So it’s Friday. I’m supposed to have something posted today. That schedule thingy and all. I…I have nothing. I’m literally staring at a blank screen right now trying to figure out what to write about.
Part of the ‘schedule’ (that isn’t really a schedule) is to write a draft on Thursday. This is the ‘official schedule’ and it’s an unwritten rule that I can work on a blog post earlier in the week if I want to. I didn’t, so I sat down yesterday to write a draft.
You ever write those posts that sort of have a purpose that your heart just isn’t into writing? I wanted to write about my training experiences last week and I couldn’t get into it. Maybe I was so worn out from the experience that I didn’t feel like getting into it again.
I guess I can recap that here a little. Big Boss wanted me to ‘help make a training plan’ about a month ago. Whatever, sure, I thought, I can totally help. But I’m me and it didn’t take long before I was whisked away into The Project, My Project, and made it stupidly detailed and stressed out over every damn detail of it. Was it good enough? Did it accomplish the goals Big Boss wanted? Was it going to be useful? Was it too detailed? Was it not detailed enough? After a week of STRESS and ANXIETY over it, it was finished.
(Note: My conspiracy theory about this is that Big Boss knows me so well that by asking me ‘to help’ she was well aware that I’d get carried away and make a stupidly detailed and thorough training plan all on my own, totally playing me like a pawn in a chess game. Can I prove this, no, but it’s a hard thought to banish.)
Naturally it’d be good if I could take the newbies and actually train them, after all I just literally wrote the training plan/schedule for them, but goddamn new people terrify me. I do great in small groups, two or three people, or larger groups with people I know (and by ‘know’ I mean warmed up to them over the course of two fucking years), but a group of strangers? Yikes. I agreed to take them before I could overthink and cower out. Jumping into a cold swimming pool is easier than slowly getting your feet wet, then your legs, then your hips, then your torso, and so on. Each little move deeper requiring the same painful adaptation to the water as the last. So I dove right in.
The post was going to be about what I learned while doing it but there’s so much to write about and I think it’d be boring. To sum up: it went better than expected. The plan fell apart after a few days (obviously) and I adapted to that well. The newbies I had weren’t really newbies and mostly knew the job (it was their third week at work); do I beat them over the head with common sense things for another week or let them actually work? Actually work, duh! By the end of the week we were like a scrappy little unofficial half crew, we didn’t have any real job assignment but we darted around doing small jobs that needed to be done and helped the real crews when they were struggling. The week slowly morphed from “Training Week” into “Introduction to The Twilight Shift Week” because that seemed about the most useful thing to do given the situation. The other two training groups, led by supervisors, kept to themselves and did a whole lot of mindless training for some reason.
The newbies seemed to like it! Another few lessons there: people actually like to work if it’s useful, meaningful, and you don’t baby them. People love when you have confidence in them and let them do their thing. The worst thing you can do when training someone is treat them like a five-year-old.
I also treated the week as a trial run for being a supervisor. My newbies didn’t know I was using them as Guinea pigs, at least at first. Despite being a union/hourly employee, Big Boss gave me free reign over my work week. She gave me a radio and said, “Go do whatever you need to do.” Okay, cool! At first it was awkward, I’m actually in charge of my day and these five employees?, but we eventually got into a flow. Strangely, they listened to me. I don’t have strong authority vibes but for some reason they actually did what I told them to do, even if I didn’t have any actual work authority over them. They could UPS-legally tell me to go fuck myself and walk away, but no one did. That was a very strange thing indeed.
There were a few other vague things I realized about authority and how it’s a much more softer thing than I imagined. If you’re a boss, it’s not like you’re a cop and can swing your massive authority dick around and force people to do what you want them to do. You can but that seems like the worst possible way to get someone to do anything. We have a few supervisors with this very militaristic view of chain-of-command and authority; they’re insufferable to deal with. People like working with someone, not under someone, and seeing yourself as a part of your team, not their boss, goes a long way. I don’t mean that in the generic, company tagline “Be a Team Player” way, but in a more direct and organic way. Even if I was training them and sort of in charge, we were all stuck in whatever task we were doing together. Even as a supervisor, your crew is still your crew and the job is still your job, you’re not lording over people who do your bidding or something. And if you treat your with respect they’re more likely to return the favor. As one of my old crew members said, “If you take care of us, we’ll take care of you.” He was kind of an asshole and it came across assholish, but damn he was onto something.
This week was a boring old week at work — I got to be a dumb and clueless employee again — and I was looking forward to it. Stupid me, it only took me three hours of boring work before I was, well, bored. Same complaints as before: feeling like a cog in a machine, that despite being a good worker I’m replaceable, and so on. I found that I missed the total chaos, anxiety, and purpose of the past week. Having control over your fate. Able to actually make some sort of a difference. Dealing with whatever challenge comes up in the day, and I love a good challenge! They suck, but they give you purpose, something to overcome. As I was sitting in the plane refreshing the little computer thingy work provided me waiting for something to do, what challenge was there? To survive the boredom? To do some forced mediation? Either way, it sucked, and I missed my hellish training week.
Next week, eh, who knows. One other thing I learned last week was to not be as anxious as I usually am. It’s like my anxiety was all used up and I couldn’t be anxious if I tried. You could’ve told me to give a presentation to a group of thirty people and I would’ve shrugged and said, “Well this kind of sucks, but oh well. Let’s do this.” Luckily this mindset has stuck around and my outlook for next week is just as laid back. I’ll see what happens on Monday. I could be a dumb employee again or I could be training. Whatever happens, happens. Eh…
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