Monday, February 18, 2013

Going Back to Work Full Time

Although my parents gave $4000 for the kids, my parents did not feel comfortable using my husband’s money for trips. I told them I worked at home whenever there was a project. My mom felt sorry for me not working after being in school for so long. She wanted me to find a job, and we thought it best for me to find a part time job nearby. I went to the library and found the local job postings. There was a job at a local emergency response center. Sara, who studied wildlife before and now was working in the accounting department, wanted me to work full-time right away.  I told her that I would go home and discuss it with my parents since they were the ones who were going to watch my three sons during the day. After I told them I found a full time job, my father said he would stay for a year to help me out. My mom did not say anything.
     I was shocked to walk into the office and find a woman at my desk working. Sara told me that she was leaving and she did get up and leave. She looked like she had been crying. I was very uncomfortable to watch her go; I could have worked part time. My officemates told me that she had a lot of personal problems and she just could not do her job. Very soon, I found out that the billing was a mess; cash was not posted into the right account or posted more than once.
     The supervisor Kathy was a single mom. She flew through whatever she wanted me to know in five minutes, and then the phone rang. She went to pick up her phone at her desk. She wanted me to ask her questions if I had any. Yes, I did have questions; she wanted me to write them down and she would take care of them. I would not hear from her again.
     I was familiar with the DOS system while in college, which soon switched to Windows. Lee set up the whole system, so I went to see him. In the beginning, he was very defensive while explaining to me how his system worked. Slowly, he became very supportive after I showed him the problems. The problems were both human errors and system problems. I asked him to show me how to fix the human errors. For example, double posting cash so the customer would not get the bill. Cash posted into the wrong customer’s account. System errors occurred such as new customers did not show up in billing. These were things that his program was supposed to do. He wanted me to give him a list of what I wanted the system to do; he then wrote patch programs to improve his system. I wanted his program to print a list of cash posting amounts that did not match the billing amounts, likely posted to the wrong customer. I wanted his program to catch double payments in the same month.
     He did all the things that I wanted him to do. I was happy how much easier that made my job, when you talk about over 10,000 customers for billing and cash posting.
     I showed Kathy all the double postings and asked her to be careful in the future. Double-check the print out. I did not tell upper management. She did not show up the next day; she called in sick. Then a week went by, so I called her, and asked her if she was better. She said she was not better; she would not be back working anymore, and she was looking for another job. I told her that we do need her here; I hoped she would not take anything personal about the mistakes I found. She said it was good that I found all those mistakes and I should be the next supervisor. She had been there over five years, and Lee had never helped her. I came in for a few weeks; and he was so cooperative to help me.
     Lee told me that 20 years before, he and the owner George were sent to find a buyer for the company, but instead George brought the company himself. The two of them had been running it since. He had not written any programs for so long and he forgot most of the language. Everyone who came had always complained about his system; they wanted the owner to change his old DOS to a Windows-based program. So he had been on the defense for years. I was the first one who was willing to work with him and helped him improve his system.
     I told him that I was privileged working with programmer. Buying a new program package with a telephone-sized manual without on-site support would be worse. Not to mention, it would cost a lot of money to replace the system, money the company did not have.
     His son came in to work with him on college breaks, so I asked about his wife, he said, “which one?” I was shocked and asked how many did he have?; he said three in his over 50 years. He was living with his girlfriend now.
     In one year, I cleaned up the billing, was promoted three times, and became the supervisor. Some customers who called wanted to speak to me only. “ I want to speak with that girl with Irish accent.” We thought it was very funny. It was not funny for me; every one of my customers had a sad story. They just wanted to talk many times since I corrected their billing. One sent me a picture of her dog; later, her daughter called to cancel the services because her mother had died.
     Most of the people working there were young high school dropout kids. They came and went at a high turnover rate. Our customers were mostly old, sick, and dying; most stayed as clients for three months to a year. I had over 10,000 customers for billing each month. We had a data entry center, and just entered new and took out old clients. Also, a monitoring center was open 24/7. One morning when I walked into the office, a girl was crying, and I asked her why. Her supervisor had yelled at her for something that was not her fault. I checked into it and agreed with her. So, I told her to explain to her supervisor or I could go to her supervisor to help her explain. I did not like her supervisor even though I only dealt with him once when I asked him about his morning report. Instead of giving me the report, he let me wait so he could finish eating his popcorn at 9 AM. Then, he showed me how many kinds of vitamins he took everyday.
     The girl told me not to talk to her supervisor because she really needed this job; she needed to pay her mom rent or she would become homeless. I was joking with her; now, your mom cannot kick you out, can she? She said that was not funny; she was homeless before when her mom kicked her out. Yet her mother kept her dog. Sad to say, she was fired two weeks later.
     I felt so bad for both ends of the wire at the monitoring center. Our side were all teenagers struggling very hard to keep their heads above water. The other side were old, dying, and struggling very hard to live. One day when I walked out of the accounting office, I saw this boy’s hair glowing blue. I thought I was at the computer for too long, but it turned out that this boy had dyed his hair blue. As low as their income was hourly, they spent their money like there was no tomorrow. So before payday came, they were broke already. They ordered their lunch everyday. Every now and then, one lunch would be short. The delivery guy said he delivered all the orders, and the one who did not get the lunch ended up crying. I brought my lunch everyday from home. Their parents should have taught them how to use their money wisely.
     One day, our CFO brought in her sister-in-law. She wanted Sara to train her how to do her job, so Sara did not have any choice but to teach her. A few weeks later, Sara was forced out. I had a very hard time accepting Sara’s leaving since we had so much in common. The sister-in-law was not very good to work with. Once she ordered some very expensive computer supplies on-line, and Lee was upset. I told her she should really have asked Lee since it was his field of expertise. She was upset with me and wanted me to have a private talk with her in the office. Basically she wanted me on her side no matter what. I was shocked to see her putting her own interests above the company. As it was, our company was struggling to pay bills. I decided to look for another job.  Sadly this company does not exit anymore.

     I moved on to another full time accounting job nearby my home. I had a lot of adjustments to make after being at home for 10 years taking care of my children. Moreover, I did not to notice my parents also went through a huge change, suddenly becoming grandparents in a foreign country with a foreign son-in-law. One day my cousin in the UK called; he called me one day when I was not at home. My father told him a lot of things my cousin did not think could be true. I suddenly realized that my father had not smoked for almost a year without any complaints. I had not noticed anything wrong at home. My parents and I went up to the 3rd floor for a closed-door meeting. My mom did not have a word to say and my father started crying. He said he was sorry about complaining about me to my cousin; he did not know what he was saying. I was crying as well; I told them that I was sorry for not paying much attention to them after work. I took them for granted since they were my parents. If they wanted to return to China, I could always stay home again till my kids were a little older. After a long cry, my parents decided to stay a few more years till Joseph was older since they really loved him and were attached to him.