Archive for the ‘work’ Category

Redundancy is a bit like a funeral

Saturday, December 10th, 2011

After 17 years of looking after the day to day running of a small Christian Bookshop, I’m being made redundant.

I have a variety of emotions about it. I won’t be sorry to say goodbye to the stress caused by my part time hours being cut in half to 16 hours a week 2 years ago, without any of the workload being cut.

I will miss the people I work with and the fun and joking in the office. I’ll miss the customers and the feeling of satisfaction when someone comes in wanting to buy something but hasn’t a clue what. With gentle questioning and my knowledge of what’s available, I can send them out of the shop happy with a parcel under their arm or an order waiting to come in.

I’ll miss seeing publisher’s reps and choosing the right product for our customers from what they show me.

I’ll miss putting new stock in to the shop and making it look attractive and inviting, and the excitement of seeing someone buy something that I’ve chosen, ordered, priced and displayed.

I’ll miss our designated customer service advisor from our main wholesaler who is so helpful and knowledgeable and always willing to share that knowledge, which has really helped me in my job.
Thank you Michael.

I’ll miss being part of a team who work well together and usually manage to achieve the impossible in the hours we have.

Oh yes, and I’ll miss having an income too!

So I’m sure that there will be a time of grieving for what I’m losing and I’ll have to readjust my life.

It suddenly struck me in the last few days that redundancy is like a funeral. All sorts of people at work, where we have lots of volunteers who work in the coffee house, and even people in the street who know me have stopped me. They say how sorry they are to hear that I’m leaving and then go on to say how much I’m appreciated and valued and tell me a little anecdote of how they remember my kindness or patience. It reminds me of my father’s funeral where people I didn’t know came up and told me little stories about him.

It’s lovely that people are telling me that they appreciate me and will miss me, but I wonder why they’ve waited 17 years to do it?

A wasp in the office

Friday, August 27th, 2010

I don’t usually mind wasps. I’m happy to get up close to them and to bees to try and take photos of them. When they’re in the garden on the flowers they sit still for a little while, and sometimes I can take a shot of them before they flit off to another flower.

I didn’t like the one I saw today though. It must have come in the open office window, because the first I knew about it was when it was flitting round my drink of apple juice. It was flying all over the place and wouldn’t keep still. I tried to get it out of the open window by gently guiding it with a sheet of paper, but it wouldn’t go. Instead it went to the next window. The one that was closed, the one I couldn’t open because the handle was too high up for me to reach.

I couldn’t concentrate on my work because I didn’t want to lose sight of it and accidentally put my arm on it, or worse take a drink of my apple juice while it was in the glass.

So my two colleagues came to the rescue. One of them was standing on my chair trying to reach to open the other window while the other one was on the other side of the office. I kept out of the way as they started batting the poor wasp backwards and forwards with magazines. Even though I was nervous in case I got stung, it made me laugh to see how one small wasp made two grown men behave!

Eventually one of them got it, and it fell to the ground, dead. Now why hadn’t it listened to me and gone out of the open window when I told it to.

Loud music

Friday, May 21st, 2010

I have a love/hate relationship with loud music. If it’s the sort of music I like listening to, then I love having it loud enough for me to sing along to, but still be able to hear it. If it’s the sort of music I don’t like, such as that really bangy music that repeats the same thing over and over again until your brain feels as though it’s going to explode, then I hate hearing it loud.

I can park where I work. I go in through a gate and then drive down a narrow single track lane to a designated parking space. There’s a pavement down one side of the lane and quite a lot of pedestrians use it as a short cut.

Even though there’s a good wide pavement built especially for pedestrians, guess where most of them walk? Yes, that’s right, right down the middle of the single track lane.

When I pull in through the gate, there’s often someone walking either right in front of where I need to drive, or to the right, in the lane, on the opposite side from the pavement. Most people show no sign whatever of realising that my car is behind them and I’m just about to drive past them, so I think it’s important to alert them to my prescence. I would hate someone to suddenly step out into the lane just as I’m passing them, and get run over.

