Background Checks & Fingerprinting – The Waiting Period

So I think I mentioned I was hired for a job with the local school system, and while it sounds great and all, I realized something…

This is more or less a waiting game.

You see, I still haven’t started that new job promised me the week of Easter. And, as you can imagine, I’d like to get started sometime very soon if possible. In fact, I called today to see what the hold-up was, and I was told… nothing. They’re simply waiting for all the background checks to come through before they decide to tell me whether I’m actually going to start or not.

Now here’s the thing: I know that unless my identity has been stolen, I should have zero criminal records of any kind. And they can check INTERPOL if they like, but to my knowledge, I’ve committed no international crimes during my various visits overseas.

So what’s taking so long?

I’ve already submitted all my personal information and agreed to their terms and basically signed my life away. I paid $45 on a fingerprinting test as well, which is rather irritating when you think about it. I don’t see why I had to pay to do something they have people do on a regular basis, but that’s really neither here nor there. There should be no hold-up.

In fact, I was approved for government clearance to access student loan files in a previous job faster than they’re getting back to me.

I get it, I do. We have to protect students and access to personal information. But I’ve never done anything in any previous jobs that makes me untrustworthy. I simply do my thing, and I do as I’m taught. That’s all. There’s no reason for me to do anything else because I probably don’t have time for that.

As they say, ain’t nobody got time fo dat.

And, yes, I’m a sistah, according to one of my old clients at the call center, so I can clearly say that.

All that said, I’d like to get this show on the road. It’s getting to be a long and tiring process for me to wait for information. And when I called today, I was told that they had no information on me either and the lady would call downtown to find out what was taking so long. Did she call me back? No.

Fernando’s beginning to think I should apply for another job since this one is taking so long to get processed. But I was so hoping this would work out.

I guess sometimes things don’t always go as planned. But either way, it would really be nice to start earning money again. Especially with my funds dwindling as they are.

We’ll see if I get a call back tomorrow or not. My guess is probably not. And here I am with lots of things I need to accomplish and no money to do it on.

I’ll be back to let you know if they ever get my information processed and get me started. Until then, I’ll be rereading The Chronicles of Narnia and debating about putting my story up on Wattpad. (I’ll let you know about that, too!)

RaeNez

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When Employees Bite

So yesterday I told you the story of my little experience being laid off.

Today I have a new story for you!

I happened to talk to one of my former employees from the weight loss center yesterday. I had texted Sabrina* (names have been changed to protect the innocent) yesterday morning to wish her luck and tell her I enjoyed getting to meet her at the center.

Well, wouldn’t you know I got a text back telling me how glad she was to hear from me and a few other choice tidbits?

Sabrina was already considering quitting and had been for a while because she felt the company and the operations manager was fake. I found that very fascinating to hear because I must have had my head under a rock while I trained. (I’ll admit when I find myself in training for a new job, I tend to be rather preoccupied with new materials, and it gets me bogged down a bit.)

That said, I texted back and forth with her on her way to work, and then I wished her good luck when she got there. No big deal, right?

I got a text several hours later saying she was on lunch and had no intention of going back afterward.

How interesting!

I had to hear about this, so she told me what had happened after she was told that I “would no longer be working” for the company. (How right was I thinking my boss wasn’t about to tell the girls she “needed to make a change”?)

Sabrina said that it wasn’t long after she heard the news of my leaving the company that it was announced the other girl who was the darling of my boss would be replacing me as director. I rather suspected that would be the case, but it helps when you find out so soon after what your value was.

The new director was clearly taking her power trip a bit heavily yesterday morning when she began to give Sabrina a list of things she needed to be working on – alone. Bearing in mind that I had given Sabrina some of the same tasks and worked on them with her, this was a bit of a change. When I worked with her, it was frowned upon because I wasn’t delegating enough of the work to my employees, which is ironic considering the lack of work to be handed out in the first place.

