For most people sitting in a small break room watching videos, reading manuals and taking tests for 3 straight months might not be their idea of a great job. Especially when you’re barely making minimum wage. However I was fascinated by this ‘bug world’ and I found myself drinking in all the information I could. Besides, I was in training and my new boss told me that he really liked me and wanted me on board and that one of his techs was leaving soon and as soon as that spot opened up, I’d be making big bucks running my own route.
Day after day I’d watch as the techs rolled into the office in the morning with their green ties and clean white long sleeved shirts. Coffee in hand they’d laugh amongst themselves and share fantastic stories about the previous days battle. It was like they had no bad days at all they laughed so much- and man, the equipment and chemicals they spoke of using, “Got 47 rats to come out of their burrows using chloropicrin” one boasted to another. “They came stumbling out like the drunks at the downtown bar at closing time.” The group roared with laughter as I peered at them over my book. Not to be out done another tech described how he made it ‘rain roaches’ in a clients kitchen using a ULV machine while another gloated over of a petrified rat he found in a bait box filled with tracking powder. Usually about then the service manager would come in and whisk them to the meeting room, “This guy is gonna replace all of you if you don’t shape up” he’d say with a grin. He’d then plop down the days video tapes I was to watch and close the service room door. His voice was muffled but I could tell he was serious about that days subject (whatever it was). Still nothing ever seemed to stifle this groups mood and I’d hear another voice blurt out some smart remark and the whole room would burst out in laughter. When the briefing was over the techs would come out of the room one by one smiling and laughing, head out to their trucks and zoom away.
“This is like no other job I ever had” I thought to myself and I couldn’t wait to get out there and see this excitement for myself, but just who would want to leave this job? Who would I actually be replacing?
Each morning was much the same and although I relished all the input I was getting, it was still just book knowledge and nothing like I’d hear from the techs. I was starting to get an understanding of the job and the principles involved but could I match up to the level of these guys? To know what they know I figured would take years at this rate and I was dying to get out and try some of the things I’d seen and heard. I also had a growing doubt that any of these fellas was ever gonna leave. They all seemed happy with the money they were making (lot of bragging about commissions) and it was obvious they had their routes down pat and no one seemed disgruntled or half hearted about their job at all.
Maybe a month or so into my training it kind of dawned on me that something just wasn’t right. Everyday I’d take a stretch break or two and often ended up in the service room where I looked at all the pests under glass and the walls filled with bug posters, awards of the techs and the HUGE city/county map that showed the boundaries of all the routes. There were 9 routes but only 8 techs that came in and out everyday.
Now I had heard of the ‘commercial’ route and how that tech was on a way different schedule than the residential guys. He had accounts that started on average at 3 am and was still hard at work while these guys were just getting their days started. He was kind of the ‘best of the best’ and did hi tech stuff and rolled in around 2 or 3 and nobody really bothered him with meetings. I met him a few times and helped him load big foggers or other equipment from time to time. Now this guy had some cool equipment! He was a real nice guy and we talked whenever I’d see him. He didn’t laugh as much but hey he was at the end of his day and was tired. Besides there was no one around to share his war stories with except some little ol rookie who still didn’t have a clue of what was going on.(me) His said his route was huge and it wasn’t on the map because he did only commercial jobs that spread all across the county. Anything commercial came to him, no matter where it was.
It was then I realized that someone was missing, a route seemed to have no tech. So then I began to doubt myself as to why wasn’t I on my own already. Did they not like my test scores? Was I learning to slow? Did the confidence my branch manager have in me when I was first hired suddenly disappear? I began to wonder if I’d have this job for long and that all my study was for nothing. That soon someone else would be sitting in my place in the break room, that before I even got started, someone would be replacing me.