Thursday, October 7, 2010

How are you at multitasking? ….

I hate job interviews!  Thank goodness I love my job and the crew of people I work with, because I don’t have it in me to ever, ever go on another job interview!  While I’m too young to retire, and couldn’t really afford it anyway, should this job disappear tomorrow, there will be no more interviews for me.  I’m too old to hire at this point, anyway.  People want to look at someone that they can foresee continuing on way into the future with them so they only have to train one person, not a succession of people.  No, my next step would be to become an illegal alien in Mexico and throw myself on the mercy of some friends I have down there to adopt me as their abuelita (little old grandmother). 
Back in my interviewing days I had a book I found at Barnes & Noble on how to interview successfully.  Granted I have a passion for reading, but to be totally honest, I skimmed most of it and concentrated on the interview questions and how to answer them. 
There is an art to interviewing!  Another art I never acquired.  But at least I’m not as bad as the friend I had in Washington State, newly married, and apparently going out for her first real job interview (at least I hope it was her first). We were all standing around in our congregation after the meeting and a group of us surrounded this little gal to see how her interview went the day before.  “Well,” she said, “I think it went pretty well.  But there were some questions they asked that I found hard to answer.”  “Like what,” we asked.  “Well, they asked me what my biggest fault was.”   Little warning signals started running through my head as I waited to hear her response to the big question.  “So I thought about it, and told them that I have trouble being on time.”  A collective moan went through the gathered group of women, and at that exact moment in time I think little Amy knew she wasn’t going to get that job.
I worked with another woman who totally loved interviews.  She had a very secure job and enjoyed it very much.  While not actually seeking other employment (though I’m sure she wouldn’t have any qualms about jumping from one job to another should the offer of a lifetime be thrown into her lap), she would apply for jobs solely for the opportunity to go on interviews.  She enjoyed them; besides, she liked to keep up her interviewing skills, she explained.  Okay, to me that’s on par with G. Gordon Liddy seeing how long he could keep his hand over a lit flame to build up his tolerance to pain.  (Okay, kiddies, if you don’t know who G. Gordon Liddy is, it’s Google time for you!)
But there were always two questions I had no problem with:  How organized are you, and, Can you multitask.
Well, I’d always thought of myself as very organized.  True, my organizational skills are not always visibly apparent.  Take for instance my jumbled up desk that overflows (occasionally into the waste basket).  But that wastebasket is just in a very poor location; and the desk is only half the size of the others in my office, or at least it looks like half the size.  Every time I see a patient, I apologize for having to move everything from my desk to the top of the printer, or the floor, or another book shelf, or whatever spare piece of anything I can kind to which it can be moved.  But I have an organization to the pile of stuff.  Really, I do!  Let’s not forget, you’re talking to the gal who alphabetized all her spices in the kitchen cabinet.  But the real forte was multitasking! 
At present I have a fairly good recall of several clinical trial protocols, am overseeing three of them, and I’m in charge of the database that is the keeper of all information that keeps us a well-oil organization.  Or at least I like to think of myself as such.  So imagine my surprise yesterday when I came to the somewhat sad conclusion that perhaps I’m not such a multitasking genius as I thought.
To start with, my boss came to my office to mention a prescription someone was taking who wished to be in a study with us.  Immediately, the little mice in my brain started running on the tiny little wheel up there and I started thinking, hmm, could that be a prohibited medication for this trial?  I ceased midstream in what I was doing to Google the drug classification.  Meanwhile, the phone rang.  The mice in my brain started running on a different track.  In a matter of milliseconds, it passed through from little synapse to another telling me to answer the phone as the front desk was not being manned.  My right hand clicked away at the keyboard, my left hand picked up the phone.  My right hand took a quick second to tap in the numbers necessary to pick up the front desk line on my line and then rushed back to the keyboard to start scrolling down the list of categories Google had popped up for me.  As I perused my Goggle choices trying to decide which one would be the most likely to give me the answer I wanted on the first try, in the back of my mind I was wondering why the person on the phone had even bothered to call since they weren’t saying anything.  Oh, I suddenly realized!  I’d forgotten about the part where you actually introduce yourself to the caller.  Ooops! 
