Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The 95%ers

Our success rate for trainees is low- only 5% of the people we bring in to train actually continue as an employee for at least six months. Even though we "pass off" a driver after 4-8 nights out, once they've shown proficiency at the job, we still bitch at them continuously correct bad habits when we see then doing something which is either not sanctioned or unsafe. I tell my trainees that I do it to make them a better driver. After all, they go out with a different individual each night, and while we will occasionally compare notes, there is no set training format. So somewhere down the line we might have forgotten to tell them what to do if their wedding party is late (wait time is charged at $20 for every 15 minutes), what to do when they damage a car and the owner isn't around (leave a card), or which hotel canopies they are not allowed to go under (the Hilton).

As a trainer I can never tell if, once trained, a driver will stick around long enough to be considered an "success." As Crazy Shelley put it, it's not worth the brain space to remember someone's name if they're not going to be around very long. We go through so many people that the few brain cells that I haven't nullified with copious amounts of alcohol cannot manage to keep all the names straight. I have much better luck remembering the names of the dogs (but not their owners) I encounter up in Memory Grove or going for walks that pass us at South Gate (Juno the Border Collie, Etienne the Saint Bernard, Jack the Pug puppy and Lola the miniature Australian Shepherd).

There are candidates that I remember because of their quirky behavior or outright stupidity, but being that this is a public forum I won't mention names. I don't relish a law suit because I call someone stupid and it becomes a matter of public record. But I will say that there is a sector that I pity because while I as a human can recognize that an individual is useless and will soon be gone, either through trial and error error error or attrition, half of our workforce never knows what they will come up against next or how long they must endure them.

And that would be the horses.

Whether it's a heavy hand at the bit, commands that come out as either a squeak or a roar, or continuous flapping of the lines as an indication to pick up speed, our training horses (Cleatus, Tony, Charlie, Rex) go the distance when it comes to babysitting. For example, Cleatus, when asked to make a right turn on the way out to South Gate at a street that we normally do not turn right at, will stop, turn his big head to eyeball the driver, and wait for the trainee to change their mind and go straight. It is his way of correcting them. He is patient (more so than I will ever be) and forgiving when faced with an idiot. I've told many people that Cleatus, if he had thumbs and spoke English, would render my job obsolete.

This occupation is one where attention to detail is of the utmost importance. It's the difference between having a successful evening or a nightmare in progress. Safety is our number one concern, for the horse, the passengers, and the driver.

Note the order in which I placed those.

So if a trainee isn’t continuously watching the flow of traffic, getting over to the right out of the way of vehicles, properly holding the correct kind of lead rope, or leave their hooked up horse unattended in the barn lot while they go and get the one thing they forgot to put on their carriage before they left the barn, it's an issue. So when I see an issue, I’ll call the new driver on it, because it'll be that one time that I don’t which will lead to bad habits and sloppy safety. So if I bitch correct them, it's for their own benefit.

And if I happen to kick them off of the box and into the path of the oncoming Trax Train, it's for the horses benefit.


Anonymous said...

Smart boy, that Cleatus.

The verification word is hymedity. It doesn't take a BAGOW to have fund with that one.


Natalie said...

It's been about 3 weeks since I drove, and I'm starting to think I'm missing out. Of course, there have been *a lot* of new people lately.

At my new job, there's a much higher percentage of people that make it more than 6 months. However, I find I'd prefer to be part of the 5%.