Past

Friday, 30 December 2011

There's been a rather pleasant result for working where I am.  Given that I'm sat on the tills I naturally see a lot of people go by but it's quite nice when the people are individuals you've not seen in years!

In the past fortnight alone, I've been surprised by and chatted to:

  1. Both my managers from my two previous office jobs; one happily retired, the other about to.
  2. A young student I used to teach at my sports club.
  3. A girl I knew in middle school who recognised me, although I couldn't place who she was (clearly she'd changed a lot ... apparently I haven't) I did recognise her name.
  4. The guy who ran my school's youth club.
  5. A friend who used to run a local shop where I'd hang out on my lunch breaks when I was still employed in a local office - we're now back in touch after nearly two years (his shop closed and I switched jobs).
  6. A girl from my last office job who transferred to another department.
  7. Another girl I worked with for six months in a coffee shop years ago.

Those have been the nice surprises.

Yet, there was one that left quite a bitter taste in my mouth.

An elderly woman came to my till and I immediately twigged that I knew her, she looked strangely familiar and I was wracking my memory trying to place her - she didn't appear to know who I was.  Then it suddenly clicked - this was the mother of a girl I went to school with.  My gaze snapped to the young woman standing with her - sure enough, it was Sarah*. 

But in spite of being my 'best friend' for three years, she didn't acknowledge me.  We looked at each other, no doubt that she recognised me, I could see it in her eyes (come on, if someone I hardly knew from middle school recognised me, then my 'best friend' surely must) ... but she moved on without a word as if I were a stranger.

Rewinding several years (oh god, more than a decade now ... I feel old!) Sarah and I met up in our second year of Secondary school - I was very quiet and shy, she was more confident and talkative.  I latched onto her friendship as I'd been bullied an awful lot thus I found it comforting that this girl was eager for my friendship.  Looking back I realise now that no one else could put up with her constant chat.  And chat she did.  Mostly about herself and what she was doing / planning / had seen on TV etc.  Sometimes when we spoke on the phone, I genuinely could have put it down, gone away for five minutes and come back without her even noticing that I'd not been listening - that may sound a bit mean, but I did not realise at the time just how little I actually got to speak.  

Anyway, we took our GCSE's and Sarah decided to stay at the school to do her A Levels, whilst I opted to go to the local collage (I wanted to get away from the kids that had continued to bully me).   It was from that summer onwards that I was left making all the effort in our friendship - I was the one who emailed, phoned and texted, trying to arrange for us to hang out or just to talk - yet Sarah was suddenly too busy or already had plans.   The one time I did manage to arrange for us to meet up, we met up by the cinema, only for Sarah to bring along another girl whom I'd never met and the two of them talked non-stop, hardly saying two words to me before simply getting up and leaving me behind.

I was quite crushed by this.  I do appreciate now that we didn't have much of a friendship in the first place but at the time I was so upset by Sarah doing this to 'us'.   As the years went by, occasionally we'd bump into each other in town - Sarah's opening question to me would be 'Do you have a boyfriend?' - if the answer was no, cue Sarah's non-stop talk about her wonderful boyfriend and her fantastic life.  If the answer was yes, Sarah's face would light up and she'd squeal about double-dating and that she simply must meet him!  Yeah, sure.  I'm of no interest whilst single but the moment I get a boyfriend she wants to hang out?

All these years since I've pondered whether or not to try and get back in touch.  I'd had a cursory look on Facebook, but couldn't find her.  I did wonder if she'd married and changed her name perhaps.  Would she have matured at all?  Perhaps we'd be able to resurrect our friendship and be actual friends rather than just a speaker and a listener.

This chance encounter, however, has just proved to me once and for all that Sarah is not interested and not worth my time.  She looked me in the eye, knew exactly who I was and didn't say a word - leaving me too surprised to say a word to her as she walked away.  Puts to rest any thoughts of rekindling a friendship I've had for years.  It's quite sad when friends lose touch or a friendship fizzles out, although I've had doubts as to how much of a friendship we really had.


Lesson learnt - real friends will treat you as such.  Hang onto the good ones and don't concern yourself with the ones that aren't.


* Not her real name, as always I don't like to use people's real names here.
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Christmas Eve

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Well, I can certainly say that it's quite a blessing to know that I still have a job to go to next week.  I overheard someone today saying that Christian was the only temp not to be kept on.

Quite how long each of us is being kept on for, I do not know.  I'm the only one on the tills, the other two are evening-shift / shelf stackers, so I've not actually seen them since our induction.

I feel some sympathy for Christian - no work guaranteed for after Christmas, the uncertaincy of whether he'll be able to find something soon ... but at the same time I just don't feel that he applied himself to the job he had.  He was late for the training day and, he confessed to me the other day, he'd come into work with a hangover!  Call me crazy, but those are things you do not do if you want to stay in the job. Christian doesn't think anyone noticed but the supervisors are a sharp bunch.  I'll be really surprised if no one picked up on it.  Perhaps he didn't even like the work and wanted to find something else afterwards, but that grates painfully against my person view that you ought to do the best you can, even if you don't like the job or intend to stick it out.  Look at me at the Shop!  I grew to loathe it yet it didn't stop me making an effort and trying to do a good job even on my final day.

Thus, I'm in two minds about saying goodbye to Christian yesterday.  He was a nice guy - just perhaps not appreciative of the job he had (a notion that baffles me).  I do wish him all the best, that he succeeds in finding employment elsewhere in a role he enjoys and wants to work hard at.

I'm so grateful to still be employed.  I took a risk leaving the Shop, which has paid off so far.  I may only be guaranteed until the end of January but there are encouraging hints from senior that it may become permanant.  Even if it doesn't, it's an enjoyable, less stressful job than I've had in years - for that I am grateful.

Merry Christmas!
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Chosen

Saturday, 17 December 2011

I am officially employed until the end of January!  ^_^  I'm being kept on, Christian is not.

I believe that one of the evening temps is being offered an extension as well so well done both of us.

Very pleased - I celebrated with huge chocolate cookies and a nice cup of tea.

I feel like I may be able to justify the cost of new glasses now ...
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Literally cutting the cost

Monday, 12 December 2011

This may sound drastic but I can assure you that it is not as bad as it sounds.

I've started to cut my own hair.

It's something I've been wanting to try some quite some time actually and only a few weeks ago did I pluck up the courage and pick up the scissors.  Not that I did much on my first attempt; I maybe trimmed off a centimetre at most, but it was a start.  I washed my hair first, combed it to straighten it out and (tentatively) started snipping.

I didn't look this apprehensive - honest!
I tried to keep it reasonably straight, or at least in line with the existing ends and frankly it looked fine!  I was not aiming for it to be perfectly ruler straight and even - snipping upwards to chip little sections out to soften the line thus not too obvious that I'd actually done anything at all.

Overall I was rather pleased.  Nobody gasped in horror or even noticed that I'd had a trim.  Would have been rather surprised if anybody had considering how small a change it was, but it was quite encouraging that I hadn't made a hash of it.

So this evening I attempted another trim, taking off another centimetre or so.  This time I think I've gone a little wonky at the back (my hair is still wet - shall see how it looks once dried off) but at least it's not a drastic chop .... I'm hoping to get to that later.

My hair isn't down to my waist or anything, more mid-chest length, which is getting a little heavy for me and the split-ends are doing my head in.

And it wouldn't be a typical post from me if there weren't a saving-money thought in there somewhere, would it?

I hate getting my hair cut.  I appreciate I could be part of a minority here but I genuinely don't enjoy it.  Having someone else wash my hair and massage my head - love that, I'd love to have someone do that every time I wash my hair - but I've had so many bad experiences with hairdressers that my faith in them isn't particularly strong.

It's odd - they spend all day every day cutting and styling hair, you'd think some of them would be good at it.  Perhaps it's just the salons in my town but I've been to just about all of them in turn over the years and I've just about given up.  Once in a while I've had a marvellous haircut - miraculously restoring my sullied faith - but subsequent visits would reveal that the magnificent girl who'd previously worked magic has moved on to another salon out of the area.  Thus I'd submit to the hands of another girl who would invariably make a mess of my locks and I'd leave wishing I'd had the presence of mind to bring a hat, telling myself 'Don't fret, it'll grow out.' regretting the thirty-odd pounds I'd spent on an 'experienced' stylist.

Some years ago when my hair was very long I decided to totally change my look and get it cropped short - a spiked up, pixie-like style which actually really suited me ... at least when cut correctly.  I was somewhat put out that the stylist who I asked to cut my hair was more apprehensive than I was!  She was so hesitant and kept asking if I was sure, did I really want it short, that I almost told her that if she wasn't going to cut it then I was going to go somewhere else.  Does it really make that much of a difference cutting off an inch or 8 inches?   Same principles surely?   As it happened, she did a wonderful job of it.  I was bowled over with how good it looked and when it started getting too long to spike up properly I returned to her for a trim.

Very similar to what I previously had - shan't be attempting to recreate it myself however
She then made me look like a loo-brush!  I was mortified.  I went home and cried I was so disappointed with it.  And I didn't understand how she managed to be so hit-and-miss with subsequent visits (until she too disappeared).  Sometimes OK, others awful, but I kept hoping she'd recreate that wonderful first cut or at the very least do a decent job of it but to no avail.

