Communication Is Over-rated

May 18, 2011 at 8:29 PM | Posted in The Corporate World | Leave a comment
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I just got a phone the other day–I’d been without one for almost a month.  I’m working only one job, and that is not enough to pay the bills, bro.  I need to be looking for a new part time job.
And ye cannah do that without a phone.  Because what if you successfully lie to someone enough that they’re willing to hire you?  They’ll want to call me.
That’s…really all I have on that.
Meanwhile, my day job has been a bit of a drag.  It’s complicated and I’m not sure wherein the blame lies; however, I do know that I am working more and making less money.
I’m making less in two ways:  first, my “bonus”–my incentive–is not what it was before.  I’ve tracked it for the last few years, and it’s been averaging between three and four hundred clams per month.  Since I’ve been doing actual shipping in the shipping department, my incentive be different and I’ve made a (very) little over a hundred.  That’s *one* hundred.
Not only that, but I’ve been working harder–I’ve been actually working, compared with what I had been doing the past six years.  Look, before, my job was essentially this:  I get stacks of paper, I put them in the scanner, I click a button.  I enter some data in the appropriate fields.  Repeat.
Endlessly repeat.
Now Bunny is my boss again, and she promised me–no, she told me…no, maybe she vaguely hinted at the possibility of more money doing this other thing.
Let me explain briefly (if I can do it briefly):
I work in the mortgage division.  There are distinct sections, departments, that handle various phases of the loan process that always go like clockwork.  Origination, underwriting, processing, and closing.  Then there is the post-closing area, of which I am a part.  After closing loans go to pre-shipping–I still don’t know what the hell that is–and then shipping.  Me.  Well, me and a few others.  We ship the loans.
Why?  And where?  Well, the way we make money is we originate the loans with the intention of selling them to other investors.  The big ones are Bank of America, Chase, Wells, and BB&T.  After the loan closes, the clock is ticking.  Hell, after the loan LOCKS, the clock is ticking.  After it is closed and funded and the deal is done and people have their keys and they are moving into their dream home–we have work to do.  We have to get the loan to the investor and we have a limited amount of time to do it.
First we take the loan apart, pretty much page by page, and re-assemble it in a more astheticallly pleasing manner, called the stacking order.  And each investor has their own particular stacking order.
And there are other things along the way–check things off, verify information, print out certain docs, fill out paperwork.  Then we send them to the investor.  For the smaller outlets, we re-stack it, scan it into our file system, re-hole punch it, and ship via overnight UPS the entire loan package.  The others–most of them–we scan in, convert to PDF, and send electronically.  Of course, we still physically ship the live note overnight to them.
By the way, the average size of a file is almost 400 pages.  Most are in the 300+ range, and some are 600 pages.
So how many can one person do in a day?  That’s the crux of the situation, the heart of the matter.  How many can I do in an 8-hour day?
How many can I do in an 8-hour day when I’m busting my ass, and taking care of my other side jobs, such as ordering supplies and maintaining equipment?
When people say they work in a fast-paced office environment, what they mean is what I do.  I am quite literally working at a dead run for most of the day.
And I’m new to this.  Not new here, but new in this job.  When I first started, I was lucky to finish four or five loans in a day.  I’ve gotten faster–I had to get faster–but yesterday, for instance, we three that do the regular loans had ten each.  Me, Blair, and Kimmy.  (Serena is now in shipping also, and she does complex packages like Rurals and MHDCs, so she can do no more than five a day because they take so long.)  So we each had ten.  We have to really hump.  Kimmy is faster than both Blair and I; she’s been doing this for five years, and Blair for one year.  Me, three months now.
Long about noon Melissa, our direct manager, comes by with some good news:  We are each getting two more loans.  As an added bonus, it’s going to be like this for the rest of the month–shipping as much as we can–and no, no overtime is allowed.  As a collective, the wind just came out of sails.
There is a certain time of day when you want to be done stacking, and hopefully be done scanning and on your way to importing and PDFing (yeah, we made up that word.  That time is about 3pm.  It takes time to import them, and it takes time to convert the docs to PDF, and it takes time to ship them electronically.  We have a hella fast internet connection, but uploading takes longer than downloading.  And these files are large.  Converting it to PDF takes the longest amount of time, because, again, these files are large.

I have already put in a lot of hours for free.  Overtime was cancelled because we are “slow.”  We don’t seem that slow to me.  Other departments are slow, but they haven’t really lost a lot of people.  Our department lost people–all of our temps–and they throw more work on us.
My good friend Bunny is the boss, but she has pressure from her BOSS.  We need to perform, and do it cheaply.  They have us do all these extra things as they change operations.  Each time they say, “Oh, well that doesn’t really add much time to what you’re doing.”
But it does.
And–they remember all the things they’ve done to make our job easier and quicker (and I have no idea what those things are), and they exaggerate their estimation of how much time that saves us.
No overtime.
Last night, we were all at work until after seven pm.  For Kimmy, a ten-hour day.  For Blair and Serena, 11 hours.  For me, 12 hours.  I came in at 7, knowing I had ten files and I wanted to get a jump on it.
If things go smoothly, you can stack and prep a file in…20 to 30 minutes.
It hardly ever goes smoothly.  If something is missing or wrong or odd, you have to find someone, contact someone, fix it, figure it out, make adjustments.  Contrary to what managers think, this shit takes time.
This stuff has to go by a certain date.  But also, each day the loan stays is worth money, depending on many variables and beyond my knowledge at this point.  Every day  a loan stays in our house means money, but sometimes it is for us rather than against us.  Still, they want them out as fast as they–we–can get them right now.  Bunny’s boss has put unrealistic expectations on her because–she says–he wants her to fail.
So she pushes those unrealistic expectations on us, with a no-excuses attitude.

