May I Help You?

Setting: Psychiatrist’s waiting room.

[Enter a man and a woman. The woman moves across the room and talks to the receptionist about something. The man sits down.]

Man: So, you must be related to someone here.

Me: Excuse me?

Man: I was just wondering if you were related to someone here in the office.

Me: Why?

Man: Well you look perfectly normal.

Me: [With a smile.] People with Asperger’s Syndrome usually do.

[Man falls silent and looks away. Soon the woman finishes her conversation and they both leave. The man takes care not to look my direction for the rest of the time.]

Ah, the life of an aspie. Fun fun fun.

So, remember back when I talking about trying to find a job?

Well, I was looking over my posts for the last week or so and realized that I totally left out something big that has happened in my life.

I got a job!

Yay!

I’m working at the office of Human Resources on campus as the front desk clerk. It’s ironic really; before working at the gas station (Feb ’07-Aug ’07), the idea of answering phones and dealing with customers made me really nervous.

Now though. Ha! In my office, we house human resources, right? Well, that covers all sorts of things; most importantly though, that includes Payroll. What this means for me is that if anyone screws up along the way (usually the person trying to get paid, trust me), we get to be the recipient of a long angry tirade.

Yawn.

Seriously. I’m not afraid of people anymore. I saw the worst of the worst at the gas station. People here don’t even rank on my scale of worrisome patrons.

Now, to their credit, they most likely think that they do (or should), but really, they don’t. They’re still far too civilized for that. Not a one of them would ever think to try to grab my butt, cuss me out, spit on the floor, pick a fight with me, make suggestive comments about trying to hurt people around them, or ever make me feel like calling the cops.

Until they reach that level, I’m content just to smile and nod.  All in all, I find the technical side of the job–fill out this form, go through this process, answer this specific question about a b c–all very comforting and enjoyable.  There’s a process.  It’s doesn’t change.  There are specific situations with various rules, but once you learn the rules, that’s it.  Nothing new.  If this happens, then you do this

I don’t think I would want to do this for the rest of my life, but then again, that’s why I’m getting my master’s.  🙂 

Take this average situation: 

Employee complaining about not getting paid: I have a kid who’s in the hospital and my sister just went through a divorce, and my mother just died and my car broke down, and I think I need foot surgery on top of the dental surgery I just had 3 years ago and . . . yeah.

Me: Did you turn in a hiring packet?

Employee: No one told me that I had to do that.

Me: Well, then you need to do the paperwork for that now. Here it is [hands a packet across the desk]. You also need some form of photo ID and your social security card.

Employee:  But no one told me I had to do that!

Me:  Yeah, (well), here’s the form and you can do it now.  [She says, smiling politely.]

Employee:  But, [They say while scrounging through either their pockets (if a man) or giant oversized purse (if a woman)] I have to get this in by 5 pm!  (It’s almost always 3:47 pm when they say that).

Me:  Okay?

Employee:  And I don’t have any ID on me!  I can’t find it!  [They wail.]

Me:  Okay . . . well, you can go ahead and fill out the form and then we can put it into our “pending” file.  Then, when you bring in your ID and social security card, we can make a copy of it and process your paperwork. 

Employee:  But it has to be in by 5 pm!!!

[It is now 3:52 pm]

Me:  And?

[Phone most always invariably rings at this point]

[I answer the phone]

Me [to the person on the other end]:  Human Resources; this is _________.  [Listens]  All right.  Uh-huh.  Well, I’m not actually the person who handles that.  Let me transfer you to _________.  Oh you’re welcome.  [Hangs up the phone and turns back to the increasingly hysterical person standing on the other side of the desk]

[It is now 3:58 pm]

Employee:  Can’t you just process it now?

Me:  Um no.  Sorry, we need to have some form of picture ID and your social security card. 

Employee:  Can I have it faxed?

Me:  Um no.  I have to see the original document before I can sign off on it.

Employee:  But it has to be in by 5 pm!

