Tag Archives: work

My life in bite-sized pieces…

Got the January blues? I’m starting to feel them creep in (I’ve been back at work 4 days – there may be a connection!) so I thought the best way to counteract them is divide up my life into bite-sized pieces to see how things really are. Let’s sort the chocolate chip cookies (good stuff) from the coffee creams (bad stuff).

Family: I have a brilliant, loving, gorgeous boyfriend to live with, adore his parents, have the rest of my wonderful family ‘Up North’ who welcome me every time I turn up for the weekend – I’m chocolate chip cookie lucky! 😀

Home: We rent a lovely house, in a nice area, not too far from work, the gym and good shopping! – a definite big hunk of white tobelerone! 🙂

Friends: I’ve 2 extra special friends ‘Up North’ that I’ve known for 30 years, who never fail to entertain me with their lives and loves each time we meet. Since moving ‘Down South’ over 2 years ago, I’ve made some great friends and acquaintances during my various jobs, and a few have really made a positive impact on my life in different ways LO, JM, CS, CB, MD (I hope you recognise your initials!) – it’s a Hotel Chocolate moment! 😀 

Work: Is a constantly stressful place to be, whether in the office or at home; it buzzes around my head 24/7 so weekends offer little relief from the nagging reminders of what still needs to be started/finished/chased – coffee creams, coconut ice and turkish delight all round 😦

Future: Other Half and I both have birthdays coming up and after 18 long months, we have a holiday on the horizon – Vanilla bean cheesecake sums this up well! 😀 

So, putting these delightful treats into perspective, as the saying goes, it seems that my life is sweet, apart from the melted, dark chocolate coffee cream that is work…  do I carry on, nibbling around the edges in case it starts to taste better, or spit it out and take my chances with a completely new, mystery flavour?

Only time, (or a win on the lottery) will tell…

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Watch out! Invisible temp about…

It appears that working as a temp also offers me the privilege of an undercover identity which, would be most exciting if that didn’t actually apply at work! I was incensed twice within 10 minutes today, the conversation went as follows (all names have been changed to prevent potential perpetrator embarrassment!)
 
The scene: I’m sitting quietly working at my desk when the IT Lady walks in and asks someone for Sabrina the Temp. She is pointed out on the opposite side of the room, so IT Lady walks over.
 
IT Lady: “You wanted a link?”
Temp looks up: “Sorry?”
IT Lady (slightly abrupt): “You wanted a link or something?”
Temp: “Sorry, I don’t understand?”
IT Lady: “Sabrina?”
 
I look up and realise IT Lady actually wants Sabrina, a different temp, who is sitting opposite her, talking to someone.
 
Me (light-hearted, friendly tone): “IT Lady, if you need Sabrina, that’s her there.” (I point)
IT Lady (looking around the office with slightly mad eyes and a definite accusatory tone): “Well I don’t know who any of you are!”
 
How rude, I thought to myself.
 
Not 5 minutes later, I went to find the lady who gives out car park keys as there is a space for me on Monday.
 
Me: “Hi Key Lady, the receptionist sent me to see you to get a car park key for Monday.”
Key Lady pulls a face: “Why, oh why me? How long for?”
Me: “Just for Monday, there is only one spare space next week.”
Key Lady: “Mumble grumble, well that’s a lot of messing about for one day, I wish she hadn’t sent you to me.”
Me (wondering how complicated the key process is): “Should I go to someone else?”
Key Lady: “No, I’ll do it.”
 
Key Lady stands up and walks 4 steps to her cupboard, unlocks it, takes out bag of keys and hands me a piece of paper.
 
Key Lady: “Write your name and the date on there, you have to sign it out then back in again.”
Me: “Ok.”
Key Lady: “Are you a temp?”
Me: “Yes.”
Key Lady: “Can you write temp next to your name, it’s just that I don’t bother to get to know anyone who isn’t permanent!”
Me (through gritted teeth): “Thanks! I will bring it back on Tuesday.”
 
Is it just me?!?

