Monday, July 13, 2009

Oh, She With The Curious Mind

Back in 2000, I started temping at WRQ (a software company, not a radio station) after I quit my jobs at the montessori school and at the dance studio. I had been working 15 hour days, and had no social life.

So I decided to suck it up and go back into an office. Easy money, 8 to 5 day, and health insurance. My assignment was for four months and it was mindless work. I moved information from one database to another, to get ready for the implementation of a new customer service database named Siebel.

Well, four months turned into six months, and six months turned into a year and then I finally got hired on full time. And my boss was a nice man named David.

David gave me more responsibility. I was in charge of cleaning the database. I merged duplicate entries, I retyped information so that it was all uniform and consistent (yes, it was a dream job). But in the process of cleaning this data, I started to notice that the sales people were using it in different ways. Therefore, the data was being entered inconsistently and I was having to retype everything. I realize now that was simply job security, but I’m all about efficiency and doing it right the first time.

So I started to talk to the sales people and ask them about their processes. How did they use the database? What information did they need to extract from the database? What part of the database did they not use? What part did they hate? We ended up making some changes to the database and doing training sessions for the sales people, so that everyone was on the same page and using the information the same way. Go Raechelle.

When it came time for my first review, I was praised in most everyway. I was a good worker, I was fast, I was punctual, I was fun to work with. But David gave me one ding. He said “Raechelle needlessly concerns herself with tasks that do not relate to her job.”

Um. Needlessly?

I’ve been telling this story a lot lately. As a buyer, I’m buying things that are very foreign to me. Pipette tips, hexahydrate, a geneamp PCR. Stuff like that. And I like to ask my customer what these things are used for, so I have a better understanding of what we need should the vendor ask me when I’m placing the order.

And I can hear David in my head saying, “You’re just the buyer, Raechelle. You don’t need to concern yourself with what this stuff is. Just do your job. Just buy the stuff.”

I tell David to shut up.

Because my inquisivitiveness has paid off. I am in the middle of trying to get these cartridges from our vendor, but our vendor ran out completely, so we only got seven of the 30 we ordered. I had no idea what these things were, only that our lab folks were calling on a daily basis says, “We REALLY need these! We’re running out. PLEASE see what you can do!” (This is the part of my job I don’t like so much.)

And the kicker with these cartridges is that they all have to be of the same lot. I had no idea what this meant, but I kept telling the vendor “Yes, please send the remaining cartridges, but please make sure they are of the same lot.” The vendor should know what that means, right?

Finally, the manager of the lab called me to get an update. She’d been hearing updates, but wanted to know first hand where we stood. I had been doing everything in my power to get these freakin’ cartridges (not really even knowing what they’re for) but the vendor kept telling me they just don’t have any, but they would be getting a shipment of them in soon. I told all of this to the manager, and she was very sweet and thanked me for doing what I could. Then I asked her, even as I heard David’s voice in my head, “What do these things do? Why are they so important?”

Before these cartridges came along, our lab people had to manually separate blood samples. Pull the white from the red, then extract DNA then separate something else. These cartridges do all of that for them in one spin. What used to take them hours to do now, with these cartridges, takes seconds.


I called the vendor back and asked to speak to a manager. I said we would be out of these cartridges in the next five days and if we do not have our remaining shipment, there was going to be hell to pay. And these puppies MUST BE from the same lot because if they are not, we have to test that lot and to test a lot uses four cartridges. FOUR WHOLE CARTRIDGES. So, by gawd, they better be from the same lot because a case of 100 cartridges (tiny, little cartridges) is $800 and we are not wasting FOUR CARTRIDGES to test these lots because you can’t seem to get them all from one lot when THAT’S YOUR JOB.

Yes, yes. Feeeeeel the power.

Well, the cartridges came in, and they were all from the same lot and the manager of the lab thanked me profusely for keeping on the vendor and I look like I know what I’m doing. And now when the order comes through for these things, I AM ON IT.

In my opinion, asking questions isn’t such a bad thing, now is it?


Stephen Rader said...

You are SO my hero! Question everything. Always.

As Auntie Mame says to Mr. Babcock when he asked where young Patrick learned how to make a vodka martini, "Mr. Babcock, knowledge is power!"

(It's funny if you imagine Roz Russell saying it.) :)

Lucy Leadskin said...

"Needlessly" = BULLPUCKY. You were streamlining the process, saving the company money. David needs a swift whap with a 2x4.

David sounds like a "Don't worry yer pretty li'l head. Yer just a GUUURRRL."

I hate people like that.

Keep kicking ass.


Hanineal said...

I recently had to whack the guy who orders the supplies for my lab upside the head to get him to show the same common sense as you exhibited in your story. Since in my lab the supplies in question cost $1400 for a case of ten, it was a substantial whack!

I'm going to show him our post in hopes he continues to show similar thought in the future.