Sabrina was given a task that normally wouldn’t take long with two people, but when the darling director and operations manager spent their time hovering over her and chit-chatting, it took her twice as long because she was the only one working on the project. They grew irritated at her slowness, which was unfair given her lack of experience with the role, and the darling director was more irritated when Sabrina asked for help with a part of the project she couldn’t manage on her own.

Can we say teamwork?

By this time, Sabrina was growing more and more angry. She’d also been asked to perform tasks on the computer she wasn’t accustomed to performing, which took more time and prompted questions neither of her supervisors wanted to be bothered with. In fact, the questions she asked gave them ammunition to laugh at her ignorance, something that exacerbated an already unpleasant situation.

Bear in mind, I’m telling all this from a conversation I had with Sabrina just yesterday.

By lunchtime, Sabs was so fed up, she decided it was time to quit. So she clocked out for lunch, went to her favorite restaurant, and texted me about the situation. When they called her, she’d already sent a text to the operations manager saying she wouldn’t be back. They apparently hadn’t received it, though, so she sent it to the darling director as well.

We talked for three hours.

And realistically, this is what happens when you don’t know how to run a business. If you aren’t a good leader, your business will fail, and your employees will turn on you as soon as they feel capable of it.

Sabs did. She wasn’t about to stick around in a situation where she was being picked on, harassed, and made fun of for things that were out of her control. I don’t blame her a bit for her decision. She’d already talked to her husband the night before about the situation, and he was supporting her all the way.

The problem with the dog eat dog world of business is that it’s just that: dog eat dog. I understand that women feel that have to be as cutthroat as men in this world, but any management class or leadership book will teach you that leadership is about serving others first. It’s not about delegating every task you have to the first hapless flunkey at your feet. And it’s certainly not about micromanaging everything your employees do until they feel they have no autonomy to make any kind of move in your company.

I would just like to point out that when employees bite, you may not feel it now, but you will feel it someday. Because some employees know how to make their bites hurt.

It is, after all, a dog eat dog world.

Just some thoughts for the day.

– RaeNez

Grace Under Pressure: Lessons Learned

Today is another day where I have to sit back and look at my life and simply take it all in stride.

If you’ve been following this sporadic, crazy blog, you know my life has changed in multiple ways over the course of the last year and a half. I can’t even begin to tell you all the things that have changed for me, but I can tell you that one day I plan to sit down and write it all out.

That said, this is another example of life changing events that are all coming together in ways I can’t fathom to create the patchwork quilt that’s shaping up to be my life. It’s quite the motley piece of work at the moment, but I’m sure that’ll change as time goes on and it’s shape becomes clearer.

Yesterday, I was laid off from my job at the weight loss center. Again.

So I know that comes as a shock considering I only started the job in February, but it is what it is. I’m still trying to process it, but the real processing I’m doing is in recognizing this for the lessons it gives me for the future.

This is the second time in under a year I’ve experienced a layoff, and it was quite different from the first. So I wanted to write a post describing the differences because to me, this is what’s most important and worth remembering for the next job I tackle.

With no further ado, let’s begin, shall we?

First: being professional about a layoff means taking the time to prepare for your conversation with your employee and how you’ll handle that decision because that will determine much of how your employee views you.

With my first job, the layoff was something they had to prepare for based on news of losing a large client. It was a huge deal for the company, something the upper management had to ponder over and determine what branches of the company would be hit hardest, which positions would be cut, and how to best prepare those people who would be let go for life after the company. When I walked into that meeting, I had three people with me who were somber, solemn, and clearly hurting as they explained the situation to me, handed me paperwork explaining severance (a clear blessing considering how short a time I’d been there), how to file unemployment, and COBRA insurance policies. Their care and time to talk me through the situation was enough to show me that this was a company I cared about and would have loved staying with because of the family atmosphere and the relationships I had already developed.

On the contrary, with the weight loss center, the situation was entirely different. It was very cut and dry. I was taken to my office by the operations manager and told she “needed to make a change” and that meant today was my last day. There was no discussion of why she needed to make a change or whether I could work in a different capacity. She was simply done with me and needed me gone, and I could tell by looking at her that she didn’t seem to be concerned with my situation in the least because in her mind, she was tying up a nasty loose end.