Latest election update…

As I’m still no further forward with the ‘fake job’ offer, I’ve been temping for the last 3 weeks at the local council on the election hotline. It’s amazing how much information you can learn about one subject in such a short amount of time – for instance, did you know that if you can’t get to the polling station to vote, you just need to ring your local party and they will come and pick you up on the day? I also found out what goes on behind the scenes and it’s not pretty. Considering they have done this election stuff the same way for years, witnessing the disorganisation and last-minute decisions, aswell as being told to pass on mixed messages to the general public is scary when the outcome is so important.

The mood of the callers varies; some simply check to see if they are on the electoral roll, others want to know the difference between a postal and proxy vote, some are (understandably) upset because ballot papers, posted out first class, take a week to arrive or worse still, get lost in the post, others are steaming mad because they consider the whole electoral system a farce and shouting or swearing at us seems to make them feel better. Since starting this job, a range of people including cocky students and stressed out businessmen have accused me of disenfranchising them – I’d never even heard the word before but I quickly worked out that it means that I personally (no matter what the circumstances are), have denied them their vote. It’s my fault they missed various deadlines, the post hasn’t arrived, they had to go on holiday, the volcano ash cloud had delayed them etc etc.

Once the postal votes have been received, people refuse to read the instructions and tear off pieces that should stay attached, lose returning envelopes, sign their partners ballot papers and even vote for the wrong party! You wouldn’t believe the amount of people who don’t realise they are voting in both a local and general election, and many are honestly confused when the parliamentary papers don’t give Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg as candidates! And these people have a say in how the country is run..!  

It’s my last day tomorrow and although its been fun and I’ve met some great people, it’s time to move on to temping pastures new…

Note to self: sign contract before celebrating…

After the fantastic high of verbally being offered my ‘dream job’ as a Web Editor 5 weeks a go, my spirits now resemble a brightly coloured helium balloon that has slowly started to wrinkle and deflate, hanging there with hope that it may become its former robust, skys-the-limit self. The reason for this is I still have no contract, nothing in writing whether paper or email, not even a quick scribbled note on the back of a beer mat – nada!

 The delays have arisen, so I’m told by agency girl, because;

a) They thought the whole cv sorting/two-step interview process would
take 6-8 weeks. As I also had another potential job lurking, they turned the whole process round in a couple of weeks to get me

b) The guy currently in post has ‘contractual issues’ which have been in the process of being sorted out since I got the offer

I’m constantly reassured by agency girl and the guy who hired me that I am ‘perfect for the role’, would ‘fit in well with the team’ and ‘they really don’t want to lose me’, despite the inordinate amount of time it is taking for me to be issued with a contract. I put up with these assurances for 3 weeks, no longer wanting people to ask, “When do you start your new job?” as I genuinely wondered whether I actually had a job anymore. During this time of doubt, I was contacted by another agency girl with a potential PR/Copywriters role within a lifestyle brand for 12 months. Mentally cheered by the fact people think I’m still worth offering an actual contract to, I read the job description and asked her to put me forward for it.

At this point, I thought it would be useful leverage to use with (as I now lovingly refer to it)  ‘fake job’ agency girl; she could pass on the fact that other people were contacting me as this is what had got them moving so fast originally. I told her the next time she called and it had the desired effect(?) that a whole week later, she came back with a potential solution: would I do freelance there while the contractual problems got sorted? I said I would consider it as long as the hourly rate matched the offered salary and off she went to present her findings. The same day, PR job agency girl called to say they want to see me for interview and would ring with dates the next week. On Friday, potential interview dates for 28th April and 4th May were sent to me with exact times to follow on Monday, still no word from ‘fake job’ agency girl about the freelancing.

Being incredibly truthful, patient and more than a bit fed up at this stage, I emailed PR agency girl to say her job had evolved from potential leverage into front-runner, if the interview went well and the vibe felt right (I honestly believe the interview is as much for your benefit as it is theirs when it comes to checking each other out). So it’s a question of once again becoming that enthusiastic, brightly filled balloon of energy that people want to hire, contract and all..!

