Monday, Monday

I remember a time with my Mission President, President Stucki gave a talk on constant perfection.  He made a comment that if we ever felt like we were comfortable, like we had things figured out, like we could sit back and relax it was a great sign we needed to rise up and repent.  Life is a process of constant repentance through improvement and progression.  Somehow I have really taken the counsel to heart and don’t like to feel comfortable.  There is always more to do, someone else’s life to bless, some work needing to be done.
My weeks of late have been filled with a whole host of events.  Tuesday nights finds me at the Family History Library.  I have been spending about a week an evening out with the missionaries.  The Home Teaching list with 6 families requires diligent effort, coordinating with the schedule of my 14 year old companion, and hoping some of them might come around.  There are two widows in the ward whose family history I am inputting on the computer and preparing for temple work.  That requires constant updating and exchanging of information ever week at church.  Preparing and teaching the Family History Class on Sunday.  I go visiting with President Hahn usually about once a week for the Elder’s Quorum Presidency.  Last week I gave a talk in church on Family History.  Tomorrow and Saturday we are preparing chili for the ward and work chili cook-off.  Creating a couple gallons of white chili takes hours in itself.  Chopping up those four huge onions kept my eyes watering for several hours.  A black tie event tomorrow night, costume party Saturday night, Squash on Monday nights.  I don’t feel like I have much time lately.  But I feel very fulfilled with my life at the moment.  I hope someday my life will be remembered like that of President Kimball (whose biography I finished earlier this month) where his life was like an old shoe, worn out in the service of others.
Amanda and I attended a wedding last Saturday and because the weeks have been so busy we had to run to the temple afterwards and come back that same evening.  The week before Amanda spent the whole weekend in Grundy.  The week before was General Conference, which was fantastic I might add.
Work has continually picked up and I am feeling like I have a pretty good grasp on the work and what is required.  I think I may have actually gone a day or two where I did not have to ask a question of a co-worker.  Then today the bombshell came.  Bank of America is doing away with the entire Wholesale Channel.  December 31st will be the last day of Wholesale’s existence.  Meaning, I am without employment January 1st.  Sure, I get a month’s pay for severance.  But hey, I just got hired on!  I started as an official Bank of America employee on October first after four months as a contractor.  Now on January 1st, I am starting over.  Geez, I will have spent more time as a contractor at Bank of America than as an actual associate.  What does the employment world hold for me next?  Will I find another position in Bank of America?  Will I stay in the mortgage industry?  Where will I work for the remaining 6 months I am in Richmond, Virginia?  At any rate, I have the next three months to find a new job.  (Two months at Bank of America, one month’s severance).  My Monday at work was just about to close since I had gone through the rough tumble of learning the in and out of a new job.  Now I get to start all over!
We have decided to take a trip to Europe in June of next year.  We are thinking of spending 3 weeks in Britain and 3 weeks in Northwestern Europe.  We would probably spend 2 weeks in the old mission visiting and staying with people, another week touring parts of Britain, then three weeks with Belgium as our home base.  Our friends James and Catherine Cazier have invited us over and we will probably crash with them at their home in Belgium.  So much of northwestern Europe is within a few hours of there.  I hope to quell Amanda’s desire to live in Paris and we both hope to see much of the storied lands.  I think we will have to skip Germany this time around since there are so many places I would like to personally visit for family history purposes (not for research, just to visit).  Amanda’s goal is to earn the money to pay for the tickets to Europe and then I will pay for the rest.  However, we will have to see how the trip looks as we get closer.  Hopefully we won’t miss a beat in preparing to meet our bills while away on vacation for 6 weeks and pay for the trip itself and then the move to wherever we will move for Law School.  So much depends on my finding a good, new job.  Hopefully not at a lower salary than the one I was earning with Bank of America.
For those who asked if I am still thinking about attending law school in England, the answer is no.  I had an answer to prayer that made it plainly manifest I was not to attend law school in England.  Despite the heartbreak it brought, there was a certain relief at not having to try and figure out the ramifications of attempting to do so.  We also found out that Amanda would find it virtually impossible to work in the UK as a hygienist.  Basically the UK now says no to any hygienist unless they are a EU citizen.  To qualify she would basically have to take half of her schooling over again and the cost would be too prohibitive.  One would think that a country where citizens pull their own teeth for a lack of dentists would openly welcome hygienists and dentists to immigrate.  Classic socialistic medicine at work!
Well, time to shut down.  I have to get up in the morning for a company that doesn’t want me anymore.  There is incentive to do a good job!  Talk about moral hazard temptations abounding all over the place.  Why should I care if I do a good job since there will certainly be no rewards.  What are they going to do?  Fire me.  Wait, they already are.  My incentive is not to care so much since job performance means nothing.  Who cares about customer satisfaction?  It will be a tough walk for all those involved.  Should I take my sick days while I can, even though I am not sick?  What about those paid vacation days I have accrued, use them all, now?  How much time should I dedicate to finding a new job?  It will be a temptation minefield to remain integrity, honesty, and dedication to the company who feels in most senses to have turned against us.  To remain proactive and pushing forward where there are very few incentives will be difficult.
What does the future hold now?  I haven’t had much time to relax and think I am content lately.  The next few months will probably hold even fewer.  The table now has to include job hunting.  I haven’t even completed writing the personal statement and applying to law school (which has some large costs as well, although Amanda tells me I can’t apply to California schools now).

