Computer Operator

I smoothed my pants out needlessly as Richard and Barb looked over my resume, Richard holding it at arm’s length, refusing to see an eye doctor because “it's fine.”

Barb managed to give me the idea that she was rolling her eyes constantly, even though I didn't see her actually it. Richard bounced his foot, drummed his pencil, looked at the clock, turned the paper over, and doodled.

She asked, “Are you impatient?” “I mean, I don't relish waiting–” I said. “Have you ever stopped the microwave 3 seconds before it's done?” Barb asked. “Who hasn't? I mean, how much more is it going to–” “What about toast?” Barb made short violent marks on her piece of paper. “Yeah sure, but what does that matter?” “Do you–” Richard started. “Why are all these questions about food?” “–ever interrupt others?” “Ah, yes,” I said looking at my shoes. “The reason we're asking is because as a computer operator–”

I wrote down a question, what kind of job title is that?

“You'll need patience. The first half of your job is to start a process and wait for it to finish.” “How long does that take?” I asked. “If everything goes well, 8 minutes a section.” “What if it doesn't?” “As long as 2 hours, each,” Barb said, and seeing my look, “But only on a bad day.” “Wednesdays,” Richard offered. “What do I do while I wait?” I asked. “You just wait.” Barb said. I sat there and stared at her for long enough to feel uncomfortable and eventually asked, “Are the hours good?” “Depends on what you mean,” Barb said while Richard said, “They're horrible.” She looked at him and he defended himself, “It's 11am-7pm with split days off. It's bad no matter who you ask.” “So half of my day is starting processes and waiting for them to finish. What about the rest?” Barb went on, “After that there's about 2 a hour pause, but you'll have other duties as needed, take your breaks–” “Unless it's a bad day,” Richard said and then looking at Barb's face, “I don't have to be patient this guy does.” “–and then the next process will start and there's a mad dash to finish everything as soon as you possibly can, with no mistakes. It costs tens of thousands of dollars for every mistake you make, and if it takes longer than 40 minutes that is the same as many mistakes.” “How long does it take the current guy?” “About 2 hours.” “If I finish the process at the goal time, I'm guessing I just wait until the end of my shift.” “Now you're getting it,” Richard laughed.