Other salons weren't much help in giving me a good cut - I reached the conclusion that since so few women had hair in such short styles, preferring longer ones, that most hairdressers just didn't have enough experience with what I was asking for.   After a few years I grew my hair out - partly because of the bad haircuts I was being subjected to and partly because of the cost.  Short styles grow out fast and it was costing a small fortune to keep getting it trimmed.

I wish I'd tried to trim it myself back then - who knows, I could have mastered it by now!

Prices of haircuts are also a factor in my attempts to snip my own.  The cheapest price I can find in my town is about £14, which incidentally is at an awful salon that I will never go back to, in part for their habit of adding 'extras' without informing you - "Oh I'm just putting this gel / wax in your hair!"  and it's in your hair before you can object, adding another fiver to your bill.  At the other end of the scale, there's a salon that starts from £28 and goes right up to nearly £70 depending on who you want to cut your hair.

Personally, I think £70 for a cut and blow-dry is pretty extortionate!  Maybe if it were being styled for your wedding day, I could understand, but that's not a price tag I can even contemplate for a trim.  What are they using that the stylist charging £28 isn't?  Magic scissors?  What can they possibly do that's worth over £40 extra?  OK, you're paying for experience, maybe additional training (but how much of that training is going to be applied to what you want?) and maybe creative flair for 'special occasion' haircuts ... but all I want is a trim.  And right now, the best part of thirty pounds is too much for me.  I've not been able to justify the cost so my hair has simply been growing for about a year - split ends cut off as they appear and the occasional knot that's been beyond untangling.

Overall, I think simple trims at my local salons are over priced.  So I started asking myself, what are they doing that I can't do myself with some scissors and a mirror?  I've watched them do it enough times (cringing as I await the dreaded result) - holding the ends between their fingers and snipping sections away at a time - seriously, it's not rocket science and I know very well that there are people out there who cut their own hair without being pointed out at in the street for the mess they've made of their hair.  They go unnoticed because it's perfectly possible to do a good job of it yourself.

Practise and confidence - that's all I believe I'll need to give myself a half-decent haircut for free.  And perhaps my long utilised mantra - it'll always grow again!   (Hey, I'm anticipating making mistakes, bound to happen.)  I'm looking to cut my hair to about my collarbone - not too short and not too long.  A basic trim will do me just fine until I potentially venture into doing any kind of styling with the cut.

Youtube, wikihow and various other websites have videos and advice on cutting your own hair - a quick search will bring plenty up if anyone is interested.

Snip-snip-snip
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The Little Things #11

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Returning a lost item

Trundling along the streets with my leaflet-loaded trolley, eyes peeled for dropped change, I happened upon what at first glance looked like a watch lying in the gutter.

Picking it up, I realised that it was a little girls bracelet with her name in large sparkling letters.  It didn't look particularly dirty and given the lousy weather the night before it must have been dropped quite recently.

So I went to the nearest door and rang the bell - there were several small houses close together so it could have theoretically belonged to someone anywhere along the road.  I figured if after three or four houses no one had claimed it I would take it home with me and maybe put up a notice in the street next time I came by.  It was a dead-end street so its owner can't have been too far away.

As luck would have it, a man opened the first door and my eye was caught by the cluster of little girly items piled up just inside the door.

He was so relieved as the bracelet was indeed his young daughters and she'd been in tears because she couldn't find it!

I felt really good about myself being able to return it to her. ^_^
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Lingering

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Well, I'm very glad I didn't phone in sick with a cold - primarily because several other members of staff had come down with colds but were in work all the same.

I was drugged up to the eyeballs with medication and going through a pack of tissues almost every hour but I got through the week without too much of a problem.  The medication I was using (the company's own brand as it happens) was very effective.  I only had one night of struggling to breathe and therefore sleep, the next night wasn't as bad, thus I continued to be rested enough to keep working.

A week on and the worst of my cold is gone - just left with a lingering cough and an intermittently drippy nose.  Methinks I shall try another flu tablet or two to see if that helps to shift it for good.

Improved health aside, I received some encouraging words from the manager today.

Essentially, I was asked if, were a job to be available after Christmas, would I accept it?   I actually said 'yes please' before he'd even finished the question!   I think he likes my keenness!

It's a shame that he can not confirm just yet whether a job will be available.  In the first instance, it's likely to be an extension of my existing contract, probably until the end of January.  In spite of someone retiring a few weeks ago, there is the fact that two members of staff are due to return from maternity leave.  So that leaves the manager in a position where he has to look into whether these women are actually intending to return in the first instance, what days / hours they could work etc as no doubt they'll want to work around their childcare arrangements.

That's all fine by me.  At the moment all the manager can do is to ask Christian and myself whether we'd accept an offer.  As he said, there's no point in offering a job to someone who doesn't want it or perhaps has made other arrangements for work.  So there's a definite yes from me and I presume a probable yes from Christian.

I still believe that I'm the front runner but it's just too early to get my hopes up.  Manager says he hopes to give us both a definite answer in a week or so.

I look forward to it.
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Oh crap - not now!

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Figures.

I have a cold.  Nose started running yesterday afternoon; by the evening I was sneezing.  I can NOT afford to be off work with a cold!

Therefore I have been sucking on orange flavoured / vitimin c lozenges to ease the sore throat and swollen tonsils (bane of my life), downing all-in-one cold tablets and desperately hoping I will still appear well enough to stay at work this afternoon.

I don't want to be sent home.

Gift Shopping

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Whoops.  Did not intend to go for a week without blogging anything!  In my defence I have been quite busy with work and my free time has been sucked into playing Skyrim (such an awesome game!) - but I'm feeling the urge to write again.

It's been more than a month than my last Christmas shopping post so it's about time I mentioned something about my progress.

At last count, I'd purchased three presents at total cost of £22.69.   [To recap, my budget is £10 per person but I will go up to £15 maximum if necessary.]

Next up, my aunt and uncle, whom I always find difficult to buy for.

Gift #4 - aunt ~ scarf and gloves set, bar of scented soap

It's an odd mix I know, but this is thanks to my mother who happened to have the set and the soap already and suggested them and only asked for £6 for the lot.  Cheers mum!

Gift #5 - uncle ~ bird table/bath and big bag of bird seed

Yet again it's my mum to the rescue, my uncle being even harder to buy for than my aunt.  Spotted during one of our weekly food shopping trips, it seems that my uncle is in the midst of adding various features to his garden and this hanging bird table also doubles as a bath so it'll suit him either way and the seeds can be put anywhere.  Table: £5.99.  Seed: £1.29

Gift #6 - older brother ~ boxers and snacks

I should entitle this post as 'people who are awkward to buy for' - I seem to be picking my mum's brain a lot of present ideas.  But over the years it does get harder, particularly if they don't really have any hobbies or collect things, yet ask for the same kind of thing every year which is fine since they want them but as the giver of the gift you do feel bad for not being able to give them something different.  There's only so many years in a row you can buy someone socks!   Not that I went with anything much different, but apparently my older brother is in need of boxers so Tesco came in with an £8 pack and I've bought some savoury snacks which he likes to nibble on as he's not one for chocolate.  Two packs for £1.38

Gift #7 - younger brother ~ bottle of Jack Daniels

Finally!  Someone straightforward in what they want.  Actually, little brother has asked for money primarily but I said I'd to give him at least some little thing to unwrap and he came up with a suggestion of Jack Daniels which I wasn't even aware that he drank - but he loves the stuff so off to Tescos for a bottle at £10.97.  Pity I couldn't afford the next size up but I'm still on a budget here!  If money isn't too tight by the end I'll add a fiver in with his Christmas card.

So that's the immediate family just about sorted!  So far I'm under budget with an average spend of just over £8 per person.

Running Total: 7 presents at £56.32
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The Little Things #10

Sunday, 20 November 2011

When your boyfriend buys you the most awesome computer game - The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - because he knows you can't really afford it but will absolutely LOVE it!

^_^  I'm so lucky to have him!

Already?

Friday, 18 November 2011

Surely I should not be feeling quite this tired?  I suppose I have been on the go pretty much non-stop for four days.  Got another five days to get through before I have a whole day off.

Either my stamina is going to build up or I'm just going to crash out whenever I have a day off.  I'm hoping for the first option - I will be extremely annoyed with myself if I don't do something productive on a day off - and sleeping in late most certainly does not count as productive.

Another morning shift tomorrow.  Best get some rest.
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One Down

Jay has not returned.

Yesterday, one of the supervisors mentioned that Jay 'hasn't turned up'.  So much for being sick I guess! I did wonder at the time whether he was unaware that he ought to phone in every day he is off ill, but since he has not turned up today either, it's pretty apparent that he doesn't want the job after all.

I wonder whether they'll contact anyone else they interviewed to offer them some work.  Trouble is, Christian and I have already gone through the induction and training so the staff would have to do that all over again for one person, so I'm somewhat doubtful another person will be taken on now.

My own shifts are going reasonably well.  There are lights on the till that come on when you ring for a supervisors assistance - I keep forgetting to turn it off afterwards: must work harder to remember that!

