Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Back in the States and Workin' for the Feds

So, I suppose that this entry doesn't quite make the cut as a "tale from abroad," BUT I think it's darn interesting anyhow.

I've been back in the United States for over 2 months now and, considering the economic downturn that I got to watch happen slowly from Cairo, haven't been able to rope me a job. I was getting pretty frustrated about that (and having to live at home-- no offense to you, Mom) when my big brother called me last Friday and asked, "Hey, Caitlin: what are you doing next week?" He wanted me to join his 'team' for a job he's been working for the last three weeks.

It's a travelling job.
It's a short-term job.
And unlike other effects of the slow economic conditions, this job was created as a result of a major bank chain going out of business.

So what have I been doing these past 3 days? I'm compiling inventory of everything in some of the banks that are closing (lists of assets for the FDIC, so they can auction them off if they want to).

It's been unreal. I've been inside 5 bank vaults now. If I were a dishonest person (don't worry) I would have a lot of valuable information for crooks who wanted to know floor plans and security systems. And we just walk through the whole bank slapping barcoded tags on a bunch of things. Everything from wall partitions to 2-hole punches; computer chairs to check image encoders; thermal printers to bulletin boards. So many tags and lists.

My particular job is to write down everything that gets tagged. I list the tag number, the brand, a description, the model number, any measurements, and where the tag was placed...for each item. My hand hurts. In fact, I broke a blood vessel in my index finger, because it hyper-extends when I write. My brother spent a good 5 minutes trying make an impromptu splint with a paperclip and some scotch tape. I went to shake hands with the last branch manager and she gave a strange look at my battle wound. I guess it didn't look legit.

To be fair, though, nothing about our group really screams 'legitimacy.' We get a free pass around all of these banks because we're contracted by the FDIC, but we do not look official. My brother's name tag got wet in the rain and the ink pretty much melted off. We still get into the vaults.

Lastly, I will mention that we've been going to the most out-of-the-way places in California. First we were in San Jose, which was fine. Then we had to drive a lo-o-o-o-o-o-ong way out on a country road to Sonora, CA. The journey was marked by numerous cow herds eternally grazing on the rolling green hills. Note for the American literature buff: it's in Calaveras County, the setting of a frog jumping contest in a Mark Twain short story. After Sonora we hit Modesto, which was less in the middle of nowhere but still a decent drive from our hotel in Stockton, where there was graffiti on everything. Today we were in Ceres, CA (no, I've never heard of it either) and now we're in Turlock, CA. These sound like made-up names. I'm going to go find some desolate place and name it something made-up, too.

So tired. Need to rest my hand for more writing and tagging tomorrow.

My best to you all (whoever still reads this thing, if there be anyone left),


Anonymous said...

You're still in my favorites. I just hadn't checked it since you came back. Amazing the opportunities that a weakened economy creates, eh? See you in June - Uncle Mark

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christie said...

whatever happened to hungary? you coming?