Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Fifth Job.

I figure I needed to get caught up on the Job posts. I don't know what happened there. Oh well. So let's get on to the next job.

I had just served a full time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. And it was a Spanish speaking mission. So hey, I could use that on a resume. My sister Katie was to leave for her mission about 2 weeks after I got home. So we did some quick catching up and spent time together and she told me about the job she had just left. It was collecting for Discover Card. She put in a good word for me and told me who to talk to so I could get a job. I applied and they told me it would be a couple of months before they hired again. They would keep my application and call me. So I had to figure something out for the mean time. I was 23 years old, dirt poor and didn't have much of a wardrobe. So I went to Kindercare and got a quick job to fill the time and get some money.

At the end of June I got a call from Discover Card saying they wanted an interview. Yes! So I went in and was hired. My start date would be July 5. So I quit my other job and worked on a professional wardrobe and began training.

Our trainer's name was Kitty. Yep, like a cat. There were 3 or 4 men in the class and then me and another woman named Shelia. Shelia and I hit it off quickly and were friends for a very long time. In fact, she is the one who got me talking to Wife Beater guy's ex girlfriend about his violent history. The only person still there today is Shelia. She's a die hard.

In the training we were taught about the debt problems and what options we could give people to help and how to make money ourselves by helping them pay their delinquent bills. We read a lot, listened to actual collection calls being made, practiced a lot and, after a few weeks, we were ready to go out on the floor.

We were each assigned to teams we would be working on. We were all pretty well split up and that made us all especially nervous. One of the things our trainer did was to tell each of us what our strengths were and how those strengths would help us collect. For me she said this, “Jennie is going to kill with kindness.” Now one thing you must remember is that I am much crankier now than almost 20 years ago. So killing with kindness wasn't a stretch. There were some who didn't think I'd actually make it out on the floor because of my kindness. But I did okay.

I eventually worked my way up a little to other levels of delinquency. I did pretty well and earned great incentive each month. I also took Spanish calls after learning how to speak Collections in Spanish. I had an opportunity to be on a team of people who were trained to work with card members who were in the military. I learned quickly that asking for a delinquent military man's commanding officer was a great way to get a payment.

One of the things I heard every single day was “you can't get blood from a turnip” or “you can't get blood from a stone”. After getting this for a while I began asking the person if he was a turnip or a stone. Sometimes I got hung up on. Sometimes I got a huffy, sputtering response that ended in a hang up. So I gave up on that and began to just say “we aren't asking for blood ma'am” or even letting them know that they could get money by donating blood. Or plasma. Offering a side job of delivering pizza or getting a paper route were sometimes taken with gratitude. But more often than not, if you are in debt with one credit card, you are in debt with other creditors.

Many of the delinquent card holders were older people who got the applications in the mail and filled them out and sent them in. Then they bought groceries or medicine or dog food with the card. And because they are on a fixed income, the balance doesn't get paid. Others of the many delinquent card holders were in that very same predicament, but they were college students with no job. And the rest were people like you and me, with children and stuff and who lost a job or had a pay cut or who just got in over their heads.

Let's talk about cars. When I got home I drove my dad's hobby, the rotary engine Mazda RX7. It was a piece. Of HUD. I began work at 1:30 in the afternoon, so getting to work wasn't a problem. The problem was that I got off work at 10 pm. That meant a cold engine. With a cold engine I found this car had a noise problem. It would backfire. LOUDLY. So many nights I would leave the DC parking lot and backfire very loudly as I did so. Heads would turn. Every once in a while someone would duck. The next car I drove was a cute blue 4 door Geo Prism. With no guts. It took about 3 days to get to 60 mph. And that's with the A/C off. But it was quiet. Aahh. Peaceful. I paid my dad for use of the car but knew I'd need my very own transportation. So I saved for my very own car. After the wardrobe was furnished, of course.

My job supplied me with an income worthy of purchasing a car. After a couple years' work I had enough for a down payment, insurance and months of payments. I went with my sister Katie to look around. I wanted something quiet and fast. I fell in love with a lovely fast quiet green 4 door Pontiac Grand Am. I got in to test drive, put the A/C on high and went for an uphill road. It took that uphill like it was down hill. And with the A/C on! I bought it.

In that very fast Grand Am I got many a speeding ticket. But I loved that car. In fact, it's the one I drove until we bought the mini van after Sam was born. Now my love is a blue fast quiet and durable Dodge Durango. Fast. Quiet. What more could a girl want.

Okay. Back to the job. I was with Discover Card in Collections for just short of 5 years when I knew my whole life needed a shake up. I was 27, single, well dressed and bored. I had broken off recent datings with a polygamist and a wife beater. I knew I needed a change. My dad came to talk to me one night and said that there was an Allstate agent in Provo who was looking for an office manager who could speak Spanish and be in it for the long haul. He told him about me and said he'd pass the info along. I got the agent's card and planned to call. At about the same time, I knew I would be single for the rest of my life and was set apart to be a Temple Ordinance worker. I also was looking into moving to the Provo area and going back to school for a teaching degree. I gave my 2 weeks notice after being hired by Dave the Allstate agent.

Discover Card helped shape my post mission life. I learned how to work with people even though we would never be face to face. I also learned to work with people right in front of me. I overcame certain shyness and, though I killed with kindness, I grew a stronger backbone and desire to never be in any position to owe someone money while they profited from it. I gained compassion for those who suffer from bad financial choices but also gained a certainty that debt is a choice. I'm grateful for the friendships I gained while I worked there. Shelia. Natalee. Catherine. Christopher. Dave. Jana. And many more. Their life experiences and personalities and choices helped me determine how to live my life in a way that I wouldn't regret anything. But most of all, those almost 5 years make me glad I have the best job ever right now. Mom.

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