The manager himself nearly made me late for my first morning shift today.  I hadn't seen him since my interview so he was keen to have a quick chat as to how I was getting on, but he unwittingly held me up as I was trying to get downstairs - literally I had just reached the tills when my name was called over the announcement system!  0_o  That was embarrassing but I hurried over and got set up pretty quick.

Other than that, no major issues and so far everybody has been nice to me and seems to think I'm doing fine.

My one concern is that customers seem to know that I'm new - 'You're smiling - must be new here!'  Clearly not been here long enough for the enthusiasm to wear off!
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First Shift

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Worked my first proper shift today.  I did ask if someone could continue to 'mind' me for a while just in case I went blank on anything.  I do find it extremely helpful since I am still very new and picking things up.  I'm sure it'll get easier, considering I'm working through to next Wednesday without a day off I should be perfect by then!

Recall that Christian was late yesterday?  Well, Jay didn't do himself any favours by phoning in sick this morning.  If you are genuinely ill, first proper shift at work is bloody awful timing and bad luck. The supervisor probably wasn't too happy with that since Jay was on the early shift - the afternoon shift wouldn't have been so bad, you've got time to call someone in to cover, but first thing a supervisor can often have to take their place instead of doing their own job.

Now, I hate to sound so cynical but he looked and sounded perfectly fine yesterday so I'm pondering whether he simply doesn't like the work perhaps?  Too early to say I'm sure and it might be mean to speculate but I can't help but count that as a mark against him which puts me in a more favourable light should a permanent position be available.  After all, Christian's already got off on the wrong foot by being late yesterday.

That said I may be getting my hopes up over nothing - there is no guarantee until the manager says so and the earliest we may know is December.

I have mentioned the Sunday I'm unavailable and the reason for it, so that's that covered.

My shift went by fairly quickly which was very nice.  Steady stream of customers does keep you busy.  Seemed to go by in a flash!

Hmm, my throat is feeling a little off.  I'm rather prone to sore throats and colds - I don't want to be phoning in sick any time soon so I'm already sucking on some lozenges to keep anything at bay.  Can't afford the time off and don't want to make a bad impression.
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Training Day

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Went in for till training this afternoon and I'm pleased to report it went well; everything seems pretty straightforward.

Out of the three in the Till Group, I was first to arrive.  I despise being late and hate rushing.  I'm also taking a change of footwear - comfy trainers for the walk to work, sensible shoes for being on the shop floor - so I need to ensure I'm there in plenty of time to swap them over.

I'd not been there more than five minutes when Jay arrived (as usual I'm not using real names here).  Half past two rolls around and I'm concerned that Christian has not yet turned up.  You DO NOT want to be late for your first day!  I'd spoken to Christian a little on our induction and he seemed like a nice chap so I was a little concerned that he wasn't here.  The supervisor takes Jay and I downstairs: it's mentioned that one of the group hasn't turned up and I can't help but notice the looks exchanged between the two supervisors - it's clearly not going to go unreported.  Moments later, Christian strolls in and for some reason he seems to think he's just in time and that he's not actually late.  We're delayed as he goes to sign in and put his coat away.

Finally, all of us together and Supervisor Lara gets straight down to business.  I must say I do like her.  She's very no nonsense and made it very clear that she won't stand for sloppiness or people being inconsiderate.  We must be here in good time for our shifts (hope Christian was paying attention) because if we're taking over the till from someone else either finishing their own shift or wanting to go on a break, then obviously we'd be holding them up and that's not a nice thing to do to your colleagues.

We're given the security aspects of the till - no serving friends and family (no problem there, I've had to observe that rule before), always ask for ID if you're not sure of someones age when buying blades etc, all basic common sense procedures.

The till is fully computerized - I have a little handheld scanner and the computer automatically flags up things that require ID or have limits on them (such as two items containing paracetamol, that kind of thing), and reminds you to ask the customer if they want cash back etc.  So it's all very easy, you just have to remember which button to press or what sub menu you need.  (So much easier than at the Shop where I had to manually type in every single product code and search endless menus for discounts and such.)

There's a snazzy little machine that takes the notes and checks them for forgeries - very nifty!  Any issues with anything all we have to do is press a button and one of the supervisors will come over to help.

After being shown the basics each of us takes a seat at one of the tills and a trained cashier stands with us as we start serving the customers.

I figured I would run into problems before too long - had a little hiccup with some change but was quickly solved. I think I'd said the wrong total (looked at the wrong figure) to the customer and we both got a little muddled - supervisor to the rescue in a flash!

I also got the opportunity to deal with a staff discount - nice young lady, she helped me with the transaction as well.  There was a high street voucher, a security tag to be removed, an ID to check, stock that wasn't wanted as the customer got to the till, a card that wouldn't go through - so I got a nice mixture of transactions to deal with which I think was excellent - the sooner I get experience of these things the easier it'll be when I'm working busy periods and there won't always be someone immediately to hand to assist.

Bar a few blank moments I think I did quite well for my first go.  :)
Credit
Best bit however was that another supervisor came over to us, apologised since she knew it was only our first day, but she need two people to work on Sunday.  Christian umm-ed and ahh-ed but Jay and I both quickly volunteered - aside from showing willingness I could certainly do with the extra money.  Bonus good news - I'll be paid time and a half!

I must mention to one of the managers tomorrow that I'm not available for one Sunday in December - other than that I'm basically available whenever I'm needed.  That covers my back and shows that I'm being considerate instead of leaving them thinking I might be available and putting me in a position of saying 'Sorry, I can't work that day.'  Best I mention as soon as possible.  I'm sure they'll understand since it's my partner's birthday and I'm planning on taking him out for the day.  :)

Looking forward to my next shift which is tomorrow afternoon.  Although I have spotted a potential problem ... seeing all those sweets and chocolate that go through the till; it doesn't half make you feel hungry!
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Standards

Monday, 14 November 2011

If a job is worth doing, it's worth doing right.

I quite agree with that statement - I greatly dislike doing or seeing something done half-arsed.  Even if it's not a fancy / glamourous / important task it's a task to be done nonetheless.

Sometimes we don't even percieve the task as being important.

Take my leaflet deliveries for example.  Doesn't sound difficult but I will still faithfully trek around early each week, making sure people get them through their doors in good time to pick the bargins they want come Thursday when they'll be available.

I do a good job and I do a good job of it every week without fail.

I went out this morning and a young man delivering pizza leaflets came up to me.  He was interested in the company I was working for, what I was delivering, and how much I got paid - obviously looking for extra income and I told him he was probably best to go on the company website for their main contact number and enquire as to what was available.  I'm quite certain there are opportunties - I quite often get people come up to me asking if they can take a leaflet because they don't get one through their door.  Since they don't live on my delivery route there probably isn't someone covering their street.

Pizza Leaflet Guy thanks me for my assistance and off he goes continuing his round, as do I.

It's then that I can't help but view his handiwork, given that he has already been down several streets that I cover.  The pizza leaflet isn't big, but PL-Guy has been folding them in a haphazard manner and not so much posting them through the door but more 'just bearly held in place by the corner with the letterbox flap'.

As I went along, it was quite disappointing to see that this was true for the vast majority of his 'deliveries'.  What good is it to clip the edge of the flyer to the outside of the door like that?   They're not even in the letterbox.  All it would take would be a small gust of wind to pull them free and suddenly there's litter in people's front gardens and being blown into the road!  I observed a fair few already fallen and lost to the wind.

Some flyers had been shoved into the letterbox; alas only half-way, proping the letterbox flap wide open for cold air to blow into people's homes!   Wherever I could, I would push the pizza flyers all the way through using my own leaflets, rather than leaving them clinging for dear life to the flap edge.

I was even more surprised to see that even with a large post box with a lid on top, the flyer was hanging by a corner, tucked just under the lid.  Was it seriously too much effort to lift the lid up and actually deposit the flyer inside the box?
I can assure you, there is nothing difficult about lifting a lid!
Aside from being such a half-arsed job, what good is it to pin a flyer to the outside of someone's door?  You expect your post to have come through the door and be on the floor / in a letter-cage, or at least most of the way through the letterbox.  You can not see a flyer stuck on the outside of your front door.

Sloppy handiwork aside, what of the pizza company that has paid for these flyers?  They do this to get more business.  They've paid money for the design, the printing and the delivery in order to gain a return.  They will not get this if their potential customers are not getting the information about their products and offers!   If said pizza company does not get enough business, there's the envitable knock-on effect of having to reduce workers hours or letting people go, causing problems for the company and the people now finding themselves without enough income or no income at all.

All because someone can't push a flyer through a letterbox properly!
I dread to think what PL-Guy might do if he gets to deliver the same stuff as me.  It's bigger and heavier, it's not going to hold on by a corner, just bearly tucked under a letterbox flap - he'll probably shove it halfway through and leave the flaps wide open.

I always make sure the flaps are closed; aside from keeping people's homes warmer (and prevent people peering in), it's a simple courtesy, along with closing front-gates - if you had to open it to get onto the property, you ought to close it as you leave.

As I said earlier, delivering leaflets and flyers is a pretty straightforward task, so how on earth can someone make such a mess of it?  Is it laziness or just sheer lack of thought?

Where's the pride in doing a job well done?
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Late Night

Sunday, 13 November 2011

It's a late night post for me.  I have been swinging between irritably restless and listless all day.

