Today I had a taste of what it’s like working in a call centre as I manned the phones for University clearing. Hopeful young students nervously gave me their grades and waited with baited breath while I calculated their credits before putting them through to a tutor for the final decision, or told them they hadn’t met the minimum criteria.
It’s heartbreaking when you tell a young person their grades aren’t good enough, especially when they beg you to consider the fact that they really, really want to do business studies and if they could ‘just talk to the tutor’ they could possibly negotiate their way in… I can sympathise – I know what it’s like when you don’t get the grades you hoped for!
What’s worse though, are the ranty parents who don’t understand why little Billy wasn’t accepted on the course and “What are YOU basing YOUR criteria on?!!!”. Not surprisingly I came away with a rather large headache and an overwhelming desire to lie down. Despite this, it was an enjoyable experience and great to be directly interacting with young people!
My friend and colleague and I are currently in a rubbish situation at work. Our two jobs are being reduced to one and we’re being both being interviewed for the remaining post. It’s a horrible position to be in. Surely it would be better if we could choose our competition event.
In this life there are spooners and shakers. The spooners like the comfort of boundaries. When someone says “I’d like half a teaspoon of sugar with my coffee”, a spooner will diligently measure the requested amount of coffee and sugar, and you can be assured that your hot drink will be served at a reasonable strength and just sweet enough.
Shakers, on the other hand, live life on the edge. They have no need for utensils! Instead they prefer guesswork. You cannot be guaranteed consistency with a shaker. One day you might receive a potent, dark coffee that’s bitter and acrid until you hit the bottom where the unstirred heap of sugar (measured by eye) makes you gag and gives your pancreas something to think about. The next day, you may have a cup of slightly caffeinated, watery gnats wee and you chastise yourself for relinquishing control of your morning coffee.
I say this because in an office where people regularly offer to make you a drink, you have to choose wisely. Knowing who the spooners and the shakers are can be the difference between a good Monday morning and a bad one. However, there is one pitfall with some of the muckier spooners which could muddy the friendship between tea drinkers and coffee drinkers. It’s dirty habit which led to my cartoon of the week…
Last week my good friend and colleague, V, left our little team of four to return to her homeland, Ireland. In the year since I started, the four of us had become a well-oiled machine and despite having quite different personalities and interests, we gelled remarkably well.
V was perhaps my closest colleague and I enjoyed our daily routine of coffee making in the office kitchen where we would put the world to rights, discuss the weather, children, holidays, work and inevitably our weight. She’d often bemoan the fact that she’d expanded out of control since having her daughter and I’d tell her how I used to play a variety of sports that meant I could see my feet without having to physically lift my belly upwards and inwards. Ironically, and more often than not, these conversations took place as we both reached for a piece of cake from the endless supply of calorific goodies brought in by colleagues celebrating birthdays, holidays, house moves, the Grand Depart, football or just living.
There were two such conversations that still make me giggle when I think of them. The first involved an ill-fitting cream dress that V had shoehorned herself into. She exclaimed that the multiple rolls of flab, accentuated by the tight dress made her look like a giant ‘witchetty grub’ – an image that fills me with mirth. I hasten to add that V is not actually very large at all which makes the stories all the more entertaining.
I decided to draw the second conversation because it just sums up our chit chat. I shall certainly miss V as I make coffee on my own and look longingly at the cakes.
I walk to and from work every day; a good 40 minute march. It’s a great way to wake up on a dark winter’s morning when getting out of bed is an effort and your bowl of porridge hasn’t quite started to kick in. I stick my earplugs in and listen to one of 4 Podcasts. BBC Radio 4’s Women’s Hour, BBC 4’s Saturday Live, BBC 4’s Mid-week or Helen and Olly’s Answermethispodcast.com. The latter tempers the former and is not for sensitive ears.
As you would expect, I pass the same people day after day and ponder their being: what are they like? Do they have a partner? Where do they work? Why are they wearing that? Gosh I love their dog, maybe I’ll stop them so I can stroke it….
I decided to draw a few of the characters to give you a flavour – I recently showed the drawings to a friend who walks the same route, albeit a little earlier than me. She recognised most of the people, so I’m satisfied that I’ve managed to capture them fairly accurately. She even shared one or two of her own commuter people. Now she texts me in the morning to say…hey, I passed ‘Greggs Man’, and I respond to say ‘I think I passed red-headed-duvet-jacket lady’!
So the next couple of posts are just sketches (no polishing) of some of the… <sings> “people that I meet when I’m walking down the street…they’re the people that I meet….each day!” (Sesame Street, People in your Neighbourhood)
For the past few weeks, I’ve been between jobs. Towards the end of last year I decided to take the plunge and leave a permanent job, in which I was very unhappy, for a temporary post with more opportunities to get out and about. The risk was calculated and sadly despite efforts to extend my contract, they had to let me go due to lack of funds…don’t you just love austerity?!
So April was spent scouring the papers, writing job application after job application (A thoroughly demoralising process) until I was offered another temporary contract. Frustratingly, I’ve had an agonisingly long wait while they process references, do criminal records checks, et cetera et cetera . In other words, I’m still waiting for the contract.
In the mean time, I’ve been trying to pay the bills and generally keep myself out of trouble. It’s amazing how busy one can be when they’re unemployed. For the past month I’ve been practicing my cooking skills:
Making some extra dosh on Ebay:
And excitingly, I’ve reignited the freelance work using People Per Hour which allows people to buy and sell their skills/services. I’ve been doing a few things here and there and have been lucky enough to secure an 18month contract drawing a web comic for someone…sneak previews to follow soon! I’ve also set up another wordpress site www.designedbyamy.wordpress.com to showcase some of my design work.
All in all, things are ticking over and although money is tight, life is generally good. Signing out!
With Easter nearly upon us, there is a frenzy of chocolate egg buying and giving – and of course EATING! This morning a co-worker set up an office Easter egg hunt before piling mounds of Easter cakes, chocolate and eggs onto the ‘treat table’ for all to indulge. What a nice way to start the penultimate day at work before I find myself gainfully UNemployed.
It is a sorry state of affairs and I will mourn the past four months which have rescued me from the isolation of my previous job. I have certainly felt more alive, more inspired and more ‘me’ since changing jobs, and although the risk taking didn’t quite pay off, there is still a glimmer of hope on the horizon. So don’t start sending me your messages of condolences just yet. In the meantime, here is a little cartoon to celebrate Easter.