Second: the preparation that was put into the layoffs led to the outcome with the staff and the sense of either comfort or unease as a result of the layoffs.

As with the first company, I was good friends with some of the people I worked with outside of work, so I was able to hear a little more about what happened in the aftermath of the layoffs. There was a normal company meeting set to take place within the next day or two, and it was at that time the management team addressed the layoffs with the employees. Yes, people were upset, but they ultimately understood the reasons for the layoffs as being connected to the loss of a large client, which some people already knew was coming down the pipes anyway. The comfort they gained from knowing that management was hurting just as much as they were was enough to help them bind up their hurts and move on with their work as much as possible. (Though, I will say some of them weren’t as comforted as others and did move on to other jobs, but that seems to be fairly standard in the event of a layoff.)

With my operations manager, I sat in shock as she told me I’d be laid off and couldn’t formulate a good question to ask. But then she asked me the mother of all loaded questions: “Do you want me to tell the girls it was your decision to leave?” Hearing this gave me even more questions, and I sat for a few minutes before responding: “No, it wasn’t really my choice to leave, was it?” (Now, you have to understand that was a really brave thing for me to say because I rarely actually stand up for myself, especially in a situation like this, but I digress.) So she told me she’d tell them she was making a change.

Here’s where the lack of preparation comes in: she obviously knew what she was going to tell them, that question was irrelevant and meant for my benefit only, and it makes no difference to me what she tells the women I worked with. The truth is, they know I had no motivation to quit, I was finding my stride and enjoying working with people. So regardless of how she handled it, she would have no means of convincing them I chose to quit, and they would still have questions.

Third: preparation is key in how you send your now-former employees out the door and how professional they’ll see you as an employer – whether that matters to you, is entirely your decision.

I’ve said to Fernando that I wouldn’t go back for my former employer because of being laid off, but that’s a pride issue on my part. The truth is, I loved my job, and I’d kill to have a chance to work with people like that again. Even in the way they sent me on my way, which may at first seem demeaning to the uninitiated, I recognize the professional courtesy they gave me and the compassion my manager offered me as he sent me out that day. You see, I understand a company’s need to shield itself from a potential volatile situation with employees who are being laid off.

I didn’t even work directly with clients, and they were rarely in the building, but given that we worked with computers that had private client information, it was essential the company shield itself from any potential for upset. The fact they gathered my things for me was pretty much standard operating procedure for most professional operations. But then my manager picked up my box of stuff since I was a wreck and walked me out. He walked me to my car and talked with me all the way there and was almost in tears himself about the situation. That means a lot to me, and it says a lot about his character.

Again, in contrast, when my operations manager finished her spiel and took my key from me, she pretty much washed her hands of the whole thing. She left me in my office to go to the front desk. I was still in shock and wasn’t sure what was going on, so perhaps she should have been more honest with me and told me to get out because I was trying to go on with work. When she came back and saw me trying to work, she let me finish what I was doing and then told me they’d pay me through the day and that I should go ahead and go so I could enjoy my day.

Wow.

Go enjoy your day?

If it wasn’t clear to me then, it’s increasingly clear to me now that she simply didn’t like me and wanted rid of me. She didn’t want to give me 90 days to prove myself. I was, in fact, bringing in clients at this point. I was early every day, had things up and running, and while I wasn’t the most confident and hadn’t completely developed my stride, I was beginning to get there.

That said, I realized what she meant. She needed me gone before the other girls got away from their clients. So I grabbed my things, my picture of me and Fernando, and I started out.

Her parting words? “Well, this is it. Bye, enjoy the rest of your day! Enjoy the sunshine, and the beautiful weather! I’m going to be jealous of you out in the sun!”

I don’t know about you, but that is one of the most petty things she could have said, especially after terming me for nothing more than a personality conflict. I didn’t deem it necessary to respond and simply walked out the door without a look back, and no, I didn’t enjoy the sunshine, Ms. Operations Manager, because it was 36 degrees outside, and you knew it! 

