Monday, 17 September 2012

Everything you never wanted to know

So I know that there might be a few new readers that have popped up since I entered the murky depths of Twitter.

I also forget sometimes that though I've been blogging for a long time not everyone actually really knows me and I have a tendency to talk as though everyone obviously knows what I'm referring to.

So I have updated my Things You Need To Know page which will hopefully be a good enough crib sheet to understand a bit more about me.

You can see it on the top right of my homepage or you can click here. 

I think I've covered it all but let me know if you have a burning question and I will try and explain myself.

 (Annoying comment moderation has been removed so you can comment on my posts without needing to tilt your head on one side, squint your eyes and press your face up against the screen)

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

My job

My job sucks.

There's not really much else there is to say about it. Oh wait, yeah there really sucks.

So basically after having the pressure piled on me to just take any job, rather than continuing spending time trying to get the job I really wanted, I really took their advice to heart and took any job.

I work for a medical agency that basically organises the medicals that people need to have when they've had car accidents and the like and are wanting to claim compensation. The solicitors contact us, we find an expert, arrange  the appointment, deal with the medical report. In a nutshell that is the basic job.

Sounds simple enough. And it is, don't get me wrong, this job isn't massively taxing for the most part - it's a case of learning the processes and logging the right things in the right ways, which isn't always as clear as you would think, but it isn't intellectually challenging.

But boy am I in a different world  to the happy cosy joyful world of the Third Sector, where we all love one another and are just trying to make a difference. This is the cold, hard world of the private sector. And not even the bit of the private sector where the wages are higher than public/Third sector wages - this is the scrag end of the private sector where people are commodities and cheap ones at that.

It's a truly miserable working environment, that's essentially a call centre set up (although thank the lord we're not a call centre, thank heavens for small mercies). People are paid a crap wage and worked as hard as possible.

I have to literally account for every minute of my day. Literally.

The tasks I undertake are allocated a certain number of minutes. For example when I make a call, I get 3 minutes for that call - whether the call was a quick 30 second job or a 5 minute tirade from a client/solicitor/medical expert. So there are 430 minutes in a working day and I am expected to make sure I've logged 430 minutes of work.

Actually because I'm a new starter my goal is small - I'm only expected to get 60% productivity for my first month. I'm currently about 83% so I'm well above target but boy is that a different environment to the one I'm used to. No getting up and having a chat with the person in the next office to you, no going for a cup of tea when you fancy it, the pressure is on and I swear at times I can actually hear a clock ticking.

Now before the solicitors (if there are any reading) pipe up and say "We have to do the same thing" let me nod and say,

"Yes you do. But I'm betting you get paid more than £13,000 a year to account for every minute of your day."

People are low paid, there are literally no incentives to do well, (other than that you have to do well to keep your job) and thus you are left with a workforce that is evenly split in two - people who have been there for years and years (how someone can stay in that job when there is no chance of progression is beyond me) and new starters. People who've been there for a long time don't make any effort to talk to new starters and make them feel part of the team - why would they, the turnover of staff is incredible - and you're left with bitter long-term employees who feel hard done by and new starters who want to hang themselves from the nearest rafters.

And the best thing about this new job? It's absolutely, 100%, nowhere near where I live. So my commute consists of a walk to the train station in Preston, a train journey and another walk to my work. All in all I walk 5.5 miles every day and pay £85 a month for a train journey that last 11 minutes each way.

And. As predicted by yours truly. I'm knackered at the end of each day and have no energy to put into finding the job I really want to do. Which is how people end up trapped in this cycle.

Told you my job sucked.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

My first grown up pet

First of all. I know. I'm the world's worst blogger at the moment. I have a list of draft posts which only consist of titles for all the things I want to write about but they just remain that, drafts. I'm having serious problems with my work/life/blogging balance at the moment. I have lists for everything I want to do and blogging is always on it but it always gets bumped off because there's always yet another e-mail to send or another pile of ironing to do. I know I need to work on it. 

Anyway. Let's start off easy shall we?

Sadly pets (and when I say "pets" I mean "cats") are out of the question for us at the moment. We live on the 1st floor of an apartment block in a one bedroom flat and these are not ideal conditions for having a little furry friend. This flat is also rented and pets are strictly forbidden. Like strictly forbidden. They go into specifics in the contract - nothing furry, nothing reptilian or amphibian and nothing with gills.

But then it went on to say that none of  those things were allowed without asking the permission of the letting company.

Now technically this did mean that we could ask permission for a cat but we decided that much as we would both like one (The Person would never admit this but my crazy cat lady-ness is rubbing off on him.) the conditions aren't right just now. But we did some thinking and the decided that there was a pet that we could probably handle and which the letting company would probably be on board with...

May I present to you Andrew and Marcus....the goldfish

You might think "Goldfish? You massively boring twat. And also how easy to look after?"

But let me tell you we've had a stressful wee week with these two.

Many moons ago I bought a goldfish with my parents - we went into a shop, bought a tank, bought some gravel, bought a fish, happy days. My fish was called Feelers and he lived for 7/8 years. No filter. No special tap water liquid. Just a fish.

Now it's impossible to buy a tank without a filter and when you try and get the fish at the same time you're told you can't because you have to have had the tank set up for a week with the filter running before you put fish in it. Good one.

So having bought the tank and deciding not to use the filter because a) I don't want the electricity bill any higher than it is already, and, b) There wasn't a plug socket free anyway, we returned to the store (hoping the same staff weren't on duty as the night before when we bought the tank) and selected our fish.

I spent the next 2 days convinced they were about to die.

They hardly moved. They wouldn't eat. The water looked incredibly cloudy all of a sudden.

I began to suspect that my gung ho "filter schmilter" attitude might be the undoing of me.

As a last resort we emptied out half the water and put new water in. I don't know how or why but they immediately became different fish - happier fish, zooming about and being active fish. I'm baffled but the change was so instantaneous I can only assume it was the water.

They are still a little nervy if you go up close to the tank. Although to be fair if I was a fish and someone's looming face appeared at my tank I'd probably do a runner too. But they are getting better and I think they might be figuring out that most of the time I'm coming up to them to feed them.

And they totally have personalities too. Marcus is kind of clingy and follows Andrew about like a little lost puppy, bugging him and trying to push him up to the top - I don't know what that's about.

The Person and I feel pretty proud of ourselves. These fish are officially the first pets either of us has owned since leaving our parents behind and striking out on our own. I think that means we have ticked off another box on the checklist that will allow us to apply for our Grown-Up's Card.

Although I feel a little worried that if I was this worried about two goldfish, what the hell will I be like with a real-life cat? (Or, heaven forbid, a small person?) 


PS The names? They don't mean anything. We just thought they were funny names for fish. We actually have a back story for them - their full names are Marcus DeVallier and Andrew Crispin and they met at Harrow. Andrew gained a place at Cambridge to read Mathematics and Marcus hoped to do the same but unfortunately failed the Oxbridge exam and had to settle for a place at St Andrews. They fell out of touch but then found each other again when Andrew wanted to invest in Marcus' internet start-up business and they're now the best of friends.

So that's nice isn't it.