the wonderful world of data entry

Years ago, I graduated with a Master's in Art History, just as Erie County cut its funding of the arts. I could have gotten upset about it, but I needed work and food and was unwilling to move away from my family and friends for a job in my field. And so I fell into several kinds of "office job," I helped create a few new kinds of "office job," and once, I worked in a warehouse where all of my coworkers were men. That job was great, until someone found out that I had a Master's degree, and all of my coworkers started acting like I was a peculiar species that they'd never seen before.

It was at this warehouse job that I discovered the wonderful world of data entry. A guy would sit in the front office and enter orders into the WAY outdated AS400 system, and then we would all fill the orders in the warehouse. I was sort of half-assedly trained as the guy's back-up. I was perfectly content to work in the warehouse, filling orders and joking with everyone (and I have never been more muscular than I was while I worked there). But one night the office guy didn't show up, so I had to enter all of the orders that came in over the phone and the fax machine. And the guy never came back, so his job was mine - we found out later that he'd been arrested for DWI in Pennsylvania, where they do not mess around. He sat in a jail cell for several days.

The office was kind of lonely, with everyone working out back in the warehouse, and the entry wasn't terribly difficult. Just different 6-digit numbers which corresponded to items that different stores were ordering. These numbers, over and over and over. I would just sit in the office, listening to music, typing in these numbers with my right hand, tabbing through fields with my left hand. I started to see the numbers whenever I closed my eyes. But I found that I had an aptitude for this work, and that I enjoyed it, even though it didn't take much thought. And, once the orders were all in, I could go back into the warehouse and fill orders and joke around with all of the guys.

That job didn't last long. The entire place was shut down when the owner was convicted on federal charges. But I enjoyed the job, and the data entry stuck.

Now I'm working at a much more respectable place, non-profit, of course. We have a very worthy mission, which we are all dedicated to. And I am much higher up on the data entry food chain. My job requires accuracy, focus, and a lot of independent thought. I troubleshoot, I offer solutions, and I have a lot of variety, from day to day.

Now I get annoyed when data entry is put down in TV shows or movies. It's true that I never would have considered this as a career when I was younger and just entering the workforce. It's true that I just fell into it. But I am so suited for it, and I still enjoy it, all these years later.


Popular Posts