[4:02 pm]

Employee:  And besides!  I didn’t know that I had to fill out anything else! No one told me about it! 

Me:  The packet includes tax information, identity confirmation and payment designation.  We can’t pay you without that information.

Employee:  I want a check!

(Don’t we all . . )

Me:  I’m sorry, but you have to fill that out in the packet. 

[4:06 pm]

Employee:  Listen!  I really need the money!  [They say as they start to rattle off the original list again, adding on 3 or 4 things like “laundry money, dog vaccinations, tooth fairy money and their hard-up, out-of-work, alcoholic cousin/brother/aunt who is currently living with them.”]

Me:  I’m sorry.  There’s nothing else I can do.  You can either fill out the form and I can put it in pending, or you can take the form with you and bring it back with your 2 forms of ID. 

Employee [pointing at me in indignance]:  Your office has been nothing but one big disappointment after another!!!  I came here 4 weeks ago and wasted my time filling out worthless forms for 25 minutes!!!  And now you’re telling me that I have to fill something else out!?!

Me [pulling out another form]:  Is this the form that you filled out then?

Employee [sniffing in disdain]:  You should know.  But yes, that is it.

Me:  This is the application packet.   Once you were hired, your department should have sent you back over here to fill out the “New Hire Packet.” 

Employee:  The secretary in my office is new–BUT–she has tried to help me as much as she could.  [They say, glaring at me.]  And she never told me about that!

Me:  I’m sorry that your experience here hasn’t been pleasant.  I just started working here actually; so I wasn’t even here 4 weeks ago. 

[4:14 pm]

Employee:  Well, what am I supposed to do then!?

(Didn’t I just answer that?)

Me:  Well, as I said before, either you can take the form with you, or you can do it now and I can put it in “pending” to wait until you have your ID. 

Employee:  But it has to be in by 5!

[4:17 pm]

Me:  I’m sorry.  There’s nothing that I can do for you other than the options I’ve already mentioned.

[4:19 pm]

Employee:  Well, I guess I’ll go then.  [Huffs]

*headdesk*

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~ by lastcrazyhorn on June 20, 2008.

20 Responses to “May I Help You?”

  1. A friend of mine just emailed me one of your articles from a while back. I read that one a few more. Really enjoy your blog. Thanks

  2. Congratulations on the new job – though, as my husband would say, perhaps condolences are in order.. 🙂

  3. Thanks. Well, I’m happy to have it. I did surprisingly well in the interview; everyone seemed to like me. 🙂 Aspies are notorious for effing up interviews. I decided to be very open about my AS from the beginning. Then it turned out that each of my interviewers both had relatives of some kind on the spectrum.

    And the whole office seems to really like me so far. I keep hearing about emails that they send to each other about how good I am at X.

  4. Congrats on the new job! 🙂

    That guy in the psych office- what he did expect was going on with you?? Do all people in the psych office look like they have something wrong with them? Luckily I haven’t had that problem (yet). I’m waiting for that moment. Sigh.

  5. Heh, I’m usually the person who doesn’t understand the forms and processes and timing and gets flustered…though I’m always careful to not take it out on the people working in the office. To me, that’d be like yelling at a Wal-Mart employee for selling a defective video camera – it’s not their fault; it’s the manufacturer.

  6. What is this requirement to have a social security _card_? Good Lord, nobody is legally required even to have a SSAN! My SS card burned to ashes in the same ashtray with my draft card, years ago, but I do remember that it had printed on it the words, “Not for Identification.”

    When I had to fill out a 4473 to buy a rifle a coupla years ago, even the septuply-damned kitten-stompers of the ATF allowed me to omit SSAN, and the NICS went through, if not instantaneously, at least PDQ.

  7. Yay on the new job!

    I so cant deal with costomer service type stuff. Makes me wonder why im even going into the daycare in the first place. I was open about my hearing right away too and everyone here at my placement has been so good about making sure they are faceing me when they speak so I can hear them better.

