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Vector

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that any city with public transit also provides service for people who, due to old age or medical or mental issues, would be unable to ride an ordinary bus.

Vector is a nationwide company which contracts with local transit agencies to run that 'short bus' service, for the disabled and seniors. Anywhere you see a mini-bus loading someone onto a wheelchair lift, the branding on the bus will be local, but it's probably Vector.

Seattle's Metro Transit didn't want to buy a second fleet of buses with all the hassles inherent in that, so they hired Vector, and effective last Monday, Vector has hired me.

My job is answering calls, arranging pick-up and delivery times for disabled folks going to and from the doctor, the movies, shopping, a ball game, whatever. 

The call center is downtown, near the International District. It's in an old, shabby building, perhaps remodeled before I was born. There's only one tiny elevator, which takes 22 seconds to rise three stories, and after it's stopped, another five seconds for the door to open. Next to the elevator, there was once an ash tray, now just faded screw-holes in the wall. The men's room is all chipped tile and stained, old-fashioned sinks and toilets, plus fascinating stains on the floor.

The call center, though, is just a big room full of of phones, and I'm not even there yet. I'm stuck in a generic training room.

♦ ♦ ♦

On my first day, it was me and two other new hires — a middle-aged black woman named Miranda, and a 20-year-old white doofus named Skip. Miranda is smart and quiet, and Skip is loud, jokes around a lot, and catches on slow. I like Miranda.

For our first two days of training, we sat and watched videos explaining how great the company is, and going over all of the company's policies. Four different videos mentioned that Vector is like a family, and never once did I snicker.

Skip left the family on Thursday. He didn't say anything; simply went to lunch and didn't come back. That's a good sign, right? If the annoying guy doesn't like the job, maybe I will.

Vector is the same outfit I worked for (very briefly) in summer of 2022, so all the videos were the same videos I'd seen a year and a half ago. My favorite remains their ridiculous scare montage about the dangers of drugs, a half-hour flick very nearly on par with Reefer Madness.

Another video explained the dress code, and I'm in violation every day, by wearing sweatpants instead of slacks. I've been wearing sweats for years, don't even own any slacks, but my sweatpants are black, so nobody's noticed.

Also, jackets are OK, but not hoodies, which is stupid, and possibly racist. This is Seattle, so I need my hoodie for the rain. Screw the dress code, at least until management says something.

Our instructor is a middle-aged white woman named Kathy, who's plugged in her green keyboard and green mouse at the training console, has a green coffee mug, and wears a different mostly-green ensemble every day, including a green watch, green glasses, and green ribbons in her hair, which, surprisingly, isn't green. She giggles a lot and added "What's Kathy's favorite color?" as a question on one of the quizzes.

Kathy is a kook so I like her, but she's teaching us how to do a job she's never done. When she's not in the rookie-room, she works in the Dispatch Department, answering drivers' questions. That's sorta similar to taking riders' calls, but also completely different. Her only experience with what Miranda and I (but not Skip) will be doing in the Appointments Department is that she sat through training with the previous class of new hires for Appointments. 

Dunno why, but that's the way it's been with training at most jobs I've had. The teacher usually isn't someone who does the job and knows the work. Ask Kathy a complex question, and she'll say, "In Dispatch, we do blah blah blah, but I'm not sure how you'll handle that."

And I don't know whether she knows it, but often when Kathy says 'Dispatch', she actually says 'Displatch'. It's amusing.

Same as every training session anywhere, the electronics in the training room malfunctions reliably. The video Kathy wants to show us won't play, or the PowerPoint neither powers nor points, and she keeps getting kicked out by the software. Etc.

I get kicked out a lot, too. They wanted us to install the company's employee app on our smart phones, but I don't have a smart phone, and if I did there'd certainly be no company software on it.

The 'workaround' for this 'problem' is that the system texts a code to my phone every time I need to log in to any of the three programs I'll be using. But we're automatically logged out after ten minutes of inactivity — at every break, and at lunch — and of course every time the software crashes — so it's a dozen texts daily.

And it doesn't work. When I try logging in, the system says it'll send a code, and it does, and when I input that code, it says it'll send another code, and it does… Kathy opened a ticket with IT, but they're stumped.

It's rubbish, and I stupidly said so, which the IT guy didn't seem to appreciate.

♦ ♦ ♦

So it's a job, with stupidities and annoyances like any other job.

There's a clock on the wall in the training room, but it's broken — always it's 4:45. The entire first week nobody even mentioned it, and I hope no-one does. It's apropos, ain't it? Almost art. Instead of telling time, the clock says, You'll never get out of here.

But that's fine with me. I needed a job, and hope this one lasts.

12/23/2023   

2 comments:

  1. Congrats on your new job, Doug...I'm happy for you.

    - Zeke Krahlin

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Zeke. *So far* it seems like a job I might not hate, and that's the best anyone can hope for.

      Delete

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