I feel like a dunce. A real-live-sitting-in-the-corner-facing-the-wall-wearing-a-dunce-cap dunce with a sign that got taped to my back when I didn’t notice because I was standing in line at the cafeteria waiting for my apple crisp that says “I’m stoopid”.
I have been in HR for 18 years. I have done most everything, usually because I work for non profits and we can’t afford staff. At one place, they bought me rubber boots because the basement kept flooding and I had to go down and unplug the drain when it rained or sewage would get all over while I was in the middle of hiring summer staff which is not a retention tool. Another place took me out of a CFO interview because the coffee maker was broken. I have negotiated with plaintiff’s attorneys while mopping the floor. I sued the Feds over not making a decision on a Green Card while uploading a job to Craig’s List. I can multi task, I am smart. Or I used to be.
The last year ate my brain and spit it back out, but it spit it out kind of weird. Like it had a parasite. Or a fungus. Like that really big fungus that is underground and covers all of Michigan. I had only been back from Indonesia a few weeks when I started to feel lazy. I was really afraid I would wake up at 6 a.m., do my job search, clean the house and then crack a beer at 8 a.m.
An HR colleague was kind enough to try me out on a contract doing national Leaves of Absence. I know FMLA, I know WA leave, I even thought I knew CA and OR, but the devil is in the details and I am not detail oriented. You will know this if you ever come over and use my bathroom. It LOOKS fine from the door, but if you really crawled around on the floor, you would be horrified. My friend Dave just told me you have to take the screens off your windows to clean them. Ohh! That is why they just get gross when I hose them down and make the windows all foggy! I definitely need adult supervision on home repair. Or home disrepair.
So, as I was saying, I am dumberer than I used to be. I had a few minutes of flat out panic where I put my hands over my face and cried and tried to give them their money back. To be fair, there were a lot of hands in this stuff before I came and following the paper and electronic trails back is harder than solving a Nancy Drew mystery, but I still like to add value. I am not even charming – I just stare at the screen and try to figure out what happened in Florida in 2010 with a leave and then take my obligatory walk to Subway for lunch and checking email on my phone. (Six inch veggie on honey oat with all the veggies except olives and cucumbers, please!) Then I come back and have a high degree of stupid again for a few hours and try to figure out how to print (the printer is really really hard. IT gets confused, I am not kidding.). I have finally met a copy machine that is more intelligent than me. I don’t know what this means for AI or for me, but either way, it is scaring me.
I do think it is finally sinking in, which is good. I guess five days isn’t that bad of a learning curve and I have demolished the paperwork stack they handed me. Shredding feels like walking on the beach barefoot, or eating baked brie or your first kiss – that is how satisfying killing some of this paperwork is.
The thing about being new in a job is that you always feel like a dork the first few days – you can’t dial your phone, you don’t know how to run the copier, you can’t figure out where they put the tea – I know this. I tell people this all the time. I also tell them “I told you that during your orientation and sent it to you on email so you wouldn’t forget” which is exactly what good HR folks do (and in this case did, but it doesn’t matter because it is me and I don’t want to be the dumb one that forgotted everything I was told) but I am THAT girl that didn’t pay attention the first day of class.
Next week, I am supposed to help a company I have worked with for years on some additional immigration issues. I hope I don’t screw up and have their employees sent to India for 5 months on accident like happened one time before (but that one was NOT my fault). I sued the government and won – yeah!
I went to Macy’s for a Dunce Cap because I figured I should own up, but they are too expensive, so I had to get one at Value Village (that is where I shop for my friends and I got GREAT discounts on some of them!). I will be wearing one tomorrow. It is mauve.