Tag Archives: work

Longer Days

The rain has just stopped, having fallen heavily all night. The sun is out, rising over the sea, a ball of almost-white yellow which may later turn to a more sun-like colour, yellow-orange and wearing a smiley face. A rayway of white light gleams across the snot-grey sea (really good description of its colour right now, I‘m surprised no-one ever thought of using it before), growing wider as it nears the shore.

As the song says, it’s looking like a beautiful day.

The only problem is that I know all of this because it is 6 am and I am sitting on the very first train into Dublin. I am on this train because I’ve been awake since 3.45, wondering how I’m going to do all the work that I have to do by next Friday, and so at 4.45 I got up and decided to get in early to at least make a start on it.

During January, February and March, as those of you around then will know, I worked the equivalent of 18 days in overtime in order, on top of my normal work, to help a firm of external consultants produce a report on our company which could later be used to attract Potential Investors. I would produce information, then reproduce it slightly differently, then produce different information altogether because it would turn out that they had actually not asked for the information that they needed. I answered questions, often several times, because, in my opinion, they never really knew what they were doing.

They finished their report, I announced that I was so fed up that I intended to leave the company, a lot of meetings were held and it was agreed that we would take on an extra staff member, that I would work normal hours and that I would leave every evening at 4.30. And this has worked well, I am happier at work, and I get home in time to see the Tinkids, or at least to hear them shout “hi” from behind the closed doors of their bedrooms.

Next week, as again you will all be tired of me banging on about, is the busiest week of our month, as GoldenEyes and I have five days to produce a 56-page report for Management. Since we got our new colleague this has become quite easy, and we have been able to manage it without working any overtime (we really are shit-hot). This month it is particularly important, as we have indeed found Potential Investors, and they are keen to see how we are getting on.

And the incompetent fuckers that produced the report last March are back.

The reason that they were taken on was so that Potential Investors would be directed to then rather than us, read their report, be stunned by its comprehensive and incisive analysis, and hurl money at us in bucket-loads, begging to be allowed to have just one-quarter of one millionth of one dectile (a word I learnt during the course of this week, people in business really do talk the greatest load of shit) of our glorious organisation.

The Potential Investors did indeed read the report, had one or two questions about it and, because the consultants don’t have a clue about what the report actually means, they have come running back to me. I’ve to answer more of their questions, once I figure out what it is that they need, and yet again, for the coming week be up with the lark (this morning I was up in time to cook its breakfast for it) and will be home with the, er, whatever that metaphor should end with.

On the bright side it’s a terrific test of the mindfulness course that I’ve just finished, a chance to see if I can remain calm, focused and free of stress while all of this goes on.

On the other side, I may just end up on the rooftop of the consultants’ building with a sniper rifle.

Long Week

There may not be a lot of posting here for the next couple of days.

My friend GoldenEyes is still out sick and I have huge amounts to do this week. It’s so bad that I’m actually getting the hated train for the week as there is one that can get me in at seven, whereas the earliest bus I can get (in a capital city, in the 21st Century), will only get me in at a quarter to eight.

The problem with getting a train at six is that I’ve to get up at 5.08, and there are two problems with that. One is that, like this morning, you wake up at 3.30 in anticipation, as I did, and end up getting up at 4.20, and writing posts at 4.45.

The other is that you can only get eight hours sleep if you go to bed at 9.08 in the evening, and since I’m getting home at 9.30 this is not easy without reverse time-travel, which is preposterous, or the spell that Hermione Granger did where she could be in two places at once.

I’d try that, but knowing my luck both places I’d end up in would be at work.

Waiting

Back when I was self-employed, if things got really bad, if I felt I’d messed something up for a client, or if I was worried about how I was going to make enough money to feed my family, I’d often wake up really early, and throw up.

That hasn’t happened since I came to work where I do now. Until this morning.

Tomorrow is the day when about twenty people here are going to be let go. But in order that this can take place properly their final pay,P45s, etc will have to be ready for them, which means that the person who does all that stuff will have to be given the list this afternoon.

And that person is me.

