To Train and Be Trained


Back before the insanity that is turning out to be this April , things got a little switched around at my work last month. With ten of our fifteen student workers leaving the university’s post office, my boss decided that it would be a good idea to get some new people hired and trained before the summer rolled around.

This put me in quite an interesting position. I’ve only been working at the post office since last August, but with everyone leaving, I’m going to end up being one of the more “experienced” workers. In theory, at least. I survive on a fake-it-til-you-make-it basis, so although I might seem confident in what I’m doing, I’m really just crossing my fingers and hoping it won’t all blow up in my face at a later date.

What this all means it that I’ve had to actually teach people what us mail-folks do, and in the process I’ve realized how much I really don’t know.

For example, I was asked to show one of the new hires the mail route that uses the golf cart. Now, I plan to write a heavily detailed post about the horrors of the golf cart later on down the road (think of it as a companion piece to “Red Mail Truck of Doom”), but for now, just know that the golf cart is just as terrifying as Big Red. If I’d had experience with the golf cart, this assignment wouldn’t be much of a problem, but at this point in time I had only driven the golf cart twice before. My poor coworker had to watch as I struggled to pilot the doorless, tiny white speed demon. It may not seem too bad, but would you really travel on a plane with a pilot who has only actually flown an aircraft twice before? I don’t think so. By the time we finished the route, I was a lot more proficient in the art of golf cart maneuvering, but my coworker was about ten shades paler and five times shakier from when we first started.

Training the rookies has also brought me to a realization that my coworkers and I are creatures of habit. We all have our set tasks, so when we go to drop mail off at the “official” downtown post office or go pick up packages from Copy and Post in the university’s library, each person has a specific thing they go and do. This method usually works very well, as it helps us get things done a million times quicker than usual, but as I’ve discovered, it has it’s downfalls. Like when I try to show my newbie coworker how to do something, only to find out that I’m not 100% sure on how to do all of it, because although I am master at sorting the P.O. boxes I am basically useless because Maximilian Montgomery has always picked up the outgoing boxes and there are 3,000 shelves here how am I supposed to know which one is the outgoing? Someone really needs to invest in a label maker.

Basically, the past month has been first-hand experience of the blind leading the blind. If I had a nickel for each time I uttered the phrase “I think this is how you do it but I’m not sure so I’m sorry if I end up getting us both fired”, then I would be able to buy enough chinchillas to make a soft coat for next winter.

At the same time, there’s some power that comes with being the senior employee. Sure, I have no idea what I’m doing, but I often can’t help but think, “watch the master, young grasshopper. One day, after years of patience and meditation and paper cuts, you will be able to meet my skill level. But until then, be content with lounging in the marvelous glow of my presence and knowledge.”

This mindset is quickly extinguished as I walk into work one week later and see the “young grasshopper” proficiently doing things that I didn’t even know we did at my job. Excuse me while I go pick up the rubber bands that litter the floor, because I am fairly useless, at I should at least look busy. At least I can put my neat-freak tendencies to good use. Besides, what else would I use them on? My room?

I don’t think so.


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