Monday, March 17, 2008

Why I Am A Technical Writer

Those of you who've followed my career passages on my personal blog already know that I used to be a CFO who stepped down from that stressful, long-hours position in order to pursue my writing career. Now, since I haven't won the lottery, I still need a day job, but I'd always liked the software side of my job more than the accounting, so I decided to see if I could find a job more towards the software side of things. And what better place to start my search than the company whose software I'd been using for 18 years?

So I went to their website and low and behold, they were looking for a Corporate Trainer - but not just any corporate trainer - this trainer needed to also be an accountant at an executive level and they preferred industry experience and a lot list of other items that I had completely covered. So I applied - was hired - and everyone was thrilled. So I embarked on my corporate training career in June 2006. I lasted until October 2007.

Why, you ask - well part of it was the travel which was brutal. Sometimes I was in 5 different cities in one month. I've racked up enough airline points to STILL have 3 more round trip tickets available even though I used two last year. And the airlines were always delayed or cancelled or just down right stupid. So travel was definitely part of it.

But the main reason I had to leave training is because of people. I'm just not a people person. And client training is the worst. My best and worst example of what you might deal with as a trainer is Leroy.

Leroy was 85 if he was a day - half blind and mostly deaf - mind you this is software training. He also typed with two fingers. After the first hour of trying to lead class from the front of the room on the projector, I finally gave up yelling and conducted the remainder of the class that day standing behind Leroy so that I could point and wouldn't have to yell quite as loud. After all, it was a three day class and I needed my voice for another 2 days. Not only was Leroy a painfully slow typist, but as he typed, he had to say everything he was typing out loud. Now, remember, Leroy was mostly deaf, so his idea of saying things out loud was yelling - "1 - 3 - 3 - West - Main - Street - Tab - Tab - Tab....." Anyway, you get the idea.

The rest of the class alternated between trying not to laugh and wondering what the hell an employer was thinking spending money sending this man to class. Leroy also would leave in the middle of class to go to the restroom. Now, we have scheduled breaks and the problem with leaving during class is that all the exercises build on each other. So if someone leaves during class, and they're not too quick on the draw, guess what - that's right - I have to stop the class or they will never catch up.

As if all that wasn't bad enough - on the last day of class, Leroy got gas.

I was back at the podium, yelling since it was the last day, when I got a whiff of something awful. I look up at the frightened face of a girl in the first row (Leroy was behind her). She had that deer-in-the-headlights look. Then she mouths "is that him" and makes a motion behind her. Her manager is sitting on the other side of the room and giving her the evil eye for disrupting class. The girl motions with her head behind her to Leroy then holds her nose and fans her face. It was all I could do to keep from laughing.

So I figure we might as well take a break a little early. The room needed to be fumigated and there was the strong possibility that Leroy needed to clean his drawers. I was hoping it was a one-time event.

I was wrong.

The entire afternoon Leroy polluted the classroom to a level that the EPA would have taken notice of. The front row girl had gotten room deodarizer from her manager on break and finally took to spraying it directly on Leroy. But it didn't slow him down one bit. When everyone started to turn green, I speed up the text, skipped all the remaining exercises and dismissed class early. Everyone raced outside.

Shortly after that, I was at a user conference and speaking with the Manager of Documentation, who was looking for another Technical Writer to write training documentation. I perked up. Hey, no people, no classroom, no travel - NO LEROY!

It took a couple of months to work out the paperwork and get me transferred but that is how I made the journey from CFO to Technical Writer, where I feel I have finally found my perfect place to be.

Deadly (but not as deadly as Leroy) DeLeon


Christie Craig said...

Oh Jana,

What's Leroy's last name. I'm almost certain he's my uncle. ;-)Thanksgiving was always fun!

Crime Scene Christie

Keri Ford said...

There's nothing quite like working with the public, is there? My grandparents own a convience store and ever since I could pull up a box to stand on and see over the counter, I worked with the public.

Great for building my social skills, but man, the things I've learned and the stories I could tell! Men (most customers were men) have told me about their affairs, their personal digestive problems, marital problems.

Even while wearing my wedding ring I've been asked out, asked if I would consider dating outside my race, what the ethnticity of my family is.

It's amazing how annoying people really can be in only 30seconds with stupid little 'games' they play at the register by playing keep away with their money and holding up your line. People get really pissed off really easy and they forget the cashier isn't the one to yell at.

Oh, and men, if you're reading, it does not help to lather yourself in cologne if you do not bathe, it only makes it worse.

Many of my customers I knew for years, because I saw them everyday, but for the most part, they were the normal ones. It was complete strangers doing the above things!

Jana DeLeon said...

lol Christie - Leroy was a little dark-skinned compared to you, but hey, you're southern so I suppose he could still be your uncle. :)

Jana DeLeon said...

keri - yes, working with the public is definitely an eye-opener!

Tori Lennox said...

I'm very thankful I've never had to work with the General Public. Some of my former coworkers were bad enough. *g*

Dru said...

I work with the younger version of Leroy and let me tell you, if he spits on me again, I'm going to sock him one.

Jana DeLeon said...

tori - yes, employees can be as bad - in fact, I worked with one who had an issue similar to Leroy.....

Jana DeLeon said...

LOL dru - You must tell us about the spitting. I'm intrigued.

Estella said...

I swear, you lead the most interesting life.

Beth said...

Can you imagine being married to Leroy? *shudder* That poor woman!

Jenyfer Matthews said...

Okay, you just explained why I should strike training consultant off my list of possible future employment opportunities. Yikes!

Jana DeLeon said...

lol estella - I guess it's all relative. I always think I'm boring. :)

Jana DeLeon said...

Beth - hopefully Leroy's wife was long gone before his butt muscles stopped working! :)

Jana DeLeon said...

lol jenyfer - training is definitely not without risk!