Unreliable and possibly off-topic


Saturday, July 26, 2008

A fit of pique

You know you've been too long in a jobbie when you get a fit of the pique. Remember I'm the one on a verbal warning for 'unreliability'? But when one of the (casual) nightstaff fail to show up, I'm the only staff member willing to cover and experience the unexpected pleasure of working 20 hrs of a 24 hr period.

But to the preggers slug manager, this state of affairs is my own fault, and further confirmation of my gross stupidity. It should be transparently obvious to anyone off the street that her emailed rotas are coded. Bold text indicates confirmed slugs and staff, normal text unconfirmed. Never mind that she didn't task me to confirm before her 3 days off- what is wrong with my psychic powers?

She does a great job of managing, having recently mastered the art of the passive-aggressive email, the imaginary SOP, the unspoken request and the stick without the carrot. It must be obvious to her and others that I'm constitutionally incapable of the cognitive value-set required for management. When casual staff fail to show or produce rubbishy studies, it's clear to me that as you sow, so shall you reap and that quality of output is directly proportional to quality of investment. GIGO.

Maintaining personal regard for her is not a problem- I genuinely like the woman. But it's coming time to end unconditional patience and tolerance, the bitten lip. We need to discuss respect issues, the stick and the carrot, reasonable and unreasonable expectations, telepathy requirements and managing her imminent transition to maternity leave.

Yesterday, I gave a small object lesson. She notices she's not written up an important contact with a certain slug. I quip, "Yes, I noticed too, but found the relevant information in other records. It was no big deal, and I didn't even send you a snippy email." Taken aback from perfection, she's maintaining it must've occurred just before her leave, but I know this isn't the case. I keep my silence while she discovers there are no extenuating circumstances, and it's just one of those normal human errors to which even she's subject.

At 5.30 pm, she's still working furiously when I stick my head round her door to wish her a good weekend.


Friday, July 25, 2008

Elevated mood!

A couple of hours of R.'s company (and two glasses of wine) turned the day from the downward spiral to a potentially long-term sustainable state of limbic uplift. The two glasses of wine are habitual, but tonight's conversation was a unique and potentially patentable euphoriant. And it was all about me! Perspective, psychodynamics, affirmation! How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.


Monday, July 21, 2008


No postal episodes at work! Practically rehabilitated/ re-institutionalised today, despite the extreme provocation of the hair comment on Friday.

So what is going on with the Big Wan? You know- the clever, empathic, articulate, imaginative one? Symptoms- emotional lability, agoraphobia, irritablity, torpor. History: Imprisoned for a week in Guantanamo-like conditions of social and sensory deprivation in rural Yorks. Diagnosis: Nearly 16 yrs, PTSD.

Back home but on summer hols there's an increased flow of the unisex friends, all expressing their individuality with their uniformly straightened dark-dyed hair. I don't know what to do with these kiddos with their recklessness, their failure to use condoms, their cigarette smoking, the pregnancy scares. My efforts so far are to develop a small repertoire of semi-comic lectures inc. "Think for yourself", "Cigarettes are stupid", and that perennial favourite, "No glove, no love".

Should hair-dye later prove to be toxic, Big Wan and his generation will be wiped out wholesale.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Back to work

It happens tomorrow, and I'm girding my loins. The policy is: never go back to work on a Monday after hols, as 5 full days of wage slavery at once could just tip one over into postal mode. This possibility was slightly increased by today's PFO (please fuck off) letter from a recent jobbie application for which I should've been well suitable.

Ach, it's no so bad. Samye Ling on Tuesday offered good weather, a beautiful environment, fantastic lunch, a wee wan to enjoy and genuinely interesting otherness from Hotboy, the tummo afficianado. Wednesday I chose to read all day and indulge myself by failing to get dressed, which is always satisfying. Today I enjoyed good company with the wee wan, visiting the Chambers St museum and the Botanics.

It was disappointing to learn from the cleaning staff that the old part of the museum is off-limits till 2011/2012, and the fishies are gone for good. I'd been planning to spend a couple of hours by the ponds listening to the fountains, watching the koi undulate, while doing some manuscript editing, and wait for the millenium clock performance at 2 pm. Instead we took in the RMS's magnificent collection of Pictish stone carvings, with particular attention to the pre-Christian ones (my favourites). The RMS sadly makes little effort to attempt explanation of the mysterious themes of earlier Pictish imagery ('combs', 'mirrors', 'Zs', 'dolphins'). When the sun broke through the clouds temporarily, off to the Botans to see the annual border at its peak, and watch the birdies doing their birdie thing. The simple pleasures are the very best!