In conclusion: I’ve learned that it’s important to recognize professionalism from the source and try to figure out what you’re getting into when you start a job. I know Fernando didn’t like the company and didn’t want me to work there to begin with, and I should have listened to his warning signs. I suppose I was so hoping to find something and try my hand at something new that I ignored the signs and went for something new and different in the hopes it would pan out.

But now I know that professionalism in looks is a far cry from professionalism in actions. And I’ll save myself the trouble next time and simply go back to an office environment that practices more traditionally accepted norms and operations.

What about you? Have you learned anything from experiences like this? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

– RaeNez

 

Interviewing with HR

February 13th was kind of a big day for me. I wasn’t going to say exactly, but it was actually my year mark at work, and I was sent my annual review that apparently goes out to everyone on the date they hired in. So goes a year of my life… drowned out on the phones in commentary I can’t be moved to care much more about than I do about the people who tell me how much I should stop by their kiosks at the mall to “try a little something” because they want to jack up prices on some product I shouldn’t purchase and wouldn’t use.

Clearly I shouldn’t have hired in prior to Valentine’s Day, but so goes it…

That said, it’s been a real trip the last few days this week. Monday I responded to the human resources questionnaire I was sent as part of my “thanks for staying” email from our VP of HR. Being the honest and blunt sort, my answers to questions weren’t exactly expected, and I was promptly emailed back by the VP requesting a meeting with me.

I will say that by blunt I don’t mean I was aggressive. Nor was I rude. I simply answered honestly and without sugar-coating any of my feelings on things the way some people would possibly have done. When asked, for example, how engaged I felt with the company, I stated “not very,” and proceeded to explain why and how they could change that for me in my department.

I know it’s the place of human resources departments to take care of employees. We are their customers, so to speak, and so said my VP when I met with her Tuesday. She tried to reassure me that she sees the people on the phones as the life blood of the company, but the truth is that when all is said and done, we are still just the employees.

As I told her earnestly, the trickle down affect of our COO’s patronizing and demanding ways moves through the ranks from our Assistant Vice President to our Manager to our Supervisors and Assistant Supervisors. It doesn’t stop with them. They demand the performance that is causing so much stress and dissatisfaction with the job.

I know she understands because she’s putting together a plan of action for the department, and that’s great. She asked me to bear with the department as they implement the new changes she wants, and she’s determined that we won’t feel as downtrodden as I described myself in the questionnaire responses I sent her.

I’m not sure if this has any connection to my meeting with her or if I was chosen in a random sampling that they’re doing, but I received an email from another of our HR gurus today asking me to meet with him to discuss the employee morale and engagement of our department. He’s asked me to fill out a second survey, which is scarily more personal.

In fact, it requests I rate my loyalty to the company on a scale of “extremely” to “not at all.”

While I don’t recall seeing a place to put my name on the form, I have to question just how honest I should be in this form.

I can understand why our HR department is taking such an interest in the call center employees’ morale and engagement. I just highly doubt they’ll be able to offer any form of improvement over what we have thus far developed as the main form of management and supervisory skills.

I’m still debating on how honest to be in that survey…

At least I have until Monday before I have to make any hard and fast decisions. My meeting with the HR guru is then. We’ll see how it goes, but at the very least, I have the reassurance from my VP of HR that I’m not on the chopping block that she keeps track of in terms of potentially losing my job. So that is a relief.

– RaeNez

All Hands on Deck!

It’s been a day… a long, exhausting, mind-numbing, sleep-inducing day. I don’t even know where to begin, other than to say it’s been a day.

I’d like to take the time to break apart and analyze an email our department received from a manager today. I’m not quite sure how kosher that would be on a blog, but given it isn’t exactly going to be the full email or give away any exact details, I suppose it’s not too terrible.

If you’re not familiar with call centers, I will only say they are all about metrics. Did you meet your call volume for the day? Did you hit the hourly call rate? Did you manage to avoid any supe calls? Did you keep the call times to below 2 minutes? Did you take less than 30 seconds to notate accounts between calls?

