Reconsidering harshness

In the craziness of the work program, there were two sort of interesting days that didn’t get mentioned here… but sort of fit in with the work stuff going on.

The first one actually starts a few years back, working full time for a call center.

When training had ended, I was somewhat disappointed to find out that the majority of our training class had been split between two of the teams… with only me and one other person each having a different team.

As it turned out, my team was the best team in the center, regularly winning the contests no matter which stat they chose to base it on, and was one of the very top teams in the company. We were often the test people when they decided that they wanted to try something different to improve speed.

About six months in, at a random team meeting, there was a discussion of the team losing some members lately… and the team lead happened to mention that we’d be getting 2 new members from the training class that started the next week.

Wait, he knew that already? Yup. He knew because our placement on his team hadn’t been random, or made by space available, or decided by performance in training. We’d been selected for the team back before we were even actually hired, based on our scores on the application testing. From the logic and reasoning tests that’d seem to have no real relevance other than to weed out the really clueless ones, and on the typing test.

The tests that’d seem overly simple during the training had basically just been to prove we’d been trained. We’d already been picked to go to the star team by that point, even though nobody had told us that.

I remember feeling a bit amazed… and seeing a lot of parallels between the feelings that came from knowing we’d been chosen beforehand and being one of the ones known before the world began to be a chosen child.

I’d long since forgotten about that day. I’d had a really rough time with the company after tendonitis in my wrists had made them hurt really bad, and had battles constantly with stats in spite of doctor paperwork that should have made them no longer an issue.

So the last 6 months I’d worked there hadn’t gone well.

So back to the current day… and in a discussion with someone on the work program about experience, we figure out that we both actually worked for that call center at the same time. I actually remember their name being one of the other team leads… because they have a somewhat unusual name… but where I was not on their team, it’s unlikely we ever actually had much contact unless it was in the lunchroom.

And so they ask me who my team lead was… and I tell them… and they seem impressed, and start asking questions about my stats and ranking and such. Suddenly I remember that team meeting.

And I also remember… that before my wrist issues started coming into play, my ranking was always high… usually in the top 5 on my team… and several times I was on the top 100 (out of about 6000 in the company) on quality checks.

Funny how I got so focused on the way things turned out that I forget that things hadn’t always been that way.

So I explained a bit to the person what had happened… and they asked if I’d tried switching to another team where they wouldn’t be hurt by the stats as much.

That thought had never once come to my mind.

But it does actually make a lot of sense that they would have been giving me a harder time on the stats even with the doctors orders because I was on one of their star teams… one of the ones they watched closely on pilot tests.. rather than a team where my slower stats would have been closer to normal.

They then mentioned their team average.

Which turned out to be slower than my bad performance when things were going poorly.

All that I could say was that I’d wished they had told me that back then!

The second incident came a couple of weeks after the first.

I got a random summons to court… in a small town an hour away from here where I haven’t been since grade school… regarding a case from when I was a dispatcher in a town about half an hour from there.

Over 5 years earlier!

I grumbled a bit… but mostly everyone said it was likely to be something where I’d just have to vouch for my signature or that nobody else had my log in code on something that I’d entered into records.

So I called the day before court, hoping I would find out I didn’t have to go. Nope, I was needed.

So I make the drive… and arrive in the courtroom to find it empty except for one person working on a computer. I verify at the office that I have the right spot.

After a rather weird ten minutes or so, a lawyer arrives… and introduces himself. He knows who I am without my telling him.

And it turns out, this all stems back to an email I’d sent.

You see, I worked second shift, which was often really busy, so it was usually easier to email all of the officers to give them an FYI about something, rather than catch all of the officers as they came through and count on them to pass it on to other shifts like the other dispatchers usually did.

On this particular occasion, there had been a traffic related call out at the lake that was part of our territory, but several miles from town. Since the officers were busy, one of the lake staff, who have no real authority other than a flashing light and ability to ban from the lake, had pulled the person over instead.

They had called me and given me the tag number and license number over the phone… so that I could check them, and basically just give him a yes or no as to whether we needed him to keep the person there and send an officer out.

They came back ok, so we didn’t.

