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.
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!
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.
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).
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]
[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!
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.
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.
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!
Me: I’m sorry. There’s nothing that I can do for you other than the options I’ve already mentioned.
Employee: Well, I guess I’ll go then. [Huffs]