Sunday, October 20, 2013

Our working girl busted her hump to earn her keep.

Back in the day when I was a productive member of society, as in pre SS, I worked a lot of overtime hours.  As much as we dislike the County Without Milk, it was there that we were able to save enough to bring SS home, then for me to stay home with out child.  I learned early in my training that my new position has no such frill benefits. In my job classification over time is not permitted until I pass probation, and that is 18 months.  While one of the lower paid positions (only clerical makes less than my job) it is incredibly complex. That is why the union agreed to such a long probation period, the learning curve is steep, and you start master the tasks at around the 12 month mark. So I resigned myself to have to wait until November of next year to start building comp time.

Like P I was very stingy with my vacation time, and tried to build as much comp time as possible.  But alas, that was not going to happen. Except that with health care reform counties are under the gun to get applicants on the rolls ASAP.  Our county had a program that was completely manual. I have processed a few of those cases and they are a pain to get done.  Everything is done outside the nifty computer system we use for all other cases. Then once we generate those forms we scan them into the system. Right now the County must transfer all those files into the system to be ready for January first.  This is where the over time (OT) rule took a hit. A worker in classification II has a caseload of between 500-700 cases. It is brutal work and due to the volume they are perennially behind.  When they come in for OT it is to catch up on their work.  At least one Saturday a month our office has an OT party. The IIs and supervisors come in to work without phone interruptions, or clients in the lobby asking for a face to face.

As a I, my caseload is reduced, and I should get only 30 new cases a month, although I have ended up with almost 40 a month. That sounds cushy, but those are intake cases. In an unusual move, they are also assigning us re-evaluation cases, and cases from three other programs. It's never been done before, and after realizing what a mistake it was they won't do it with new hires.  But those of us unfortunate enough to be their test monkeys are stuck with the cluster f*ck of a caseload.  Hey, not really complaining, because having 700 cases is an actual problem.

So much to our green I status surprise, we have been asked if we want to help with the conversion process. Makes sense, it's simply data entry, and cleaning up cases. It's easy because the mistakes made are so glaring, like someone receiving benefits without an ID or birth certificate on file. We enter the information in the system, send out a request for the person to provide the verifications needed, and flag the case worker to review the case in three days. For the past month a lot of Is (the people I went to class with) have been doing OT in the evenings, only 2.5 hours. Since we work 9 hour days, it is quite a stretch. I did not volunteer because I was having difficulties getting used to the different programs and their requirements. Believe me, I was paid so well for doing something that takes no skill, removing a child from their home. OK, the court report writing was supposed to be difficult, but it was the easiest part of the job for me. This so called "non-skilled" position I am in now takes a toll on the mind and on your confidence. Also, I was hesitant to take time away from SS. I'm struggling with doing what millions of women do, working. A one income household is a thing of the past, yet I miss my baby.

But I would have to be crazy to pass up the opportunity to build comp time. I have to accumulate 40 hours before I am paid for OT.  I realized that I should start now because you never know what crisis is brewing. I stayed last week Thursday for my first 2.5 hour stint. That was a calculated move because I was off Friday, I was going to be able to give SS cuddle, and one on one time. Another bonus was that I was assigned to work on processing cases for a program that I was having a hard time understanding.  Nothing like processing 25 continuous cases in the same program to finally have the routine settle in your brain. Hey 2.5 down, 37.5 to go, and I finally figured out one piece of the puzzle.

On Wednesday our supervisor emailed seeking volunteers to work yesterday, a Saturday. I thought it was the monthly OT party, but no, he needed anyone who wanted to spend 6 hours working on conversions. Damn, the down side to P working Saturdays. I told my sup I'd love to but it's just me and the Baba taking care of SS, so I had to decline the offer. When I mentioned this to P he said "I can take the girl to work." SS spent a lot of time at P's previous job, but it was a lab with under 50 employees, family owned and operated. This is different and I thought he was kidding. No, he was dead serious, there are no supervisors at the plant on Saturdays, SS is thankfully very well behaved, and his coworkers did not mind. A plus of all the time SS has spent in a lab is that she is very well aware of not touching, what she can be close to, and what she must avoid. P understood that I had been worried about waiting so long to build my comp time reserve, and really did not want me to pass up this opportunity.

Yesterday morning we were all up bright and early, no pajama and movie viewing party for SS and Mama. Since P starts at seven and I did not start until eight, I allowed SS an extra half hour of sleep. SS donned her Dr. white coat, to match P's lab coat, and I dropped her off at the plant on my way to work. This was also very easy since we work a whole mile from each other, probably less. 

SS packed Legos, and drawing supplies for her day at work. Doesn't she look so adorable and professional? Yesterday the district's water was safer than ever, Dr. SS was on the job. Waste water plant protocol was carefully followed and all testing perfectly processed.

Chickens, they have chickens at the plant for vector control. In English, the chickens eat the mosquitoes.
SS brought home these eggs, since she is on a scrambled egg kick lately.

SS had a blast from her past, her friends made an appearance.  When P texted me this picture I wondered if it was safe for them to be there. P is not sure is good for them, but who is going to stop them.  On our drive home SS told me that she misses the ducks we used to visit at our former home.  SS was a big fan of the ducks and geese under the sun dial bridge. SS said "Mama, Baba got ducks for me to see." I had no idea my husband had such power to be able to summon animals for his daughter's viewing pleasure. She's a Baba's girl alright.

This picture was a hit with my coworkers and I was able to feel less yucky about dumping my kid to work on a Saturday. Most kids do not get to set foot in a lab until middle school, and my daughter has been around microscopes since she was a toddler. Not a bad way to spend six hours.

Another positive aspect of SS's work day is that she was able to see what her father does.  My work is as boring as it gets, although SS is very curious about where I spend so much time now days. Unfortunately SS is not allowed in my work area due to confidentiality.  She would have had a better chance if I was still a CPS social worker. Both jobs are big on confidentiality, but husbands and kids were the exception at my former job.  Where I work now they are rabid about confidentiality. During the summer one of my co worker's daughter was doing an internship downstairs. She was technically an employee and was working with the same information we handle upstairs.  But she was not allowed to come into our area.  My coworker had to go downstairs and have her breaks and lunch there to see her daughter.  So no, I doubt SS's cuteness is going to get her in the door.

This morning I noticed a band aid on SS's wrist and asked her what happened. With all the seriousness of a six year old she replied, "It happened at work." Ha! SS really cracks me up. 

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