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Back to the Rat Race

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Well, I re-joined the ranks of the gainfully employed a few weeks back and between learning the new job and the allotment, there has hardly been a spare moment.  I'm now doing TECH SUPPORT!!!...that's what I get for watching Vanilla Sky all those times...and of course, the minute you get a job everyone wants you.  I had just about given up on the chance of anything like a 'career' and along with 'world domination' and the chance of meeting a 'mature' male in Ireland, had consigned all such ambitions to the dustbin of maybe, probably not and yeah, right!  But lo and behold, I have now been offered 5 different opportunities in the last few weeks and will probably opt for the public sector one which although is initially only for a year, holds out the chance for progression and also offers the best pay and conditions.

Part of my problem with 'careers', is that any time I found a job I liked, it never lasted for one reason or another.  I worked mostly in factories, everything from machinist to credit control, and administration of one kind or another, but all those factories closed as the owners moved the work abroad to second world, more exploitable economies.  The paradox in this, as I often pointed out, is that although those jobs are gone, we're still expected to support a first world economy by buying the stuff we used to make here.  Then being an old 'commie' at heart, I could never sum up the ambition needed to manipulate and wheedle my way around the bosses in the drive to succeed because as someone once pointed out, even if you win the rat race, you're still a rat!  

So, part of me is now settling, settling for something close to home, not too stressful and reasonably paid which with a bit of luck will see me through now to retirement and which, more importantly, gives me time to pursue the things I really want to do like writing, my allotment, painting, knitting and hopefully a bit of acting again, come September.  

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Working like rabbits

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I have now joined the ranks of the gainfully unemployed and since I've been job hunting since October with no luck, I reckon I'm going to be here for a while, not that I mind today with the blue sky and sunshine!  Actually, not that I'll mind any day, rain or shine, the less tax the government get off me, the better.  Why should I worry when billionaires get away tax free and get their houses re-decorated at our expense.  So, I'm going to enjoy my break for as long as it lasts and make the most of my free time, between writing, gardening, painting, knitting and dog-walking, I'll easily fill the days, and job-hunting too, of course!

Took the young 'un to see Peter Rabbit over Easter, it seemed to be getting favourable reviews (among the now ex-work colleagues) so thought I would check it out.  Well, this was one rabbit I'd happily take a shotgun to and bake in a pie!  Beatrix Potter must be spinning in her grave!  I quite like rabbits, usually, and have several movies starring rabbits, Watership Down, Who Framed Roger Rabbit and even Harvey, and I don't even mind a smart-mouthed rabbit, Bugs Bunny pulls it off every time but a smart mouth and Beatrix Potter? Doesn't work for me and certainly didn't work here. 

The slapstick was enjoyed by some of the children but I found the whole thing disturbing, wiring door handles to give electric shocks, in a child's film??  Wait til little Johnny tries that one at home!  Voiced by James Corden, I understand now why he is the target of some vitriol but I don't suppose I can blame him, he didn't write the script but he did take part, so actually, I will blame him along with whoever else participated in bringing this tripe to the big screen!

Anyway, I've been laid up with a bit of a dose for a couple of days, actually since that movie now that I think about it.  Maybe it's shock...but thankfully I've been up and about a bit today and got some work done in the garden this morning.  And my favourite Bowie tune has just come on the radio...Drive in Saturday...compensation from the universe for enduring Peter fecking Rabbit!  I made the mistake of having popcorn too. I don't normally eat anything at the cinema, maybe a cup of tea or coffee but thought I would have popcorn for a change...and I have paid for it since, it is working its way through my digestive system like concrete, actually concrete might have been easier to digest.  I've been on a diet of porridge and peppermint tea since, and now that I've had to sign up for Universal Credit that will probably be my diet for the foreseeable future or at least until I get back into the rat race!

The gods must be in my favour today, another favourite tune of mine has come on, I Can See Clearly Now...the pain of that crap movie has gone!  I wish...

But getting back to the subject of work, my brother retires this year, he's getting away early and several others I know have also gotten early retirement.  Of course, they all work/worked in the public sector.  I've always worked in the private sector which means I'm going to be working for many more years to come, well, it will do once I get another job, but the thing is, my taxes pay for the wages of the public sector and they all get to retire after 25-30 years service but I'm going to have to keep going until I'm 68, which will probably be 70 if the Tories get in again!  So, why do I have be the Duracell bunny and keep going longer?  Why can I not retire when I have racked up 30/35 years of work or a least cut back to a 4 day/30hour week?   A friend recently remarked that we should have paid into a pension scheme sooner then we could retire now.  Which is a lovely idea, until I pointed out that we never earned enough to pay into a pension, I barely earned enough to cover the bills!