I used to try and beep the horn really gently and not too loud so that it didn’t make them jump, and so that it didn’t sound as though I was saying rudely ‘Get out of the way!’ That often worked well. People would turn round, see my car and amble over to the pavement. Sometimes it didn’t work very well, and more than once I’ve had someone come over to me and be abusive! I thought that was very unfair, when all I was trying to do was get to work without running them over.

After the last time when a lady was really abusive to me, I decided I wasn’t going to do that again. It was unfair and unpleasant, so I needed to find another way.

That was when I had a bright idea! Now as I get ready to drive through the gate, I turn the music on the radio or CD up really loudly and open the windows. It works brilliantly! Without me having to say anything, or beep the horn, people look round and move aside, and I know they’ve seen me and aren’t going to step out infront of the car.

No-one seems to mind me having loud music, no-one has complained. So I can recommend it as a pedestrian alert that’s abuse free. I like loud music!

The thaw that came and went

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

At last the snow we had struggled with was chased away by heavy rain and warmer temperatures. I could get my car out, and for two days, I drove to work on clear roads!

It’s looking really pretty again today, as it’s been snowing overnight, just as the weather people predicted. There are reports of closed schools and closed roads on the local radio. I’d like to take a day’s holiday and stay in the warm and off the roads today, but I can’t as I have a deadline to meet at work.

So I’ll put my boots and other snow requirements in the car and head out carefully. It’s nowhere near as deep as it was a couple of weeks ago, but apparently it’s a different type of snow that is more icy and slippery than the lovely powdery stuff we had before.

I don’t like the travel difficulties that the snow produces, but I do love the way the countryside looks. Here’s one of my snowy shots…..

Winter garden

Waning enthusiasm

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

My newly found enthusiasm for local buses is waning. After my success on Friday, I checked the timetable and confidently set off through the snow to catch a bus to work. I’d timed it well, so I only had a few minutes to wait, and by the time the bus was due, three other people had joined me at the bus stop.

Just on time, the bus was seen at the junction in the distance, so we knew it wouldn’t be long before it appeared round the curve in the road to pick us up. After a few minutes when it still hadn’t reached us, we began to think that something was wrong. And it was! Instead of using the route listed on the timetable, the bus had gone a different way. That meant that the four of us were left standing at the bus stop while the bus headed off to our destination on a different road.

We were disappointed and frustrated, but we decided that we would walk up to the next stop so that the same thing wouldn’t happen to the next bus, due in half an hour. The couple who had ski sticks set off at a fair pace, so I walked slowly with the elderly lady with a walking stick.

She was chatting away to me telling all about why she was going into town, and I was glancing at her as I walked and listened. One minute she was there, the next she’d disappeared and was lying full length on her back in the snow. It was so fast! Her feet just went from under her. I asked her if she was ok and she was, so I retrieved her walking stick, helped her onto her feet and brushed the snow off her so that she didn’t get cold. She thought it was funny, but walked even more carefully after that.

We got to the next bus stop in plenty of time and all chatted as we waited. The time for the bus came, and went. We waited and waited. My toes had become blocks of ice by this time and it was impossible to warm them up even when I kept moving them and stamping them in the snow.

Eventually half an hour late, a bus arrived. I asked the driver if it was the 11.26am bus on time, or the 10.56am bus late. He said no, it was the 10.16 bus very late!

Once on the bus, I enjoyed the snowy views again and it wasn’t long before I got to work. I was concerned about getting home though. I wanted to try and get home before dark, but if a bus was likely to be an hour late, that wouldn’t be possible, and I didn’t fancy walking on snow and ice in the dark. So I was very glad when someone who lives near me offered me a lift home.

Winter wonderland

Sunday, January 10th, 2010

The snow hasn’t melted yet, and it’s still really, really cold. I’m having difficulty keeping warm, but I expect it’s the same for lots of people. The newscasters have been saying that we’re having the coldest winter here in the UK for 30 years, then I heard that it was the coldest since 1963, and I even heard one newscaster say it was the coldest winter for a hundred years! I expect they’ll sort it out soon and let us know what it really is.