It may have something to do with the fact that I don't have to get up and go to work tomorrow.  It just doesn't feel 'right'.   I'm not made to be out of work - I crave the Monday-Friday routine.  OK I do have my leaflets to do tomorrow then I start my shifts on Tuesday, but it's frustrating that neither are full days of work.

Repeatedly finding myself frustrated for lack of work.  Some days I feel like I haven't accomplished anything - I do some productive things and I try to do more relaxing things (got back into playing my Xbox recently for example - haven't played it in a long time) but it doesn't change that horrible irritable feeling of 'wasting' time for lack of a better description.

I'll bet anything that I'll be one of those people who won't want to retire - I need work to keep me sane!

Assuming I haven't gone slightly insane already - it's almost exactly a year of being out of full time work.  I was climbing the walls within a few weeks.  I have a suspicion that the oncoming winter isn't helping - the half light all day makes me listless and the artificial lighting just seems far too bright so I end up with headaches.

Roll on Tuesday for some mental stimulation in a new role and brisk walks outside.  Sincerely hoping it'll make me feel better and prevent my writing of rambling posts at half eleven at night ...
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Induction

Friday, 11 November 2011

I woke up a little concerned this morning.  I've been having horrible visions of Nora not finding or perhaps not opening my resignation letter thus being oblivious to my departure and would phone me this morning in a rage demanding to know why I hadn't turned up for work.

Thankfully, my concerns were unfounded.  No phone call.  Indeed I have had no contact whatsoever from her since quiting.  That's fine by me!  All I ask is that my P45 is sent to me as soon as possible - I'm not sure how long they take, maybe a week?

Anyway, I had my induction for my new job this evening.  :)

It went well and I'm to be paid for my time (bonus!) but it did consist of several jerky DVDs of health and safety procedures and slow quizzes on each section (which had some glitches setting the correct answers to wrong ones) - we were all drained of energy and lacking any focus by the time they were finished.  It's hard to concentrate on these things; we've all seen them haven't we?  Three and a half hours worth.

I was surprised that there were only five of us in attendance.  At my interview I was informed that three people were being employed for the tills and three for late evening shifts to handle stock.  There was one missing from the Evening Shift group.

We seem like a nice enough group - although two of the young men were all but silent during the whole evening (one fiddling with whatever was to hand and the other I noticed was on his phone periodically).  Aside from myself, there are two young men on the tills.   I'm still conscious of the possibility of one of us being taken on permanently - in fact, when we were shown the staff room the table was full of cakes and sweets from said individual who is retiring; today was her last day.

It remains to be seen whether the position will be offered but the manager indicated that early December is when we're most likely to be told for certain.

I now own two work tops which I've yet to try on - I'm hoping they fit; it was only after they'd been ordered that a member of staff said they tended to be on the small side.  If they don't fit comfortably I may have to ask if I can swap for the next size up.  I also have a fleece which I'm sure will be well used.

Training for the new cashiers will be on Tuesday afternoon; thereafter we have shift rotas for the next two weeks.  Shame I'll still be working on Saturdays but at least it's short shifts and it's only a twenty minute walk from home - no traffic issues anymore!

I'm rather looking forward to it. :)
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Last Day!

Monday, 7 November 2011

Huzzah!!

I have left the Shop!  Typically, today did not go as planned.

Main hitch - Nora turned up.  Which is weird because she doesn't work Mondays.  With the exception of the other week when the window was broken, she hasn't worked a Monday in a very long time.

Methinks it may have something to do with the accusations of Friday.  I had been careful on Saturday to make sure that Billy counted up the cash at the end of the day so it's his signature on the envelope.  Nora has counted Fridays and Mondays.  If there's any discrepencies now, they are nothing to do with me!

I was quite miffed that Nora turned up - there's no real reason to and it's another day she has to pay two people instead of one.

I can only assume that she no longer trusts me.

Ironically, I guess she had reason to today!  I had my resignation letter ready to be left on the desk at the end of the day, with the keys posted through the door after locking up.  My plan did not change much just because she turned up unexpectedly.  At the end of the day, we locked up, she walked off down the street, I went the other way and doubled back after a few minutes to post the letter and keys through the door.

I suppose I could have said something earlier in the day but I'd already written in the letter what I was owed for working three days this month, and sod being left out of pocket when I'd already come to work for the day!

Yet if something had kicked off - had she gone off on one about not enough customers, not making enough sales and the banking discrepency ... whatever, I'd have just handed her the keys and the letter and walked out.  In a way, I'm glad that didn't happen but at the same time I now have to wait until tomorrow to find out her reaction.  If I get a phonecall I won't be answering it - it can go to voicemail so I'll have whatever she says recorded.

Such mixed feelings but I do think I've done the right thing, considering how she's treated me over the past eight months.   I shouldn't go home in tears, dreading going to work again and miserably counting the days inbetween, hating the days Nora will be there etc.  Toxic environment and I'm better off out of it.

No denying it's a risk to take a temp job but it's got to be an improvement on the Shop.  Whilst there's no guarantee of a permanent position afterwards I'm hoping working as a cashier on a proper till will help find similar work should I find similar vacancies.

Oh, I found a fortune cookie slip in my bag the other morning after I got the call for my new job:

Tough times never last, but tough people always do
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Countdown

Saturday, 5 November 2011

I have worked my last Saturday at the Shop.

Billy actually turned up, but he was late yet again.  Today's excuse - the toilet in the basement flooded.  And what?  You couldn't phone to say you'd be late?  Oh your mobile phone isn't working properly?  Does your home not have a land line??  Strange how I'm also able to call you on your mobile and observe you using it throughout the day (when he's not on Facebook that is).

Long, dull day but at least it's over with.

I shall have my 'day of rest' tomorrow and anticipate my final day at the Shop.  It's going to be such a relief to walk out of those doors one final time.
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Results are in

Friday, 4 November 2011

Sadly, I have been unsuccessful in securing the full time office job.  I was waiting on tenterhooks all day long for the phone call, but none came.  Upon checking my email when I got home I found a reply and an apology but the other candidate came from a similar company background so that clinched it for her.

It's disappointing but they offered to keep my details to hand should another position come up.  (Who knows, maybe this other girl won't stay long ... OK, it's wistful thinking.)

BUT!

I've been offered the temporary Christmas job!

Yes, my smile was that big at the news!
I know it's a risk taking it given that there's no guarantee I will be offered a permanent position in the New Year but it's a chance I'm willing to take.

This job will allow me to save a lot of money as it's close enough to walk thus no spend on petrol and parking.  I'll also get a staff discount after a few weeks - and they sell useful stuff - what good is a discount on jewellery to me?

The manager seems very nice and I'm looking forward to starting work there.

I've just written my resignation letter.   My daydreams of walking out on Nora with dramatic flair and feelings of liberation are fun to entertain but I will do this as professionally as I can ... given that Nora accused me of stealing today.

Yes, you read that correctly.  I've been accused of stealing money from the till!

I would never steal!  I'm not that kind of person!   When I was a kid, maybe seven years old, I picked up a little trinket box someone had brought to school but dropped on the playing field by the playground.  At first I thought of keeping it myself as it was so pretty, but before the day was out I felt so guilty about wanting to keep it I went and put in the lost property box, then said to the girl who owned that I thought I might have seen her box in there (I was scared to give it straight back and confess I'd had it most of the day, I'll admit, I was cowardly!  But I still did the right thing in a roundabout way) - that's the closest I've ever come to stealing anything!

The problem is that the money to be banked doesn't add up.  £20 is missing.  End of each day, the cash to be banked is counted, sealed in an envelope and signed half across the flap - so you can see if it's been opened later.  Every couple of days all the envelopes are opened and the cash counted up again, as it was today.  £20 is missing from somewhere and Nora has decided that it's missing from the banking I did on Monday.   I have no answer to give for why it's down, but I know I counted £150 exactly, several times over to make sure which I always do, and sealed that amount in the envelope.

Nora sat me down and spoke to me sternly that the money hadn't added up, demanding suggestions for why it was so.  I have no answer - the cash I counted for Monday was correct, I can only assume she's possibly muddled it with one of the other days cash and the twenty is missing from elsewhere.  Perhaps one day was miscounted?  Has the note been dropped?  There's various possibilities but I can assure you, I did NOT take anything.

Nora, sighing and shaking her head, says 'I won't take it out of your wages this time.'   At which point I asked her pointblank was she accusing me of stealing the money.  She said no, she wasn't - but what other way can I take that?

Why should the money come out of my wages when I have not done anything wrong??  Surely she can't dock my pay like that?   And the phrase 'this time' implies that when we next have a discrepancy she'll take the money off of me regardless of the situation!

Suffice to say I almost walked out there and then.  But I hadn't received my job offer at that point of the morning.

So my resignation letter has been written, essentially stating that having been accused of stealing I feel my position isn't tenable any longer and that I am resigning.

I will NOT work for someone who thinks it's OK to falsely accuse staff of stealing and threaten to take their hard-earned money for something that is not their fault!

It's not on.

Therefore, I will work tomorrow (with Billy, if he turns up) and Monday - leaving my letter of resignation for her to find on Tuesday morning.

Normally, I'd provide notice but in this instance I don't think she deserves it.  I deserve to be treated better than this!

