Step Up Your Game

I remember a time about 7 months ago, when I would I hate coming to work. As I was told during training, “you just puke at the door and know you are going to get your ass kicked.” And a majority of the time that was the case, so much so it caused added pressure and stress on an already strenuous on the job training program.

Now, as we approach July, I have made great strides in my work ethic and performance. I am able to take on more responsibility, multitask as I once did at the airlines and be able to type and talk at the same time. But it has not been easy, as growing pains have taught valuable lessons, most of the time learning by my mistakes. Honestly, that has been the best way to learn, while causing the most problems, but it is all part of the job.

Sunday was one of those days, where your 80 minute rotation came and went and you noticed you had worked the entire system nonstop the entire time. This has been some of the best training, on the job, without the added pressure and stress I had during training. No extra eyes watching and scrutinizing your every decision and Monday morning quarterbacking every task.

As I was told, these are good days to work because you do have to “step up your game” in order to keep up with the system or else it will eat you alive. While I was a step or two behind the system I was able to keep all my trains moving, but the amount of radio traffic was unbelievable. Trains in every part of the system making inquiries, requesting information or routes, reading back instructions. But I did a fine job and had the satisfaction of knowing I did a good job.

Just four and a half more years and I think I will be settled in to the position. LOL!

Circle of Trust? Are you in or out?

I get tired of rambling on about work. I know we each lead different lives with different jobs and the things that occur in my position as “middle management” probably happens in many other companies. I had made a few observations that I cannot escape, such as those people in the “Circle of Trust” [stealing a line from the Fockers] and those outside it. Also, the fact that rarely are you complemented for doing a good job by your superiors.

Ah yes, the Circle of Trust, as I said you are either in it, or not. But there is also a gray area. I have never been inside the circle, unfortunately. At one time or another, I had the desire to be “in the circle” and maybe was in venturing into that gray area, but never was accepted. In the same position in Los Angeles I could just not break on through to the next level even though I was plenty capable and qualified to do the job. But when it came time to hire, HR turned to the “skirts” [yeah, I know its sexist, but its the truth]. Not one, not two, but three all in a row. I guess this was “diversity in action.” But the “capable” and “qualified” left a lot to be desired.

I left Los Angeles for supposed greener pastures in San Francisco. Initially, the doors were open and arms were wide. It felt good to know I had a clean slate and the possibility to advance within my company. Early on I had that chance, I studying and passed the interview [which was a huge plus in itself], but then was given the mixed news. The good news, I was a “successful candidate and passed the interview.” That was a good feeling, but I was not offered one of the two positions. The reason for not being selected as given to me by my manager, “Steve, many people don’t know you up here yet.” WTF? So who did they hire, some guy from Denver who was an unknown and a woman, who was more less given the job regardless of her interview. This information from a very reliable source and a previous manager [one of only a few I respect].

Again frustration set in, I was so close to getting in the circle I could taste it. But after the interview I was given the chance to temporarily “upgrade” to the manager position I had just interviewed for, but would not get on a full time basis. I accepted on the off chance there would be another opening in the future and I might be considered. That would not be the case due to lack of pay they were going to provide, which was only 10% [maximum] over what I currently make. I decided not to interview, as I felt it was not worth my time or effort. And because I did not look good in a skirt. As it happens they hired another female who happens to not only be in the circle, but on the “fast track.”

But I have accepted I am in a dead end job that will lead nowhere at the company, but what is even more frustrating is the fact that managers do not complement you for a job well done. The last few occurrences I have had with upper management have been all negative. Such as something you forgot, or did not do, or could have done differently. I guess next time at 2am when I have a situation arise I will take the time to call upper management and get their input before I make a decision. Unfortunately, that scenario is a bit absurd, I make decisions by myself on my shift, since I am the only one in the building.

Some of the other minor issues recently include the day and date not matching on an Excel report and the department manager wanted it fixed immediately when she had known about this for a week prior. The company manager wanting to know what I could have done to save [not cancel] some early, important flights in the morning. Of course he is ex-maintenance and does not want to point the finger at a department who still cannot do the job correctly. Information is the key! If I get good information from them, then I can make good decisions, but if that information is wrong or they don’t give me the full story, then we run into problems.

