Thursday, June 15, 2006

All Those Other Jobs

My visit to our agency’s processing center in a small town in Indiana has pointed up a number of jobs that are necessary to the success of our survey:
-- Sorting returned questionnaires and slitting the tops off their envelopes for up to 10,000 forms a day.
-- Examining every page of every returned questionnaire for foreign substances like anthrax.
-- Checking in with a “wand” all the questionnaires returned in a day.
-- Performing data entry of batch after batch of questionnaires.
-- Spraying addresses on 250,000 questionnaires for mailout each month.

All these jobs are repetitive and deal with incredible volume. In reality they don’t differ from any other production environment, like a plant for manufacturing automobiles.

No one I saw today appeared to be unhappy or stressed. Instead they reflected an image of contentment, sometimes even wearing a headset and listening to music while they worked.

The employees in the processing center never fail to thank us for providing them with stable employment – our survey is by far the biggest thing they do when there isn’t a Census going on. They like the fact that the survey is continuous, stretching into the future forever.

Most of us can offer up adjectives like stimulating, interesting, varied, evolving to describe our jobs. Maybe the tradeoff is that the processing center employees never have another thought about their jobs after they punch out at the end of their shift. We, on the other hand, often stay awake nights thinking about work. I wonder which type of job is better for your health.

Any thoughts on this?


Blogger DC Cookie said...

I used to sort mail for 4 hours every Saturday when I was in high school with Lil Sis. It was probably the most fun time we spent together. Music, dancing, no parents...

8:00 PM  
Blogger Velvet said...

That part of the country is interesting in that manner. They don't have a lot of "big business" and major metro areas, and these type of jobs are very common. I worked for Nine West out of college, and we had factories in Indiana and Illinois for a while. To see those people standing there making shoe after shoe was both fascinating and sad. It's repetitive, but I'm not sure they know or want to know another way.

On the deathbed, no one's last words were ever: "I wish I had worked more."

11:26 PM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

Washington DC is rare in that so many people are in the top echelons of the job world, and so many people here LOVE their jobs. I've never seen that anywhere.

The scene you describe sounds awful. I would either get back into doing drugs (as many people in the midwest are doing) or would get suicidal. Yikes!

8:59 AM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

Again, it's having the choice...Personally, I need to be stimulated by people since the human elements are my strength...but I sure have taken aspects of my job to bed with me for years...a lot of unhealthy stress. Balance is need a certain amount of good stress that keeps you alert and feeling alive! Some don't need that..they are fine to work at Honda on the line, even though they may have science degrees...and then, they have lots of off time to do what they want..which might even include reading good books, working out...etc. For them, that's balance...I'd get fired from an assembly line because I'd be too busy chatting and I'd let "all the chocolates" go by like in that famous "I Love Lucy" episode! HA! I chose the right career.

10:06 PM  

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