Sunday, January 23, 2011

Interesting Things Happen at Work: Life as a Loan Officer

Why is it that I have the most ideas for writing when I’m at work? My mind is just bursting with images and phrases I want to get down, but of course I can’t spend the day online. When I get home I’m too tired. I'm a loan officer at a local financial institution. I open new accounts and process loan applications so I meet lots of interesting people.

I met a case worker who came in with a client I helped last week. She was my hero, I’d just never met her before. She was good-humored, sarcastic, didn’t get swept up by irritation, and seemed like a really fun person to be around. Today I helped a preschool teacher who I assumed was older than me (she had that coolness about her that I’m so used to looking up to). She was a year younger than me. She was really expressive but soft spoken (like…the perfect preschool teacher). We clicked. I also helped an elderly women whose husband had recently passed away. She came in with her son and daughter in law to take care of her late husband's accounts. I tried to be efficient and patient, even though her son was on edge and didn’t like being in my office as long as he was. I got flustered and made mistakes. At least the lady and her daughter in law were nice.

I feel the need to explain myself in tense situations like that. There’s this welling up of justification and I want to blurt, “Hey, this is a delicate process, and it’s confusing because our computer system doesn’t update every account by default. I have to go into each one of your individual records in each of your individual accounts, so chillax. It takes TIME to reconcile a person‘s accounts when they die.” Of course, because I’m a good employee who values her job, I just smiled and worked silently.

The longer I'm under pressure to hurry, and the more a person I'm helping is antsy or irritated, the higher my anxiety spikes. I get sweaty and flushed and angry.

These are the kinds of scenarios you do NOT mention during a job interview when you’re asked “how do you perform under pressure?”

My anxiety
Instead, you should talk about how much you enjoy helping preschool teachers and social workers.

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