“Come now, and let us reason together,” says the Lord, “Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool.”
I decided to wait and write about my first two days of work in one blog because they are distinct from the future work I will do. These days I spent in “IOB,” which stands for something I still haven’t figured out yet but means “New Hire Orientation.” The first day I dropped Ian off at work at 6:52 and drove through zero traffic to arrive in Worcester at 7:25 — an hour early. I sat in the car for a while, and eventually buzzed the security buzzer, beginning this new phase of life.
We had to do some security stuff first of all, filling out information about our cars for parking (I’m in a garage a couple blocks away, as parking is at a premium and only high-ups get to park nearby) and taking photos for our badges. Too bad mine didn’t come out and I had to retake it this morning… Anyway, then all 20 or so new hires met our orientation leader (a term from WPI, since I have heard no official Charles River one), the woman who led us through the first two days. She spent most of the time reading PowerPoint slides to us, elaborating occasionally. We received three binders and instructions to fill out our benefits information ASAP. We memorized the four “Non-Negotiables” of Charles River: Animal Welfare, Client Confidentiality, Safety & Security, and Personal Integrity (Do Your Work Correctly, Record It Accurately). We got Charles River computer accounts and email addresses. We learned about the company, safety and health (I thought of Mom and her years as an industrial hygienist), and lots of other super important things I’ve completely forgotten. The days blur into a dozy haze of listening and staring at slides, punctuated by lunch at Maxwell Silverman’s, which I recommend you avoid. We also had any hopes of taking home leftover test animals quashed: The animals are euthanized and incinerated. Depressing. Depressing also is the fact that this morning I came down with a sore-throat, runny-nose, monstrous-sneeze cold that is leaving me feeling very crummy and raw-nosed.
I found my fellow new hires the most interesting part of the orientation. Obviously we all went in, wondering what kind of people Charles River would be hiring along with us; it turns out, they hire all over the board. We had three senior executives in the group: the Facilities Director, the Quality Assurance Director, and the Science Safety Director. They went through the same training as the rest of us — and that included a cage washer, two animal care-for-ers, two vet techs, a couple of interns, a veternarian, and me. I won’t claim to remember them all, but one of the girls stood out particularly. She graduated this year from Purdue and never knew when to stop talking; she fought head-on with the senior QA director about documentation (just cross it out, initial, date, and tell the error. Honestly), answered all the questions loudly, and talked nonstop during our breaks. Another girl, my age but an intern, and I exchanged a few quiet comments about the loud girl, but I appreciated her loudness. It meant I didn’t have to say anything particularly. So those hours passed and I don’t feel more comfortable with working at Charles River at all.
This afternoon for about an hour I finally met my supervisor, and started learning a bit about my job. As the lowest-level person with zero experience, I’ll do drudge work to start with — but disgruntlingly complex drudge work. It involves shuttling gigantic black folders around on a trolley, passing some along to QA, some to scientists, and some to the report writers. I followed my supervisor around wondering how I’d ever even find my microcubicle, let alone figure any of this stuff out. That feeling of disgruntled, fearful worry will probably linger for quite a while, until I get some real work of my own. I wish I could just start doing stuff, not silly make-work, but I also know that this make-work will help me become increasingly useful until I can actually do some real work. Just hope it won’t take too long…
Tomorrow I take the train in for the first time. It should work well; at least, I hope it will. I hope many things will work well. Only time can tell. No more rhymes, now, I mean it!