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I got to work in a fashion that was not entirely timely, there being an hour or two in the morning where I was waffling back and forth between "I think I can make it through work" and "I need to stay home and rest for I am ill." Fortunately for everyone, I managed to get to work around 11:30am, and was pleased to note that all had not actually disintegrated in my absence. I started in on the left-over paperwork, and spent the bulk of the afternoon working on training K-Bone on the paperwork.

K-Bone is a quick study, and I think she'll make a very solid backup and/or replacement on the primary unit of paperwork. Today, we devoted the time to having her run through on a copy that she could absolutely not screw up. That made her feel so much better. I had her have actual papers (it was from a few days ago, so I got them out of the recycle bin) and we walked through best-case and also rather more typical-case, with missing paperwork and wrong numbers. We fudged some of it on the grounds that I was crunched for time and needed to leave at 5pm, and we'll be doing the paperwork in parallel tomorrow and Friday.

When Snarky Lady came in, I heard about what went down with one of the newly hired phone goons on Friday night. This particular fellow had been trimming his fingernails while in his booth (this is a call center, doing consumer research surveys), and had managed to get the fingernail trimmings all over, for like a ten-foot radius around his booth. The supervisor spoke with him about this, and told him in no uncertain terms that this was to be Cleaned Up Now.

If a phone goon is doing something other than interviewing, they have to tell their workstation what it is that they are doing that they are not working. There are any number of different contingencies programmed in (consultation with supervisor, several different flavors of computer-badness, sample (numbers we call) badness, power outage (to be assigned after the fact), scheduled break, training session, and so forth). This phone goon was told that he must put his computer on non-paid break to clean up his mess.

This was evidently grounds for objection. This guy did not think that he should have to go to non-paid break to clean up the mess that he had made. The justification he made for his reasoning: "But when I was cutting my nails, it was on company time...!"

The supervisor sent him the fuck home.

smmc was out with the creeping crud: the plague-monkeys have infected her. Alas! So we did not pick her up for group.

Group was very small and quiet at first. myrrhianna and kilarneyblarney were there when we got there; there was also one new woman with very thick glasses. I got That Feeling that I get when there is one of those high-maintenance New People there -- not only is this not one of the group, which is a little awkward getting a new person to be part of it, but it's also someone that no one knows, and someone who is setting off little psychic alarm bells. Then two more new people came in.

Thick glasses lady is taking an English class and is here because her therapist sort of shoved her in that direction. We're neither a writing class nor a writing-based therapy group. DING! After she reads the essay that she has written for the class, more bells go off, as this is a one-paragraph essay with no notable focus. Later on, she did participate happily in trying to un-stick myrrhianna's stuck plot, but she failed to grasp the "I am picking which province from the list that I have here" that M was telling her until I rephrased it more bluntly.

I was only at 50% voice and maybe 75% energy, so I was very much not up to projecting the usual level of energy at the group to try and get n00bs to tune in. No one seemed to have any of that going on until M showed up, and we were so glad that she did. M later said that there was this feeling of ... something ... as she walked into the room -- the n00bs were all on one side, we were all on the other, and she almost thought she had the wrong room, it felt so much not like us. After she got there, things did go more smoothly. But hcolleen didn't even finish her ten minutes out. She had over 4 minutes to go, and she's not usually one to quit reading when uncomfortable. Or, rather, it takes a lot to make her uncomfortable in group.

One of the other new women is a poet, though she sounded on the spot and rather flaky when reading her poem. Her imagery was sound, though, and she and M had a rousing discussion about Octavia Butler. (Another name for my must-read list, it seems.) She might be someone to return. She was the one who made a pretzel shape from yarn for a visual aid.

The third woman was a younger woman who was mostly sitting there hiding and not saying much. I asked her directly if she had anything to share, and she did -- it was a very cute piece about the inner monologue of a cat. She read too soft and too fast, but was more present than she'd been for 90% of the rest of the time. She's got the makings of something, I think, if she actually wants to participate.

The thick-glasses woman asked if we meet every night. GOOD GOD NO.

All the newbies de-convened themselves slightly after 7:30, when the center book says we're scheduled to let out. Normally we invite new people to stay until actual group end, not just theoretical group end. This time, there was no such drive. Immediately they were out of range, it was decided that I needed to go have a word in the right ear to figure out how to avoid seriously massive mismatches with the group.

The problem, at heart, is that people are looking for a basic writing class, to teach them how to write, or a journaling class, or a therapy/support group that is based around writing (rather than a group that is for the support of writers), and they are not finding that with us. We are writers with a good grasp of the writing process, coming together to share tips and tricks, and share brief excerpts for constructive criticism. People are recommending us to random women coming in to the center as all of the things that we are not, and o gods they need to stop that.

It may be that the group's focus is not something that fits in the center, although I hope we can stay. The new description is going in the catalog for the next release; I already turned that in to the woman at the desk from the last time there was a difficulty with the group and what we were not. I don't teach writing. I am not a writing teacher. I am not even a teacher. This is not a "how to get published" workshop. This is not a workshop for polishing your writing. This does not teach you how to write if you do not already know. This is a little_details sort of thing, not an English 101 sort of thing. This is for hanging out and getting ragged on if you were going to write but didn't, or getting encouraged if you got into a slump and thought everything sucked.

The lady in charge of some things is going to call me and get back with me tomorrow afternoon, and I'm going to air the issues. Something's got to happen, or craziness will occur.
Gone away, gone ahead,
Echoes roll unanswered.
Empty, open, dusty, dead.
Why have all the Weyrfolk fled?

Where have dragons gone together
Leaving weyrs to wind and weather,
Setting herdbeasts free of tether;
Gone, our safeguards, gone, but whither?

Have they flown to some new weyr
Where cruel Threads some others fear?
Are they worlds away from here?
Why, oh why the empty weyr?

-- "The Question Song", Anne McCaffrey
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