Assistant Underwriter

It has been a few days now I have been working for the most part on my own as an assistant underwriter.  While technically I am called a Home Servicing Specialist, it is still an assistant underwriter.  It has turned out to be an eye opener.  I will share a couple of the things I have learned so far.
I sit between the assistant underwriters and the validators.  Validators are those who take the loans that come through a system of basically computer underwriting.  You put your information into a computer and it recommends the program and loan for you.  These validators then take the information you put into the system and make sure it is accurate and the computer recommended the right things.  With loans from a few thousand to millions, we cannot take the chance there is fraud or computer malfunction.  After a loan comes in from either a broker or online, people take a good look at the information.  We have to verify the identity of the person to eliminate fraud.  Everything from SSN checks to personally calling the employer to verify your employment.  There are even hotlines where we can call to verify the account information you provided is accurate and the account is active.
The underwriter or validators then place conditions on the loan after verifying the program and information for the assistant underwriters to do more homework in question areas of a loan.  Often a title is not present yet, or a purchase agreement, or flood certification, or hazard insurance, or an appraisal, or all sorts of other things.  We have to keep reminding people we need these things and when they come in to check and verify them as well.  Sometimes we need bank statements, w-2′s, paystubs, gift letters, canceled checks, letters of explanations, and so forth.  We keep on the brokers and clients until we have all the satisfactory requirements fulfilled.
In working with some of these people, I already have learned you can take very few at their word.  If they say they faxed it in, they may have, but it is just a ploy to get you off the phone and then they will fax it, if they remember.  If there is really something questionable going on then those people will make up the most random on the spot explanation.  You then ask for documentation to check their statements and something totally different comes in.  You go back and they tell you a whole new variation with the new information.  On and on it goes until you either get the real story or the loan is declined.  I am sure some loans go through under less than honest situations and we just can’t catch them.  There are some good liars out there.
When large amounts of money are included people will say anything to make it happen.
I do not wish to say all or even most of the people I associate with on the phones are dishonest, but there are a few that instantly you can smell a rat.  I feel like an investigator in many ways as I have to keep asking the questions and looking for the evidence.
Many of the documents don’t meet a certain standard.  The address is a little funny, the person has had a name change, they are not citizens yet, a paystub has some information written in, etc.  So we have to add another condition that clarifies or confirms what the applicant is stating.
One thing is for sure generally, most people procrastinate!  In the loan business and when large amounts of money are involved, people get very, very angry when their procrastination costs them.  For the broker it can be a change in rate, or the ire of the applicant, or delay in payment.  For the applicant it can mean a few more days in a hotel, debts waiting a little longer from a cash out, and more.  I just don’t understand how they can think I am going to stay at work after five to review the five documents they just sent in.  Especially when it is 5 now and they know the deadline was at 1.  Boy oh boy do they yell and scream when you tell them that we just will have to reschedule the closing and delivery of the loan.
The best part is those who have sob stories.  “This family has been living in a hotel for the past month with three kids and the mother swears she will kill them and us…”  “He needs to pay off his wife’s doctor bills so she can continue her treatment”  It makes you sound mean, but please.
One broker I notified I needed to prove his clients assets from statements and verification of deposit.  I let him know this on Monday.  On Wednesday when the deadline had arrived for his loan, he then goes on to tell me the client has been shipped out with the Navy.  I remind him that his wife probably still receives the mail and the client even has a Power of Attorney.  Well if I didn’t get a good yelling.  This broker had the nerve to send a supervisor to the next two tiers of management against me.
Heaven will certainly fall if I ever procrastinate in relation to anything for them though.  A document will show up in my system at 1:00 and by 1:15 I have somebody calling me to know if I have looked at it.  No, I have not.  I will look at the other 4 loans I have in my queue first that are closer to deadline.  I can’t tell them that, other than I will get to it as soon as I can.  Some brokers I have already learned their phone number they call me so often and I know not to answer.  Relax people, if you quit calling me I can work on the file and look at your document.  When everyone keeps calling me it means I spend time on the phone and not on your files.
This job requires a maximum capacity at multi-tasking.  If this is any indicator, I have two computer screens I use all day long.  I have my document viewer I keep track of new documents, read and approve others.  I have my e-mail that I need to keep up on at all times.  I have my data entry system for which I keep track of conditions and enter information.  I have a system that is open which is constantly tracking my clear to close loans, loans for delivery, and loans for closing.  There is the system that then keeps track of my pipeline, to let me know which loans are mine and how long they have been in the system.  On top of that, I have my web browsers which I check for ineligible appraisers, community identification and development, whitepages for addresses and phone numbers, and whatever else I need.  The entire policy and procedure guide is online and must be checked from time to time.  That is just work.  I like to keep my personal e-mail open just in case something comes in I need to take care of in relation to Elder’s Quorum or who knows what else.
So I have a half dozen things open and working at the same time and then I have people who want to call and ask a question or make a demand.  Surely I would not be so unkind as to put them on hold so I can at least get to a point where I can drop everything I am doing to switch whichever system I need to work on their problem.  For example, if I am working on an appraisal, I am working on most of the systems.  If someone calls, I have to drop what I am doing and then back out of one or two systems for them.  Then when I can go back to the appraisal, I have to take both systems back to where I was and then pick up where I left off.  Sometimes too much time elapses and I haven’t a clue what I was doing and have to back up the appraisal to a point I know I completed.
I like fast pace jobs, and this is certainly one of them.  There is not a dull moment.  There is always something to do.  I get so into work and am so busy that to take off lunch seems like such an interruption.  I typically take lunch at my desk and eat as I go.  Most people do.  The time away from the desk and what you were doing is often too long that everything gets backed up.  If I take a full hour for lunch, I may return to 10 to 20 e-mails most of which need to be addressed.  Where if I just keep plugging along I can take care of them quickly.  It is like the old blond joke, “why don’t they let blonds take breaks?  Because it takes too long to retrain them!”  It seems to hold a certain amount of truth in this situation.
Things have been hectic because a couple of people are on vacation this week meaning we are overloaded.  By the time 5 rolls around I don’t feel like I have made much of a dent.  But typically I would be caught up and feeling pretty good about life.  There will always be those who say they faxed me at 10 and it will suddenly arrive at 4:30 that won’t be caught up, but that is their problem, not mine.
This in many ways is a job I really enjoy.  I sit down and before I know it the entire day has passed.  I can look over at WIT and see that I gave 6 clear to close, scheduled another 6, and put another dozen into pending documents status.
I am very much enjoying my job at Bank of America.  The pay is good enough for me too.  I wouldn’t mind more, but I am happy.  I am somewhat sad this will probably be only a year.  Certainly it is a good learning experience and I this education will come in handy all my life.

