Thursday, April 29, 2010

Not the head termite in charge.

I'm working for the 2010 Census. Yes, I'm one of those people who is figuring out which re-education camp you will be sent to when the Islamic Communist takeover of this beloved land of ours is complete.

Okay. Just kidding. The Census is a little sensitive about those sorts of jokes.

I'm sworn to secrecy about a lot of the work. I am allowed to say that I signed an agreement that for a few years, I will not work as a consultant for any party in any trade negotiations with a foreign government.

So, there's another employment page on Craigslist I can avoid.

I'm working in an office as a clerk. Almost everybody there is a temp and I don't even know who exactly in the office has seniority. I know who is above me on the org chart, and I have an idea of who knows what's going on, but the orders change on a regular basis.

I feel like I'm in a nest of social insects, like ants or bees or termites. I am given a task and I'm put someplace with other workers doing the same task. I check to see what they are doing and I do my best to blend in and get the job done. But if their training was incomplete and they aren't dotting all the i's and crossing all the t's they should, I will also blissfully do only part of the assignment and feel like I'm being productive, only to find out a little while later... not so much.

This is a completely different experience from teaching for me. If a department chair asks me to teach a class I've never taught before, I know exactly what to do. I get a syllabus, a check out the assigned textbook, try to find a few other texts to compare and contrast, maybe talk to some other professors about their experiences with the material, and by the time the class starts, I'm ready to go.

As an office worker, I resign myself to the situation that I am not the head termite in charge. I will do what I am asked to do and spot trouble when it I see it and send out the alarm as best I can. I may not know where we are going, but I can look at what other termite colonies have done in the past and take some comfort in the idea that somehow, the job gets done.


susan s. said...

Oh, this is great! You don't get to go out and knock on the scofflaw's doors, though, eh?

Anonymous said...

Termites? Thanks. Now I know who to blame here in Florida.

sfmike said...

I warned you. Being in the field is utter bliss after four months in that hellhole of an office. Good luck, little termite, and do make alliances with the people who seem to know what they are doing, or at least have figured out the best work-arounds in the censeless universe.

Matty Boy said...

I know my momma didn't raise me to be an office worker, but in the words of the dear departed Mina Millett, "I can stand anything for eight weeks."