Employment

X and Y got office cleaning jobs in the holidays. X not very keen, finished after a week and got a job to look after ten under-2s with one other adult instead. The man in charge of the cleaning told X what a pity it was Y had to go back to school, he was so good he could have joined his team!! Y being a straight As boy, thought it was rather a giggle but it’s his first job and at $7 an hour he was glad of it.

Her son is a doctor with his own practice and living on a farm with stabling and 6 of his own polo ponies but is worried as another doctor has come to the area and is undercutting his charges?!!

Worried about competition

It worries us most that your ‘minder’ will use your request for extra time away at Easter to put you on a lesser rate – she sounds a skunk.

It sounds an interesting place to work – lots going on and lots of support. Lots of expectations too – she said the headmaster was more likely to ask you what was wrong with your programme than with the child if someone causes trouble or walks out!

I asked her what in fact did people want to know about this odd bird for – and she said she rather wondered too, but it looked good on her CV!!

That chief of yours sounds so mad that it is surprising she hasn’t been given the push by the department. But I suppose mere madness is not enough for that. But to miss the union meeting and then demand that the minutes be changed as she would like is hardly explainable in any other way!

I wrote to the company [who make tinned food] some time ago, to ask why they had no women on the board of directors seeing that most of their customers were women – and eventually got a very chauvinist reply to the effect that the question had never arisen so far, but when it did any woman who had adequate qualifications and experience would be considered along with male applicants. I suppose it would be a waste of time to write back and enquire how many of the existing male board do the shopping for their households and the subsequent preparation of most of the meals.

X was talking the other day of moving to a much larger farm – but that must be the tenth pipe dream he’s talked about in the last two or three years. He would have to sell this place first, and that’s not going to be easy, as the land really is pretty rough, the fencing is far from complete – and wool and sheep prices are hitting new lows each year so not many people will be wanting to buy, I fear – nor to lend money to help.

Employment hassles 2

She’s having to get as much work as possible and has taken on part-time typing jobs which is well paid and has 2 full weeks in January which will be a big help – as they still have 2 cars – and some capital she doesn’t want to touch – I don’t want to help financially – indeed she refused but I do hope he gets something soon – it’s so bad for his morale.

I don’t know if X has told you the latest saga of his job – it seems to be driving him to absolute distraction. All he has to do is see that the people who see that the men do their work properly, do their work properly (?!! if you see what I mean!) He’s not allowed to make suggestions, cos that lays the department open to responsibility, unless through the proper channels – about 3 weeks, 10 bods and forms in quintuplet.

We have had literally nothing to do here in weeks. Organised the odd social function for the staff, drawn posters and sold tickets, very little personnelling though! They say it will hot up a bit in Feb. but that is such a long way off, and I am absolutely BORED. And you can imagine what idle hands can get up to. Actually, all I do is roll into work hours late, or skip off early and take long lunch times. My boss is just a voice at the end of the phone. He comes in occasionally to sign the odd letter, but most of them I do anyway as I can’t leave these things weeks at a time. He went to Europe in Sept./Oct. on a recruiting campaign, spending 5 weeks in Switzerland and England, leaving me holding the child. Enjoyed that, as I was ‘i.c.’ as it were, not that there was much to be in charge of!! He goes off again at the end of January to do the same thing in the schools and universities across Canada, so again muggins takes the can. And there are so many extra-curricular things to be done here i.e. skiing, skating, cross country skiing, snow shoeing – not that I do many of these – no time!!!

Schedule for idle office

Last week I started my holiday job. I’m standing in for a guy who’s gone overseas for 3 months. Quite interesting – would be even more interesting if they paid me as an engineer and not as a ‘vacation worker’ (a species little better paid than a labourer). As I’m doing engineering work I suspect they are acting rather unethically. However as there are plenty of students with no work at all I’m not inclined to complain too loudly!

I have a deep depression on me, due to the fact that is is impossible – and I mean impossible – to get a job here! I have tried the papers and the radio stations, and the TV stations, and the film studios. I have my name down on about seven secretarial agencies, and every day I look in the paper. Tomorrow I’m going to ring the advertising agencies and PR firms – and, would you believe, I am even trying to get a job teaching English to foreigners! The work situation is appalling: I’ve had several people interested in taking me on, but the economic position is so bad here that just nobody is hiring any staff. They had strikes here in practically every industry lasting for three months this summer, and I’ve met people who’ve been out of work for anything from three weeks to four months!