Here’s my problem:  She’s my friend.
I feel that they–management–have created an adversarial relationship between us and them.  They feel that we aren’t working hard enough, we are slacking, and every one us is a lazy pathetic slug looking to rip the company off.  Therefore they have to retaliate and defend themselves and make us work harder to offset the ridiculous amounts of money they pay us just to break even.
They haven’t–they won’t listen to us about what we are dealing with.  No excuses, get it done.  What if we can’t get it done without going into overtime?  Work faster.
But what if we already are?  What then?  No answer.
I’m going to work 50 hours this week, and get paid for 40.  And get ripped off on my incentive, because it is also tied to mistakes.  If we work faster, we’ll make mistakes.  What is the point of working harder?  And right now especially, I could use the money overtime would bring.  I’m dying over here.
I’d like to know that they at least appreciate what we’re doing–but I don’t see that happening.
Bunny is my friend.  I love her dearly.  But right now I don’t like her very much.  I wish I could tell her.

Sweet Dreams Are Made Of Cheese II

May 18, 2011 at 7:36 PM | Posted in Journal | Leave a comment
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I was driving a big bus.  I got off of it with everyone else, and we all headed toward the entrance.
I went to this big outdoor concert/festival with a group of people, but almost immediately I was separated from them and on my own.  I wandered around and saw many people all over this fairground.  I went to the hill, kind of an Indian mound.  People were doing lots of different things, like at a fair.  There was someone doing some DJing, and people selling shirts.
But I got back to the bus—one of the guys I started hanging out with was going to pull off a major crime using the bus, so I took it before he could get his hands on it.  I drove it from behind the school—the fairground was behind the school—up to Bellefontaine Road.  By then the top came off and I was driving a convertible bus.   Then I drove back through town, through the very hilly streets and went back behind the school.  I was waiting for someone.
Mark the drummer came by and he grabbed the gun from the glove box.  I tried to talk him out of taking it, but he insisted he knew what he was doing, and he needed it to get the 53 dollars he owed me.  I relented, and tried to give him three pieces of advice as he walked away.  I told him to always make sure the gun is loaded, and throw it away if you kill someone with it.  I couldn’t remember the third thing, but he was too far away by then anyway.  He had been brandishing it, but when some cars came driving up, he stashed the weapon.
He was gone, and I walked back across the gravel parking lot to the grassy ball field where the concert was.  There were many buildings at the fairgrounds, and I went into the bar.  I didn’t work there exactly, but I was helping the owner out.  He had hired some talent to come in for the evening but he was unclear on the details.
I was on the main floor trying to locate the talent.  Carrot Top shows up (I swear I am not making this part up).  I showed him where to change, and he goes into the little bathroom under the stairs.  He is taking too long, so I knock on the door.  He lets me in and continues with what he is doing.  He is in drag and applying makeup.  When he sees my expression, he says it is part of his show, in connection with his new DVD.
I sigh and leave—I have to find the owner.  I go upstairs to the VIP room.  I see a few people I know in there.  I tell the owner that Carrot Top is here.  He says, “Just great.  We already got a replacement for him.”  He sends someone out to find the replacement act to let them know they were getting bumped.  Someone else says to the owner, “Why not have them open for Carrot Top?  It’ll make the show longer.”
Everyone agrees that this is a good idea, making the show longer.
The owner sends me out to tell Carrot Top there is an opening act, but first he asks me—apparently this is important to him—“What time did Carrot Top get here?”  I remember specifically looking at the clock when I saw him, and it was 7:45.
I went back outside to see more of the concert out there, and then I went into the lower level of this block-style building.  The lower level was all bathroom with lots of people milling around, and it was shaped like a short maze.  Each short segment of wall had two or three urinals or sex fetish stalls.  In front of me a guy in an open stall was wearing a disposable breathing mask.  He wasn’t using the urinal because it was clogged.
Just then a door behind me opened and a cute girl came out with a bowl of water.  She dumped it in the urinal, and went back and got another bowl.  While doing this she splashed the guy waiting in there, and he got mad and left.
I started to chat with her and her friend.  They decided they wanted to go back outside to the rest of the show, so I took off my shirt and followed them.
Outside in the crowd I lost them, but I found myself back on the hillside again.   My shirt was in a pile of other shirts and mixed with cords and other sound equipment.  I had my back to the stage as I looked for my shirt.
Just then a song started up, the band started and some of the crowd was singing with them.  I heard the words they were singing:  “Put on your shirt and make some tea!”
The crowd repeated the line.  The guy next to me said, “Hey, man, they’re singing about you.”
I turned around to look and I heard, “That’s right, turn around, put your shirt on, and make some tea!”  The audience repeated that line also.
Then I turned completely around, and from my vantage point on this Indian Mound, I could see the stage very far away, and yet the singer had singled me out.  The rest of the band was normal, but the drummer was a large, Jabba-the-Hut-sized fat dude.
The singer sang another line to me:  “Yeah, you, fat boy—put on your shirt and make some tea!”
From as far away as I was, I yelled back them, “No, I’m not going to make any tea!” but my voice was crackling and it seemed muffled.  How could they hear me?
They say the line again to me, adding some other insults.  I tried twice to yell back, but I couldn’t.  Finally, my voice worked, and I sang it out loud and strong:  “NO!  I won’t make you any tea!”
And I heard myself say “NO!” and I woke myself up.

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