So for all of this afternoon and the first couple of hours tomorrow morning I’m going to find myself in the kitchen with, in the loo with, or sitting near people who I know are leaving, though they don’t.

As I said, I’ve already thrown up this morning. But I still feel sick.

Nice Work if You Can Get It

I had a look at the jobs page in the Irish Times yesterday to see what chance, if any, the people who are going to be let go from our place on Tuesday have of finding a job quickly.

It’s worrying that there were only three pages of job ads, where there used to be a whole seperate pull-out.

But this job DID catch my eye.

sp_a00251

It shows how little attention we pay to what goes on in the EU that I bet you all didn’t even know such a job existed. Who holds it now, and why are they leaving?

It’s not quite “Top of the World Ma”, but it’s the next step down.

Anyway, I’m thinking of applying for it myself.

After all, George Bush did the equivalent job across the Atlantic for the past eight years, so how hard can it be?

Sick? You Bet We Are

Did you know that 83 per cent of the time we employees are out sick is due to “feigned illness or malingering”?

That’s what the Irish Small & Medium Enterprises association says. ISME’s press releases in January alone have attacked Government inaction, demanded Public Sector pay cuts, and said that any talk of an increase in the minimum wage was “outlandish, provocative and unrealistic”, and that Unions had lost touch with reality.

man-flu

man-flu

Anyway, their survey of 750 companies said that employees miss an average of 6 days each per year, and that five of these are, as stated above, due to “feigned illness or malingering”. Chief Executive Mark Fielding then attacked the medical profession, saying that they had an “ATM mentality” when is came to issuing sick notes, and that these were often issued “like snuff at a wake, without any genuine intervention or advice”. (Do people still have wakes? Do they still hand out snuff at them? Should clichés not have a sell-by date?)

Poor ISME. The government is crap, the public sector is overpaid, we employees are lazy and our doctors are cheats. It’s a wonder these fine people can run businesses in Ireland at all.

And the five days out of six? Well, guess what. The survey says they are due to feigned illness or malingering in the companies’ opinion. No proof, no analysis, just a hunch.

Based on what? Based on some outdated Punch-cartoon stereotype that the Irish are drunken feckless wasters?

Typical staff member

Typical staff member

Work in our office over the last month (for a company which thankfully wouldn’t use an ISME membership card to wipe its corporate arse) has taken place to the cheery accompaniment of background music of coughing and sneezing, as people who are sick do what most workers do, which is to go to work regardless.

The employees of this country deserve better than to have shite spouted about them being malingerers based on no evidence whatsoever.

I’m sure there is a press release crying out to be written about injuries at work in Small and Medium enterprises, or about work-related stress caused by pressure on staff during the boom times, or about anxiety and depression caused by being suddenly let go now.

Just don’t expect ISME to be the ones to release it.


I’m Seeing A Pattern Here

overworkedWhen the boom was on, we all had far too much work.

Therefore we were all expected to work very long hours and not get paid overtime for it.

Now the recession is here, some of our customers will close, many others will be afraid to spend money, and the way to survive is to prove to them that we can provide an excellent service at competitive rates.

Therefore we will all be expected to work very long hours and not get paid overtime for it.

Nice Work If You Can Get It

Where is the fairness, as opposed to the sticking to the letter of employment law, when 3 people who freely accepted that they had been “defrauding their employer on an ongoing basis”  can be awarded €63,000 between them by the Employment Appeals Tribunal?

The lads hard at work

The lads hard at work

Workers at Waterford Carpets clocked in other staff members when they were absent, and played cards or went to sleep on the carpets if they had finished a job before the end of their shift. Because the company had “a lack of procedures to deal with dismissals” the three men were deemed to have unfairly fired.

In a week when other, hard-working, people in Waterford are facing the fact that they may soon have no jobs and no income,  Patrick Kenneally was awarded €13,554, Derek Nolan got €24,863 and Sean Walsh got €24,445, despite the fact that “in deciding how much to award the three workers the tribunal said there was proven consistent fraud on the part of the claimants and that the claimants contributed significantly to their dismissals”. God knows how much they’d have got if they’d actually done nothing wrong.