H-etc. dropped round, allowing me to pass along some truly fresh-laid eggs from the flock across the road from our Yorks. cottage. And to thank her for clearing my laundry backlog while I was away, and the bouquet of wild canterbury bells and feverfew she left for our return. She wouldn't take the money offered for feeding Her Catness. Her full name is not H-who-is-very-good-to-me for nothing.


Monday, July 14, 2008


Yorkshire was wet- stair-rod downpour about 70% of time- but a nice break. We were in a cottage in the middle of nowhere, on the edge of the North Yorkshire moors, offering an outdoor hot-tub and on-site goats Basil and Spangle. The wee wan spent a lot of time walking the goats (on leads) and feeding them chip-sized carrot pieces. Hopefully I shall add some photies later.

Although AA website cited about 3 hrs' drive to York, the actualite was 7 hrs there and 6 back, including a short lunch break. The Big Wan had not been formally trained in navigation duties before we set out, so there were long circular lost-excursions at Darlington on the way down and at Eyemouth on the way back. Big Wan had undergone formal navigation training for the return drive, but unfortunately Lothians page of the AA book-of-the-road is torn out.

A highlight of the trip was a picnic at the beck in Pickering. A nutty old lady was battering ducks with her walking stick as she strolled the banks, and engaged in conversation the older couple sitting on the bench nearest. She started with a diatribe on the ducks and their feckless breeding habits and headed rapidly onto her favourite subjects- the dangers of modern living, the uselessness of modern parenting and the criminality of the youth of today. All the time, she's casting meaningful sidelong glances at Big Wan, slumped on a bench in his menacing black clothing. According to her, Pickering (pop 8,500, 6 churches) is a hot-spot for crime, particularly pickpockets. She enjoined the couple to watch their bags and told tales of armed robberies at the charity shops of the town. She then escalated to recount the tale of the time that "the vandals broke into my house and hit me over the head with an empty pizza box!". By this time the couple were tiring of her 20 minute monologue, and stood up to move on. They walked off with her waving her walking-stick, shouting, "Remember! Don't ever go out after dark!".

It was a relief to visit Scarborough and Whitby, where we saw the only brown faces of our whole trip (inc. York). I had a haircut in Pickering from a lass who encouraged me to boast that I'd had a shag at the hairdressers. And we bought Lucky Ducks from the glassworks in Whitby, mine to replace the one from c. 1973.


Friday, July 04, 2008


They're here, and not a moment too soon. Jobby jobbiness reached a peak yesterday, so the timing is good.

The meeting yesterday (re-visiting Prague) flipped into a ?verbal warning on my 'unreliability'. The only example supplied was from Prague last week, when I missed the first 1.5 hrs on the third morning, after the dispute with the boss. That my roles and deadlines can have me working at home on weekends or all night till 4 or 6 am wasn't accounted for. No- not being there 9-5, 5 days is unreliable. I'm now to be under the microscope on timekeeping and performance. The timesheets are fine with me- keeping these can only strengthen my position- but performance is a different matter.

I'm to cover my colleague's maternity leave for a year from Sept. There will be no acting-up pay. The preggers colleague has had me as a fulltime colleague for 15 months and together we managed an intensive slug trial for 3 months last autumn.

But in contrast I'm to have one (maybe two) part-time, casual, untrained, inexperienced newbies as my back-up. I'll be responsible for their training and performance on the 9-month slug trial, and personally on-call 24/7 from Sept. to manage, co-ordinate, cover absence and complete the trial.

The boss, who is all heart, said he didn't want to show me the stick without offering the carrot. The carrot is a performance-related bonus of... (wait for it)... £1K in a year's time, should the 9-month slug trial go well. That's £25/wk (before tax) for 9 months of 24/7 on-call.


I'd put in a request to work a 12-hr nightshift during my hols (£170 before tax) to produce the high-quality recording needed for external quality-verification in the slug trial. I need the money, they need a perfect recording.

The colleague emails today saying she prefers one of our casual staff runs the accreditation recording. She offers the consolation prize of attending for the same 12-hr overnighter, but acting instead as the slug subject. I can earn £50 (before tax) for the same 12-hr shift, and can I also train staff in the new slug study procedures that night, since I'm there anyway?

While thanking her for this exciting career opportunity over my holidays, I graciously declined the offer.


Fuck this for a game of soldiers. The jobbie I'm applying for today is a 4-day, 9-5 post for more pay. If there's a god, I'll be in a new jobbie soon, hopefully just when the colleague starts maternity leave. I'm a sinner, because the pure joy of observing fall-out as they struggle to meet contracted slug study commitments with one or two underpaid, untrained, casual, part-time staff members is so very, very attractive.