These are the things we deal with when we’re taking inbound calls for hours on end. And these are the things that irritate me to no end. Our company (Call Center Xtroardinaire) has recently gone through a great deal of expansion, and we’ve increased our account portfolio by a high percentage. That translates to having increased the number of individual accounts by more than 1 million over a very short time frame.

This, in turn, has created an expanded need for call center reps to tackle the inbound calls. Makes sense, right? Wrong. What we’ve done is turned this into an opportunity to instead fire reps, decrease our call center size, and draft other agents from different departments to handle calls with us. Other departments are now on mandatory overtime, but we are still given the option (when that will change is anyone’s guess), and other departments are spending a portion of their day taking calls due to the increased volume.

We have about, oh, a handful of new people coming into the call center mid-February (poor, unfortunate souls) to tackle the open positions we have. They won’t nearly cover the open desks we have, but it’s a start.

So, onto the patronizing pep talk we received from management today…

“Be efficient on each and every call! Typically we like to focus on one-call resolution and avoid having the customer call back and check on other issues. I’m not saying ignore this by any means, but we really need to focus on answering the customer’s question(s) and move on to the next one! Many of us (myself included) tend to get easily sidetracked talking about the weather, sports, etc., but please try to keep that to a minimum!”

Well, that was enlightening. It was just one of the points in the email, but I have to argue it could be put a little simpler by saying: Quantity over quality, people. Get it right! It’s clear management has adopted an attitude of getting through the issue of call volume rather than addressing the issue of staffing, call quality, and customer service.

I don’t get sidetracked into discussing such inane things as the weather, and typically if a customer tries to discuss it with me, I’ll steer the conversation right back to his account. “Oh, yes, it’s lovely we’re having weather. Now, did you say you wanted to make a payment with me today?” I do get sidetracked into noticing that a customer wants to hold their payments for a month and is set up on an autodraft and needs that taken care of. Or I’ll notice that when directing a customer to the website to sign up for the autodraft, I should also check to see if he’s been there before – oh! – nope, he hasn’t, so sir, please make sure to sign up for an account instead of just trying to put in a user name. I’m pretty sure the user name won’t work unless you register first.

These seem like mindless little details, but these are the kinds of things we’re supposed to cut from our calls. So that explains why I got a call from a man who, after calling in earlier in the day, asked me why his blankety-blank user name wouldn’t work and why it wouldn’t register his information when he tried to log in. Well, you see, sir, you don’t have an account on the website. Maybe you could start by signing up for one? Fifteen minutes of holding his hand to walk him through all his website woes later, I’m off the phone and onto the next call, something that could have been avoided had the last rep not simply told him to sign into his account to fix it.

Next on the list…

“Be confident! You guys know this stuff – there’s no need to check with us on the things ‘you think you know, but you want to double-check’. If you think you know the answer, you probably do! And we totally trust you guys on this! Obviously there are tons of scenarios that come up daily that you (and us) need to research further, but overall be confident in your answers and advise the customer accordingly!”

Wow. Can I just say wow? I think we could easily have summed this up to be read as: Don’t ask us questions; we’re tired of it. Just answer them yourselves! Now, going right along with the above nixing of the details, this is one of those ways we shave off an extra few seconds of call time, save an extra minute or two of “off phone” time and essentially free up the supes to handle other things (what things I don’t know).

This just says to me, as a rep on the phone: We, the management, don’t give a damn about you. You are a peon, and you will take the calls and deal with it. No, we will not take your angry customers and supe calls. No, we will not take your questions. No, we do not care if our system screwed something up on an account or if one of our departments didn’t do something correctly. We are management. We will not be bothered. Go, go, advise the customer.

In short, the pep talk did more to raise my blood pressure (literally, it was somewhere in the neighborhood of 132/70ish at the doctor’s office) and infuriate me than motivate me to put in 2 hours of overtime per week for the next 5 weeks as another point in the email stressed. Now I’m on more medication to try to solve the issue of an infection I’ve now had for a week and a half, and I’m betting stress at work will certainly help that. Not.