Tonight Matthew, I’m going to be…

… a receptionist! My new temping agency set me up with the booking and I’m sure like me, (unless you have ever worked a switchboard), you think it looks easy from the outside. Step into this world however, and it changes the way I will speak to receptionists in the future! I was lowered very gently into the role by a lovely lady who showed me the basics and let me start when I felt ready. Funnily enough, the thing I hate most about starting a new job is answering the phone as I’m always sure I won’t know what the person on the other end is talking about!

I waited nervously for the first call and sure enough, it came through. The first thing to note is the line number but as I do that, the caller reels off the name, company and person they want to speak at such speed, it’s almost impossible to write quickly enough. Throw in an accent of any description and my brain processor goes crazy! Then, I need to find them on the contact list, dial through and try to re-read my scrawl back to them. If they are not in, I take a message and send them an email but of course, in the middle of all that, the phone rings again. Then suddenly everything goes quiet and just as I’m drifting off into thought, it starts all over again..!

The people sitting around me in the office are all friendly and one even shares a similar accent as she too is originally from the North East. Us Northern foreigners are like meerkats, as soon as we hear a familiar accent, we perk up out of our chairs, trying to sense where it’s coming from so we can bond in our own special way. As the company is situated on an industrial estate on the outskirts of town, my usual lunchtime visit to Starbucks wasn’t an option and somehow, the lure of Morrison’s cafe round the corner  just doesn’t hold the same appeal..!

In one of my quiet moments, I check my email and have one from my old temping agency telling me I have 2 weeks work back at the business show, looks like the potential work rumours yesterday were true…

Work at last…

January was a long, painful month workwise – apart from the disastrous 3 day unpaid stint at the potential job of my dreams, temping has been thin on the ground and for the first time, I had to use my savings to pay my share of the bills – ouch!

Despite having joined 2 temping agencies, the work on offer so far has been unsuitable; 2 months shredding documents and packing boxes in a room on my own, portacabin hire for 6 months with a view to permanent (not exactly in my dream job category) and a 4 week placement in a call centre doing shift work. I know temping is a random source of work but is it really so tricky to pick up some 9-5 office work?!?

Fortunately, my February has started on a brighter note with 2 days temping back at the business show I was with before Christmas and, 2 days at a brand new one. It’s lovely revisiting the old place as although the original job was crashingly boring, the people are great and they all seemed genuinely pleased to see me again :0) After 2 hours back, there are already potential job murmurings for me over the next few months, but having carried all my eggs in this companies basket before and being disappointed, I appear interested but non committal. That’s the thing about temping, you never know what’s round the corner…

Should you follow your gut instinct?

Day 2 of my new job and well, it’s going ok – did you notice my slight hesitancy there? You know when you have that funny feeling about something that doesn’t seem quite right but it doesn’t really seem big enough to mention? Well, I have that feeling about work.

When it comes to our 1pm lunchtime, nobody moves. It doesn’t appear that everyone has suddenly tuned their PC’s to Facebook or Twitter, judging by the work calls still going on around me as well as furious email writing. There is the sound of food rustling at desks so eating on the go is obviously the norm. I of course, have a seat with my name on waiting for me at Starbucks but it feels really awkward to be the only one to leave my desk and vacate the building for that precious hour not spent staring at a computer screen. However, even the hour seems to be ‘flexible’ as I was told that it is usual to start lunch late but always to finish it by 2pm.

The 5.30pm finish time arrived yesterday and nobody batted an eyelid. By 5.40pm, despite it being my first day, I took the initiative and slowly wrapped up in my winter woolies to show I was going. Throw in a 5 minute chat about parking and I still felt guilty about being the first to leave, 15 minutes after we finished! I am more than willing to do my fair share of late finishes when deadlines are approaching but instinct tells me this is the everyday norm. This doesn’t bode well in the life/work balance plan and it’s difficult to rally against the flow of the office. We are only a staff of 6 so it’s impossible not to notice the 1 (new) person who actually takes a lunchtime and tries to leave at hometime. Throw in general conversation about a lack of an actual contract, late or no appraisals (which I was told at interview my future decent wage rides on) and it makes you wonder.

Hmmm, am I being too picky or has experience finally taught me to take notice of the small details and follow my gut instinct?