Again, this is not only concentrated on me, my job or position. Things of this nature occur in all companies, but the frustration level is at an all time high and I am doing my damnedest to get the hell out. With any luck, this could be my last month here and then I can really divulge all the happenings behind the scene. It is simply amazing at what goes on, or shall I say what they allow to go on that is considered standard operating procedure.

E-mail Idiots!

I am amazed at how many people at my employer do not know how to use e-mail. For example, we received mass e-mails from different people in certain departments. Well, some jackass hit “Reply To All” last week. Fortunately this e-mail was only for our station, but it generated a few hundred e-mails the first day. Later that day, here comes another e-mail from that same department saying, “DO NOT RESPOND TO ALL.” Well that started a second round of mass e-mailings!

I know I should not be surprised at how stupid some people are when it comes to computers, even if they use them on a daily basis at work. But this email mistake was rather hilarious. I am sure it will happen again. While I am on e-mail, I think I receive more “spam” type e-mail that have no relevance for me than I do on my personal e-mail. Sure the company e-mail is not advertising Viagra or better sex, but you would think some people have no other way to communicate.

Here is a prime example of a lazy manager [who I can’t stand], the e-mail read, “Please see the board near the manager’s office for latest hiring in our department. Thanks.” WTF? If you already typed that, why not just tell us who the hell was hired? I don’t get it, I really don’t.

All Aboard!

I do not try to hide my displeasure with my current employer, this company has done nothing to help its [surviving] employees since 2001. I have written about this many times before, but the situation, even now out of bankruptcy has not changed. They will continue to loose money even with new procedures in place and a “streamlined” workforce. Supposedly the “lucky ones” who survived all the cutbacks and layoffs. Please, don’t sugarcoat bullshit.

A few months back, one of our employees left the company to go work for BART [Bay Area rapid Transit], the local train service in and around San Francisco. Jim was hired to be a Train Operator on a part-time basis. He knew I had been looking to “get out” and get into a better situation.

Last week, Jim is out walking their golden retriever in his neighborhood and he runs into one manager who works in the Operations Control Center. After making small talk, he says he has a friend [that’s me] who would make a great candidate as a Train Controller. These people control what happens on the tracks and make sure the operation moves smoothly. I compare it to what I currently do.

So this manager, named Paula calls me last week, after Jim informed me she would be calling. My wife comes running into the bedroom and wakes me up in order to talk to her. We agreed on a date to meet at the control center and go over a few things and see the job.

Last night, I made the trip to Lake Merritt Station, where the OCC is located. I had only planned on an 60-90 minute visit, but left nearly 3 hours later! Paula was great, very high energy, peppy, knowledgeable and got “good vibes” about me.

She was impressed with my resume, asking for one minor correction when the job is posted on the web site. She gave me a tour of each of the different positions in the OCC and what they control. You can check out this link for a view of the control center. That is the route system you see up on the wall in the picture. After talking to Paula, she was excited, as was I about the potential job offer. I do believe if it were within her power, I would have been offered the position on the spot. Unfortunately, HR has to get involved, filter though the applications and filter our those who don’t meet the minimum qualifications. She believes my resume will move through HR without incident to the next phase.

In between now and when the job is posted, I have been invited back to the OCC and to ride, as an observer with Jim when he makes his run. This way I get to see the job in action and learn what is going on first hand, in order to be that more knowledgeable when the interview comes around. I was given a few manuals to read in order to get to know procedures, even if I do not understand everything I am reading.

So, between now and the posting, I am planning to ride with Jim and observe at the OCC twice a week. MAKE THE EFFORT, is the mantra I am living by right now. This job is definitely worth that extra effort. It would nearly double my current salary when I start at BART! Training would last 12 months, followed by an OJI [on the job instructor] with you for a certain number of hours.

Needless to say my wife and I are excited about the prospects that BART holds. I was stunned, overwhelmed, impressed, speechless with what I experienced last night. And yes Rob [Lt1], this would mean that my demeanor online would change. Hahah…so I will keep you all updated on the progress, but things are looking very good for my family.