Thursday, November 19, 2009

Slice of Lime & Da Count-Mad Alphabetizing Skillz

One of the things about my job that has driven me absolutely out of my mind since the first day there is the filing system. The other 2 girls I work with and the one who trained me to replace her also hated it. The 2 chiropractors seemed blissfully unaware of the shambles it was in mainly because they hand us stuff, tell us to file it, and it gets done...sort of. Alternately, they ask us for something and we find it...usually.
In truth, the things that are supposed to be filed get stacked up in a big box and frequently ignored because just as so many of you have electronic devices and appliances you fear, the other girls feared the filing cabinets because they were a vast black hole into which things were sucked never to appear again. The cabinets functioned as something a blind, illiterate thalidomide victim might have designed and maintained. They were color coded according to the method of payment each patient uses (5 different colors). Each color section was organized by something other than the English alphabet. Medicare patients maybe went according to Cyrillic. Let's order health insurance patients according to zodiac sign. Cash patients we'll file backwards. You get the idea. Ok, I am employing hyperbole, but let's have an actual example.
John Q. Patient first came as a new patient several years ago he was a car accident victim. When his car insurance coverage maxed out he switched to his health insurance coverage which only allows 12 visits per year so now he is a cash patient, but a couple months ago he reached Medicare age. That means when he comes in for a progress check and I have to pull his old records there are 4 different sets of filing drawers I need to look through because no one bothered to update the file in the cabinet or maybe they did after the first change but not the second or third ones. Who knows? It depends on how busy the office was those day years ago when the various changes in coverage occurred. It also depends on who may have been employed in our office at the various stages in John's life. Some of them kept order, some of them didn't. It's all a crap shoot. Oh, and I forgot to tell you. John Q. Patient lives with Jane M. Backache, who has kept her maiden name, and they have a mixture of yours, mine, and our kids with 3 different last names but we know they live together so in the filing cabinet we'll just stick them all together. I am not making this up.
You are all reasonably intelligent readers. Are you seeing the nightmare? Now throw one librarian wannabe (yours truly) into this office and tell her to catch up on the backlog of filing but that she has to keep the current system. Just for the sake of a little irony, introduce into the cast of characters, as a new patient, the dean of the library who strung her along for 4 months telling her she was in the running and she made it to the final 2 candidates but then when the final decision was made for the other person he couldn't be bothered to notify her and neither could HR. Hand to God, it happened. During my interview, the dean complained about the antiquated, behemoth card catalog in the children's department of the library. When he walked into the office I wanted to grab him by the lapels and drag him to the filing cabinets and show him what real disorder looked like as I shouted, "You at least have DEWEY and the ALPHABET! You have a team of cataloguers! Your card catalog is in ORDER! You condemned me to THIS!"
Ok, so that would have been bad. I refrained. I did tell the boss this system needs overhauling and I'm the girl to do it. She disagreed and said it just needed to be cleaned up. I countered that it could be cleaned up and in a couple months it will be a shambles again. She conceded. I said I'd come in when the office was closed to fix it because this isn't something that can be done during office hours and it should be done in one shot. I don't think she believed me.
On Tuesday I spent 5 hours bringing order from chaos. The beast has been mostly tamed (some purging needs to occur but I don't yet know what is safe to purge and what isn't). John Q. Patient and Mary Backache and their mixed brood may live in united bliss under one roof, but in this filing system the letters C-O come between them in one fully integrated colorblind filing world (what a model for world peace, eh?). It gives me great joy. One of the other girls in the office gleefully declared she had done her own filing in about 2 minutes that day. I found homes for most of the orphaned items that have been in the filing box at the front desk for at least 2 months. (The rest will require a descent into basement storage, aka, the 5th circle of filing hell.)
So this week, here's a picture of me with the tamed beast. No more need for chairs held at arm's length or whips or guns when approaching. (Sorry for the poor quality. All I had was my camera phone and the lighting wasn't good.) Also, Da Count is a day early and it is for the wonders of alphabetization by surname. What a sleekly, efficient joy that is.


Desmond Jones said...

You are amazing, my dear.

I move to put you in charge of world peace. . .


g-man said...

ABDEFUCKIT...In That order? hehehehe

S said...

Well lookit you in your work clothes!
That is so cool that you did that. It will make your job a lot easier.

Now you have to talk them into getting you those awesome open files that look like book shelves. There will be no more drawer opening and closing!

I know we shouldnt expect them to give you a bonus for this!

lime said...

desmond, lol. thanks for the vote. you wanna be my campaign manager?

gman, that was the old system, lol

susie, oooh the open files....oooh, that woudl be nice. because the beast, still requires a bit of wrestling to make it open sometimes.

Suldog said...

You, my dear, are the cat's ass.

(Now, would you file that under "A" or "C"?)

(The correct answer is "C". It's a compliment!)

(Heck of a sexy librarian you would have made, too, I might add.)

Craver Vii said...

Yikes!! I'd put an activator to my temple rather than try to reorganize the files. That is a good thing you've done for that office. If you ever get around this way, I'll buy you lunch if you can figure out what to do with my desk. ;-)

EmBee said...

That there job deserves not only a raise but full retirement benefits and 4 weeks vacation. You are truly a Goddess because for me, filing IS the 5th level of hell!

Jazz said...

Ooohhhhhhhhhhh... your description of the filing system had me in a cold sweat.

I'm quite anal about filing myself. It's hell do do if the system sucks and so easy if it's simple.

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Ananda girl said...

Yikes! What a nightmare. But...most people can't shelve a book worth a hoot either!

On the flip side, your dedication to order would make you an excellen librarian.

secret agent woman said...

Yay for you! I spent a summer once putting a Navy office's files in a computer spreadsheet and organizing them and found it an oddly satisfying job.

Fred said...

When I walk into my doctor's office, I usually see piles of yellow folders all around the reception area. It doesn't give me a warm and fuzzy feeling.

lime said...

suldog, filing my response under "t" for thank you.

craver, now that's a deal!

embee, can you suggest that to my boss?

jazz, it made me very grumpy every time i had to deal with it prior to fixing it.

ananda, sigh..i'd like to think so. i similarly whipped the RIF program at my son's school (pop. 1300) into shape. book, inventory, student lists, all the record keeping and the quick layout of getting books on the tables (grouped by genre and reading level) and back in boxes so we knew what we had an what we needed to order. made me really happy to be able to connect all those kids with the books they actually wanted in the short period of time they gave me to do it (3 days). i want to be a librarian....sigh.

secret agent, i totally know what you mean.

fred, i can certainly understand that.

Jocelyn said...

Chaos tamed to order? Only a gifted mother/wife/thinker lady could do such a thing...on her own time, nonetheless.

Hilary said...

Good for you. I know that would drive me nuts too. I took a job a few years back where in retrospect, they just wanted someone to clean up their mess. The job lasted as long as the mess did. Be grateful that they resisted. And hopefully they're grateful that you persisted.

Mona said...

wow! I can imagine what it must be like with john & jane & their three different named children's files!

I can really empathize with the back breaking task, since I had to do the same with the college library shelves last month!