This case, of course, pales into insignificance compared to the one last year where Michael Shadlow and Tony Casey were awarded €20,000 and €28,000 when the same Tribunal ruled that they had been unfairly dismissed. These model employees had a fight – at work – during which Shadlow grabbed Casey by the testicles and head-butted him, whereupon Casey bit off part of Shadlow’s nose and spat it into the toilet.

Helping the disabled

Helping the disabled

The two worked as carpenters at -and here’s where it gets really incredible – a Daughters of Charity health centre which caters for 400 children and adults with moderate, severe and profound intellectual disabilities.The EAT apparently felt that for the Charity to pay almost fifty grand to these bozos was a better use of its money than, say, using the money for the benefit of the disabled that it was set up to help.

One of the reasons why the EAT felt that they had been unfairly dismissed – and I’m sorry now that I wasted the phrase “and here’s where it gets really incredible” earlier – was that there had been bad feeling between the men for several years, but nothing had been done by the Charity. In other words, if two of your staff row and you don’t fire them, you have now established it as Company policy that they are free to carry on fighting, and you will never be able to fire them, no matter how badly they behave to one another, because you didn’t fire them when it all started.

Now I’m not some employer here bemoaning the way in which employment law in this country always favours the worker. I’m just a PAYE employee, the same as these five people, and I have to say that cases like these make me seethe.

If I clocked a workmate in when he was absent, so he got paid for staying at home, or if I slept or played cards on the job, and was caught and fired, I would accept that as fair. If I got into a violent row with a workmate, clocked him in a different sense of the word, and was fired, I’d run home and hide under the bed in shame. This is what’s known as having values, and a sense of what’s right and wrong. Not for one second would I feel picked-on or victimised enough to try to make out that I was unfairly dismissed.

The men in these cases are spongers off the system. Yet, when you look at the idiotic judgements given by the Tribunal, is it any surprise that men with more neck than principles will seek to profit from their own misbehaviour? Is it any different to claiming compensation when you fall down due to your own stupidity?

A Panther that is Positively Pink

Blondiebird at work is a real girlie girl. She apparently has 40 pairs of shoes (even the other girls slag her about this).  And she loves the colour pink, drinking water out of a pink glass that she brought in herself, and having a pink laptop. She turned up at the water-skiing last summer in pink wellies. She’s twenty-seven.

Yet she is in no way a stereotypical blonde, in that she’s actually quite shy, can drink pints to outdo any of us and is far from being dumb.

But when someone sent me this, I knew she’d love it:

https://www.keyboardforblondes.com/index.cfm

Click on the small keyboard at the bottom to see what’s printed on the keys. Also have a look at the 10 reasons to want one.

Seemingly it functions as a real keyboard. I’d almost love one myself.

Actually, they should do a bloke one. The backspace key could say “ah, shit”. The Home key could say “Pub”. Control, alt and delete could be replaced by just one butoon that says “Kaboom”.

Anyway, for the Christmas Party BB decided to get her hair done. And she is technically no longer Blondiebird, she’s now Brunette-with-just-a-hint of-purplie-bird. She looks amazing, but will always be Blondiebird to me ( if only because BB is easier to type than BWJAHOPB).

And also to TallNeuroticGirl. BB sits in the cubicle infront of mine and TNG sits on her right,  and they bicker all day long like an old married couple. “I’m still going to call you a blonde,” said TNG yesterday, ” and I’ll still eMail you blonde jokes”.

“Yes, but at least she’ll understand them now,” I heard myself saying before I could stop myself.

Next thing one of those little stress balls flew over the wall between BB and I and hit me full in the face.

It just goes to show that that those balls really work. Blondiebird said she felt a lot better after that.


“Lucky” is my middle name

I didn’t post yesterday, because I’m not sure how the word “mmnnuuuhhhhh” is spelt, and it’s the only word my brain was capable of processing.

The party was a big success. We ate, drank, danced, and then at the end of the night we had the raffle.

The raffle is an essential part of our company’s Christmas Party. It’s held at the very end of the night, all the staff members have their names put into a hat (ie spouses and partners are excluded), and if you’re in bed when you’re name is read out, tough.

