men (did I fail to mention that they only wanted bilingual men only – which is a not so subtle code that means no black men) by 4 PM that day, not to bother sending any men, that they would use another staffing service going forward. Can’t send 3 or 2, if I did not get them 4 men on the job site in 33 minutes I could kiss this account goodbye. Fun fact, I have never done this client wrong before: I have always successfully dispatched employees when they’ve asked me to, taken PPE gear out to the job site, and had even taken the supervisors to lunch not long before this. I must have made 40+ phone calls in the span of 10 minutes or less, but somehow I filled the order: 4 bilingual men ready to work at the job site, but get this: the supervisor that put the order in wasn’t there. After attempted calls to this guy went unanswered for 20 minutes, I nearly cancelled my boys, when finally the supervisor called. He got held up in traffic, but would be there in 15 minutes. This guy doesn’t show up until 5:30 PM, and then only works my employees for 45 minutes and then sends them home. When I asked him, “what’s up with that?”
“I just needed a few guys to help me clear some debris from the shop today. Thanks!” He responded as he hung up the phone abruptly. So much for those 2 days of full 8 hour shifts, eh? But I digress, it’s just how this business goes. Kinda depressing if you stop to think about too much.
It was Yabba-Dabba-Do time, and off to my car I went. I have a tradition, for a brief moment after each day, I sit quietly in my car and reflect on the day’s events. This normally ended with me half laughing and half crying as I kicked the engine to the car on and drove home. In those final moments before I pull into my driveway at home, I tell myself, “I’ll find something better soon,” but I’ve been saying that for years now. I end my work day, with the hope that the fateful call from an employer that I have sent a resume to will happen the next day. Gotta still have some hope written on my face before I go in to see my wife and kids. Gotta smile, ‘cuz I can’t bring that shit home with me. Gotta tough it out for the time being. It’ll get better. Things will fall into place soon. Yeah, that’s the ticket. Smile! It’s time to walk through the door and be the loving father/husband with no worries. I can do this. I must do this… I always do.