The problem with work now, is that I'm just too old, ok I'm only in my 50's but I'm probably fitter and healthier than ever, at least I will be once I get rid of this dose and get the concrete digested, but that is the reality I have to face.  I've been looking for a job for 5 months and in that time I've had 3 interviews which came to nothing, although I've been told I'm next on the list for 2 of them.  So, in the meantime, I may enjoy being a lady of leisure and get on with my writing, painting gardening etc. I have to say, one of the highlights of this week was the joy of turning off the alarm not knowing when it may be needed again.  With a bit of luck, never!

'Kill the wabbit! kill the wabbit!' 

Ah, there you are Elmer, I've been looking for you, I have a little job you might be interested in...involves a rabbit...no, not Bugs but I think you'll enjoy it all the same, is that shotgun loaded?  Good...there's this rabbit called Peter...irritating little shit...

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Valentine poems & work

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Sunday, 12 Aug 2018, 18:01

We're doing a CICM Spectacular Failure at work for February (this is the boxing themed one, I devised, wrote and presented) and one of the fun events is to write a love poem for Valentine's Day, so I put pen to paper and wrote a haiku and a sonnet.


Sitting alone, night

falls, and warm embraces melt 

the hardening heart.


What can I say or tell you about love

When Shakespeare does it much better than me

Run off a line about the stars above,

Or tell a tale of how I, became we.

Create a metaphor, on winter’s cold,

How love sprang forth and melted the snow.

How I gave him my heart to have and hold

Playing Juliet to his Romeo. 

There are no words that can really describe

How true love feels and that moment of bliss

The magical spark it has to revive

You, when in their arms, and that first soft kiss.


So as you go forth, remember the stakes

And try not to be, another’s heart-break.

So, that was my busy afternoon at work! 

Talking about work, a friend of mine phoned me today to ask if I would help him with a job application this evening.  He's a bit of a handy man but hasn't had much work recently and saw a job for a street-sweeper advertised for the local council and thought he would apply.  I went in and looked at the form.  It's not a form, it's a 36 page booklet!  For a street cleaning job!  This is not a joke, it really was 36 pages long, this is totally insane!!  WTF is that about??

I spent a weekend recently filling in a 17 page application for a secretarial job, or an 'executive assistant' as it is called now.  It is the last application form I am ever going to fill in, from now on if they don't take a CV, I'm not even going to apply. I had also applied for another job as a Head Receptionist in a hotel where I have worked on and off for 10 years.  I didn't get it.  The criteria listed experience of reception work, hotel work and supervising staff, all of which I had.  But the job was given to someone who has never supervised staff, never worked in a hotel or done reception work!  

I was having a conversation with a work colleague recently, (he's in with the same agency as me) when I realised that the salary I am on now is exactly the same as it was in a job I was doing 10 years ago, for basically the same work.  This realisation along with all the recent joys of job-hunting have pissed me off big time.  So, I've been making a few decisions about work for the future.  So, along with the CV, I have decided I am not doing agency work again either, no-one is making money off my talents again except me. I am also not going to give anyone the benefit of my abilities or experience unless they pay a decent salary.  I would rather do minimum wage and I will!

Another receptionist/admin job I applied for sent me this lovely email:

Thank you for your interest in the Receptionist/Admin Assistant position at ...... We have reviewed your application. Unfortunately, you are not the right fit for the position at this time. 

So, this is what I emailed back to them:

Well, what a surprise, 'not the right fit for the position at this time'.  Is there ever a time I would be 'the right fit' considering this is now at least the 6th time I have applied to ..... for a position, clerical, accounts, administration, reception but never quite 'the right fit', and not once even an interview.
I mean what could someone with a degree, years of experience in admin, accounts and all office practices ever have to offer ......,  Not quite the 'right fit'.  What does the 'right fit' mean?  Not smart enough, or too smart, over qualified or under qualified, too experienced or not experienced enough or is it just that I don't have a 'relative' to smoosh with the right people and pull the right strings, because it seems that it's not what you know but who you know...isn't it ever???
Well, I guess I'll pass ........ over in future, no point in applying, not the 'right fit', not today, definitely wasn't yesterday and most certainly will not be tomorrow.

When my father passed away this summer, I rang in to work and was told if I wanted to take time off, then I could take it unpaid or out of my holidays. 

I came across 2 other stories about work this week too, so it's not just me being put through the wringer.  The first was about how Amazon workers in the US now have to wear a wristband to track their activity, sorry, to 'help them find the right packages quicker', or so says the company.  But more tragic is the story of Don Lane, fined for taking time off for a doctors appointment, and because of this missed his ensuing appointments and died.  He worked for DPD who deliver for Amazon, among others.  

Capitalism, it's all heart, isn't it!   Oh, the joys of work!

Workers of the world it is time to unite, change is coming and that revolution just might begin here...watch this space!


