Three of the worst weeks of my life....

Three of the worst weeks of my life, and what I had to do to turn things around....

Okay... so the dispatch job. UGH, where to start. That place was a living hell. Let me start by saying that I've worked some truly horrible jobs. I've worked for a truly MEAN 86-year-old attorney who didn't believe in computers or modern technology. I worked 70 hour weeks for Glamour Shots. I've worked 100+ hour weeks for Cedar Point (America's Roller Coast!). There was little that was "fun" about any of these jobs, but I did them and I did them well.

This dispatch job, however... Absolutely intolerable. Had I taken a tape recorder to work every day I'd own that company.

They started me out in call taking. I actually liked it in call taking, even with the insane atmosphere. We figured out one day that in one hour I answered 86 phone calls. We worked ten hour days, most of the time answering the phone to hear a voice yelling "Where the FUCK my ride at???" (A little backstory: This company at the time I was working there primarily took folks on public assistance to their medical appointments. They averaged 1600 rides a day. They probably shouldn't have contracted to do more than a thousand. Too few cars, too many riders. They hired me to dispatch the new EMS service they were preparing to roll out.)

I realize I made it pretty clear here that I'd rather be on the road working EMS than dispatching. But more important to me than being on the road was bringing home a steady paycheck. After a nice heart to heart talk with my mom I went into work the day I was to start learning dispatch with a good attitude. I'm an easy going person, I make friends easily, and I catch on to things quickly. I didn't doubt for a second that I'd be able to learn dispatch.

From the second I walked into that room I was met with hostility. There were three female dispatchers who through working at this company had become very close friends. Given the chaotic environment, I can see how that wouldn't be difficult. I can even see why they would feel a little over-protective of their boards. I wasn't a threat to them, I wasn't going to be a dispatcher for the cars, I was going to be on the EMS side... I wasn't a threat to them.

I was initially met with a flat out refusal to answer my questions. (If you've been doing this job for five years with the same dispatch software, there shouldn't be many questions that you can't answer) As the days went on refusal to answer questions turned into just ignoring me completely. When I approached the supervisor with the problems I was having she reassured me that "This is just how they work... They're busy, I'm SURE they're not ignoring you on purpose." She then told me she'd have a talk with them. That's when things went from bad to worse.

The next day went I went in I was greeted with complete silence. To say they were glaring at me would have been the understatement of the frickin' century. Hey, I can deal with dirty looks. I just want to learn this job. When I was attempting to dispatch (yes, they threw me right into the fire) I messed up. I was getting farther and farther behind while the dispatcher I was working with was watching and giggling over my shoulder. Finally the supervisor for the drivers came in and asked "What the HELL is going on in here?"... Apparently the drivers were calling in and complaining over my complete lack of dispatching ability. Well SHIT people, you've not answered ONE of my fucking questions, I've been observing for only four days, you throw me onto the board and expect me to be able to handle 45 cars in CLEVELAND? I've never lived in Cleveland, I've only been there a few times, I certainly don't know the roads and you're using dispatch software that's antiquated at best. DO YOU THINK I'M BEING SET UP TO FAIL? Gee, I don't know.

When I stood up to move to another seat the dispatcher who had been training me sat down and said, "Stupid white bitch can't do anything right." Hand to God. I was shocked. I couldn't even respond. I stood up, picked up my bag and walked out of the room. I went to talk to my supervisor who was pretty pissed about the whole thing. She had me fill out an incident report. It was what she said next that basically sealed my fate at this particular company. She told me that she would make sure that this incident report would be "slipped into a file" and she'd talk to the employee who said it. She wouldn't tell her who make the complain, and she'd give her a verbal warning to "knock it off". She then told me that I could come in on Saturday and try to sit in the dispatch room again. (this was on a Thursday.) Until then I could just work the phones as a call taker. I should probably add that Saturdays are dead days... Perfect time to learn dispatching, the only problem is that it would literally be myself and the three dispatchers. No call takers or supervisors in the building.

OH HELL NO. This could end in a very ugly way.

I went to an inner city public high school. I grew up in a very diverse neighborhood. I can say that I'm not racist and mean it. I truly believe stupid ignorant people come in every color, shape, and age. I will treat you with all the respect in the world until you give me a reason not to.

These ladies gave me several reasons.

I went home that night and had a long talk with my husband. He surprised me.... He was okay with me quitting. He also wanted me to "sue their asses" but that's another post entirely. We decided that I'd go in the next day and ask if I could stay on as a call taker, after all, they were still hiring call takers and I was trained as one.

The next day I went in and talked to my supervisor about that same possibility. She said she'd have to talk to her supervisor and she'd get back with me on Monday. When I brought up not working on Saturday (given the hostility), she agreed. I left knowing that I'd probably be without a job on Monday. Even knowing that I was ecstatic. I could breathe again. I felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders. I immediately went out and filled out applications.

My first stop was The Camera Store. I had worked there in the past, and prior to EMS it was my absolute favorite job. The next day I was called for an interview and three days later I was hired.

So I'm working retail again. 31-years-old and I'm working in the mall. At least it's a job where I wake up in the morning and look forward to going to work. I've had interviews at two other EMS companies, and haven't heard back. I was told by both I would hear from them regardless of the outcome, and that I could expect a call this coming week, so I'm hopeful. The Camera Store is willing to work around my schedule should I land one of these two jobs, so that would help considerably where finances are considered.

So that's the story of the dispatch job and the three of the worst weeks of my life in a nutshell. I'm glad it's over, and I'm grateful for what I've learned. True, I'm working in retail again, but at least it's commission... and in the past I've pulled in very nice paychecks from this company. I have a good feeling about the EMS jobs I've interviewed for... I'm hoping I'm going to hear positive things this week. I'd LOVE to have more EMS stories to post... In the meantime, maybe I can humor you with some fun retail stories. Who knows :)


none said...

Holy crap what a bunch of assholes.

I guess you found valuing diversity only goes one way.

I'd sue for a hostile work environment.

Well I hope you find something better and with nicer people.

Epijunky said...

I've never been so glad to walk out of a building in my life. There were some very cool people working there who I miss already, and I hope for their sakes that the conditions improve.

I managed to land a job that I actually enjoy, and other than the girl who keeps stealing my sales, the people are really nice.

Things are looking up anyway :)