50-50

Thursday, 3 November 2011

I'm pleased to say that both interviews today went very well.

First one - temporary Christmas role, but potential for someone to be hired as permanent in the new year - went swimmingly.  The manager seems very nice and the work straightforward.  He confirmed that there were seven candidates in all, but considering the first one was late (and as a consequence all the others were running behind) with a vague excuse about a sick dog .. well, it's pretty much down to six candidate for three available positions.   Essentially it's 50-50 odds on my getting a job.

Second interview was more of a 'meet the boss' general chat.  It appears that it's between me and one other girl.  I'm hoping my ability to start as early as next week might just tip the scales in my favour a little.  So, it's a 50-50 chance of getting this job too.

Both jobs I will hear about tomorrow.

Sucks a little that I'm working tomorrow - I had visions of being offered the office job on the spot and driving over to the Shop to hand my keys in ... alas, there are more interviews on the first job to be done and the office job will be discussed tonight.  All successful candidates will be contacted tomorrow.

Shall be keeping an ear out for my phone, but worst case scenario it goes to answer phone.

I'm praying for the office job. :)  But I won't say no to the other one if I miss out (and I'm fairly confident I've at least got the temp job).

Roll on tomorrow!
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One Step Closer

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Short and sweet but my interview obviously went well as I've been invited back for a second interview and I'll get to meet the boss!  :)

So pleased!  Looks like a nice enough place to work.  I have been warned, however, that the two bosses (a married couple) are quite set in their ways and can be a bit difficult at times.  Well, they can't be worse than Nora!  At the end of the day, I don't intend to stay there forever.  It's full time and in my home town so I'll be earning more and will be able to start putting money in my savings account again which I have not been able to do for some time.

I still want to get into dental nursing but until that opportunity comes along, this one could do quite nicely!

When I arrived I skimmed the visitors book, looking for other candidates, just to get an idea of how many people I'm up against.  I spotted two obvious ones but didn't get a chance to look for any more or else they simply didn't put 'interview' down as their reason for visiting.  But in any case, the two men that interviewed me seemed very nice, and as I was being shown back out, I was informed that one candidate who had been interviewed the day before had turned up wearing a cowboy hat!

Interview attire - this ain't it!
I polished my shoes last night and had a minor panic this morning when I couldn't find the pair of socks I'd put aside to wear with them.  Black trousers and a smart blouse/shirt that I keep for interviews, hair tied back and minimal plain jewellery.  That's how I tend to dress for job interviews - plain, smart and professional.  I would never wear a hat!

Who let that girl go to an interview wearing a cowboy hat??  There's an endless list of Things Not to Wear to a Job Interview and I'm fairly certain silly hats are near the top.  She must have either thought she was doing something to make herself memorable or delibrately trying not to get the job (perhaps she wants to stay on benefits but told she must attend interviews in order to be able to keep claiming?  Wouldn't be the first I've heard of it).  Third option is she's just plain clueless about dressing appropriately.

I'm rather hoping that that puts me ahead of her in the running for this job.  A second girl apparently stated that she wanted to work in a larger busier office with lots of people.  Since this one is rather small, only a handful of people, that might rule her out too.

So potentially two less competitors for the job.  That's fine by me!

Roll on Thursday and my next two interviews.
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Shiny Shoes

Monday, 31 October 2011

I always like to polish my shoes before an interview.  Makes me feel and look smarter.  :)

My interview is at 10am which is great, less time to worry about it in the morning, I just need to get up, get ready and go.

I'm hopeful but trying not to pin my hopes on it.  I guess I'm just glad to actually have an interview!  After so many non-responses and the few 'sorry you have not been short-listed' replies.   I got another non-shortlisted reply today from one of last weeks applications.  Not a peep from anybody else.

Still, if tomorrow doesn't go well then I've got another interview on Thursday.  Perhaps my luck is starting to change for the better ...
All smart for tomorrow

Where to start?

Friday, 28 October 2011

Well ... it's been quite a week.  (This a long post, sorry.)

Short version: Monday was absolute hell.  I nearly walked out.  I was shaking with stress and misery all day long and I went home in tears.  I also had Thursdays shift taken away from me without notice so I'm a days pay down from what I was expecting this month.

It's a bit hard to know where to start.  I didn't post on Monday or even Tuesday because I was so upset and this would be nothing but an outpouring of misery.  At least today I can type a lot more calmly as things have settled down a little.

My previous post - I commented on my day of but a single sale.  One paying customer at the end of the day.  Well, Nora made it clear on Monday that she believed I wasn't doing enough - a mix of not doing enough to get customers to buy and not doing enough in the Shop in general.   It would seem that, to Nora, customers who come in "just to look" or otherwise browse, get ideas for presents etc, magically do not take up any of my time whatsoever.   She was quite scathing about it and not interesting in how much time I did spend helping and advising people - one sale was just not good enough.  The time I spent with the other customers should have been spent cleaning, organising, getting stock out, updating the website and a dozen other things I just didn't have time to do in one day.

So I got severely berated for that one sale.

During the course of that Monday, when I finally got to sit down to eat some lunch around 3pm, I happened to look at the calender.  Several weeks ago, Nora had told me she needed me to cover Thursday, and I just wanted to make certain that it was this Thursday ...

My name had been scribbled out and Billy's name had been put in instead.

Nora had not said one word to me about the change of plans.  I was still down for Thursday last Friday.  She hadn't asked me - she'd just changed it.  I didn't say anything, mostly because of everything else that was going on, and partly because I wanted to see whether Nora would say anything about it to me before the end of the day.  Suffice to say she did not.  Had I not checked the calender I would have gone to work yesterday, unneeded, wasting petrol and parking money.

I was not happy.

Nora expects me to be at her beck and call whenever it suits her, and yet favours her own son whenever it's convenient.

Backtracking slightly (sorry this is a little disjointed, it was a hectic day) right at the beginning of the day, I arrive to open the Shop only to discover to my horror that the front window had been broken.  It was like a spiders web, cracked all over.  Luckily there was no hole and no stock had been stolen from the window.  But I was shocked and quite upset at this discovery, so I rush inside and phone Nora immediately.  Understandably she was not happy with the news, but not so understandable was the way she spoke to me - I clarified, several times, that no stock had been stolen, no there was no hole in the glass, it was just cracked - yet she kept asking me over and over, there's no hole?  Are you sure?  There's no hole?  There's nothing missing??    Bearing in mind I was shaking a bit at this discovery I raising my voice just a little and said firmly, yet again, no hole, no stolen stock.   Nora then raged at me that it was her business not mine and how dare I speak to her like that and that I should 'put on my smiley face for the customers'.

I beg your pardon?  Put on my smiley face?  I'm not eight years old!  I was upset by the vandalism, I wasn't indifferent to it.   Nora, now in a foul mood, was on her way in.

Wonderful.  I've always worked Mondays on my own and I'd been looking forward to a day of working without her, now she was coming in.  I prayed that she would arrive, assess the damage, get the repair work organised and then go home.

Alas, she stayed all day long.  Almost immediately berating me about the one-sale-day and demanding to know what I was doing all day!   There was an angry comment along the lines of 'I see you were job hunting!!' gesturing at the computer ... we have an agreement that I can use the Internet during my lunch break.  Nora is also completely aware that I am looking for full time work.  I failed to see what the issue was considering I had had a brief, as in a mere five-minutes, look at direct gov.  Five minutes, on my lunch break.  Nora did not clarify why it was a problem.  Grasping at straws as to evidence of time-wasting?

Product photos on the website - all of them need to be on black backgrounds.  I do spend time making the product photos look good, I take pride in my work, I think I do a good job.  I got six up on the website on Friday, all brand new stock.   Not enough for Nora - I'd only done the new bracelets, not the pendants.  She ranted that each photo from preparing it to uploading to the website should only take 45 minutes.

OK.  45 minutes times 6 photos, is 270 minutes / 4 and a half hours.  The Shop is open for 7 and half hours.  Minus half an hour for my break - which I don't always get in full.  That gives me only two and half hours remaining to clean, rotate stock etc etc  plus selling a few hundred pounds worth of goods to customers and replenishing sold stock.

But the real kicker of the day was that on Friday I had left a note about a customers earrings that were in for repair - they hadn't received a quote yet.  I put the note, with the bag containing the earrings together on the work cabinet behind the till.  Emphasis on together.

Nora claims they weren't there and she's never seen them.  The note is here but the earrings are nowhere to be found.  They aren't with the rest of the repairs.  I'm not convinced that Nora didn't see them; as far as I'm concerned, she moved them at some point on Saturday and doesn't know where she put them.  Nora was the only person in on Saturday and the earrings were with the note when I locked up on Friday.

Yet Nora is blaming me for the earrings going missing.  She has been on my back since Monday about finding them.  I've been crawling on my hands and knees, searching in nooks and crannies, in stock drawers, everywhere Nora dictates that I should search in an effort to find them.  Nora stubbornly denies all knowledge of the earrings.  Sorry, but fairies didn't magic them away - those earrings were in their repair bag and it was moved by human hands.  Logically, it can't be anyone except Nora.  But I'm to blame somehow ...


So the Shop has been vandalised, I'm effectively being called lazy and incompetent, and at fault for losing some earrings of great sentimental value to the customer - I felt worse than crap.

