*This is a new segment to my blog. I hate my characters to have the same old jobs and yet, I struggle to locate new positions where their work can be either a hindrance or a necessary component to the plot. Let’s face it, if I have a character stumbling across dead bodies on a regular basis she can’t work in Accounts Receivable tucked into a corner every day, she needs to be on the move. Likewise, I can’t have a working mom busting out two minimum wage jobs a day living in a high rise in Manhattan. And she can’t keep missing work if she wants to keep a roof overhead. Can you tell that’s a pet peeve that some characters seem to live paycheck to paycheck, yet are off running all over Dodge trying to solve a mystery?
These posts will cover different job positions, misconceptions (there may be a mobile Accts. Rec. job out there, I don’t know), the most typical drama the job yields – let’s face it every novel has to have conflict, and what we all need to know the most – Where would we be most likely to find the dead body?
Today’s Job Scoop is Telcom Technician.
A huge thank you to my husband, Daryl Johnson, for allowing me to interview him while he cooked dinner. He’s been in the telecom industry for thirty-two years. Needless to say, he’s seen many changes.
This job is another in which driving all over Timbuktu is useful for giving your character a means of getting around.
WHAT DO YOU DO?
DJ: Everything from running cable to programming telephone systems. (These are company phone systems not just your average home system, probably should mention that little detail). The service manager puts the calls on the board and we get the schedule for the week (and its updates) via email. We drive to customer sights and install, troubleshoot, or give quotes.
The service area is expansive. Most of our calls are in the Seattle area and surrounding cities, but there are times we go out of state on calls, too.
Sometimes we can remote into systems from our office. But usually, we make sight calls.
ANY SPECIAL EQUIPMENT NEEDED FOR YOUR JOB?
DJ: Yes, we have a vehicle full (gives me the “You’d think you know this look”). Ladder because we go up in the ceilings. A laptop is the most crucial for troubleshooting. A test set for detecting tones. Tone generators to trace wires. Volt Meters. Punch-down Tool to terminate cable. Drills, and all the other necessary tools. We’re in old buildings and brand new and we have to be able to move equipment when needed.
WHAT IS THE MOST COMMON DRAMA YOU RUN ACROSS?
Customers who were told one thing by sales personnel that, once we get there, is incorrect for the situation.
Customers also hate having to repeat themselves. So if they tell sales they want a phone located at X, Y, Z and all the phones have different needs. They get upset if they need to tell the service techs.
WHAT IS THE HARDEST PART OF YOUR JOB?
Getting intermittent issues fixed. Customers think we’re inept, but when it’s off and on, it’s like going to your doctor and telling him your knee hurts sometimes. It’s hard to narrow down the issue if it isn’t present when we’re there.
Or, learning the new systems and all the various abilities of each.
WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST MYTHS OR MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT YOUR JOB?
Customers think it’s simple. They assume an issue can be easily fixed.
That’s not the case, there could be multiple issues going on that create the one they notice. Incompatible software issues.
We’re trained on not just the system, but all the software and equipment and the multiple levels. Training isn’t enough, we have to have hands-on experience, too.
PAY? YOU DON’T HAVE TO GIVE YOUR ACTUAL PAY, JUST A GENERAL IDEA.
The more you know the more you earn. Definitely, the years of training and experience affect your pay level. It’s a decent middle-class living.
WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE BENEFITS OF YOUR JOB?
DJ: Not stuck in one place all the time.
Making customers happy.
Finding a solution to a problem that’s flummoxed others.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE MOST INTERESTING PLACES YOU’VE VISITED?
- Mental Institutions
- Underground Seattle (and we’re not talking about the parts that are on the tour)
- Mecial buildings
- Private schools
- Government buildings
- Pretty much all the old buildings with history in Seattle
- Airport access (*Writer Note: This could be a great position to get your evil bad guys access to places. I may have said this out loud to my husband, as he gave me a concerned look. Sorry Honey, it’s the way we writer’s think.)
WHERE WOULD YOU MOST LIKELY FIND THE DEAD BODY?
DJ: In a crawl space.
WHAT’S THE CREEPIEST MOMENT YOU’VE EXPERIENCED?
DJ: Western State – we’re in there with the inmates and all the doors are locked. Not a cozy feeling.
Similar Post: So Your Character Needs A Job?
If you have a unique job, please contact me, I’d love to interview you for this segment!