22/05/2003 @21:49:46 ^01:43:26

They're Giving Me Money To Type Stuff Into Computers

Yes, the rumours are true, hell has indeed frozen over... Although it's only temporary, and by that I mean 4 days, I have a job.

I have long maintained that I lack well over half the skills and personality traits that make a person employable. I still believe this to be the case and indeed long ago rejected the idea that I would ever be sufficiently able for the kind of job people go to university to get.

However, I know I need to earn a living, and I could probably do something menial provided it didn't require too much interaction with other people. For graduate jobs, you need a degree; unfortunately, for crappy low wage jobs, you need experience, of which I naturally had none.

For example, way back when I was registered on jobseekers allowance I had applied for several such positions only to be rejected on experience grounds. One thing was through an agency who made me take a test. Although I performed very well on it, they still said their client was asking for people with one year's experience. Oh well. I'm starting to go on a bit here, so let's move on...


Tuesday 13th May 2003 Having pestered me about it for ages, Amy makes me register for Warwick's temp agency Unitemps. I had fiercely resisted this move previously, on grounds like "They want three references! I've barely got one" and "Eww, scary, no." But, she was in my house and she made me do it.

Thanks, hon. Seriously.

Wednesday 14th May 2003 I start getting emails off them. If you like what they offer you copy the link into your browser and apply for it online by typing up to 100 words saying why you think you're suitable. It's just like sitting in your house using a computer, which is nice. I surprised myself by applying for a couple of things; given the mood I was in it wouldn't have been beyond me to just delete all of it on "it's pointless they'll never have me" grounds, but I didn't.

"What do you mean, you've got a job? Already? :("

Thursday 15th May 2003 Unitemps sent me this thing about Perl and PHP that seemed ideal but they required examples of your work, so instead of applying for it I went off to tidy up my site code a bit:) Wrong decision. I should have applied for it as soon as I got the mail. Oh well.

Got even more upset when I heard Amy's pub application had been successful. This upset me on the grounds that she'd "only been seriously looking for work for the past week or so" and so it seemed to me like she'd just walked into paid employment just like that. Despite the fact that there's no way I could work in a pub on account of mind numbing fear of the general public I was still upset that she'd succeeded that fast.

"Okay I'll apply for this. Bloody hell, the phone's ringin'!"

Monday 19th May 2003 It came at just the right moment. I was fantastically depressed and had spent the previous half a day trying not to burst into tears, having more nasty dreams and generally not sleeping at all. On the other hand I'd done some research; you'll be pleased to read that I don't have anywhere like enough sleeping pills left with which to kill myself.

"Urgent! Data entry clerks. The Students Union require 4 temps to undertake data entry for them from Tues 20th May until Frid 23rd May. Hours will be 8.30 - 4.30 Tues - Thurs and 8.30 - 3.30 Fri." - what the hell, this is exactly the sort of dumb monkey job I could do. Apply, blah blah accuracy speed blah did a test once blah 100 words, click submit. Five minutes later the phone rings. "We'd like to offer you the position if you're still interested" OMFG "Sure!" Plus it started the very next day so I didn't really have too much time to get nervous.

Day One - "Crikey, I'm at work!"

Tuesday 20th May 2003 I couldn't get to sleep before 3am, so getting up at 7 was fun. However my fear of authority and letting people down can actually be useful sometimes... I got to the union early, thanks in most part to my mum who gave me a lift (it's not so much of a detour for her, given where she works, and the hours fitted too) and ended up waiting around for ages. It seems when they're pretty relaxed about times and so forth. The four of us were taken into an office and shown what to do.

Turns out it's a questionnaire they sent round to undergraduates about a month ago, asking them to review their degree course. Whether it is meeting employers' needs, what skills you think employers want, ones you have, are you satisfied with the course, how you think the course could be improved, and an interesting question on the end about what you think of the idea of your 3-year degree being spread over 4 years. We were inputting these forms into a statistics program called SPSS.

Our work was being saved into files on the network which our supervisor (to whom I must admit I was mildly attracted, yeah, total cliche...) could check on. She wanted ten done per hour but on that first day nobody managed more than about five or six. Over the day I did 38, in 7 hours or so. You work it out.

