Monday, February 20, 2012

First real jobs

The summer between graduating high school and beginning college was a very strange, transitional time.  I took a job with a temp agency, doing secretarial (2) work, mostly data entry.  Mom had ensured that all of us were decent typists, we kept Typing Tutor software on the computer and were encouraged to practice with it.  But there's nothing like spending a ~40-hour workweek typing to really hone that skill.

The first summer started with doing telephone surveys.  I got really good at using one hand to dial the phone, while the other used the number pad on the computer keyboard.  The regulars worked the evening shift, the temps worked the day shift.  The fax machines were the worst, hearing that beep-noise through the headphones.  Voicemails were okay, I didn't usually stay on for those.  There was one REALLY strange one I remember, though.  It used the taglines for Flintstones children's vitamins, but the voice made it sound like a horror movie.  Maybe half of the people I spoke to actually worked the night shift, I hated waking them up.  Telephone SALES people really annoy me.  But telephone survey people, I guess I have more sympathy for.

When that finished up, I switched to entering medical claims.  Learned a little about the diagnostic codes that doctors use, though I've forgotten most of that by now.  I became versatile, there were at least two or three different types of claims that I could enter, prescriptions were handled differently from doctor's visits.  That lasted most of the rest of the summer.

A few weeks before school started, they pulled the four of us who were going to college aside, and asked when we would need to leave.  Two started school a week earlier than I did, so they asked us all to stop the same week.  I called the temp agency, looking for something else to do that last week, so they worked on that. Meanwhile, somewhere somehow the supervisors liked what I was doing, and I let slip that I could stay another week.  They talked things over and pulled me aside, said I was one of their most productive temps, and I could stay that extra week.  But I couldn't tell anyone I was staying on, because the fourth student would not be kept.

Meanwhile, the temp agency did find something else for me to do over my last weekend.  So I spent that Saturday night at the local women's shelter.  Eighteen years old... I was VERY out of my league for that.  I showed up for the Sunday shift, and was relieved to discover that the regular employee was there after all.