I got a job for about 7 weeks filling in while they are waiting for someone to come out from England. It’s a super modern air-conditioned office with most of the staff English and very pleasant and I shall be quite sorry to leave although the job leaves much to be desired in the way of interest for the majority of the time!

Underneath the huts is a little room dug into the earth where the potting [making pots!]– which is done entirely by the men – goes on. The women are not considered really clever enough to help apparently – although I expect they do heavy work like they do in the fields where it is they who pick up the 6 ft canes, tie them up and carry them up a precipitous ladder resting against the three ton lorries which must be backbreaking for a whole day from about 7 to 5.30.

Change

I note you are going to X for a lunch – did you know I spent most of my childhood there? It was a lovely, sleepy little place in those days, but when I last went back, it had become all touristy and horrible – and, apart from the fact that both my parents are buried there, and I still have friends there, I wouldn’t mind if I never saw the place again – it has changed beyond all recognition! I’ve always said that one can’t go back in life, only forwards, but I sometimes wonder if I’m even doing that!

It is a big gap and suddenly one realises – at least my sister and I did – that with both our parents gone horror of horrors we are now the ‘older generation’!!

One person from our section resigned recently, and that is allowed to be filled, but it has to be by someone redeployed from another area. This is a bit of a worry, as I expect we’ll get someone who someone else is pleased to see go.

getting rid

Am I nuts? I’ve really stopped being able to see any more whether this really is what I’ve wanted for years or I’m off my rocker. Maybe I’ll be able to think more clearly at my own place.

I asked after the ‘little boy’ born whilst we were there only to find he’d topped 6 foot and had finished a philosophy degree but sadly like so many of them had got a dead end job.

To begin with, I called it ‘Aphorisms and Illustrations’ but on the whole that seems bit pretentious, so it is now called ‘Pointers and Pictures’!

I could have wept over your would-be purchaser opting out – I hope it means there’s a better offer coming your way – any offer coming our way would be something, but so far we’re just 1,200 down the drain in advertising. What is particularly maddening is the first estate agent has a man WITH MONEY looking for something like this, but we’re tied for a month to the auctioneers. He poohpoohed the idea of sharing the commission in spite of my suggestion that ‘half a loaf was better than no bread’ – stiff necked, I call it.

Early in the morning and after 5 p.m. it’s getting nippy. Tho’ many plants have got really muddled up and are flowering for the second time, it’s been a mad season, no really settled weather. I’ve worn a summer dress about 4 times, and my new white sandals the same, and now out must come the old drearies.

House repairs & housekeeping

I was delighted to hear that your dry rot (caused by wetness) was really only wet rot (caused by intermittent dryness as well as wetness) – because the former really is bad news whereas wet rot, as I understand it, is not ‘malignant’, and can be cured reasonably easily provided they can find the source of the wet.

I have now engaged with X to come and build us a new fence along the bottom boundary, which will involve removal of the present compost enclosure. … So I must pull down the remains of the aviary, and remove most of the plants from that border for safekeeping until he has finished. Not, of course, that he is likely to start when he says – he never manages that – but just in case he’s nearly on time, we must be ready.

I’m glad the wood worm treatment is over, though perhaps even now not seeming quite a thing of the past. I was surprised they demanded as long as six weeks before you could cover it – but let’s hope that by then you will have been able to get the other jobs done which are essential… I am enclosing a bank draft as our contribution to getting your flat as you would like it. All these little men must be costing you a lot of money.

all these little men

Our building is all go now. The frame is up and the roof and weatherboards go on next week. The concrete block wall would probably withstand an explosion – it’s SOLID. We’re managing to afford a new kitchen while we’re about it… We’ll have a new wall oven and gas hob (our stove’s being decidedly temperamental – I think the thermostat’s broken!) We also have to have a new water heater… All this fits into the amount we’ve borrowed – on paper at least!

We’ve also bought an extractor fan for the stove hood. It’s not as strong as previous ones we’ve had and makes a bit of noise, but it does seem to get rid of the smells and steam, and we don’t need to have it on when we’re in there.