To cap it all off, a customer declares that she is taking a ring outside 'to see it better'.   Now, call me crazy, but you don't take anything out of a shop that you haven't paid for.  I wasn't about to accuse this woman of trying to steal the ring, certainly not, but what if she dropped it?  The stone could crack against the pavement, it could roll down a drain, some nasty individual might try to snatch it off her - let your imagination run wild as to the 'what ifs' but common sense says you don't let your stock, whatever it might be, off your premises unless it's paid for.

I politely ask her not to step outside - she's more than welcome to stand by the door (there's plenty of light there) but I can't allow anything to leave the shop unless it's been paid for.   That's a fair comment, right?

Oh no.  The woman shot me a chilling look and refused to talk to me, except to say that I was extremely rude, that I'd misunderstood, and that I should 'go away' waving her hands as if she were shooing away a stray dog!   Nora swoops in, beaming smile fixed in place, gushing about her long-standing valued and loyal customer, 'how nice to see you back!'    Wonderful - I'd somehow managed to insult one of Nora's most loyal customers simply by trying to ensure nothing untoward happens to our valuable stock.   Quite how I'd insulted her I don't know, but surely people know better than to wander out of shops with pricey rings they don't own!

Monday was a day that just wouldn't get better.  Nora had me rushed off my feet all day long, I didn't get my lunch break until quite late and even then I didn't get more than ten minutes to rest.

By the end of the day I was beyond exhausted and I was craving an alcoholic drink.  That's a pretty big deal for someone who rarely drinks.  Seriously, I can hardly manage a single can on a weekend.  So to go home and head for Tescos for a 4-pack of lager ... it was clearly a very bad day.


Tuesday - I wake up early, deliver my leaflets, get back home and on the Internet.  By the end of the day I'd applied to seven jobs and printed off a stack of CVs.

Wednesday - into town I approach just about every shop in the area inquiring about vacancies, even temporary Christmas work.  Several CV's handed out and a few applications to fill in.

I now have two interviews set up for next week.  One full time and permanant, the other is temporary Christmas work.  Either one will be great - I was so close to walking out on Monday and I want something to walk to.

I don't deserve to be treated like crap, a skivy and a scapegoat.  I deserve to be thanked once in a blue moon for all the hard work I do not berated shamelessly for what I haven't been able to do.  I don't want to go home in tears wanting to turn to alcohol!!   No one deserves that.

Oh, and yesterday, Thursday that Billy got the shift for instead of me?  He failed to take ANY money at all.  Not ONE sale.   Funny how Nora didn't mention it on the phone today (she wasn't in, thank goodness) - I wonder if he got berated as much I did ... somehow I doubt it.
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The Eleventh Hour

Friday, 21 October 2011

I figured it was going to happen sooner or later.  Today was almost that day.

The dreaded day when I'm on my own at the Shop and there is not one single sale.

Back when I first started work here I was particularly fearful of this day.  On several occasions I wouldn't have a sale until nearly 1 or 2 in the afternoon.  That's quite nerve wracking for someone who dreads phoning the boss up and having to inform her of the disastrous takings.

Yet in spite of many quiet mornings, it always picked up.  Didn't always take a lot of money but at least I took some.

Today ... no sales during the morning.  Not worried, you get them semi-regularly; a few people pop in for a look or just to ask a question and go on their way.  2pm rolls around ... hmm, still no sales and it's weirdly quiet.  Not just 'not many people around', more 'Seriously, there's nobody around - have I missed the zombie apocalypse announcement??'

My trepidation steady grows as the clock ticks round to 3pm ... 4pm ... half 4pm ... oh good god, today is that day.  "Sorry, Nora, didn't take a damn penny today!"

Frustratingly, there were a number of people who came in, but they all insisted that they were "just looking", mainly for ideas, either for what to buy people for Christmas, or something they themselves would like so they can tell friends and family what they want.   That's all fine, but they all wanted to 'just look'.

Then, at the Eleventh Hour (or at least twenty to five) a woman came in with her young daughter looking for an 18th birthday present for her niece.

One pretty pair of dangly silver earrings and a smart shaped bangle later and I finally have a sale of just under £50.

I am relieved and phone Nora with revived confidence with the meagre takings.  She wasn't exactly happy with the small amount but as far as I'm concerned it's better than nothing at all!

My main concern is that these quiet days and lack of takings mean the Shop isn't taking enough to keep it going.   Seriously, last month we only hit our target about four or five times.   I'll admit the target is sometimes ridiculously high and a few times we've been perhaps £10 or £20 short, but it's a growing concern.
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The Minimalistic Influence

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

I've been reading the blog of The Everyday Minimalist for some months now.  I've previously written a little about how it's urged me to get rid of stuff I don't use any more.

Today I'm working on getting rid of a large folder.  It's full of paperwork - mainly notes for my hobby.  It occurred to me that I hardly ever refer to it.  A big A4 size folder bursting with paperwork is just taking up unnecessary space.  So today I'm typing up my notes onto my computer - the files won't take up much space at all, and there are already some vaguely similar notes on my PC that I can update and improve with the ones I've got in my hand.

Paper then goes into the recycling, the folder can be donated to a charity shop and I've got myself some more space.

Pity the file is so damn big it's likely to take me all day.  Best get back to it!
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Irrational

Monday, 17 October 2011

I know, I know, it's stupid.

Dental Practice A - the local one I really like but has not responded to my website-application, nor my letter - which they would only have received on Friday.

Dental Practice B - further away but looks promising, application was sent off the same day as the advert appeared.  They should have received it (via post as requested) this morning.

So it just doesn't make sense for me to jump every time I think I hear my phone ring.  Does it!?  Particularly when it hasn't even rung!

Really hope they respond within the next few days.  Hate waiting.  I get impatient waiting on other people like this.

Even my cup of tea isn't helping my nervous state.  Think I might need a chocolate biscuit as well ...
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Letter

Friday, 14 October 2011

My first letter should have arrived at that Practice this morning (then again, who knows with Royal Mail?)  I haven't had a call or email so perhaps I shall get a letter in reply some point next week.

I've just finished another letter application - new advert found, posted online today, requesting applications by post.  Mine is done - after printing off the covering letter and kicking myself for spelling dental 'practise' not practice.  All ready to go in the postbox tomorrow morning before I head off on for another fun-filled day at the Shop.

The wage for this job isn't wonderful; hourly rate is lower than what I'm currently on, but the flip side is that it is 40 hours a week so I'd be earning over £900 per month (minus tax) which is a hell of a lot healthier than my income right now!

I always try to do my best with a letter - some people don't know where addresses should go, how to address the person you are writing to, good grammar (although I don't pretend to be an expert on that in the slightest!) and spelling (practise / practice - don't get those wrong!) and even how to sign off a letter.

Even the envelope is important - crisp and clean, stamp perfectly aligned and address in perfectly neat handwriting.  If it sounds like I'm a perfectionist, it's because I am in this regard.  I'm always concerned that a messy address makes my application look bad or that a spelling error I've missed will reduce my chances of an interview.  You just don't know what might rule you out, especially when so many people apply for the same job these days.  Some little thing could cost you the job.

I do make a note regarding my notice period - I can provide one week to my current employer, which gives them an indication of when I can start with them.   Sounds blissful!  One week!

I live in hope.  I'm tempted to write my resignation letter in preparation for that glorious moment but I don't want to jinx it!!  ;)
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Another route

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Found another trainee post to apply for.  Not in an ideal location but it's worth a shot regardless.

Now, re-visiting those three applications I sent last week - one I got a reply from (the sorry-too-late-but-we'll-keep-your-details one) and the other two have been silent.

That's not all that surprising these days; you tend to only be contacted if you're shortlisted for interview.  I don't often get a 'sorry, we've filled the post' or 'you have not been shortlisted' reply - I do like them because you can stop needlessly getting your hopes up.

However, I'd rather like to work at one particular place I applied to which has not responded.  It was the one I had to apply a second time as the email address apparently didn't exist so had to go directly through their website.

It's been a week and no reply.  I don't know how often those messages are checked, who checks them or what happens.  Emails are easily ignored or simply missed, read and then forgotten about.

A tangible letter and CV that's in your hand, however, is something that is more likely to be dealt with.  So I wrote out a covering letter, much like the one I tried to email in the first place, and have posted it this evening.  I imagine they'll receive it on Friday morning.

It might just garner a response from them.  It's just plain rude to ignore a letter after all.  So many people apply for jobs via email these days it does make me wonder if the old fashioned letter works better at getting the attention of the employer.

Just an idea really but we'll see what happens.  If it's a no, then fine, it's just nice to get an answer, don't you agree? And it's not like there's a closing date either, the advert is constantly on their site - if you're not accepting applications then it shouldn't be there, so it makes sense that they'd consider each application that arrives.

As always: fingers crossed.
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MY time is important!

Monday, 10 October 2011

So much for meeting Nora's daughter on Saturday.  I got a phone call from Nora around ten to tell me that both her children have 'come down with the lurgy', so I'll be working on my own.

That's not so bad.  I was a bit apprehensive of meeting her daughter, or rather talking to her and either being honest about my thoughts of working at the Shop or having to be very guarded about my opinions.  Billy was quite forthright in that he feels that Nora isn't a good boss and doesn't treat either of us well.  But her daughter is nearer my age and I have no idea how good their relationship is, hence my apprehension.  Although at the same time it would have been nice to have someone to chat to about anything!

