While BS & I got our start in St. Louis, overall it turned out to be too landlocked/crowded/far from family to be permanent.  It was a good running start, though.  A way to get steady on our feet as a couple, because the brutal truth is when there’s no family around but the two of you it’s sink or swim, baby.

I spent the first eighteen months teaching special ed (what’s now called exceptional children), which is another post altogether.  In short, by the time we moved to NC I’d burned out of (or was too scarred by) teaching and needed to find another way to earn a paycheck.

Cue my interview with a company we shall call The Corporation.

The Corporation is a huge presence in our town.  Building after building, everywhere you turn, The Corporation signs announce yet another group of busy worker bees.  They Are Everywhere.  Like termites.  Or lice.

At any rate.

My job search requirements were simple:  no teaching positions, regular 9 to 5 hours, and no taking work home on the evenings or weekends.  Just a plain old job with a steady paycheck and nowhere near the stress level I’d been carrying.

In the end, I took a position as a patient customer service rep.  You can just call me Worker Bee, ma’am.

I know, I know…some might consider answering calls from irate patients all day stressful, but compared to having a desk thrown at me it seemed like a doable task.  So I sat in the cubicle, I answered the calls, I fixed the problems, or I sent it up the chain.

Shortly after 9/11 I took a break from the phones for – you guessed it – stress management, then I moved on to Research.  I sat in the cubicle, I took the problems from phone reps, I called insurance companies, and I submitted account corrections.  I had my 9 to 5 job, no planning or grading, no work on weekends…life should be good, right?

Yeah, except I was working in a cubicle with the same old office politics.  But I muddled through (hello, paycheck), enduring minor indignities that come with being a small cog in a big machine.  Until what I can only call the Reign of Time Clock Terror began.

Our building housed a couple hundred employees, each of whom entered through a main door and punched in on one of two time clocks.  It’s worth noting it had been years since I’d used a timecard, and I’d never had to navigate the process with so many people at once.  It was quite a dance.

Why is that, you ask?  Well, that would be due to The Corporation’s strict limitations:  you can’t punch in more than one minute early OR late on arrival, before or after lunch, and when leaving for the day.  That’s a 120 second window with people stacked in the hallway, timecards clenched in sweaty palms, poised to lunge for the clock at precisely the right moment.  That’s insane.

I didn’t snap until the second time my supervisor wrote me up for clocking in two minutes early from lunch.  (Not even late.  Early.)  I marched my loyal, conscientious, overqualified ass back to my desk where I called BrightSide to ask about switching health insurance.  I turned in my notice the next day.

Some might consider my employment at The Corporation a down cycle in life, and to be fair I have occasionally looked back on those years and shuddered.  But in the time honored, Pollyanna, glass half full, everything is a life lesson spirit…at least now I can make sense of an EOB.

So there’s that.