Wednesday, September 07, 2005

One of Those Weeks

I find myself in one of those weeks. Someone might have said that I had 'a case of the Mondays,' except I had them on Tuesday. For a couple moments yesterday, I felt like the main character, Peter Gibbons, in Office Space. I shouldn't say that I felt like him because I only had a glimpse of that not caring without pushing me over the cliff into the "I just don't give a crap anymore. . .I will do what my heart tells me" fantasy.

Maybe I should say, as I touch on embarassment, that I may have felt more like Chandler Bing from Friends, in that I work in an office but don't really care much about it. Today, I labeled myself a paper pusher, except that I know that I have more qualifications than that and, most of the time, I do more than just push paper, going through formalities and such. Instead, this week, especially since the guy who does a lot of the routine stuff has the next two weeks off for vacation. As insurance agent, I have a lot of very simple responsibilities to keep things straight and to provide value to a customer, like making sure that their policy has the correct mortgage listed on the policy and sending evidence to their mortgage company that they have the insurance coverage that they do have but before doing that, I have to first discover that we don't have the right mortgage company on the policy at a panicky moment because the client has received a letter telling them that the mortgage company hasn't received evidence of the policy and that they have force placed an insurance policy onto their home that costs, at the least, three times the cost of a policy they purchase from us, which doesn't provide anywhere near the same kind of coverage. So. . .I have to call around to get that information correct, gather together the information from the policy to put on the sheet that works as evidence, make up a fax cover sheet ("Mmmmm. . .Did you get the memo about putting the new cover sheet on the TPS reports? Mmmmm. . .yeah. . .well. . .I'll send you that memo again." "I heard that you haven't been putting the cover sheets on your TPS reports. Did you get the memo?"), fax the evidence and cover sheet to the mortgage company, figure what company the client is with, remember what process the particular company uses to have that change made (do I send an e-mail, do I make the change over the Web or do I just call it into the company), go through the process of making the change that can take forever depending on if the Web works, how it takes for their Webpage to load, how long it takes for the e-mail to go through, how long I'm put on hold waiting for someone at the mortgage company or at the insurance company to pick up the phone and ask me how they can help me then we have to make sure that they understand what I'm saying and that I understand what they're saying. Then after the change gets sent or the information transmitted, I then get to write up a memo (this is my own extra touch, but clients seems to like it and other insurance professionals in classes tell me it's a good idea), seal it up in an envelope then put it aside to get posted then put in the mail for the end of the day. This process can take up to half an hour at a time, sometimes up to an hour or an hour and a half depending on the situation at the mortgage company and any problems that may crop up, like the fax machine on the other side not working. Usually, though, by the time I'm done with the process, someone else calls me with another situation similar to this one that needs the whole process.

Then every couple of hours, I get a big pile of mail put onto my desk that I get to go through, organize in so many different ways, evaluate whether something needs to get done now or later as compared to the other kijillion things on my "to do" list that no one seems to understand because I'm using the "activity" list in an unorthodox way, setting up follow ups for 1943 because setting up the tasks in the past by decades in the past allows me to prioritize what needs to get done and such. And while I'm trying to organize this mail, another client calls with the need to change the mortgage on their insurance policy and the need to send evidence of this change to their new mortgage company, so I have to go through the whole above process to get that done, so it takes me about a half hour or an hour and a half to get back to filing the mail.

I also get to go online to a couple company's Websites to print down policy paperwork changes and renewals and cancellations and new policies that the companies have issued. This task usually gets done right before lunch or a little afterward, depending on how many people call to have their mortgage changed, have me look up their balance on their policy, tell them where to send their payments, ask how to make a claim, ask if they should make a claim, how do they insure their jewelry or fine arts and on and on and on. . .then there's the one or two people who just call and say something like, "I'm totally confused. What's happening? Am I in trouble?"

I'm not saying anything against clients. I'm not saying anything against the companies. I'm not saying anything about the agency. I'm not really saying anything other than it's draining, especially when things get to be repetitive or just plain negative, and I can even touch important things that I've already got on my "to do" list that requires hard thought and even a bit of creativity. And. . .half the time, I can't get to it because all this routine stuff needs to get done and everyone else is busy enough doing their own thing or my co-workers pretty much send me most of the calls because I'm really the only full time person in my department. It just gets tiring. . .not having the opportunity to do these BIG tasks that really do need to get done but don't necessarily always have an instant result that gets seen because I'm doing all these little routine things that, if they don't get done, something bad will happen or the client won't get something that they want. Worse thing, though, is that sometimes I just feel like that all these highly immediate things will get in the way of the moderate immediate things that need to get done or something bad will happen while the BIG things don't get done. . .and. . .and. . .and. . .

I should be happy that I have this job, that I'm getting a paycheck, that I've got a home, that I can pay for transportation, that I can pay for the food on my table, that I can pay for my cable TV and Internet, that I can pay for the cool things that I have, that. . .that. . .that. . .I'm supporting this great huge system that allows me and some others to consume and provides for me and some others but leaves me tired and exhausted and makes it hard for me to do the creative and analytical that I want to do and love, instead leaving me as a lump of something or the other, consuming food, the sparse moments of love I can get, TV, bike riding and other routine things just so I can stay up late and get entertained and feeling driven and feel really really tired the next day so my productivity goes down, but I get enough of it done.

And I do feel a tug of responsibility to spend time with people, and I enjoy these friends. . .but even then, it feels like I'm going to them as either entertainment or as just a responsibility. I want to write and work on my thesis, but I feel guilty doing so because it's a me thing and something that won't directly support or effect the world until it gets done and sometimes I get lost in the task of it even though thinking about it can help me get through the day even though it frustrates me and creates these roadblocks that get in the way of my progress on it. As bad as this sounds, it all, even the friends, feel like that level of routineness that gets in the way of getting the big creative and analytical things that I want to get done.

I want to do a lot, but I'm not in the place to do it because I have all these things to address before accomplishing those things, which include professional stuff, emotional and spiritual maturity stuff, relationship stuff with people and helping to make the world a better place. I've got fear, but I've also got all these "small" things that need to get addressed before I can deal with the big important stuff that I want to touch upon.

I haven't even really been able to engage and think seriously about the discourse and situation of Hurricane Katrina and the flooding in New Orleans. I feel lame and selfish for this disposition.

Work feels like a microcosm of my life. . ..


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