However, that's not the end of the phone call.  Recall how Nora is off on holiday this week and gave all those extra days to Billy rather than me?  Well, guess who Nora needs now?  Yep - muggins here!

But I'm not being a mug this time!

Since I was not allocated any extra days, I made plans.  I'm delivering my leaflets tomorrow as usual, then I'm off to London with friends for a music festival.  Given how late I'm likely to get back, I had planned on staying over at my boyfriends' and going home on Wednesday morning.

I inform Nora than I'm not available Tuesday or Wednesday, but I could do Thursday.

All of a sudden, Nora seems very interested in what I do outside of work (which she never does) - what am I doing?  Am I working?  Is it something I could get out of?

I don't think so!

Don't get me wrong - I need the extra cash, no denying it, but why should I abandon my plans when she never considered giving me those days in the first place?  Now her son has the sniffles, suddenly I'm needed again?   Please bear in mind that this is Saturday morning.  What's to say he won't feel better by Tuesday anyway?

I'm quite firm against Nora's rather persistent verbal probing - no, I'm not available, no it's not something I can change.  Aside from anything else, the tickets have been paid for, plans are set and I'm the designated driver (I rarely drink) so it'll inconvenience others if I drop out.  Which I won't.  Not for Nora. 

I was vague as to what my plans were exactly but I made it clear that they could not be changed.  She even attempted to make me feel guilty by saying I might have to put a sign up to say the Shop would be closed on Tuesday ... as if I'd actually feel bad and say of course I'll come in!  Sorry but Thursday is all I can do if needed and Nora hangs up.

A little while later I get another call.  Could I do Thursday?  Billy is feeling a bit better today so he'll do Tuesday and Wednesday.

Pardon me?  I offered to do Thursday because Billy is ill.  Suddenly he's well enough to commit to Tuesday and Wednesday but not Thursday?   I'm not the only one confused by that, am I?  Especially by the 'he's feeling a bit better today' comment.  If he was unwell yesterday (Friday), why did she not mention it and discuss the possibility of my working this week when she was at the Shop with me on Friday?  Why wait until Saturday morning and bring it up in spite of him feeling better?

Forgive my suspicious nature but it just wasn't ringing true to me.  Perhaps he is indeed ill, but what's with ditching Thursday?  If you're well enough to do Tues/Weds then you're well enough to do Thursday as well.

I was quite annoyed by that all of Saturday, but now I figure it's extra money in my pocket and it's a day of work without Nora.  I can't really lose on that score!

Had I not had any plans, I would have jumped at the chance for some more money.  Yet I weigh the options - £100-odd extra cash but stuck in a dark and dingy lonely little shop all day versus a great day out with friends.

I'm making the right choice for me!  I will have a fantastic time tomorrow!  :)
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Not a bad result really

Friday, 7 October 2011

Out of the three jobs I applied to, I've had one reply so far.

Unfortunately, I was too late and the vacancy had already been filled (they go so fast!) but they obviously liked my application and have offered to keep my details on hand should another vacancy come up in the future.

So that's a positive in my book!

Got to run out to a class this evening so I shall have another look for job adverts when I get back home.  I also have the joys of the Shop tomorrow and I get to meet Nora's daughter for the first time.  Hope she's not like Billy - she's closer to my age so I'm hoping she'll be nice and it'll be a good day with good company for a change!
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So nervous

Thursday, 6 October 2011

I was somewhat gutted to get back home last night after applying for that dental nurse job to discover that the email address they had supplied did not appear to exist and my application had not been sent.

Stomach knotted, I had to apply again, this time through their website - something I wasn't thrilled about, having to fill in various boxes instead of the covering e-letter, but oh well!  That should have made it to them, so I'm just waiting for a reply.

Then I found a second job to apply for and a third this afternoon.  All training positions so I'm praying to whatever deities may exist that one will give me an interview.

My stomach is still in knots with nerves.  Shouldn't be this nervous about it, surely?
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Stomach in knots

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

After working quite hard on re-vamping my CV to a more concise and professional format, plus researching dental nurse roles ... I have just applied to a dental practice.

My stomach is giving me the weirdest twisting and flipping feeling.

I have hopes for this one as it seems that most if not all of their dental nurses are in training for their qualification - so what's one more to the team?   Plus the post is advertised on their website and it's clearly updated regularly; a new receptionist has been added to the team page, so clearly they are hiring people.

So why do I feel the urge to run away from my PC, nerves jangling uncontrollably??   Just getting my hopes up and fearing the potential disappointment?

I'll admit it's a scary process.  It probably doesn't help that I've not applied to anything in for a while, what with being on holiday and busy whipping my CV into shape.

Oh god, I bet there's some idiotic spelling mistake in there somewhere - or else there's a dumb grammar mistake in my covering e-mail letter.   "I have an excellent eye for detail ..."  yesss, except when extremely nervous about applying for a job I really want, not just a 'job' to get an income but a proper career.

Great.  Going to listening out for my phone all day tomorrow, no doubt thinking I can hear it ringing ... done that before, quite often it wasn't ringing at all!

OK - heading out with some friends for the evening - take my mind of this for now, I hope.

Wish me luck people!  Fingers crossed for an interview!!
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The Little Things #9

I found 50p on the street yesterday during my round.  :)

Some may think 'It's only 50p, so what?' but you can't deny it's a nice feeling when you find money.  When I was at school I'd always be scanning the pavements on the way to and from school, picking up all the pennies that the other students dropped.  I must have picked up several quids worth.

An elderly lady I used to work with thought I was quite odd for continuing to look for money on the ground.  She honestly didn't see why I did it.

Well, it's free money!  All those pennies, the occasional bit of silver - they add up.

There doesn't seem to be as much these days - obviously not a surprise - so it's extra nice to find yourself a few pence up.

She shops, she saves, she scores!

Monday, 3 October 2011

I have purchased another gift. :)   And it has come in drastically under my budget.

Several months ago I signed up with a website for market research.  I get sent questionnaires and surveys to complete in order to earn points, which I can then exchange for vouchers.  It took a while but they're definitely worth it.

I traded in some points last week for a £10 Amazon voucher.  Found a DVD box set for my dad for just over £10 plus postage.

Total spend: £2.70!

Running total: 3 presents at £22.69
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So much for that!

Friday, 30 September 2011

So much for holding onto my 'feel-good' feelings from my holiday - first day back working with Nora and she's hacked me off so much.

I don't understand how she can be so patronising!  Does not matter what I do (and I do everything asked of me and more) I get no thanks, just condescending questions as to why I've done things a certain way or why I've not done something else already (not enough hours in the day and oh, I'm not a mind-reader).  Seriously, I can not do anything right in her book!  And she has a horrible knack of making you feel small.  :'(   I was nearly in tears.

On top of that, Nora is suddenly on a drive to cut-back and save money everywhere she can.  That pretty much explains why Billy has been given some extra shifts and not me.  He's a teenager - she does not have to pay him as much as me.

So aside from the fact that I'm still fuming at her attitude towards I now have an added concern; that the shop is not making enough money to keep me on.  Billy has no other job lined up, he costs her less (for another year or two I think, is it 21 the minimum wage goes up?) and I've done most of the donkey work on the website already ... so once Christmas is over, is she really going to need me?

Screw it.  I'm working on my CV right this minute and got a potential employer in my sights.

Already daydreaming of handing my notice in ... would it be bad form to give her the finger and tell her what a nasty person she is as I waltz out on my last day?  Meh, probably ... but again, I can daydream for the time being ...
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'The' Shopping has begun

Thursday, 29 September 2011

I refuse to use the 'C'-word until after Halloween.  I detest that the end of year decorations and bits are already in the shops.

However, I must be organised this year.  If I'm still working at the Shop come December, there is a chance I could be working an awful lot so I can not put off the shopping for long because A) I won't have much time to shop and B) I won't be paid until the end of December (obviously) so the extra income I anticipate for that month simply won't be there in time to purchase anything!

Not to mention the buzzword of the year - budget.   Mine is quite limited, more so than last year.

I have 9 people to buy for.  Plus a birthday present.  Essentially, I'm aiming to spend £10 per person, going up to £15 if necessary.  I wouldn't want to find the perfect gift and not get it just because it's a few quid over budget but I can't do that with everybody.

So far I have purchased the following:

Gift #1 - sister ~ voucher for Hobbycraft

She likes making cards and will no doubt be making lots in the coming weeks.  She'll need to replenish her bits and bobs afterwards.  With any luck there will be a sale on in the new year so her £10 voucher will go further when she gets to spend it.

Gift #2 - mum ~ earrings

Fully aware of my financial situation, my mother dropped an obvious hint about a set of earrings she really liked for only £9.99.  A pity they won't come as a surprise but at least I know she'll like them!

So two gifts and only £20 spent.  Ideally, I want to purchase all gifts for £100 or under in total.