Having said that it was very relaxed, we were just left to get on with it and laugh at the dumb stuff people put on their forms sometimes. Spelling. Grammar. Overenthusiasm for leaving university to start work. Putting "drinking" as one of your extracurricular activities, then saying it benefits you because it "improves my people skills". I could go on... Instead let me mention that I found the computers were actually on the internet. So I went on #warwick via the chat applet on Astrolink.

"16:25 <rob> hay guys im goofing off:)"

I was going to write an update about all this, but then I got one of my really evil blindness headaches and couldn't really use the computer very much.

Day Two - "Save my data, you stupid program"

Wednesday May 21st It started off so well. I did 33 forms before lunch, in 4 hours, compare that with 38 over the whole day yesterday. Then it happened. The program crashed.

Okay, fine, reload the data file. Where's my 33 additions? The damn thing hadn't been saving them! I couldn't believe it, the entire morning's work had gone. I also couldn't believe I hadn't noticed SPSS hadn't been saving my file, either.

I went to tell hot babe supervisor woman, who said it wasn't a problem, these things happened, but you could tell she was annoyed. I managed to redo most of the ones I'd lost, but it was upsetting. I told a few people about this and they all said "so what at least you're still going to get paid" which I guess is true but... I dunno, what if they find some way to blame me, or, even if they don't it was still pointless my sitting there all that time.

I took goofing off to the next level by downloading PuTTY, logging into triv.org.uk with it and IRCing from there, though I had to close it and hide the executable files when the IT guy came round to try to fix SPSS's file saving problem. It was worth being scared to hell by the thought of being discovered for this...

21/05 16:30 - 21/05 16:31
  <Amy> why two rob's?
  <Amy> bisc, seen rob
 <bisc> rob was last seen on #warwick 4 minutes and 13 seconds ago, 
        saying: and if spss actually saved my data like i told it to [Wed 
        May 21 16:26:42 2003]
  <Amy> seen rjy
 <bisc> rjy was last seen on #warwick 8 hours, 44 minutes and 52 seconds 
        ago, saying: offtoworkagain! [Wed May 21 07:46:06 2003]
  <Rob> i'm goofing off:)
  <Amy> what?
  <Amy> how?
  <Rob> i'm at work
  <Amy> !!!!!!!!
  <Amy> and rjy is at home?
  <Rob> and i downloaded putty and logged into triv and am ircing from 
  <Rob> yeah
  <Amy> lollerine aren't they keeping you busy>?
  <Rob> i should work out how to use screen and reenable ssh

Later I got yelled at for not updating my site about the job. I was about to do it, when The Matrix came on TV, so I had to watch that instead... Not just because I really like it, but because it's now turned into a comedy as well, thanks to Something Awful.

Day Three - 64 forms, remote logins, Comedy "420" option

Thursday May 22nd 2003 Well the third day went about as well as it could have done. Supervisor woman was wearing an interestingly low-cut top. I got 64 forms done (I wanted 60, then I thought, let's go for the power of 2) and with only minimal data loss when SPSS crashed when I was about a quarter of the way into one form. It was managing to write to disc today, so that's all I lost. I saved often and into a few different files just to be on the safe side.

Furthermore, following talking to Iain about it last night I made good on my threats to re-enable sshd and log into my own computer from work, and to set up screen and run irssi under it. Screen has turned out to be one of those pieces of software that catches you and makes you go "oh man, this is the one, you know, this is heavy, this is really, really good"... it's the best thing ever. I could log in, "re-attach" my terminal to its session, and retake control of irssi without having to quit and restart it. I think this is really cool:) Yes I am that sad. Go away.

Oh yeah.

22/05 16:21 - 22/05 16:22
 <RjY> i've been waiting for the moment and i missed it.
 <RjY> but here goes
 <RjY> oh yes
 <RjY> that was goooood
 <Amy> heh
 <Amy> poor RjY

Finally, I was invited to the fair (yes there's another one on Hearsall Common) but I didn't go on account that it was far too wet when I was going home (and I kind of couldn't be bothered with it, anyway) It was a shame because apparently Amy had chosen the time to go to coincide with my finishing work:\ I bet they decided to go and do something else pretty quickly and I've missed out on some hilarious hijinks again...:(

Oh well screw it I have to go sleep now. Last day tomorrow.