Shortly afterwards, I’d gotten a call from the city where the court papers were from. One of their county dispatchers had heard our radio giving out the info about the traffic issue… and as it happens, their city had been looking for the same style of vehicle for a major incident that had happened at their lake the day before… but they’d had no tag info, and only a physical description of the driver.

So I called back out to our lake, to see if the guy was still there. He wasn’t, but only then did the lake staff person tell me that they’d banned him for the day because they’d had some incidents happen earlier with him…. that were similar to the ones the other city had dealt with (when I hadn’t told him what the other city had said), but not yet pushing the point of illegal, so they hadn’t called us.

And so… I called back to the other city… told them what our lake staff had said, and gave them the info that we had.

From that, they’d been able to get drivers license photos and do a photo line-up, and have all of the victims identify the person we’d stopped as being the one that they’d had the incident with just two days before.

And so, they’d managed to go from only having a description to having physical description and car to try and solve this major issue… to knowing the exact suspect information and having the victims identify them… using the information they’d gotten from us.

So, the guy had apparently fled, and was just now being brought back to the area for his first trial… to show there was enough evidence to do the full jury trial.

And that’s where my email came into the picture.

After I’d gotten off the phone with the officer in the other city, I’d sent out a long, very detailed email to all of the officers who worked on the street… letting them know to keep an eye out for the vehicle.

I gave them all of the tag and drivers license info, his name and physical description from the drivers license… the descriptions that the other city had given me… the officer i’d spoken to there… what they said had happened… the person i’d talked to at our lake… the information about the traffic stop… the information about what they’d said had happened earlier… and the names of the lake staff that’d had contact with him that day.

The sort of email that I’d get teased about the length by one of the other dispatchers who usually just passed on the basics verbally to her shift.

But, in my attempt to give my officers anything they might need to know to followup if we had any more problems with them, I’d ended up making the perfect, well documented paper trail for the court in the other city. Names and details that wouldn’t have been on the record otherwise, because we technically didn’t have much of a record with him… all we’d done was stop him to warn him about a traffic violation by someone who couldn’t have even given him a ticket for it if they’d wanted to. Phone calls were recorded, but only kept for a certain time unless they were known to be needed for something.

And so, after asking me if I remembered anything else that I hadn’t written in the email (5 years later? lol), the lawyer left me by myself in the courtroom again for about 5 more minutes. As it turned out, shown the email and told that the dispatcher who’d written it was present, the suspect decided to change his plea and not go through the trial to show that there was a reason to have a jury trial.

The lawyer thanked me for coming, and went on about how he owed me, etc.

And then, less than half an hour after I’d arrived, I was on the way back home… somewhat amused, somewhat amazed.

And realizing that if the other primary dispatchers had taken that series of calls on their shift, that the man would have probably had a much different case…. especially had it actually gone to trial and it made the difference whether or not the staff who’d had contact with him would have been known.

But the part that hit me a bit was the date.

That email was written within a couple on months of the end of my working there.

Putting it smack dab in the middle of the small town politics that would eventually end my job… and well into the time when I’d reached the point of realizing it would be ending before the end of that year.

Through my time with that job, I’d often found myself fighting tears at staff meetings over the petty politics and jabs at each other. And yet, at the last one I’d had, which would have been within a few weeks of this email, I found that I’d reached the point that I no longer cared anymore. It no longer phased me in the slightest to be warned for handling a call the way that I’d been told to do so by my supervisor but which was different than the supervisor of another shift wanted it handled. (There was no actual written protocol on this issue)

Looking back I probably would have given my effort and performance during that time about a C. Passing, getting the job done… but beyond the point where there was any illusion that anything I did was going to make things better.

But, with the call center discussion fresh in mind… I’m wondering if I’m being overly harsh and critical over myself.

Was my performance the best at either job at the end? No. Neither one considered at the end would be something I’m proud of.

But I think sometimes I’m focusing on that… and forgetting there were plenty of other times that I did really well at both jobs.

It’s really easy to write them both off as messes… but I’m starting to see that maybe they weren’t as bad as I thought they were.

Not my best, but maybe in the ok zone after all.


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