After a wild day of crazy calls, I’m exhausted… so I suppose this shall end my post for tonight. But I hope if you plan to call a call center (especially if it’s mine) tomorrow, you’ll refrain. Spare me the misery, please. At least for one day? 🙂

– RaeNez

Flip-flops in February

No, I’m most definitely not referring to the footwear. I only wish I were.

In fact, it might be easier if I were referring to footwear. Today was my first day back after a week off from sickness, and the call center was in full steam, rare form, and full of energy, vibrance, and noise.

Well, maybe only noise.

I was slightly overwhelmed by it all but pushed through and was rewarded with inbounds.

I haven’t broached the subject even though it is the subject of my waking nightmares, and by that I mean the nightmares I live day in and day out in the call center on a regular basis. As today is Monday, it’s the only appropriate day to start talking about them, too.

It might come as a surprise that I have a preference between outbound collection calls and inbound customer calls, but the truth of it is I’ll take the outbound calls any day of the week. Why? Because the vast majority of inbound calls are inane. They’re heaped one on top of the next. And if the outbound crew is pulled to handle them, you know you’re bound to have a number of angry customers to deal with because of the wait to speak to a rep.

Today was no different, really. Mondays are the worst. Our call center, thank heavens, is closed on weekends, so we get a reprieve to get away from the madness. The tradeoff is Manic Monday, where you’ll be assaulted over the least little thing because Sally Customer has waited ten minutes to speak to you and simply will not be quiet now she has you on the phone.

Normally I go through the same routine on outbound calls and can do it in my sleep. Inbound calls are worse because some of the questions you get are so completely idiotic.

And, yes, I am pointing at you, Sally Customer, who called me today to tell me your computer didn’t want you to download a form from our website because “it’s a virus.” Clearly you either have the wrong website or your browser’s security settings are too high, but no, don’t listen to the girl who works there. Demand, quite haughtily, she mail it out to you at once and then ask her when you’ll receive it.

(My crystal ball says: Ask again later.)

For much of the afternoon, I took back to back calls, notating the accounts as I went. Inbound is more or less like a screaming infant. You pick it up, walk it around back and forth for a while and pray it will get sleepy. Then you plop in a rocker and try that to see if the rocking motion pacifies it. You stick a pacifier in its mouth only to have it spat in your face. And just when it seems to nod off, the dog barks or the floor creaks, and it’s screaming again.

That was today. We had over 200 calls holding most of the afternoon, for a steady two and a half hours. Two and a half hours.

Who holds that long?! Oh, wait. Sally Customer. Who then curtly demands I fix her problem as she rushes me on the phone because she’s been holding too long.

I’m ever so sorry. (Not really.) But when you complain about the wait, you’re only taking that much more of my time that could be better spent hustling you off the phone. And when you say you hope the calls are monitored (they are) so my boss will hear that we need more reps (he doesn’t care), I yawn and feel my eyes cross as I remember the new motto of the company.

Pretend I work for “Call Center Xtroadinaire.” Our new motto for the call center? “I am Call Center Xtroadinaire!”

Now add to that a motivational speech about how not hiring enough reps has saved the company loads in salary that they can now use to cater lunches on Mondays and breakfasts on Fridays. And maybe an addendum that everyone can wear jeans for the next six weeks as we focus on lots of pretty goals, and we’re really talking!

And, that, is what I missed by not being at work last week.

Oh how I wish I could stay sick. Just a bit longer, really.

Because, as I long to tell my boss, had I known I was signing on to take flip-flopping outbound collection calls and inbound customer calls, I would never have taken my job. Period.

Just saying…

And now I’m off to bed because it’s late and I’m exhausted. Oh, and, yes, that’s right. I work in a call center and have to get up early in the morning. Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to bed I go…

– RaeNez

Speedy Gonzales, or Work Life meets Love Life

In the interest of being professional and honest, I won’t say I’ve never had any workplace infatuations, and I won’t say I’ll never go into details on that score at some point here. I will say that my current boyfriend, Fernando, is most definitely not related in any way, shape, or form to the call center. He is, in fact, an old flame from high school that never quite went out (and how glad I am of that!) who has become a rather important part of my life.

