As the recruiting efforts producing a list of potential workers came to an end, I was called on to become a Field Operations Supervisor (FOS). This was in preparation for the major phase of the 2010 Census.
I was pleased to have been recommended for the position, and gladly accepted the offer. My hotel and meals were paid for during the training, and it was a fun time getting to know the others who would be in the same position in other districts.
Our supervisor, Emily, did the training. In our group was her former supervisor, Tom, who had been the FOS during the Address Update. Emily had been one of the Crew Leaders. Now, their roles were reversed, but both of them were professional and adapted to their new roles in good humor.
We had one more trainee than was required, so I volunteered to become the runner for all of the FOS crew. I would still have to complete the training, however.
Turns out it was a good decision.
One of the trainees had never worked any part of the census before. Therefore it became quite overwhelming for him to understand much of what was going on. There is a lot of jargon and acronyms that are tossed about, with which those who have been in for a while become familiar. He was lost.
One afternoon, it was obvious that he was close to tears. I told Emily what I saw, and she talked with him during the next break. To no avail.
The next morning, he came in and returned all his equipment. Now we were down to “just enough” people being trained. However, there was talk of redesigning the districts, so I could continue as the courier.
On the last day of training, the official day of the Census–April 1–the regional manager came in to talk to us.
He then began to pass out district assignments.
He called my name for District 8.
I went into my “I can’t do this” mode. I stuttered and stammered, and said, “I don’t know.”
Steve is a no-nonsense type of manager.
He said, “Are you sure? I’ve got to know now.”
One of the other trainees said, “Dale, you said yesterday that you had no problems with this.”
I said, “But that was yesterday. This is Today…April Fool’s Day.”
Everybody but Steve laughed.
I heard about how good that joke was for weeks afterward.
Anytime we would meet, Steve always treated me with respect. Don’t know if the joke had anything to do with it or not. I do know that not everyone was treated the same.
We were given a few days to get our bearings, become familiar with our materials, and then we had to train our Crew Leaders (CLs).
We had no say in who was assigned to us as Crew Leaders, and I am not exactly sure what the criteria was for their selection.
Each FOS had approximately eight CLs under their charge. Each of us had at least one CL who more than tried our patience.
Turns out that Emily had at least one FOS who more than tried her patience.