Out of The Frying Pan, Into The Fire

It’s been quite some time since I wrote a blog post (okay it hasn’t been too long but it sure feels like forever). So long story short, after years of searching I finally have a job and needless to say the last few weeks have definitely had that “out of the frying pan, into the fire” sort of feel to it. So for those who don’t know what I do for 20 hours a week, I’m an Assistive Technology assistant. What does my job consist of you ask? I get to play with a shitton of awesome toys (A little over 1000 to be exact) but all for a good cause though. For those who aren’t familiar with assistive technology, you can check out the blog posts “I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends” and “I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends #2”. For those who are too lazy to take the time to read some excellent blog posts from yours truly, assistive technology is any piece of equipment whether it be technical or bare bones that eases the life of someone with a disability or an impairment of any varying degree. For some, that may be an augmentative communication device, or others it maybe something as simple a program that increases the size of text, for another it may be a robotic arm that allows a fellow colleague of yours to feed themselves for the first time ever but we’ll get to that latter one in a future blog post on the subject. What ever it may be, it is designed with the purpose of making tasks that were once difficult or even down right impossible somewhat easier. Now I do my work with none other than Easter Seals in a center I barely new anything about until almost a year ago.

Now the formal term for it is the Easter Seals Asstive Technology Regional Center or as we like to call it for the sake of saving our breath, the Easter Seals ATRC or for those of us like me who are just that lazy, the ATRC. Like my position at camp I wear many hats. I mainly do tech support (Installing/troubleshooting software and hardware) but I also man the phones and occasionally give tours and do demos but our primary purpose is to loan out devices to people who want to try before they buy. This can be along the lines of a teacher trying to see if a particular device or piece of software will be suitable for a student or someone who needs to see if a device will cater to their needs before they either drop stupid amounts of money on it or decide to go through the gauntlet known as the insurance companies. Now a decent amount of time can also consist of answering phone calls that involve people asking for the said devices. Should we have device in stock, I have the clients fill out a loan form and all that wonderfully well crafted liability mumbo jumbo that protects both of our asses both financially and mentally. People can loan devices out from us from for a month and can request extensions pending that the device isn’t on a wait list. Now before this blog post turns into a long commercial about our services lets get back to the one thing that you eagarly await in any post coming from this site, my awesome black and white/blunt perspective on the world so without further adieu here are my experiences in numbered bullet points.

1. There’s seems to be this interesting phemomenon in this my department where whn my supervior is around no one will ever call for her but when she leaves to go on vacation, THE WHOLE DAMN WORLD IS CALLING FOR HER. I’ll get phone calls every 15-30 minutes with people who want nothing to do with the new guy or any other person for that matter.

2. Speaking of phone calls, every now and then I’ll get people asking for the person whose place I took and then I have to go the think about how though she’s employed with Easter Seals, she doesn’t work in our department anymore. Over the summer when I had to deal with the annoyances that came with people making assumptions about the bounds of your power as a Camp Program Director she told me “heavy is the head that wears the crown” You madame must wear a very heavy crown and judging by the fact it doesn’t seem heavy when you rock it, it’s clear you’re a pro a wearing that crown so keep rocking it.

3. Speaking of phonecalls again, the greatest thing someone can do over the phone is repeat their call back number twice. For someone like me who has issues with short term memory processing, that little step can do wonders. It’s the difference between playing a message only once and playing it up to ten times, especially when the person talks really fast.

4. Make sure you befriend your administrative assistant and your IT person. These two will be your best friends for the duration of your employment. When ever you’re free make chat it up with your administrative assitant, you’d be suprised how much they’re dying for a distraction. A big plus of this job is that the administrative assitant at our office is kind of a fantasy nerd so there’s at least one person there I can get excited about Game of Thrones with.

5. Speaking of phones again, the greatest start to your day is getting to your desk and realizing that there are no new messages. Don’t get me wrong I love working with people, just not right at 8:30…..

6. I thought that lady in Office Space was being really annoying when she says “Uh oh, I think someone’s got a case of the Mondays”. I just want to say the Mondays are a VERY real struggle and even if I work only four hours a day, those four hours can wound up feeling like eight.

7. The center will occasionally have walk ins who want a tour or some form of consultation. This has happened at the end of my shift two days in a row. Just grit your teeth and smile the best you can….

8. Because three monitors are better than one….

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9. Damn it feels good to be a gangsta (had to throw in another Office Space reference).

10. You should totally watch Office Space, that movie will change your life.

11. Some days you will spend more time on the phone than you will doing the things that need to get done like updating your iPads and iPod Touches to iOS 8 or making sure all your loaner computers have the software they need.

12. Being tech savvy means that when shit breaks, expect people to come and find you ASAP!!!!!!!!!

13. I don’t know what’s worse, hearing the phone ring or hearing your name in a walkie talkie at camp.

14. If they amended Dante’s Inferno to add an extra layer of to hell, it would have both of the above.

15. If you don’t have thick skin then don’t worry, it’ll be thicker than the final Harry Potter book by the time you’re through. Some of your clients will learn to abuse the system and and this unfortunately involves some of your loan items being out longer than they’re supposed to for all the wrong reasons. Take no one’s shit what so ever. Some people will only need a nice reminder but after a while, some require very hard slap on the wrist in the form of threats of blacklisting.

16. Waking up to dat direct deposit is the greatest feeling ever. You work your ass off, plug in your hours and money just magically appears into your account.

17. “Easter Seals Assitive Technology Regional Center” still feels like a tongue twister when I say it on the phone, especially before 9 in the morning.

18. If you call someone back and don’t use that entire phrase, don’t be surprised if some people mistake you for a telemarketer.

19. If you don’t know the names of all 1000 + toys in our center and their functions, you’ll know in due time. Client phone calls will introduce you to things you never thought existed and every moment will be an “oh shit I didn’t even know we had this” moment.

20. Make sure you take ownership of your space because you’ll be there for a while if all goes well. Pictures and figurines work nicely.

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Above all, don’t take the job too seriously and learn to have fun. I know this little list makes it seem like I absolutely loathe the phones but I really do enjoy this job and are thankful everyday for it. I love being able to help people and guide them to a solution to what ever problem they’re working through, even if sometimes they want that consultation at 8 in the morning. It’s been an awesome learning experience for the few weeks I’ve been doing it and I hope to grow from it. Being employed makes me feel more useful than I ever did at home in front of a computer sending applications. Stay classy people…..

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