Monday, April 22, 2013

The Tortoise and Hare Clerk, Station 3, Phones/Holds Processing

This is a running series of Tortoise and the Hare comparisons of the different stations of my job. If you missed it see my introductory blogpost for more explanation here. But, briefly, it is a cross comparison of how these aspects of my job respectively suit the slow and steady worker and the volatile sprinter/loafer worker.

Station 3: Tortoise and the hare at the phones/holds processing:

I'll be sure to tell you more sometime about the fevered, but kept quiet, popularity of phones/holds processing (it even sounds super appealing! Well, it would if you only knew). This simple job, a solo one, wherein a clerk answers the thin smattering of phone calls that muscle their way through the automated answering system, and, mostly, processes bins full of books that are on hold for people so that they get a coded slip inside them, and alphabetized onto a cart, is undercut with such intense secrets and clerk strategies of working and not working that it's hard to analyze vis-a-vis the tortoise and the hare. It's like my crystal ball has gone all foggy. Something happens over in that little corner. Tortoises go fast and hares plug away. No one can ever really tell how much work anyone has done there but everyone thinks everyone else is doing too little. The reasonable clerk takes moderated advantage of the position and works to keep their complaining about others moderate as well. The unreasonable clerk deludes themselves that they don't take advantage of the position and complains immoderately about others.

What, you ask, does all of this express in our slow clerk, fast clerk, tortoise hare comparison? I think I would have to be able to sit over near that station, observing 6 or 7 different clerks over the course of 8 hours to know, because at this point I really don't know for sure. It's so hard to see. What I suspect is that all the tortoises and all the hares over there turn into something else, cats maybe. They could be fat cats, or sleepy cats, frisky cats or wise cats, but they are all, in the end, cats,  and so are outside the purview (yes) of this comparative discussion.

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