    Chey

  8. Justthisguy – As for the social security card, it’s either that or a birth certificate. And if you think people have trouble laying their hands on a SS card, you should try asking them for a birth certificate. lol

    Melody – I don’t mind confused people. I’m often confused myself, when it comes to forms like that in other situations. I just get annoyed with people who want to yell at me like I’m the one who has any impact/control over the situation to begin with. *smacks head*

    Chey – It seems that honesty and openness worked out for both of our situations! Yay!

    Beartwinsmom – Oy. I don’t know. I just know that the things that happen to me rarely happen to others. lol

  9. I’m totally passing your link on to my friend with two Aspie kids. She’ll be so relieved to know that they’ll one day have an entertaining blog. Right now, she wants to kill one or both of them on a daily basis. Now she can create a mantra to keep from killing them: “One day they’ll have a funny blog, one day they’ll have a funny blog…”

    (So did they make it back by 5?)

  10. heathenly – ROFL!

    No, they rarely ever make it by the time required. *rolls eyes*

  11. Umm, no. One might have to tell an employer his SSAN, but there is no legal requirement to have the actual card, which is just a reminder for people who can’t memorize the number. Also, there are ways to get around the B. Cert. thing too; there are people still living with no B. Certs, born at home etc.

    I go with the old Common Law: You are who you say you are, and may use any name you like, as long as you don’t intend fraud.

    But then, I’m an old-fashioned guy and don’t think the State has any right even to know whether or not I exist, unless I register to vote

  12. You do if you want to fill out an I-9. Look here: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/jobs/i9id.html

  13. I never would think that being an Aspie would be entertaining- re: heathenly’s comment. But hey, at least we have to try to keep our humor in check, right? Some days my son’s antics make me want to pull my hair out.

    BTW, I tagged you for a meme. You can join in or not. It’s all OK with me. 🙂

  14. hey, congrats on the new job!
    and that guy in the psych office…geez. sometimes i find it really hard to get my head around that sort of ignorance. 75% of my family sees a psychiatrist or psychologist on a regular basis, and (most of the time anyway) we all appear perfectly normal. some people.

  15. I’ll not fill out an I-9, God willing, but the last time I looked at the law, there were no penalties for actual U.S. citizens who didn’t fill out their silly forms.

    I might write something out in longhand, like “I, the undersigned, do solemnly swear that I am a native-born citizen of the State of Georgia, and thereby also of the United States of America, by virtue of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.”

    That would just have to do, for them.

    I just hope that District of Columbia vs. Heller comes out right.

    Sorry, I’m an old-fashioned guy. Liberty comes first for me, even before my life.

    I do try to protect my life against disease, starvation, etc, but when going against the state, it’s more a matter of selling one’s life dearly. I’m not kidding.

  16. P.s. My cat seems to be of the same opinion. It seems he’d rather have the freedom to roam outside at night, even in our icky new neighborhood with dogs, coyotes, gators, and bad humans, than mope and brood indoors, even though the latter is demonstrably safer.

  17. *giggles at Justthisguy‘s cat*

    It’s strange how over time humans and their pets seem to gain the same habits.

    Domesticblister – I don’t know what was up with that guy. Of all the places to say such a thing . . . I mean, what if I’d been a homicidal murderer? lol

    Beartwinsmom – Well hell, the whole reason for writing this down is so I can use it in a book someday . . . lol *smacks head*

  18. Congrats and my sympathies on your new job– and sweet pwnage of that jerk with his form. Soon they will learn that HR rules the office with an iron fist… mwahahaha.

    I love stories like this and humbly request you continue to post them when they occur. http://www.customerssuck.com is one of my favorites, even though since getting out of the service industry I don’t usually have stories to post there anymore.

  19. […] I’m answering the phones at my new job, right? And this lady gets on the phone and says something about needing to find something for this […]

  20. Like your post. I’ve had many students with this form of Autism.

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