What The Heck Do You Do All Day?
An occasional series about the people who work behind the scenes at Moravian College.

Who are you?
Janet Knauss

What's your title?
Dispatcher/Office Manager, Department of Campus Safety.

How did you come to work at Moravian?
I'd been a dispatcher for many years with the City of Bethlehem and I wanted to get back into that. I got a dispatching job at Lafayette College and I wanted to supplement my income on the weekends so I applied here. I started here in 2004, working part time. In January of 2006 I went full time as the middle shift dispatcher (weekdays 3-11 p.m.). And when Andrea Policare left in August 2007, I got promoted to office manager.

Why did you want to be a dispatcher?
I've always liked the idea. When I was growing up my dad was a part time dispatcher with the Hellertown police department. So I liked what he did, and he liked what he did. And so I started doing it part time in Bethlehem and just kept going with it.

What are some of the things you do in your job?
Answering the phone, of course; ever emergency or campus safety call comes through here. And you just missed a fire alarm—when we get one of those we dispatch the officers and then I call Bethlehem fire department. We send the officers on medical calls, lockouts. And lots of times if [Moravian switchboard operator] Lou Ann Vlahovic is out, people don't listen to the recorded menu, the just call our number which is at the end of the list. So we get those calls too. As the office manager I not only dispatch, I also have to do our payroll, our budget, order all the supplies. I send out the parking letters, which go out twice a month to people who didn't pay their tickets. I get the materials together for the parking appeals committee meetings, and I send out their denial or granted letters. A lot of paper work.

You never have the same day twice here.
You never do; it's always a little something different. You don't know what's going to happen when that phone rings. It could be anything from a simple fire call, somebody burnt food on the stove again, to somebody's passed out, or fell and broke an arm…it gets your adrenaline going. And it's when there's stuff like that going on that I really feel like I'm doing my job.  I've noticed that Tuesdays are usually kind of quiet, that's a good paperwork catch-up day. Mondays and Fridays are usually pretty busy. But you never know.

What kind of skills do you need to do your job?
You have to be quick, you have to not panic. You have to know where things are, to be organized and aware of where everything is in a split second. You have to know who to call, and all our procedures.

Do you need a sense of humor?
You gotta have a good sense of humor. Oh my God, you couldn't make it without that. You just can't let things get to you. I have kids come in and yell and scream at me about parking tickets, as if I parked their cars. We get a lot of that. After they're gone I'll laugh about it.

Parking is a hot-button issue.
I wish people would understand that we don't make the rules, we enforce the rules. People seem to blame us for all the parking rules and regulations. They didn't come from us, they came from administration.

Do you ever have trouble finding a parking spot?
I come in at 6:30 in the morning. I have the whole lot to choose from.

Do you ever wish you could carry a gun?
Sean [Tallarico, Director of Campus Safety] and I joke around about that. He says I should go to the police academy. When I graduated from high school I wanted to be a police officer. I came from a small town and my parents always had the coffee pot on, so the guys on patrol would stop and have coffee. They'd take their breaks at our house.

What's it like to be around police officers all day?
When I first became a dispatcher I took training with the City of Bethlehem, and the captain looked at everybody in the room and said, "If you cant take off-color jokes, if you cant take kidding around, if you can't stand bad language, you can't do this job." And that's basically what it is. I work with a lot of great guys and girls, I can't say enough about them. They make working here so good, I don't want to leave.