I’ve been snowed in for a week now. The main roads aren’t clear, and my estate road is treacherous. The car is snowed into the drive, and I haven’t attempted to dig it out. If the road clears, then I’ll start digging.

It’s quite fun walking around my village in wellies ploughing through deep snow. I’ve managed to get some milk and bread from the village shop, so together with what’s in the freezer and the cupboards, I’m ok for food now. Work was closed for most of last week because of the snow, but on Friday they were open. I walked up to the main road to have a look at it’s condition, and decided that I wouldn’t be driving on compacted snow and ice.

While I was out, I saw a couple of buses. Frequent buses are a new novelty in my village, so I decided that I’d go to work on the bus. It was fun. I had a wonderful view of the stunning beauty of the snow covered countryside.

Once the bus dropped me in the town, the roads and pavements were clear. They must have been gritted more often than the rural main roads. I went to the supermarket after work to get a bit of food, but realised that I wouldn’t be able to carry much as it was a bit of a walk after I got off the bus. I managed to get the essentials though.

You have to be a lot more organised and prepared if you haven’t got a car waiting to take you and your shopping home. I keep a torch in the car, and I remembered to take it with me, in case it was dark by the time I needed to walk home from the bus stop. I knew there wouldn’t be a Moon to light my way home as it would have already set.

I could have done with a rucksack as well though. That would have been a much easier way to carry the shopping, and it would have kept my hands free to steady myself if I slipped. So now I’ve got one of those rucksacks that folds up really small and can go at the bottom of my bag, because I enjoyed going on the bus and I’m planning to do it again.

This is one of my snowy shots…..

Winter wonderland

Metamorphosis

Sunday, November 8th, 2009

No, I’m not talking about a caterpillar changing into a butterfly or a tadpole into a frog, but my local Supermarket. It’s some time ago now that I heard that the Somerfield chain had been bought by the Co-Op. When I first heard about it, I expected my local Somerfield to be closed and refurbished and then re-opened as a Co-Op.

I quite like Somerfield. I’m used to it. It’s just across the road from where I work, so I call in most days to get a few items. I was expecting to have to go somewhere else when it closed, and then have a new, different shop open in it’s place that I would have to get used to.

But that didn’t happen. It went on being the Somerfield that I was used to and gradually I forgot that it had been bought by the Co-Op. A few weeks ago, I saw one or two Co-Op branded products, and after my initial surprise, I remembered about the take-over. The Co-Op items increased and it was very noticeable that they were better quality at a lower price than the old Somerfield products that they’d replaced.

I’ve never known a shop change slowly from one Company to another before, but I think it’s a really good way to do it. Customers can get used to it gradually without the shop having to be closed. I expect one day soon I’ll walk in to find the assistants’ uniforms have changed to their new brand, and then eventually the sign over the door will change.

I really like the Co-Op. I like the quality of their own brands and the range of foods they have and I like that they have a good range of Fairtade products. I only have access to a very small branch at the moment so I don’t get the benefit of the choice that a large branch would give me. The best Co-Op that I’ve ever shopped in is a big one I’ve used when I was on holiday in Dorset. It has an amazing choice of product and I just enjoy wandering around it looking at what they stock. Hopefully my local Somerfield will continue to metamorphose until one day it’s as good as the one in Dorset.

There are advantages to being ill …….

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

…… but not many of them. I discovered one of them yesterday though. I’ve been ill since the end of July, when I developed a chest infection and viral illness at the same time. Unfortunately after all this time, I’m still not better and the doctor has told me that I’ve got Post Viral Fatigue. He says it could last for weeks, or months or years! I don’t want to be ill for that long. I feel fine when I’m sitting here, but as soon as I get up and try to do something physical I get absolutely exhausted.

