When the message keeps repeating.
My first day was as loaded as a neborn's diaper. I had been at the shop since 2pm, and around 5:45 my new bosses walked in. "Oh I am SOOOO sorry! It was such a nice day out and I knew that if Bill didn't get the Christmas lights up while it was nice out, we'd NEVER get them up. So we dragged all of the decorations out..." Laura continued to narrate her afternoon while pacing from room to room. When the phones weren't ringing, I would organize the pens, highlighters and note pads at the computer station I was at. The chair was so uncomfortable that even when I shifted positions, I couldn't find a sweet spot to get comfortable in.
I was picking things up, learn-as-you-go style. There wasn't a manual or check list to follow. The phones would ring, I would answer them, and if I had any questions, I would put the caller on hold and ask someone in the office. "How much do we charge for a 2010 Ford Escape in the ditch," I chimed. "Where is it located," a female voice in the office asked. "Sir, where are you located?" It felt like a stupid game of telephone, because it was. But I guess that's how I was going to learn.
The female boss, Laura, seemed nice and friendly, yet unorganized. Her desk was a flowing river of paper, her computer screen was decorated in half-sized post-it notes, and her out loud stream of conciousness was annoying. I could tell I wasn't going to like her way of doing things, but we really need the money, so I was going to stick this job out. Angela, the office manager, had gone home at 5. It was only me and the other new girl, Callie, dispatching the drivers. Callie had three weeks on me, which included the joy of sitting in the back office, accompanied by Bill, the male owner. Bill didn't talk much but he knew a lot about Towing.
He was a Tow company successor; His Grandfather and Father had owned a few Tow companies in Bill's lifetime. This made him pretty handy when it came to dispatching the drivers. Way more helpful than when Laura would sit in the back room. Laura only knew how to match cities up next to each other on the map, and ask incriminating questions over the CB radio. "Why are you coming back with one vehicle on your truck," she beeped over. A rough, younger male voice chirped back "I told you guys earlier, the Volvo wasn't towable. I had to flat bed the Pontiac and the Volvo had front and rear wheel damage." Laura slapped her hands down on the desk and order sheets jumped up into the air. "Jeff was in the area. He could have flat bedded the Volvo and towed the Toyota." As far as I was concerned, everyone was speaking another language. What the hell did towable mean? Maybe one of the drivers could tell me when they came back from the Auto Auction.
Meanwhile, I had learned to enter order sheets into the Ranger database on the computer. Basically, I was retyping orders that were faxed to us, into a database that showed up on the electronic tablets in the tow driver's trucks. This seemed like double the work but for some reason, it allowed for a "paperless" tax credit. Paperless is not how I would describe the office, but whatever. Logistics, right?
Around 7:30pm, Callie asked Bill and Laura if she could go have a cigarette. I hadn't gotten up from entering orders all day, and I felt like I wanted to chain smoke a pack of my own. I refrained, wanting to keep mine for the ride home. It wasn't an enjoyable day, why spend one of my enjoyable smokes? I was counting down the minutes to 8'oclock.
"So, what do you think?" Laura asked me. "I try not to think, Laura. I really need the money." Hey, I was being honest. She laughed and smiled. Okay, we'll see you tomorrow then.
To be continued...