My hand paused midstream while clicking away on the down arrow keys while my brain switched to official receptionist mode.  Oh, no, I thought!  This person is waiting for me to say something and for the life of me, I can’t recall who I am, the name of the facility I work for or what we normally say when we answer phones!!!  “Uh, Hello,” I asked.  Yeah, that was me, not him.  Like, whoa, how professional was that?  Then to top it off, knowing it was a totally unprofessional and still not able to recall where I worked, I started laughing!  Yup.  I’m so glad it wasn’t a new patient calling.  As it turned out, it was a monitor from a pharmaceutical sponsor calling, one with a really good sense of humor!  He started laughing too.  For about a minute or two we both sat there laughing our heads off, while my boss sat in the chair next to my desk probably wondering what it was in my initial interview that even allowed her to hire me in the first place.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, I had a meeting that night to go to in which I was to be a participant in a part that I had not yet had an opportunity to practice.  I called the friend who rides with me to ask if she could be ready a bit early so we’d arrive early so I could practice my part with the other participant before the start of the meeting at 7:30.  Sure, she said.  And I was set.  Like a well-organized machine, multitasking my way to victory, I managed to dress in a matter of minutes, grabbed my bags (yeah, I did remember both of them this time) and reached out for the keys hanging on the cute kitty key hanger next to the front door.  Juggling my bags and keys, I swept out of the door, locking it, closing it and heading off to the car in one fluid, time-saving motion.  I dumped my bags in the car, hopped in the front seat and fumbled with the keys to feel for the correct one to put in the ignition.  Where was it, I wondered.  And why does this key ring seem to have so few keys on it?  And why is there this key chain that doesn’t feel familiar in my hand?
I really do have to start using lights in the house.  I’ve been accustomed to doing things in the dark for 60 years now, so it’s hard to change.  I mean, I get dressed in the dark (which has often led to some interesting clothes choices, not to mention the multiple times I’ve gotten to my destination only to have someone ask my why my blouse was on inside-out), and I grab my keys and leave the house in the dark, which in this case led to me sitting outside in my car with the keys to the poolhouse.  Not exactly what I needed at that point in time.
But I had the presence of mind to call my friend to tell her I might not be picking her up as early as planned since I had no way of getting back into the house to retrieve the car keys, and then I called another friend to tell her that she just might be having a part on the meeting that night should I not make it in time.  And then I looked around the parking lot of any cars that would tell me which strong men were still at home.  Now, that’s a model of multitasking, isn’t it?
Of course, the neighbor who just the night before had measured my poor sagging windows for replacement windows had also managed to close them all (a feat I have yet to accomplish) and lock them so that they would stay shut now that the weather was turning rather chilly!  I was ever so thankful as the kitchen window had been open about 7 inches for the past two months.  However, I wasn’t quite a thankful at that point in time when I needed to break in.
By this time I had come to the conclusion that while that neighbor wasn’t home, the visiting uncle to my next door neighbor was!  Hurray!  I went next door, enlisted his help and explained the situation with the locked windows.  But, I said, we’ve had to break in here before, so part of the frame inside isn’t in the best shape.  I think with enough strength you could actually break in without breaking the glass, I smiled.  Well, between his brute strength and some utensil he retrieved from his sister’s kitchen, he managed to jimmy, and shimmy and open the window (gee, sounds like the big bad wolf blowing down the houses of the little pigs, doesn’t it) and saved the day, or the evening as it were!  Thank you, neighbor, for your ingenuity.  Then he helped me get the darned thing closed again, which is a two-man job, and locked up for the next time we need to break in. 
Thank goodness I’ll be getting new windows, hopefully some that are a little more difficult to jimmy open.  But I think I’d better replace that spare house key I used to have on me for the next time my multitasking skills hit the drain, which is most likely to be sometime later today.
So, how am I at multitasking?  Well, going back to my last blog, I suppose that too is a matter of relativity, one that hopefully I will not have to answer again in what’s left of my working life as I vow never to take another job that requires an interview!  McDonald’s, here I come!  Oh, wait, way too much multitasking there!  Now does that burger go in the fryer or is it the biscuit?

No comments: