Thursday, February 15, 2007

Ever have a day or two when things just don't go the way you'd thought they would? Where everything you do is wrong, and at some point you just have to laugh and thank G-d for His sense of humor? He really does have a great sense of humor, doesn't he?

So I decided I wanted to work from home as a transcriptionist. A friend of mine, Lisa, has been doing it for the past year and she makes a pretty good income, by Israeli standards (you always have to qualify that statement). Lisa started with the company right when the guy was starting it and she was one of only two transcribers. Now they have so much work they need new people. So on Tuesday and Wednesday the transcription company rented a computer lab at a company that rents out such rooms for training. There were 8 of us who went for the training, from all over Israel: my friend, Ellen, and I from Beit Shemesh, one from Pisgat Ze'ev, one from Mala'ot (way up on the Lebanese border), one from Modi'in, one from Jerusalem, one from Netanya, and one from I-don't-know-where. The building was in a really modern industrial complex between the train station and Malcha Mall in Yerushalayim and the training started at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning. (I hope you're in the mood to hear all the details of this very silly (sad? funny? normal-for-me?) story.

There's a 7 a.m. train and an 8 a.m. train to Yerushalayim, and it takes 45 minutes to get there. We figured another 10-15 minutes to find the office. Ellen, thankfully, has a car and picked me up at 6:40 a.m. For those of you who know me well, getting up at 5:15 am to daven and walk the dog and get myself ready is NOT my cup of tea. If we had to have taken the bus to get to the train station, we would have had to get on at 6 a.m. to get there by 7, or taken a taxi for 30NIS (shekels). Anyway, we bought our tickets and hopped on the waiting train. It was pretty crowded. We looked everywhere for 2 seats together that faced forward, but they were all taken, so we sat opposite a kid with dredlocks (boy, did that bring back memories...Nathan had them when he came back to St. Louis after his first year of yeshiva...). Almost immediately the train began to move and we were surprised because it was only 10 minutes to 7. And then I noticed something peculiar. "Ellen!" I said. "The train's going forward!"

"Oh, no!" she exclaimed. The boy across from us said, "This is the train to to Tel Aviv. Isn't that where you're going?"

"No!" we practically shouted. "We need to go to Jerusalem!" I don't know who was laughing harder, me or the people around us. Ellen was pretty annoyed and upset, but I just couldn't stop laughing. Apparently they switched the tracks about a month ago, and the northbound train (towards Tel Aviv) was on Track 1, and the southbound train (to Jerusalem) was now on Track 2. I had just ridden the train on Sunday, but it just didn't sink in; I don't think the Tel Aviv train was there that day when I left and I had just followed other people to the other track.

Ellen made some calls, and we got off at the first stop in Ramla where we had to wait 45 minutes for the train back to Beit Shemesh, and in BS we had to wait another 20 minutes for the train to Jerusalem. We walked into the training session at 10:00. Talk about making a good first impression!

Lisa was leading the training, and it was a lot harder than I thought. It's transcribing legal documents like bankruptcies, workman's comp, depositions, and various other things. Over the past year the company developed some templates and Lisa was teaching us how to use them, and also how to download the files, how to use the foot pedal, things to look out for, how to transcribe EXACTLY the way the court proceedings go, etc. They didn't pay us for the training, but they bought us lunch both days. One person was there because she wants to be an editor, and the other seven of us want to be transcribers. They didn't promise any of us jobs.

Yesterday afternoon they gave us a sample proceeding to transcribe in the space of one hour as a test to see if we have what it takes to work there. We had to know where to add the index, the jurat, the appearances, the certification page, and transcribe as many pages as we could accurately while spelling everything correctly. You have to know where on the page to write, and you have to figure out who's speaking, who's questioning, who's answering, or if it's colloquoy (yeah, like I'm going to explain THAT term to you!) . And this is after just a few hours of being given a whole lot of legal and technical information!

So, of course, my computer was the only one that wasn't working. Caryn, the office administrator of the company, worked on it for awhile and then she finally kicked another woman off her computer (the one who just wants to be an editor). By the time I was finally set up to begin, I had already lost 20 minutes and was somewhat flustered. They had written all the pertinent info on the board at the front of the room, and I was at the back, so I had to continually switch between my regular glasses and my computer glasses. I had a crazy keyboard with the forward slash key on the left where the shift key normally is, and every single time I tried to write a capital letter, I had to go back and change it. And the desk was so high, and the chair so low, I felt like a little kid at an adult party. Plus I couldn't remember a darn thing!!! Caryn kept saying, "15 more minutes. 10 more minutes. Start wrapping things up." At the end we had to email our transcript to Caryn, Lisa and ourselves. I had no idea how to email from a computer not my own. I tried going to the Aish web email, but it wouldn't let me send anything out. Caryn finally worked with it for awhile and she used her yahoo account to send it out, after I showed her which file it was. I was the last one in the room.

Ellen and I ran over to the mall so she could get her daughter a birthday/wedding gift and we still made it to the (right) train in time. I realize that this could be a high stress job, even though I can work from home, but I also know I can do a better job from my own computer.


Last night I decided to open up the file I had emailed to myself (oh yeah, right - that Caryn had emailed me) so I could look at the manual and see all the mistakes I made, and what do you think I found? I HAD EMAILED THE WRONG FILE!!! It is so not easy being me sometimes.

I tried to call Lisa, but it was late and she was asleep; she'd hadn't slept the previous 2 nights because she had a huge transcription project due (see what I mean about high stress?). But she called me this morning to tell me what I already knew. Caryn was trying to get hold of someone at the computer lab to see if they could find the file, but they most likely deleted all our stuff. Plan B is to see if Aryeh (owner of the company) will let them email me the templates and have me do a sample transcription at home. Lisa will get back to me...

Everything happens for a reason. Caryn probably thinks I'm an airhead, and even though Lisa knows my secretarial skills, it's no guarantee I'll get the job. If I do, great - we'll put every cent of it into savings, b'li neder (without making a vow), and if I don't get it, it wasn't the right job for me. It will be interesting to see what Hashem has in store for me.

So - that's my saga. David told everyone at work on Tuesday about "Vickie and Ellen's Big Adventure." Yesterday morning before he went to work, he said, "I only have two words for you: Track 2." Smart aleck. What I should have done on Tuesday morning was to call him from the train and tell him we'd decided to go to Tel Aviv and go shopping instead of going to the training. On second thought, he would have pondered that statement for about half a second and then responded, "Got on the wrong train, didn't you?" He knows me pretty well.

It was soooo nice being at home today. I actually had an appointment with a chiropracter this morning who lives up the hill a little ways. He showed me on my xray how I'm "out of disk space" between two of my vertebrae, and then he worked on me. First he cracked my neck which felt great. Then he was merciless. He worked on my neck and back, while I screamed in pain (thank G-d no one was around), and when he was finished he put some pressure on some spots that have been hurting me FOREVER, and there was so much less pain. He's not covered by the kupat, but he only charges 90NIS a session (about $22). I'm going to see him again after Shabbos, and then a couple times next week, and after that we'll taper off. But he said he's going to give me some exercises that will make the difference if the pain comes back or not, so I'll have to be pretty diligent.

Emma spent the last couple of days playing with Coco, so she thought I should take Coco's place today. All she wanted to do was play, while I was trying to clean the apartment and do some cooking. When I took her out about 5 this evening, she actually chased a wild cat up a tree. I thought that only happened in cartoons! Thank G-d the cat ran, though; I was afraid it would make a stand and claw Emma. Our puppy thinks everyone is her friend and wants them to play with her. But now that David is working, it falls to me to walk her every time. I really, really wish we had a little yard.

So, have you head about The Secret? Someone sent me four youtube videos that described The Secret and I thought it was awesome. I found out it was put out by Christians, but there was no mention of JC, and when they talked about the "universe" I just substituted Hashem in my mind. You have to see it if you haven't already (google The Secret), or else read the book. Basically, the Secret is that the universe runs by the Law of Attraction. We attract that which we think about and say. Instead of saying, "I hate my job," we should re-frame our thought to be, "I think I need a job that has better co-workers/bosses/pay/convenience/whatever. By focusing on the negative, it just gets worse, because we are attracting that which we focus on. We (I took it to mean our neshamas - souls) have the ability to make our own reality - with Hashem's help. Hashem isn't bound by the laws of nature. If we write down all the things we want in our lives, the specific circumstances, whether it be good health or money or better relations with our spouse or children - and then really focus on getting it (instead of what we normally do, which is dwell on the fact that we don't have it), the Law of Attraction says that you will get it. EVERY TIME. It's like taking the Power of Positive Thinking up to a higher level.

Of course, Hashem doesn't always grant us every thing we ask for. But it makes a lot of sense that when you're a more positive person, you're going to be happier and that will make the people all around you happier, and the world will be a better place! And then we'll have World Peace! And that will bring Moshiach (the Messiah)!! Okay, I need to tone this down a little. But it really makes a lot of sense to focus on every event and circumstance in our lives in a positive framework rather than the opposite. It will take a lot of work on our parts. I can't imagine how hard it will be for people my age, I mean - my stage of life; that is, people already so set in their ways - how about "seasoned adults"? to really change our way of thinking. The easy part is pointing it out to other people! When David started to kvetch about people pushing their way onto the bus when he was coming home from work tonight, I stopped him and tried to help him re-frame what happened in a positive way. He decided to enjoy his dinner in meditative silence after that...

I guess I'm being kicked off my computer for the rest of the evening. David is going to re-build it for me. It's been kind of sluggish, and he needs to clean it up so it works better. It's nice to have a computer gee-, uh, professional, yeah, that's the word - in the house!

Shabbat Shalom!

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