That said, I figured it might be worth it to touch on something that people all too often find themselves struggling with: work life and love life. When those two lives meet, it can become quite volatile. Sometimes it can be explosive. And sometimes it leaves you with less than satisfactory results for one or both aspects of your life.

I intended to keep the details of my dating relationship outside of work, really, I did. But working in a call center is working in a gossip den.

Add in a few flowers, and, well, my fate was sealed.

Shortly after Fernando and I began dating again, he did something that completely threw me for a loop. He had flowers delivered to me at work. I had never in my life had flowers sent to me. I’ve seen it, many times at the call center for Valentine’s and birthdays even, but for me on a regular day? Never.

This was definitely just a regular day.

Now let’s shift gears a bit and move on to something else. Or rather someone else. A woman I work with, we’ll call her Evelyn, has had it out for me since we started working together. And by having it out for me, I mean, she frequently made comments to the effect of: “Girl, we need to get you to a club! And get you some tequila! You need a man. And a condom…”

As you can imagine, Evelyn was extremely interested to see what all the fuss and the flowers were about. So much for keeping my love life secret. Evelyn is one of those people who likes to assign nicknames to significant others she hasn’t met; don’t ask me why. So after Fernando took me to lunch a few times and managed to whisk me away before she could catch up to us, she nicknamed him Speedy Gonzales.

It stuck.

Everyone calls him Speedy Gonzales. I’ve told them his name time and time again. It doesn’t matter. And everyone, simply everyone, has an opinion.

Take Evelyn. I haven’t dated Fernando for a year, so I simply am not allowed to marry him. Clearly he and I shouldn’t even think about it. We should be all over each other as much as possible in the meantime to make sure, you know, that we want each other. But marriage? Perish the thought until you’re much, much further down the line. At least a year.

I’m so glad she’s given me the rules because I wasn’t aware I was on a time frame here.

Or let’s consider Beth. Yet another coworker of mine who seems intent on knowing how this saga with Fernando plays out, she’s kept well up to date with me on a regular basis. Beth was secretly pulling for a Christmas proposal. (Clearly she hasn’t been reading the rule book or consulting with Evelyn.) And she’s made it clear I should leap into Fernando’s arms when the bling arrives.

I’m glad her confidence in his imminent proposal is strong.

Somewhere in the middle is Edith. She originally encouraged me to go out with Fernando when he first started showing interest again and I wasn’t quite sure. At this point, she told me she wouldn’t agree to someone getting married before they’d been together at least a year to see what they think of one another, but when I mentioned having known Fernando and dated him on and off for almost ten years, she seemed more open to the idea. Then she asked if I’d considered moving in with him. I said no and that I wouldn’t do that unless I was married to him; to which, she replied she was proud of me.

I’m glad she’s decided it’s okay for me to marry him now…

It amazes me how working in a call center seems to mean everyone’s business is suddenly, well, everyone’s business. I don’t mind Evelyn, Beth, or Edith telling me what they think about my relationship with Fernando. That doesn’t bother me. But it would be something else entirely if I were to date someone within the call center.

The funny part of it all is how different everyone’s opinions seem to be. Thankfully for me, Fernando and I will be making our own decisions about our love life, and everyone else at work can keep their noses out of it, thank you very much.

Of course, if he does propose… he ought to be prepared for all the amusing stories I’ll have to share from the wonderful women I work with. They will, I’m sure, start with questions and comments about the ring and only escalate into tips and tricks of the wedding planning trade.

I shudder to think how that would go.

Perhaps Mr. Speedy Gonzales should spirit me away instead… a nice elopement might work out quite handily. And create a tidy bit of scandal to leave the gossip mills running at work for quite some time. Perhaps I’ll suggest it to him (so long as my mother doesn’t find out – she’s another matter entirely).

Anyway, food for thought on this eve of going back to work after a long infection…

– RaeNez