Tag Archives: encouragement

This week on “I Have No Idea What I’m Doing”

29 Jan

I debated with myself for a long time about whether or not it would be a good idea to write a post about my job, what with the internet being a free service and my employers knowing about its existence. I soon realized however, that as I am the only one at my job that I have anything bad to say about, I really can’t make things worse for myself than I already have.

I hope I haven’t just subconsciously dared myself to say something ridiculous and embarrassing.

First: I really like my job, and I feel so blessed to have it.

However – with any new experience eventually comes blatant evidence of lack of experience.

I have never gotten so many consecutive paper cuts in all my years, nor have I ever endeavored so valiantly to communicate via telepathy with a fax machine. I certainly never before imagined myself alternately saying, “screw you” and “thanks, honey” to a copy machine so many times per day.  Yet here I am, and in a way, I suppose I am living my childhood dream – my chair does spin, after all.

This is my first proper job I’ve held that doesn’t involve looking after children, so all my victories are of the variety that you can’t get other people to be excited about. For example, whenever I take a phone message that doesn’t involve me calling the person on the other end “Patrick” (that’s another story), it’s cause for celebration.

Thankfully, the bulk of the customers who come in are regulars, so if they ask me to do something that leads me to adopt a deer-in-headlights expression, they can usually walk me through my job.

I’m getting better, I really am, but I also believe my entire learning curve can be summed up in two statements from my supervisor when she was first training me how to print checks:

Exhbit A:

“You’re a natural!”

(said after I successfully fed check forms into printer bypass tray)

Exhibit B:

“Oh. You’re not a natural! Haha!”

(said after I successfully printed checks upside down)

One day she taught me to book-bind, which was probably my favorite task so far. I was about half-way through when I decided I was really good at it. Not a single sheet punched incorrectly, I was wasting nothing. And I was fast, faster at this task than I was at anything else I’d tried.

I rocked. I was on top of the universe. I was on a roller coaster that only went up, my friend.

And then when I was looking over my impeccable work, my supervisor pointed out that I had forgotten to put one paper in every booklet.

One paper.

One sheet of paper in each booklet.

I spent the next two hours ripping the combs out of every single booklet and re-binding them again. Usefully, I didn’t cut any (really? any?) of the bindings as short as I was supposed to, so I was able to just re-use them. Silver linings!

When the customer who’d ordered the booklets came to pick them up, she indicated the last page and said she was hoping that it would be the other way around.  My supervisor apologized, but the customer waved it off, laughing, “Don’t worry about it, you can do it next time. It’s not like I would make you un-bind them all!”

My supervisor laughed. My boss laughed. I laughed.


All this to repeat what a wiser man than me once said:

sucking at something is the first step towards being sorta good at something

Behold the sophisticated hipster version of a disjointed dialogue from a cartoon yellow dog named Jake –

Sucking at something is the first step towards being sorta good at something.

Can I get an amen?

This is basically to encourage myself and everyone who’s ever been in this sort of situation.

All that bother I described was a couple months ago. I’ve gotten better. I’m growing some roots.

In fact, a couple of days ago, my supervisor dropped a freshly-printed batch of robot stickers on my desk. I nearly squealed.

“I thought you’d like them,” she said, smiling. So I have been discovered.

But this event begs the question – was it the Star Trek  and Doctor Who references, or was it maybe the Marvel poster that I put up in the ladies’ room that tipped her off about my severely eleven-year-old-boy-esque tastes?

We may never know.