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Workers of the world..

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Friday, 10 Nov 2017, 22:37

Today, I enjoyed afternoon tea in the Silver Birches Hotel in Omagh.  It was our prize for having the winning presentation at work.  If anyone is interested in our storming performance, you can check it out on twitter @BSO_ssar.  You have to download Periscope first as it's a closed site, or something like that, I'm not too sure of the technicalities.  By the way, I'm now available for presentations and after dinner speaking, if anyone is interested in offering me some work!! 

Speaking of work, I was job hunting again this week as my contract is up at the end of December and I saw there was a (public sector) job going in my local area.   Now this is not a government ministerial position, it's just a basic office admin job so I thought I'd download the application form and give it a go.  The application form is 18 pages long, and along with having to fill that in, you may also have to undertake a test as part of the selection process and they outline a list of 22 duties and responsibilities that you may be required to do. 

Looking at the application form, I feel that I should be entitled to be given, at the very least, a diploma in administration just for managing to fill it in.  One of the first criteria for the job is 5 GCSE's or equivalent, and there is a space for you to outline your qualifications and you are advised that 375 words are available for this.  Now, how much can you say about having 5 GCSE's, other than what they are and what grade and maybe the year they were achieved. I suppose you could go into more detail, maybe talk about how nervous you were when you did them, what the weather was like, did the results match your expectations, things like that maybe??

Then, you have another 375 words to outline your typing or word-processing qualification, another of the criteria.  Again, how much can you say about learning to type and passing a test in it? I got on ok with the keyboard but the Q gave me a lot of trouble, D was much easier but on the whole, I would have to say T was my favourite. 

But then you get to the biggie.  You must have 2 years admin experience and you have 350 words for that and it asks you to outline your experience for 5 employers.  That's 5 x 350!

Then you have another 250 words each, to outline your experience in 6 other areas:

Dealing with members of the public and responding to enquiries from a range of stakeholders -One day a man stopped me and asked for directions and I was able to draw him a map on the back of the envelope.  He was very grateful and said I was a 'great help' and a group of people who were standing at a nearby bus stop agreed and asked me where I was from and who I was, one woman knew my mother and said I looked just like her.

Maintenance of administrative and information systems - I put the files in the filing cabinet in alphabetical order and made sure they stayed that way so if anyone came in looking for some information, I was able to go and get it.

Arranging meetings, preparing agendas and taking minutes - I told my friend I would meet her outside the cinema, and told her which film we would watch and what we were going to eat while watching it; popcorn and Maltesers with a large coke.  During the film I checked my watch against the time on my phone to make sure they were both on the same time but then my phone fell in my coke...

Data input and retrieval - I typed a list of important stuff on to my computer, I saved it and went in and found it again later on.

Experience receiving cheques and monies in respect of payments - One time on my birthday, I got a cheque for £25 from my aunt Mary because I told her I didn't want any presents as I wanted the money to put towards buying a new phone.

Use of Microsoft Office applications - I often type things using Word,  I can put numbers on a spreadsheet and add them up using the button at the top.  I used to use outlook to send an email to my friend but now we use snapchat and Instagram instead.  We sometimes still use Facebook but I get fed up with all the angry people and don't use it as much anymore.  One time I did a database at school. We had a list of people and their addresses. it wasn't real people it was just made up and we pretended they were all in this club or something. Powerpoint is fun but I don't really use it much..is there anything else, I don't know...

Then just to round it all off, they have another section: Desirable Criteria Experience and you have 400 words to 'outline your experience in the maintenance and development of specialised computer software systems including preparing and generating reports from relevant data'. Pullllease nooooooo!!!

When you count up the word quota, it comes to 3650 words.  Is it me, I mean, is it?  3650 words and you still have to list all your past employers, all your qualifications and all your personal details, so you're easily talking about over 4000 words for an application form for an admin job.

I had another job interview recently.  Well, actually it wasn't an interview for an actual job, it was an interview to go on a list for a job that may come up at some point in the next year.  Then if it doesn't, you have to apply again and go through the interview process again to go on a list for a job that might come up but if it doesn't you have to apply again and go for an interview, to go on a list...yes, I know! I know! 

When will the insanity end???  It's a fecking admin job, not president of the fecking world!!

 I think, I'm going to go back to waiting tables, my first job, back in the day, Vacarro's café, much simpler and less stressful.  Maybe a bit of painting on the side...

And it's not as if these jobs are paying big wages, they're a bit better than minimum but not enough to justify an 18 page application form, or a merry go round of applying and interviewing.  I almost forgot!  Before you got the interview, you had to do an online literacy and numeracy test too and the online application form listing all your experience, your employers, your qualifications,  yadda, yadda, ya!

I've a headache now, just thinking about it.  Roll on retirement...


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