Monday, August 16, 2010

A job of Olympic proportions!

Now on to the next job...can you believe I still have five more jobs to go? Yeah, my resume is long and varied!

So anyway...we moved to Colorado Springs. Now there are times and places where you need to take advantage of what a new area has to offer. CS had two things going for it that were different from Portland. One was a lower cost of living so I could cut back to part time work and not impact our budget too terribly and the other was the Olympics. The headquarters for the USOC is in Colorado Springs. When I started looking for work it just happened that USA Boxing was looking for an accounts receivable/accounts payable clerk and it was a part time position. Perfect!

The first thing I had to do to get this job was convince the CFO that I knew I was overqualified for the position and I was perfectly fine with that. Overqualified is always one of those things that make me laugh. Yes, I understand that if you are overqualified and bored you won't stay in a position long, but if you are overqualified but looking to take a step back then lucky day for the employer! After meeting with Linda a few times and reassuring her that I was looking for just a part time job that I could do while C was in school and no more I was hired.

After I started Linda and I came the realization that though I might have be overqualified for the job the person who held the position before me was seriously under-qualified. Linda was also new to her position having come over from USA Table Tennis just a few months before. We figured that the person doing my job must have figured out that she wasn't going to be able to get away with the shoddy work she had been doing after working with Linda for just a few weeks and so she quit. It took Linda and I probably three months of digging and re-posting to get the books straightened back out and we were catching things up to a year later after that. But my love of forensic accounting made the job seem more like a nice challenge than a horrible situation.

Then the problem of what happens when you are overqualified for a position hit. Linda had hired me for a part time position, and once we got everything straightened out for the most part, I realized that the job wasn't even part time. It was more like semi-part time at best. So I needed something else to do. I had a few options, I could look for another part time job either within the complex or out in town, I could look for an entirely new job that needed more hours to cover or I could find something else in USA Boxing to do. I decided to find something else in USA Boxing.

One of the side things that Accounting took care of was handling tracking the merchandise we received to outfit the athletes. This area had gotten pretty short shrift in the past and Linda knew that our inventory counts were probably not accurate. So I said I would take inventory. Little did I know what that meant...I thought it was the one room of items in the office. Well, yes, it was that, plus three off-site warehouses. The first day I went over to the warehouses I was shocked. There were boxes of shoes, of trunks, of t-shirts, bags, gloves you name it there were boxes of it, stacked without any rhyme or reason. So I did what anyone would do and I fixed it. Organized all three warehouses, took a detailed inventory and then took over the outfitting from the trainers.

Okay, so it's not what anyone would do. And it's not what was expected of me. But one of the things that I learned from my parents is that if you are going to do a job, then do it. And do it well. And do it to the best of your ability. I was being paid to work so work I did. And I really liked it. By adding outfitting to my job description it gave me a chance to get to know the athletes and the coaches instead of just sitting behind a desk all day entering numbers into a spreadsheet. I really got to feel like I was part of the team. These were my kids. I set them up with their gear, I talked to them about training, I teased them about growing out of their boots in the four months between bouts. It was a more fulfilling job experience for sure.

And again, it wasn't what I was hired for. It was something I found that I could do to fill the day. I knew what it was like to have a job where you got paid and weren't busy. Watching a clock and waiting for time to pass so you can leave is awful. Being so busy time flies by is much better. So there were days where I sat at a desk and entered numbers and there were days where I went to the warehouse and hefted boxes and pulled gear. I think it might be the first white collar/blue collar reversible job!

The other thing I learned in this job is that working for a non-profit organization that is ruled by committee is a challenge. Let me rephrase a CHALLENGE. There was the USOC committee, there was the USA Boxing committee, there was the USA Boxing subcommittee system and all of the members of USA Boxing and they all felt like they can probably tell you and the trainers and the media team and the executive how to do the job. It was amazing. They were all sure we were trying to rip them off and we were all sure they were nuts! But as long as we had each other in the office to check in with and make sure we weren't losing our minds we held it together.

Here is a quick story to illustrate the level of crazy we were dealing with. When I took over the outfitting one of the things I did was put in a system. Before that people were just given the keys to the warehouse and they would go get what they thought they needed and possibly write it down or possibly not. Now, there was a ton of paperwork that was supposed to be filled out, there always is, but no one was doing it. So I stopped the random key give-outs and everything actually had to be requested. Fill out a form and within two days you would have your gear. We outfitted athletes and coaches before each tournament, and so the second thing that was fixed was the number of items going out. Before I took over no one was keeping detailed enough records to know who had what gear so before every single tournament each athlete and coach would get an entirely new set of gear. We are talking travel bags, polo shirts, boxing trunks, boxing shoes, work out shorts, you name it they were getting new.

So now I had records, so that meant, you only got what you didn't already have. Or you got one new set each year. That was it. So at first I was fairly unpopular, as you can imagine. See, the coaches were taking the extra gear and selling it at their gyms for extra cash. Nice, right? Well, now they only had the gear they needed and no more. But still before a big tournament there was a lot of gear to sort and ship. I usually made sure they had all of their new things about a month before they would have to travel. Here is where the crazy story starts...

Spring break of one year we took a family trip to California. So a week away from the office then back to work. There was a tournament coming in a month so my first few days back would be outfitting. But then as sometimes does...the worst thing happened. While we were gone my sister-in-law's mother died. Now my sister-in-law and my brother have been married since I was 5. She has been a part of my family for as long as I can remember. It was not even a question that I would head back to Albuquerque to be with her and be there for the funeral. While I was gone Linda sent out an email letting people know what had happened that the gear would be delayed a week but they would still have it three weeks before the tournament.

So I got back and got to work on getting everything sent out. My first day back one of the coaches starting calling asking where the gear was. I asked her if she got the email Linda sent out explaining why I was out and why the gear was delayed a week. She had. I asked if they were traveling early to see if there was any reason why she would need the gear any sooner than three weeks before the tournament. No, she wasn't. She just wanted the gear now. I told her again that it would be there by the end of the week. And she told me it was just really inconvenient to have to wait a week. So, I told her that I was really sorry that a death in my family had inconvenienced her. And she said...Thank you. She took my sarcastic bitchy apology as a real one. Like she deserved an apology because a death had delayed her t-shirt. This is the level of crazy we dealt with daily.

So two things from that part of the job I took with me that I will never forget. One is if you are asked to sit on a committee for an organization, always remember that you are not doing the job every day. You are just coming in here and there to see what is going on, so trust that the people you hired to run the organization know what they are doing, until and unless they give you reason to do otherwise. And the second thing is, it's important to have allies in your work environment that you can touch base with to make sure you are still sane and it's the other people that are crazy!

Okay, so that was my time in Colorado working for USA Boxing. I went from part time AR/AP clerk to Part-Part time AR/AP clerk and Part time Merchandise manager. But CS was not the place for us to stay (another blog, maybe a series on the places I've lived?) so when the opportunity came up we were back to Oregon. And you all know where I went from here...

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