Sunday, August 4, 2013

Working through it

You can stop reading right now if husband-admiring-wife stuff gets on your nerves.

The last time I did this, Kim was modeling leather on a Harley-Davidson (see here).

But recently, about a month ago, Kim found full-time employment with Parrott Insurance and Benefits, as their office coordinator. She greets you as you enter the door; she answers the phone; she keeps the office supplies in stock; she keyboards; she organizes files; she takes care of mailings, and she makes the coffee, among other things. She even has her notary public stamp.

In other words, she does the essential stuff to keep the office going while freeing up the others to do the essential stuff to keep the business going. (There is a difference in that, if you look closely enough).

Basically, it's similar to what she'd done as administrative assistant to bank senior management for 31 years at Lexington State Bank/NewBridge Bank, and, on a lesser scale, for about a year at Edward Jones. Clearly, her experience was never an issue.

It seems to me like the perfect fit for both parties. She loves working there. She says it feels like family.

Anyway, about two weeks after she was hired, it was suggested to her that she get her state licensing in both health and life insurance. Even though she isn't an agent, she legally can't discuss insurance with a customer unless she's licensed.

So it was off to school.

Huh? What? School? At age 53?

Each morning, for a week, Kim made the trek to Greensboro for an intense eight-hour-a-day course in life and health insurance to train for the state licensing exam. Then it was back home for three hours of study each night.


That part required me to be the thoughtful, supporting husband. I kept the TV volume turned down a notch or two. I tried to screen incoming phone calls. I tried to offer encouragement whenever she cried out, "I can't do this anymore."

She had to take and pass two exams — one in life, one in health — just to qualify for the state exam. And she did just that.

Kim was always a good student in high school and at the community college, almost always knocking down A's. But I couldn't imagine resurrecting rusty study skills 30 years later. That had to be a shock to her system.

So now it was off to the state exams in Statesville for two multiple-choice quizzes of 65 questions. We reserved a Saturday morning for this. I was walking around town when my cell phone buzzed. "I passed the health part," she said. But the disappointment in her voice told me we had to revisit the more difficult life quiz. Apparently, she missed passing that one by one, maybe two, incorrect answers.

So we set up the following Thursday morning for the retry. She studied like crazy. One night, she had me read her sample test questions for three hours, and I was duly impressed. She only missed five. I knew then that she'd nail it.

And she did. She came out of the testing center with her face beaming, relieved and exhausted and I was incredibly proud of her. True, this wasn't like passing the bar (I have no idea what that might be like), but it was a grueling experience nonetheless, acknowledged even by others within the industry.

I'm thinking of buying her a Harley.

Or at least some leather.

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