I'm sure I can do it. :)
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Keeping Up Appearances

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Today on the Daily Mail website is this article;

Keeping up appearances: Jane's husband doesn't have a job anymore ... and she can barely live with the shame

The title alone got me a bit annoyed.  With everything that's been happening in the economy you'd think by now there wouldn't be so much 'shame' and stigma about losing your job.  There's millions unemployed.  Unless you've got blinkers on and live in your own little world, you'll know someone who has been affected in some way, either by losing their job, their job currently at risk, or simply struggling with their bills.

So with trepidation, I read the article.

The first half of the opening paragraph left me with extremely limited sympathy.

"The children still have pony lessons, she's kept on the cleaner ..."

They have three children.  One girl is noted as having the riding lessons, a boy having tennis lessons.  Neither of these past times are cheap!  And as for the cleaner - can you not pick up a loo-brush yourself?  It's not hard to run the hoover around.

The youngest daughter, aged 8, suggests to her unemployed father about training as a bus driver - she saw an advert about the training opportunity and he could earn £125 a day.

"My husband, Andy, winces.  My eyes fill with tears.  He's got a History degree from Cambridge, a Masters degree in Business, and years of senior experience in strategic management.  Bus driving isn't exactly the future he'd planned."

No one who is employment planned for it.  Plenty of people with degrees are out of work.  I've got a ten-year solid work history, good skills and experience and I struggled to find something - but I did find some work.  I did not turn my nose up at the offer of delivering leaflets and working in a shop which was something I never wanted to go back to, but seriously, you can not afford to be picky.

This man has been unemployed for four years - perhaps he ought to lower his expectations a little?  I swallowed my pride early on and applied to fast food restaurants.  No offense to anybody who works in those places, but for me, at the time, it felt like desperation was kicking in - I wanted a job, any job.  This 'Andy' who has a wife and three children apparently failed to see the potential opportunity his eight-year-old presented him with.  Who says bus driving was to be his new career?  If it meant some income I'd have jumped at the chance!  Hell, I'd jump at it now!  £125 per day?  That's twice what I'm earning now.  There are plenty of people who would take that opportunity and be grateful for it.

"We were once a typical middle class family - comfortable, not super-rich, children in good state schools but with private lessons for tennis and riding. Skiing in February, a nice hotel in Spain or Italy in the summer."

Sorry, that's typical middle class??  I would peg that as 'lower-upper' at the very least.  My family is considered 'upper-middle' - we have a nice big house (most of the mortgage has been paid off, we've been here since before I was born), four children who went to local state schools (not the best but not bad, we all did well in our exams) but we certainly couldn't afford private lessons.  We each got pocket money each month which wasn't much but we learnt the value of money early on, saving up for nice things that we wanted; we were not handed luxuries to us on a plate.   As for holidays, we went to a caravan site most years, occasionally renting a nice villa in France in later years when we were all earning money and could contribute to the holiday as a family.   I wore a lot of hand-me-down clothes from my elder sister, my brothers did the same with their clothes.  We went to charity shops and car boot sales for toys and books rather than buying the latest new thing.   Christmases and birthdays, we never went without anything!

We were not poor, we just knew how to handle our money and not waste it on the most expensive things just because they're the most expensive things.

"Since Andy was made redundant four years now, our income has plummeted."

First thing to go would be the cleaner!  Honestly, who can't run a hoover or duster around?  Andy out of work, the children all old enough to help out and Jane works freelance - and they still need a cleaner to come by??

"Andy will probably have to sign on ... but it's unlikely that he'll find any jobs for his level of seniority advertised at the local job centre."

Apparently Andy hasn't bothered to even look.  There are all kinds of level of jobs being advertised, and if he has to take a job that's a little below 'his level' then boo-hoo; at least he'd have a job!

The attitude of this pair is mind-boggling.

"Some friends of ours were terrified of traumatising their children if they admitted that Daddy didn't have a job anymore.  So each morning he'd dress in a suit and head for the station, take a train to London and spend the day in a library.  They lived this charade for six months until he set up his own business."

Seriously?  I think those people were more traumatised than their children were likely to be!  You're not alone in this situation!!  I steadfastly maintain that it is not that shameful!!  Instead, they lied to their children instead of educating them that sometimes bad things happen and the family has to be careful with their money.  What's so traumatising?  Do the little darlings need to be kept in the dark so they can still enjoy their designer label clothing?   What bubble do these people live in?!

To Jane and Andy's credit, they explained the situation to their children instead of putting their heads in the sand.  But that said ...

"The kids have learned to do without expensive clothes and electronic gadgets; the paint is peeling from our windowsills.  There's a long list of things we dont' buy anymore; books, clothes, magazines, handbags.  Lucy proudly boasts of the money she's saved when she goes shopping with her friends."

Why buy kids expensive clothes in the first place?  They're kids!  They're going to play around in them.  A nice set of clothes for going out, fine, but don't stock their wardrobes with nothing from Next and then act like it's terrible to have to buy second-hand now and then.  Magazines and handbags?  Why are you buying handbags on a regular basis??  Mags and books - there's such a thing called a library where you can borrow them for free!  As for the girl boasting of money she's saved - she's 16 according to the article, has she found a part-time job or is that pocket money she's spending?

"We've managed to keep up Jack's tennis lessons and Emily's riding, with help from my parents.  I know they'd do anything to help us ... but it still felt humiliating when I paid their cheque into our account."

Unless your child is on track to become a world class tennis player or horse rider, these are expensive luxuries that they can survive without.  If there's a career in it and the child is set on it, that's different, you invest in their talent now.  But if I were the child getting pricey private lessons knowing my dad was out of work I'd volunteer to give up the lessons or contribute my pocket money / get a part time job to help cover the cost.  I wouldn't have my parents shouldering the full cost like that.  And we don't have grandparents to help with the costs either - we either pay for things ourselves or we go without.  We don't keep a cleaner and take money from others to pay for horse riding!

"Even worse was applying for a bursary so that Jack could go abroad with his cricket team.  I knew it was the only way we could afford it; I knew he'd be upset if he couldn't go.  But the thought of people in the cricket club - our peers, our equals - judging our need, made me physically sick.  I wrote the application three times, and three times I threw it away before forcing myself to send it off.  The bursary was granted and Jack went on his tour.  I haven't set foot in the cricket club since."

The boy does tennis and cricket?  How many clubs and lessons does this boy attend?  Sorry, if you're in financial difficulties you'd have to reduce the outgoings, even if that means you ask the child to pick which one they'd rather stick with.  As for 'the only way we could afford it', again, get rid of the cleaner for a start!

I notice she refers to the cricket club people as peers and equals.  Not as friends.  Friends wouldn't judge you.  If they're going to mock you for getting a bursary then they aren't very nice people, so why would you want to hang out with them in the first place?  The bursaries are there for a reason!  And so what if they know you applied?  They could be having money problems for their own for all you know.

Andy is also not keen on re-training given the time involved in re-training.  He's had four years out of work - he could have re-trained in something at the beginning and already be earning some money - but no, starting at the bottom means a salary to match.  A low income verses no income ... sorry, that's a no-brainer.

"And why re-train when head-hunters are still calling with opportunities?"

Perhaps because instead of waiting around for someone to phone you with 'the perfect job' Andy could look for work and get a job by himself?  He gets to spend more time with his children which is a good thing (and I'm sure it wouldn't kill him to put some washing on or change a few beds instead of having the cleaner do it) but aside from the head-hunter calls, there's no mention of him attending interviews on a regular basis or even applying for other jobs that he found off his own efforts.

I feel sorry for him having a bit of a break-down with the stress of not having a job.  I was climbing the walls within weeks!  But if the stress is that bad, then surely he'd take any job, if he's as keen for work as Jane claims.

"It's not that I think materialistic things matter, but life feels dreary and miserable without them."

Which is blatantly saying that you do think materialistic things matter.  If they didn't, then life wouldn't feel dreary and miserable!  You'd appreciate what you have and realise that you can live without lots of luxuries.  It's not all doom and gloom just because you can't buy yourself another handbag to cheer yourself up!

As for treating themselves to the cinema once a week ... my boyfriend and I go perhaps once a month, often less than that, and we use the Orange Wednesday phone offer of buying one ticket and getting one free.  That is a treat for us!  How terrible that this poor family can only afford to go once a week. (Note the heavy sarcasm.)

"I'm proud of his flexibility, his survival instinct.  I rage at the world which can't find a use for his talent and experience."

Flexibility?  Survival instinct??  He can't bring himself to apply to be a bus driver and earn some money, any money, to put food on the table for his family!  He's sat waiting for someone to call with his dream senior-level career position so he can go back to earning what he did before!  That's not survival or being flexible in the slightest.

My sympathies are extremely limited for these kind of people - making out they're enduring such hardships when they don't know what hardship is  There's no denying that we as a country are in a mess and a lot of people are struggling - and I mean really struggling, not like Jane and Andy here.  I'll admit, I'm not in a terrible position - my income is limited, but I have two jobs, I'm not on benefits, my parents are keeping a roof over my head and I contribute to the household bills.  I can afford to run my car (just!) and I have good friends who didn't and don't judge me for what happened with my job situation.

I am wealthy in friends and family.  My account may not have much in it, but I'm optimistic and continuing my search for a full time job.  I'm not saying it'll happen soon, but I'm confident that I'll find full time work eventually.  The recession will end and the economy will recover - we're all just having to ride it out and make the best of things.
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