Chris Walsh (chris_walsh) wrote,
Chris Walsh

Acknowledge the skills

One day last week, I helped pack mail bound for Beverly Hills 90210.

Even if I hadn't been a Walsh, I'd know the pop-culture cachet of that zip code; even watched the original Beverly Hills 90210 sometimes, though I liked to call it "Beverly Hills 9021oh please." (Imagine the leader of the Knights Who Say Ni saying that.) Being a Walsh, I feel that we Walshes should've been grandfathered into Beverly Hills (to the good life!), but that's not how things work, do they?

Eventually we moved on to mail bound for zip code 90211, which has none of that cachet, and probably doesn't want it either. And I reminded myself that over the three years I worked in a call center, taking orders to buy long-distance calling time on calling cards, I got really good at identifying where zip codes were. I knew that 23456 is in a part of Virginia Beach, and that 44444 (and perhaps the Zip+4 of 44444-4444) occurs in Newton Falls in northeastern Ohio. I know 20--- zips could be for D.C. and some parts of the D.C. metro area, but in a confusing (to me) way as 20--- bumped up against 22--- a lot in my corner of Northern Virginia. (I noticed this in the Eighties, back when I was getting interested in maps.) 59--- is for Montana (I mostly remembered this because Montana was one of the states, like Oregon, that didn't charge sales tax on the purchase), 606-- covers Chicago, and Army Post Offices and Fleet Post Offices (APOs and FPOs) start 969--. (My call center had a lot of military customers; I remember seeing a bunch of orders from addresses at Diego Garcia, in the Indian Ocean, early in the war in Afghanistan.) I had trouble keeping straight the Northeast's zips with their zeros, but mostly, at a glance at the start of a zip, I knew where someone was.

Haven't needed that little skill (is it even really a skill?) since, so it's atrophied. Like my briefly-held ability to estimate the current time pretty closely without checking a watch; I got good at it circa 1993 then got less good, and am really not-good at it now. Plus at the moment I don't have anything portable that tells me the time: no watch, timepiece, or smarty-phone, so no way to test and develop it. When sorting mail for that particular job the last two weeks, it took a while for me to realize that the number in the upper-right of the mailing bag tags was the bag's intended zip code, because the number was out of context.

Sometimes, I've wanted to rid myself of certain knowledge. I was so annoyed at the annoying treatment I got at the dog-show company whose office I worked at in 2009, an office where a co-worker treated me badly, I actually wished to forget the knowledge of dogs I'd gotten from there and, one of these days, relearn my dog knowledge from scratch. Didn't and don't want my fondness for dogs tainted by that experience.* Because dogs are awesome. I've known that since I was a kid.

There is, though, some lingering remembered knowledge of medical terminology in my head, after my 2004-2008 stint as an on-site clerk for the transcription company Oregon Health Science University used at the time. Hasn't been too useful, as I haven't had to deal (personally) with hospitals since then, but it meant that the most recent time I heard this --

-- I had a better guess at what each kind of hernia was like.

In conclusion, I need more knowledge. And more skills.

* That stint reinforced one other little thing for me: I've come to really dislike using the word "bitch," even when it's the technical term. At that office I'd labor to say "female dog." Nowadays I'm trying to say the word less. I usually don't need it. But it, like profanity, is available for me to say if I need to say it.

  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.