January 8, 2003


My boss, the Manager, called me into her office yesterday morning.

She said the quality of my work is excellent.
I balance my cash and when I don't I find the error myself.
I know the operating system and understand it.

Big BUT:

I'm still not smiling enough.

It's better, she said but not nearly where it's supposed to be.

I asked her where I am on the scale between where I began and where I should be, and she said 50%.

Last month everyone met individually with a representative from Human Resources. I remember it as a pleasant conversation where I tried to appear ladylike and professional but still communicative.
The feedback was that I'm introverted and shy and she doesn't understand why Manager hired me.

Well I AM introverted and even a bit shy with people at first but I have been trying for two months to let myself come out, and it's OUT as much as I'm comfortable with in a work environment.

I smile at the customers and I do converse with them.
But obviously not enough.

I might also add that up until today I never took a sick day, never showed up late, never left early, never stretched my lunch hour, and never complained (much) about standing on my feet often for SIX hours straight without so much as a coffee break, and rarely even a bathroom break.

But work ethic and quality of work don't matter here.
Just personality does.

The bank (particularly Manager's superiors) sets great store in the customer service index.
They call up clients at random and ask them questions like, "Did the teller smile?"
The results are boiled down to an index and branch bonuses and perks are partially tied to this.

The index at this branch has been going down since before I was hired.

Manager said to me, "If the index goes down again they're going to say it's because of HER (i.e. me) even if it isn't."


The waiting time for a teller is CONSTANTLY at least a half hour and often reaches an hour.
There are only four teller stations, rarely all going at once, and NO commercial wicket.

Many clients are immigrants and aren't comfortable with ATMs; they depend on the tellers to pay their bills, often bringing in five or six at a time.
Serial numbers have to be accurately typed in.
So the average length of a teller visit is probably several minutes and can range much longer.

Furthermore, there are no signs directing people to where they should line up for which services.
For instance, anything relating to bonds, investments, loans, or certified cheques goes to the "other side".
Daily I get people who have waited up to an hour, only to be told they must line up all over again.

And if the index goes down it's because I didn't smile.

Manager said that I have to improve NOW.
There's "no more time".

Actually I have a month left on my probation.
If I don't improve there's a process of counselling or whatever.
But she made it clear by muttering and by body language that it would be undesirable to go that route.
For whom, I'm not sure.

She told me that she thinks I can do it. She thinks I'm stubborn enough to "throw my shell out the window and start taking up space!"
(Anyone who's met me in person knows I take up enough space as it is!)

She said she knows she's asking me to be somebody I'm not but that she knows I can do it and I "must".

She also said to tell her if I didn't think I could do it.

I asked her to let me try for the rest of the week and we agreed to discuss it again on Friday.

Then I began the workday.

I tried. But I soon saw that I can't get to where she wants me to be this fast.
Can't, or won't.
My immediate superior, who was in on the meeting, told me to consider myself on a stage giving a performance.
But I already was considering it like that.

As I worked I thought about how much energy it would take to not be "me" for 40 hours a week.
On top of the energy it's already taking to conquer the physical demands of the job.
I'm not 25 (or even 45) anymore, after all.

I wondered if I wanted to not be "me".
I wondered if I wanted to work for a place that didn't want me to be "me".

As the day went on my resolve gradually dissipated.

If I needed the job to survive or support my family, there would be no question of forging ahead.
But this job is a luxury item.

I didn't sleep last night (partially because of this and partially because of a big uproar with Robert over normal teenage stuff, which I might eventually write about, but you can imagine...) so called in sick today and told Manager I was "thinking" about what she said.

If she's smart she'll see it coming.

She's setting me up as the fall guy for the inadequacies of the branch, and I'm not going to play.

It's better for everyone if I quit.

And look for something part time, preferably with a chair!

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