Dear My Life. Slow down. I just can’t keep up. Loads has happened since I last wrote: I even got a year older.
I’ve decided there are a couple of solutions to this: the first is to assume some sort of Socrates / Samuel Johnson method and employ a Plato/ Boswell to do the actual writing bit while I just swan about doing stuff. Any takers?
Or I could find more time to plug my laptop in and hammer away on the keyboard until something passable gets thrown onto the screen. As I’ve just been thrown back into the utterly terrifying and faintly humiliating world of unemployment once again it looks like the latter solution is the most likely.
It’s possibly my own fault: taking a job in a Big Bank (whose name I best not mention as I haven’t got the same legal resources as Capital One have) wasn’t really the best career choice for me, but it was a temporary position, and to steal that eternal excuse trotted out by the erstwhile nude model, I needed the money.
I won’t lay into the place to heavily: its actually a good place to work: a subsidised canteen, flexibility on working hours and most people there are lovely. The work itself was pretty depressing though: I worked in Collections, which was trawling through the misery of others indebtedness, monitoring how debt-collection agencies would hunt them down until they coughed up. This is the side of credit the banks don’t like to flaunt, this recourse into the small print; this collecting the smashed prey that lies twitching in the sprung traps. But, as I explained, I needed the money.
I even managed to keep the horrible corporate culture from getting at me too much: the ‘inspirational’ slogans plastered everywhere explaining that I should ‘dare to be the best’, just one of many hollow messages kicked out by some black-hearted motivational management consultant between chopping out poodle-leg lines of Columbian nose-tingler. Pointless seminars were held to hammer us with often bizarre ideas (were we ‘dolphin-thinkers, elephant-do’ers or camel-walkers?’ No, me neither); no noun could be spared being turned into a verb -sorry, no noun could escape a verbing…I didn’t let it get to me, its the curse of modern private sector workplaces, especially ones ran from the home of management bollock-speak, the US.
What did get me however was the undercurrent of harassment that I started getting. At first I thought it was just paranoia, that my boss was doing it to everyone else and I was just being overtly sensitive. I thus shrugged off the across-office telling offs, the condescending sighs if I failed to grasp a process instantly, the humiliations of being singled out and yelled out in team meetings. Others noticed it though, and were incredulous, and I realised it was getting a bit silly. I didn’t want to be forced to storm out, or be forced to leave. I needed the money.
So I endured it until the day a colleague tapped me on the shoulder and said ‘Bit harsh, don’t you think?’. I turned to see on the team notice board, on full view to all staff, had some additions on it. Beforehand we’d had photos of us all across it, now these had laminated card ‘awards’ on them. So most ‘keen’ team member had a Roy Keane football shirt over their picture; the most inquisitive a pair of over-sized specs…and so on. Over my photo? A wooden spoon. Cheers.
What was left of my morale disintegrated, and through a haze of humiliation I tapped out a quick email to my boss outlining why I thought this was a nasty, unprofessional gesture. I also mentioned the other occasions where I’d been singled out by her, and how I would like to know what it was I was doing wrong to inspire such behavior. Aware that my crushed mood may have been affecting the tone of the email, I sent it to a couple of friends to look over: they made few changes, and I sent it off. This was a Tuesday.
On the Wedneday, the boss calls me into a meeting room for ‘a chat’. She acknowledges my email, apologises profusely, says shes sorry I feel this way and how much she appreciates my work, and how she is looking forward to me becoming an ‘associate’- a permanent member of staff. I accept the apology, and explain I’m sorry I had to send the email but respect the way it was dealt with. The wooden spoon gets removed, and replaced by a, errr, brick wall. Something to do with ‘solidity’ apparently.
Friday rolls round, and I finish the week, jump on the bus and, while relishing the thought of the approaching weekend, hear my phone ring. Its my job agency, and they have some news for me.
‘Hi Matt. It’s J— here, just to let you know you won’t be required at Capital One anymore. L– (my boss) wants to terminate your contract at minimum notice. You have two weeks left. Have a good weekend”).
The timing was horribly sneaky: tell me just at the start of the weekend so I didn’t get to ask if this decision was a coincidence or, as suspected, spite. I didn’t forget though, and on the monday confronted my boss. She explained that they’d made the decision before my complaint (despite booking me onto a training course after the supposed decision), that the complaint had nothing whatsoever to do with the decision, and, best of all, I had the ‘wrong type of personality’ to be a member of staff at Capital One. This intrigued me. I asked what she meant.
‘We want people who don’t put the money first: people who come here cos they love it and see the wage as a bonus’
I couldn’t help it, I burst into incredulous laughter and explained every single person in the office, however much they enjoyed their job, would not turn up if all roles became voluntary. Her eyes widened, her lips thinned.
“And thats EXACTLY why we don’t need negative people like you!’
I gave up at that point. I didn’t need the money that much.
I served out the last fortnight diligently and in an uncomplaining manner: I even trained up my replacement; had a leaving drink with some colleagues and once again became a member of that ever-burgeoning group, the unemployed. Just in time to really screw up Christmas.
Still, thats the lot of the temp, and I’ll be back in another job before long, albeit as a virtually powerless, right-free worker.
Also, it gives me a bit more free time to work on The Beestonian, which reaches Issue 4 from tomorrow morning. It’s available all over Beeston, and in some choice venues beyond. Massive thanks to our sponsors, The Treasury and Belle and Jerome; as well as Jimmy at The Guitar Spot on Chilwell High Road, who looks like being a bit of a regular fixture…anyhow, just read it, will you? And if you can’t get a copy, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send you a PDF you can print off yourself. It is Christmas, after all.