We have about fifty prizes, ranging from vouchers for hotel stays to Cadburys Selection Boxes. Two of the most popular prizes (though not with the boss) are paid Half-days off work. This was my idea a couple of years ago and it seems harmless, but some of the top developers in the Company are very well paid, so they can end up being the most expensive prizes of all for the company.

Anyway, in three years of parties, I’d never won anything, so I reckoned this year my luck had to change. And it did. I won this.

sp_a0007

The worst thing is that I had actually bought it. My ClosestWorkBuddy, GoldenEyes, organises the Christmas Party each year, and buys all the prizes, but this year she was sick in the week leading up to it, so Blondiebird and I went off on Thursday afternoon with sixteen hundred euro to spend in two hours.

I’ve never done Power Shopping like this before, and it was a real experience as we flew from shop to shop buying vouchers, tins of sweets and cosmetics. It was while we were in Boots buying 3-For-2 things that I saw the above box and said “this looks nice”. “Meh,” said Blondiebird, but by then we were knackered, so we took it anyway.

And on Saturday, GE said “next prize is this Perfume Sample Set,” and then laughed herself sick when my name was read out.

Oh well, at least I’ve broken my duck.

Paraskavedekatriaphobia…

…..that’s easy for you to say.

Our office party is on tonight. All the staff and their partners are invited to the Radisson SAS in Cavan to eat turkey and, er, ham, to drink beer at a free bar and then stay overnight. There will be 233 people there.

My boss last year (not really)

My boss last year (not really)

Some may say that this is over-extravagant while banks are crashing, while jobs are dwindling and while Bob the Builder is presumably now Just Plain Bob. The company’s attitude, though, is that the staff have worked just as hard this year as last, so why cut their party? They also take the attitude that if everything really goes badly, in 18 months time it’s unlikely they’ll be saying  “if only we hadn’t held that party – it would have made all the difference between solvency and bankruptcy”.

Anyway, I’m delighted. As I say, there are 233 people going, so it’ll be the biggest birthday party I’ve ever had.

For today is my birthday, and, as you’ll have noticed, it’s the 13th (I know it’s the 14th where you are, LK, but we Irish have always been a bit behind the times). And, back in 1957 (aargh!), the 13th of December was indeed a Friday.

So the title of this post is not Mandarin, Klingon or indeed Keyshitatrandom, it is the term for Fear of Friday the Thirteenth.

friday-the-13thThe great advantage of being born on F the T is that it means you can never be superstitious. It’s hard to take rubbish about magpies, walking under ladders or breaking a mirror seriously once you’ve survived bring born on the The Day Most Fraught With Peril. Magpies are bad because they are loud and steal other birds’ nests, walking under a ladder is unlucky only if the guy at the top drops something on you (you could say the same for walking under a bridge), and breaking a mirror is bad because, well, you’ve to buy a new mirror.

In the office last week we got new Golf Umbrellas delivered to give to our clients, and I opened one to see what they were like. “You can’t open that in here,” said MyAgeGirl (the only other Over-50 in the office, though very few people know it), “it’ll bring you bad luck”.

“Jesus, MAG,” I said, “You’re talking to a guy with heart problems. What more bad luck can I get?”.

Which makes me think. In the past 18 months I’ve had 17 blackouts, three operations, and a pacemaker. I have scars on my forehead from one of my falls. I have a condition where I don’t fully experience things anymore. I’d a tooth taken out yesterday and a crown put in. I’d to pay €470 for that, and last week I’d to pay €100 to get the heater fixed in my car.

Not only that, but Ireland were awful in the Rugby World Cup, the world economy is banjaxed and the Cassini spacecraft has stopped transmitting (I know these things aren’t just my bad luck, but I’m on a roll now). Chrysler and GM are going broke. Pigs can kill you. Martina Navratilova didn’t win I’m a Celebrity. It’s pissing rain.

None of this, of course, is due to when I was born. Touch wood.

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(Ps. As my birthday present to you lot, a word of advice. Don’t ever type “Office Party” into Google Images. And, if you do, don’t look at the fourth picture along.)

Look, I told you NOT to.