20 August 2009

Office Politics, or: How I Survived Training Without Killing Someone ... Yet

My tolerance for people this week has been frighteningly low. I have cussed at drivers who really hadn't done anything wrong; I've gotten angry at people that weren't trying to slight me. I've just been rather pissy. Granted, it doesn't help that, for 6 hours a day, I'm in a small conference room with eight people I don't know, two of whom are excruciatingly annoying human beings that manage to drive me to the end of my rope on a daily basis. At times, it gets so irritating that I can barely control my ire-ridden laughter.

Take Mr. Talks Too Much and Inappropriately Has Outbursts, alternately and forthwith known as Douche Turd. DT and I already have a history, since we both interviewed for a job at the Tennessee Human Services state office in Nashville a few months ago. For a while, I had Judy (I can't remember her name, so we'll go with this one) to talk to about the economy and whatever chitchatty crap I could come up with. But when she had to go make a phone call, DT attempted to hit on me and then went on this ramble about wearing a top hat and doing a dance routine for the interviewers. I was very thankful when I was called in for my turn. And when he showed up at the training, the only word that I could say: "Motherfucker."

Well, his sheer lack of charisma wouldn't be so bad if he wasn't so determined to prove that he DID have it. During the first week of training, our trainer posed a question, and his way of answering it was to ramble on about how he didn't know their backgrounds, where they went to school, what type of house they lived in, whatever whatever whatever. I just glared at him, while the trainer just interrupted him abruptly after about two minutes. And he's like that with EVERYTHING. He tries SO hard to be funny and witty, and it just comes across as awkward and forceful.

Then there's Ms. I Know All and Whoever Disagrees with Me is Just Wrong, or Snobby Sue, as I'll be referring to her. The name kind of says it all. She is condescending to everyone, even though she is brand new to this stuff, as well. I didn't mind her at first because she seemed genuinely nice, but I think that's before she realized that I don't agree with her politically and then started treating me like I was some sort of cretin.

Judging from the remarks from her mouth, I would have to say that she is probably not going to last very long as a case worker. She has a very negative opinion of people who come in to file for government assistance. Every one of her questions revolves around how to catch people not reporting stuff. Or trying to make someone look stupid, which I'll cover later. And by my luck, I get to sit right next to her.

Anyway, for the past several days, we've had a substitute trainer, who we'll call Cee. She is very different from our actual trainer and the previous substitute trainer, Sid the I-Don't-Wanna-Actually-Work Guy. (Our formal trainer is going through some training herself for the month of August.) Cee is very by-the-book and goes through things fairly slowly, which would bug me if it wasn't stuff that needed to be carefully explained. This is government benefits, after all. However, other people seem to feel like it's not fun and entertaining, like Sid. I, for one, learned absolutely jack shit last week. Sure, Sid was nice, but he didn't teach us anything. It was basically review. And seriously, the manuals and policy guides are not meant for light, beach side reading. It's like Leviticus in the Bible - quite frankly tedious but worth it at the end.

Needless to say, at least three of the class (including Snobby Sue and DT - the third guy, Quiet Kurt, just avoids talking because he feels like Cee is attacking people when she's really just trying to keep her train of thought) is acting like a high schooler would in a boring class, something that I didn't expect for people over the age of 30. Apparently, immaturity does not correlate with age. Out of class, they have nothing but bad things to say about Cee, and in class, they treat her with no respect. DT has decided that he will just start yelling and talk over Cee. "I just don't understand this. Where are you getting those numbers? Are you picking them arbitrarily?" And just today, in the middle of reading a short bit on food stamp policy, he just burst out with, "Apparently, I just don't get anything! I don't know what's going on!" etc. Of course, Cee tried to figure out what was going on, but he never really explained. He just got quiet again.

With Snobby Sue, she actually has tried to make the trainer look like an idiot. Today, she tried to whip out the policy manual to show Cee how the information on the board was incorrect (which it wasn't). Understandably, Cee said, "I've been doing this for 25 years. I think I know the policy." When we were doing calculations on food stamp allotment, SS got a different answer from everyone. She actually had the audacity to say, "Well, there's no way I'm wrong. Everyone else must have just done it incorrectly."

To be completely honest, I can handle DT. Sure, he gets dirty looks from me and I could probably strangle him without feeling too much remorse, but I think ultimately that he is harmless. But SS? Not only does she treat the trainer like crap, but she also looks down at the other trainees. Yesterday, same situation of calculating allotment, and I needed to know when the last leap year was, because benefits are different in leap year February, what with the extra day and all. I couldn't remember if it was 2006 or 2008, so I asked the class. SS turned to me and said, "Leap Year is when February has 29 days."

Yeah, okay. Not my question. I wouldn't have snapped if her tone would have been different. But it was that "God, what an idiot" ring to it that made me want to grab a pen and stab her through the eye. Immediately, another classmate jumped in with the right answer (2008, by the way), which is good for SS.

Then today while we were on a break, I was talking with another girl in my class that I actually like, Tia, about politics. Nothing heated, just updating each other on the current health care debate. Well, as soon as I started on my opinions, SS (who had been observing but not participating in the conversation) sighed and turned in her chair, shaking her head. I raised my eyebrows at Tia, who had to stifle a giggle - her level of dislike for SS is almost bordering on hatred - but continued discussing the topic. For the rest of class, any time I would say something, SS would just shake her head back and forth, getting to the point where I just asked her what her problem was. She didn't say anything; she just stared at her computer screen. And this woman is well into her 40s.

Maybe it will be better next week. Well, considering Cee is going to be here for another week, I'm not so sure about that. It's not that I don't like her. I do. She is much better than Sid was, although her voice is kind of a soft-spoken monotone. But she is also incredibly nice, if only judging by the fact that she hasn't kicked DT or SS out of her class yet.

But I can guarantee you this: I will be drinking tequila this weekend.

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