My first big quit

Well, I am home from an unpleasant experience at Combined Insurance.  In the pain of adding more costs to maintenance to my aging car, due to the long hours of work, the ongoing disorganization at work, the lack of training, and lastly the less than satisfactory income; I have announced at work that Friday, tomorrow, would be my last day.  I received the anger of the field manager, Marc Summers.  I suppose it was to be expected.
I admit that part of my reason for quitting was the paradise lost feeling.  I am not a natural salesman.  He said it is because I am weak and have a lack of character.  Perhaps that is true.  Something I should very much consider, that I lack courage and moral strength.  I chalk it to a fear of sales, perhaps of offending someone else.  I already knew that.  I think I announced it in my blogs when I originally started with the company.  Looking back, it most likely is a weakness of character.  However, it was something taught into me as a child.  That you do not interrupt, you do not give offense, and that you never exert pressure which is improper.  Sales was always one of those areas which was improper.  Especially for something that was not necessary for a person.
So now what do I do?  Who knows?  All I know is that I was going farther and farther in debt despite the job already.  Maintenance and driving costs for the car would only compound the problem.  My fears and inadequacies were costing me income that I am not convinced I should gain in this way.  Next, I can put some blame on them.  I knew when I got in, I would need some help and training to overcome this ‘weak’ tendency.  I was impressed with the training program, so I signed up.
Well, I have had 3 days with Marc, two days with Ted.  Marc did a bunch of work and I had no clue what was going on with much of it, and with Ted we did not do anything other than collect premium.  So I did think they were not very worthwhile.  Especially if I needed to overcome a fear of sales.  Well, now I am entrenched in a way that I recognized I could not, or was not willing, to change.  Therefore I would have to go elsewhere for employment.
To top it all off, I am a naturally positive person.  But the business of sales bothered me.  It was hard to stay on top with these struggles.  Then I would go into the office and I would be told that I was being so negative.  I think it was more my analytical style.  Marc seems to be the one with the negativism, but it would very well have been just my presence.  So with that riding on me lately, it has been time to make a change.
I announced I would be working less hours in a day.  A noble cause I thought.  It was only met with a certain ridicule.  When I asked for help, I was called ungrateful.  Then today as I left the office, I was told that I would need to reimburse them for $500 for wasting their time and the training they provided.  Suppose I will just let Marc have my week’s pay.  Then we should be good.
So now I start the job search and watch our meager savings be whittled more and more away.  I do have an interview today at 1:00 PM.  The pay is good, but it is a call center.  But it will most surely hold me over until I can find something else.  Who knows, I may even enjoy it after driving all around the country for months.  It will sure be nice to not have to worry about the miles and fuel costs.