Prompted replies for 30DBC, Journalistic Intentions, et al.
|September 18 Prompt: Take us through a day in your life at your job/career. Talk about some of the more important responsibilities you have as well as what your major tasks entail. It’s always interesting to see how others work.
The best answer to this prompt requires us to talk that bespectacled pet boy, Sherman, into getting the key to the Wayback Machine without waking up Mr. Peabody (who would undoubtedly bark up a storm and forbid usage of said time machine, all the while quoting some obscure parable or phrase and turning it into a cringeworthy pun worthy of I'm A GrueSum1). Nine years ago, I worked in the Mail Room of a financial services company. On most days, an abundance of frenetic activity was front-loaded into the morning and early-afternoon hours, with the rest of the day being relatively calm. However...
Perhaps you've heard of 'Triple witching', the simultaneous expiration of stock options, stock index futures, and stock index options contracts all on the same trading day. Those days are the third Friday of March, June, September and December. The companies that make Pepto Bismol, Maalox, Mylanta, etc. probably love these days, as they almost guarantee ridiculously-high levels of stress-induced stomach acid in stock traders with concomitant purchases of said remedies. Our company's version was the actual end of each calendar quarter, as that's when monthly and quarterly statements, along with their various inserts, would be generated in the tens of thousands.
The set-up: To ensure the highest level of 'fun' is described in the following passage, we're going to assume a) it's the first workday of January, b) it's my week to be in early (no later than 7:00am), and c) I'm not taking the car for some reason.
Wake-up call is at 0430 hours, followed immediately by a trip to the window to confirm the sidewalks and streets are still covered with snow. Check. Shaving and dressing operations follow, with a planned departure time of 5:00-5:05am to get to the bus stop three-fourths of a mile away by 5:35am. Leaving later than 5:05am will require at least some jogging. I've left as late as 5:15am, which required jogging the entire way. Fortunately, the initial third of the distance is level and the remainder is downhill. I catch the bus, stay awake in the toasty bus for the next half hour, and then enjoy a crisp quarter-mile walk to the office through mostly drifted and unplowed snow. Although the cold and piles of snow motivate me to walk quickly, I can't arrive too early, as it's frowned upon.
I arrive at the loading dock, tap my access card at the door, go in and start hitting the lights. Since it's the first workday of the month, the postage meters have to be read; there's a small trick to it. Since it's also a new year, however, there's a slightly different trick. Everything works as it should, I record the numbers in the logs and move on. I move around the room, making sure there are boxes of the various sizes of envelopes we'll need available for use. Now it's time to put the coat and gloves back on, grab the keys to the minivan (mail truck) and the ice scraper snow brush for the trip to the post office and early-mail pickup. This usually consists of at least two corrugated plastic buckets and two or three mail trays.
Back in the mail room, I greet the rest of the crew and hand off the mail to be sorted: checks, statements and investment instructions to be scanned and processed, and other mail to be delivered. Then it's back to the truck and off to pick up our FedEx and UPS packages, which also contain checks, etc., and back to the Mail Room for processing. As I open the loading dock door, I'm greeted by the clackety-clackety-clack of the inserters and metering machines. This is a good thing. If we can hear ourselves think, and communicate without shouting, we all know something's wrong.
There are wheeled three-tier carts with four-foot wide shelves everywhere, all loaded with statements. Waiting to be added to the mix are the special items we process for the State of Colorado. They're vouchers, they're printed on one of three kinds of special stock - and they have to be perfect. The pressure's on to clear the rolling carts, as there are more statements waiting in Print Ops. So, they get staged at the appropriate machine, moved around sorted, stuffed and packed into outgoing mail trays and buckets. These are then loaded into tall metal cages that will eventually make their way to the loading dock for the regular mail guy to pick up. It's like a mail-based habitrail of people and carts going this way and that.
Eventually, 5:00pm approaches and we shut down for the day. At least eight metal cages loaded with statements are awaiting pick up; the UPS driver will have his or her own little bundles of joy, as well. The few FedEx packages will go in the dropbox located down the street. I'm happy to drop them in on my way to the bus stop and a toasty ride home. I'm not especially looking forward to that final trek, though. Although the high school maintenance guy will have plowed their sidewalks with their riding lawnmower cum snowplow, you can't count on the residents to have done the same. Ah, well.
The insanity lasts about four days; the snow, somewhat longer.