Saturday, September 26, 2009

It's good to be back home

It's been a full week. And I do have some good stories to tell. But I'll start by telling everyone about the products we were learning about.
Some of you may be familiar with Lifeline. You may even know an elderly person who is subscribed to this service. Well, that's us now, kinda. The Call Center will remain in Boston, since that's something that they're very good at. But production of the PHBs (Personal Help Button) and the Communicator Boxes (which do the actual dialing out to the call center) will be done in our Murrysville facility from now on.

So, it all began on Sunday. Aliesha and CJ stopped by to see me off.

They also had to pick up Bob so they could go to their cousin's birthday party. After they left I locked up the house and headed to work.
We began our adventure in the parking lot waiting for our shuttle to the airport to arrive. For some odd reason, when arrangements were made to have a vehicle to pick us up, nobody metioned the size of our group. So here we are, 8 of us with luggage, and only a Lincoln Town Car as our transportation...
A few phone calls were made and about a half hour later a van shows up. Got to the airport, made it through security and arrived at our gate just in time to see the opening kick-off of the Steelers game. We gathered at the Samuel Adams Pub to watch the game while we awaited our boarding announcement. Even had a few Patriots fans there to torment with the loss of the Pats to the Jets. Made it through the first quarter and part of the second before we had to leave.
Forunately, we were flying out on Jet Blue, and they have little TV's on the back of each seat. So we got to watch most of the rest of the game while we were in flight. We landed with less than 5 minutes to go in the game. By the time we claimed our luggage we found out that the Steelers lost. It sucked to hear that. And I told everyone it was because of all the gloating we did over the Pats losing to the Jets. Oh, well...
This was the only picture I managed to get from the plane.

I like that the boats are that close to the airport. I thought it was cool.

By the time we had our rental SUV's we were exhausted, but we needed to eat. Our first dinner was at TGIFriday's. I can't remember what I had, some kind of burger, but it was good. We made it to the hotel - the Hampton Inn - around 9:30. The end to a long day.
Up at 5:00 AM so I could be ready for work and down to breakfast by 6:00. We all met for our complimentary breakfast and left for work at 7:15. And this was our routine for the remainder of the week.
The facility was really nice.

We were assigned a conference room to gather at to discuss our plan of action for each day and to have debriefings at the end of each day.
Two pics of our little troop because somebody had to take each picture, but we didn't want anybody left out altogether.

From L - R: Gary, Wanda, Jason, Jill, Paula, Shirley, Bill, Barb and M+

In this one you'll notice Tara on the end, instead of Jason.
We spent our first hal hour at the Call Center where we were allowed to sit in and listen to calls as they came in. To see how the operators do their job. It was really neat to watch.
The girl I sat with didn't have any emergency calls. She did have a few "test" calls, where the person with the button presses it to make sure it's working properly. Subscribers are asked to do this once a month on a specific day. But a few of us did have emergency calls come in while were there. And it really does leave an impression as to how important our work is to somebody.
Afterwards we headed out to the production floor to start learning. We observed for an hour or so before finally stepping in and trying to do the work for ourselves. Today we began with the Communicator Boxes. My trainer was Nick. He was a temp and had only been there for a week. But he knew what he was doing. He's originally from California but moved to Boston to live with his sister. It was his parents way of keeping him out of trouble. And that's all I'm going to say about that except that we did have a few decent conversations through the day.
Lunch was an experience. While I think that we have a nice cafeteria at our plant, this place was amazing. And the food was way better than anything our food-service people provide for us. And at a reasonable price too. It became the running joke all week long that we should be sending people up to learn how to transfer their cafeteria processes to our facility...
Ended our day full of new knowledge and a willingness to learn more. Even put in some over-time, which I have sorely missed for a long time. Dinner was at Olive Garden. I had the Never Ending Pasta Bowl. I also had Bill and Shirley's leftovers. It seems I serve a dual purpose on these trips. First, to learn what it is I'm supposed to learn. And second, to finish what my associates can't eat because we have no place to keep any doggy bags.
Tuesday was more of the same, only this time we did all of the work ourselves. We even managed to get close to the required production numbers for daily output. Not bad. And more OT. For dinner we went to Ruby Tuesday. I enjoyed their Triple Play - ribs, chicken and shrimp. Also went out to do a little shopping aftewards. Tara actually went shopping every night. This night I decided to join her, just to get out for awhile. Went to a place called Home Goods - a subsidiary of TJ Maxx. A lot of nice stuff for home decor, and more. When we got back to the hotel I realized how much I was really missing Bob and my computer, not to mention my NFL Network. But I had some reading to do.
Wednesday, we started on the PHBs. A lot of numbers to keep straight and colored labels too. That night we went out for a special dinner. A realy nice seafood place called Legal Seafood. Very pricey. I had a fried seafood platter (and some leftovers). Called it a night after that.
Thursday was more on the PHBs. But there was a special party planned for the evening. A way of saying thanks for everything to everyone invloved. A place called Jullians, right next to Fenway Park. It's a really neat place. A warehouse that's been converted into a party place with bowling alleys and all kinds of other entertainment. We had a room reserved with a few pool tables. And the food was great, wings, sesame chicken strips, teriyaki beef and chicken on skewers, fried mac-n-cheese nuggets and pizzas.

It was a great way to blow-off some steam from the week's insanity. It was a shame that none of the production people showed up. But we all understood. It would've felt too much like celebrating losing their jobs. Still, a lot of the managers and adminstrative people came to celebrate with us. It was nice to get to know some of them too. They're all very confident about the future of the product and the people working there.
Friday was a half day because of our travel arrangements. Finished the last of our training and had our final lunch in the cafeteria. We're gonna miss that places.
Coming home was interesting. All sorts of security stuff going on because of the G-20 Summit. And no traffic with the city shut-down for it. I was home shortly after 7:00 last night.

Now, I'm recovering nicely.

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Blogger Jeff A said...

Glad you made it back home safely. Do good work on those, I may need one someday!

10:02 PM  
Blogger One Wink at a Time said...

Awesome reiteration of what seemed to be an awesome experience. Funny comment by Jeff too, of course.
Altho' now that I think about it, it's probly true for all of us. So, yeah, do a good job! Not that I had a single doubt that you would.

4:44 PM  

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