When I was really ill for all of August, I could hardly do anything. I knew it was important to eat properly to help me get better, so that’s what I concentrated my very limited energy on. I tried to eat good nourishing food, probably better than I do usually when I’m busy and rushing around. (yes, I can just about remember being like that!)

When I had recovered enough to go back to work after being off for five and a half weeks, my new hours had started. Funny how things work out isn’t it. I’m working every other day now, which gives me a day to rest and recover in between. As soon as I started working again, people said to me ‘You’ve lost weight’ Well that’s good news. I wanted to lose a bit of weight, but not in such a drastic way by being so ill!

I’ve been wearing black to work ever since I had that meeting in July. I couldn’t wear colour as I was in mourning for the loss of the hours but especially for the loss of the creative part of my job that I’m not expected to do any more. Yesterday for the first time I decided that I was ready to wear some colour. I chose a long turquoise skirt and turquoise top, but I did team it with a black cardigan because I didn’t have a colour to go with the skirt.

I had a bit of time to look at the shops before work, and wanted to try and find a brown cardigan – so I could move on from black! There wasn’t one in the shop I like, but I did see the skirt that I’d had my eye on all summer. I was hoping that it would be in the sale by now but it wasn’t.

I tried it on and it fitted me perfectly and looked really nice, so I decided to buy it. I also decided to wear it, because as I’d been walking round looking at the shops, my turquoise skirt kept slipping down and I had to keep pulling it up. It was in danger of slipping off altogether, which as well as causing me acute embarrasment, could have tripped me up and caused an injury, especially if I was on the stairs at the time. It definately wasn’t safe to wear it to work.

It was only 3 weeks since I’d last worn that skirt, so I certainly have lost some weight. I’m happy with that, and I hope that I can manage not to put it back on again when I’m better, which I hope will be very soon!

New beginnings

Friday, July 24th, 2009

It’s a week ago now since I heard that my job is going to change drastically, including halving my hours, and my salary. Last weekend and into the beginning of this week, I was in shock. I couldn’t think straight, and kept panicking. All I could think about was that I need to get another job, either as well as or instead of the current one so that I can earn enough to live on.

In the last couple of days, the shock has worn off, and I’ve been able to look at the situation differently. Instead of seeing it as a disaster, I’m begining to see it as an opportunity. Maybe I will find something new and exciting to do. Maybe I don’t actually need to get another job, but could benefit from the extra hours to do all the things that I don’t have time for at the moment.

I don’t know what the future holds, but I’m feeling excited and hopeful. I’m looking forward to new beginnings, whatever they may be.

What a shock

Saturday, July 18th, 2009

I had a meeting with my Senior Managers yesterday. I knew that things were difficult in the current economic climate and I knew that they were looking at what they could do about. They say they have to cut expenses and one of the ways they’re going to do it is to cut my hours in half.

That leaves me in a very difficult position. I love my job and I’m good at it. I’m good with the customers and I’m good at selling and sourcing the right product to stock in the shop, and knowing what’s likely to sell and what isn’t. I have serious doubts that it’s possible to do the job in 15 hours a week, even with the reorganisations that the management want. I don’t want to find that I’m expected to fit a lot more hours worth of work into the shorter hours which would be very, very stressful.

Of course the other problem is that halving my hours will halve my salary to a level that it’s not possible to live on. I’ve already been working part-time hours on a very low hourly rate and I know that what I’m earning at the moment just about pays the bills with enough left over to buy food and petrol. So that leaves me with a dilema. The managers expressed the hope that I would be able to find another part time job to make up the shortfall. Is that realistic in the current conditions? I don’t think so.

Even though my job is very important to me, my priority will have to be earning enough to live on. That means that if I do find a suitable job, it may not fit in with my new hours and so I would have to leave the Bookshop where I’ve worked for the past 15 years. I find that possibility very distressing and upsetting.

So now I have to be proactive and start looking for a job. I may find that a miracle happens and I can find another part time job to complement the Bookshop, but I’m not going to hold my breath.