Sunday, February 21, 2010

Adventures in Bird Research: Episode Suck

So this week I had to turn my paperwork in for the bird job in order to start getting paid.
I got a very abrupt e-mail from the (I'm sure very busy and hassled) HR lady in the department with the forms and instructions to turn them in as soon as possible, and preferably that day or the next. I would just like to point out that she sent the e-mail at three o'clock on a Thursday.

But whatever. I figured I'd turn them in the next week, because I was fairly busy training at my other job.

Monday rolls around and the (I'm sure very busy and hassled) HR lady sends me an e-mail saying only, "I just found out you haven't turned in your forms yet."

Have I mentioned I haven't had a day off in going on four weeks?

But I write a fairly polite e-mail back saying, "I'm sorry, I'm transitioning between two other jobs right now and I'll get them to you at the latest by tomorrow afternoon." But I plug my printer into my computer and start printing the forms out. And nothing happens. I spend fifteen minutes trying to get my computer to recognize that my printer exists to no avail.

"That's cool," I thought. "I can print it out at work tomorrow." I was kind of in a hurry because I had to go feed a Norwegian-speaking blue macaw, who promptly pooped on the rug as soon as I let him out of the cage. Unfortunately I don't know the Norwegian word for, "SERIOUSLY?!"

So at work I try to print it out, only to discover that the printer is out of ink. The Science Center is a nonprofit organization, and if you've ever worked for one of those you know that when you're out of ink it probably won't be reordered until the next business quarter. So I e-mailed the (I'm sure very busy and hassled) HR lady to say, "Sorry, I'm having trouble getting access to a working printer, but as soon as I do, I'll get you the forms."

She replied, "You can fax me this form but make sure the other form gets delivered in person."

To which I almost replied, "Yes, I wasn't illiterate the first time you sent me an e-mail," but restrained myself.

So finally S., my terribly nice grad student boss, offered to print the forms out for me, and so I filled them out and took them in to the payroll office, where they charge for parking and where the payment station doesn't accept anything except exact change, or payment for less than an hour of parking. I spent five minutes trying to force-feed a five-dollar bill to the machine for a one-dollar charge, then gave up and went back to my car and dug out some loose change. When I finally made it inside, a stern-looking lady with a mustache asked me, "Are you a rehire or a new employee?"
"A rehire," I responded politely, looking at her eyes and not her mustache.
"Has it been over a year since you worked for us?"
"Yes." I couldn't help it. I looked at it.
"Well, you'll have to fill out the entire new employee packet instead. Was it someone in the department who gave you this form?"
"I have no idea."
Mustache lady glared at me. "Sometimes they have no idea what they're doing."
"Well," I said, looking at her eyes again, "I really don't have time to fill out the whole packet here today, so I'll bring it back tomorrow."

Which I did. Filled it out and brought it back the next day, and paid another dollar for parking. Turns out it wasn't that the machine didn't accept exact change--it didn't accept bills. Even in the slot that was made to accept bills. I had come prepared for this, however, and had replenished my supply of quarters in my car.
This time when I went in, a very friendly young college student was working the desk. "Can I help you?" she said.
"Yes, I just wanted to turn in my new employee packet and do my identity verification."
"Do you have an appointment?" she asked. Nicely.
I looked around at the empty waiting room. A tumbleweed rolled creakily past the entrance. "No," I said finally. "Can I make an appointment?"
"How about two o'clock tomorrow?" she asked.
"That sounds fantastic," I croaked.

The next day I went back at two o'clock for my appointment and walked in to find a completely different lady sitting at the desk.
"Hi!" she said brightly. "Can I help you?"
"Yes, I had an appointment at two for an identity verification."
She looked confused.
"I'm just turning in my new employee packet and I brought my passport to do my I-9," I added, waving the packet at her.
"Oh," she said. "Well, you don't need an appointment for that. We can just do that right now."
"Great!" I said, an octave higher than I meant to.
"You must have come in yesterday when we were having our meeting and the girl from next door covered the desk," she said.

Briefly, I'd also like to mention that, because I am employed by ASU, I'm technically employed by the State of Arizona, and so I had to sign the "Loyalty Oath," on pain of them withholding any monies or compensation for my services:

I, ______, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution and laws of the State of Arizona, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same and defend them against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge the duties of the office of ______________ according to the best of my ability, so help me God (or so I do affirm). (

I'm researching bird foraging. In that little space to list which office you will defend from all enemies foreign and domestic, I had to put "part-time lab tech." This isn't f*%&ing NASA, here, people. This isn't even park service at a national monument. These birds don't even have avian flu. I really don't think I'm going to have much opportunity to be putting myself between a bullet and the Constitution, if you know what I mean. Untangling extension cords, yes. Putting out trays filled with birdseed, check. Sometimes I might get to stop off at Starbucks for a white chocolate mocha. Not so much on the uncovering evil plots by foreign dictators, though. That's all I'm saying.

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