We have been having much attention given to our telephone. It went out of action a few weeks ago and we complained – and had a van here all day with a pleasant young man who seemed thoroughly confused at our wiring system (between our three phones and one outside bell) and eventually rigged a temporary wire over the top of the house as part of trying to reduce the buzzing in our ears. It didn’t do much for us. Then last week two men in a van turned up, and again stayed most of the day, plus a supervisor in a car for half an hour, and another van. They traced the whole thing, and went round muttering things like ‘the yellow is crossed with the blue’ and ‘there’s a groundswell on the red’ – and gave us another new line under the house instead of the one over the roof. They worked very hard even though it was raining most of the day – and eventually went away triumphant.

The friendly plumber came and estimated for a new basin. I inherited a cracked one where the old girl’s husband had had a seizure or something and dropped a heavy bottle from a short height into the basin. The nice plumber said cheerfully ‘Claim on insurance – they aren’t to know you didn’t do it’ which seems sensible but immoral! The roof man suggested the same so I see I have been missing out all these years on something everybody else does – no wonder the rates per year are so high now.

X has replaced the supply of drinking water we keep, last done 3 years ago, and I found my dried milk to be the same 3 years out of date.

He helped do a massive clear-up in the front garden and we packed the green bin to overflowing. I also collected oddments I wanted to get rid of to put outside the gate and almost all were taken – it’s a good idea: you’re invited to help yourself to anything you’d like and a van collects the rest. ‘They’ call it trash.

Our TV which we’d been saying was so good suddenly packed up and our nice repairman said a new ??? [part] would cost over $100. So we decided to do it now before the old one cost any more. That took all the morning – I’d phoned round getting prices so was able to knock them down $60 – X just can’t do it – I have no qualms – they obviously won’t lose on the deal.

I have been lucky through the coldest nights (so far) and haven’t frozen up – apart from one outlet from the bath which was my own fault as I knew the taps dripped and I forgot to jam the plug in securely after my bath. Fortunately I was able to face the damned snow and unstoppered it with a boiling kettle and a little wangling of the icicle that had formed (despite the protective bag of bracken put over the drain which was supposed to prevent the frost getting through!)

Taking advantage

Many thanks indeed for your letter and all that most useful information – I’m now hoping I didn’t give a fortune away when I gave [away] D.H. Lawrence’s ‘Last Poems’ 1st Edition…a rather unworthy recipient and I don’t suppose I shall ever hear from him again. He was so enthusiastic that I thought perhaps he should have it! I’m now going to order the Guide to 1st Editions before I do any more…

I think your friend should get quite a bit for D.H. Lawrence if in good condition [Oh dear!], also for Katherine Mansfield, especially the Hogarth editions… Dust wrappers are important, if the books were originally published with them.

Life has been a bit thwarting here. I was heavily conned by a clever salesman who came when I was sleepy after lunch and not thinking. He managed to make me think he came from the Council and was offering to add to the loft insulation on a grant for the poor and aged… I said I would have it done. Why I didn’t ask the local Council whether they were reliable or not I don’t know, but there is still time as needless to say they gave me a day when they were in the area and I stayed in on tenterhooks from 9 to 5 and not a peep out of them. Was I mad? Yes.

But, as you can imagine, X [the tutor] enjoyed the holiday and did some painting himself but the tutoring was virtually Nil – I can hear you say I told you! We all complained finally.

But these estate agents! There was one X had grave doubts about buying anything from on the grounds that he wore elastic-sided shoes – and when we met him I saw what she meant. He ought really to have been selling the sleazier sort of secondhand cars. The one who was dealing with the house she is angling for seemed a very pleasant and apparently honest man, and yet he swore blind that the electric wiring had been renewed – which I found it impossible to believe, because there was not a new switch or plug in the house.

Having the terminal at home means that his boss rings him up at weekends or even when he’s on holiday to ask him to sort out various problems! … The next day, I unplugged the phone… Now I just take messages but don’t pass them on if it’s out of office hours! … One of the big problems of the recession is that people who have jobs are so scared of losing them they work longer and longer hours just to hold on to them, and employers like to take advantage of this!

a wife is determined to stop business interference in home time
pulling the plug

 

Employment hassles

Your work situation seems as harrowing as mine, though in a different way. I get annoyed at needing to do everything myself to make sure it gets done properly (or at all) but not being allowed to. I exploded recently at the finance man who blamed his inadequacy on the ‘fact’ that I ‘don’t understand Portuguese very well’ (!) when it’s patently obvious that I understand it so well that I am in danger of catching him out in his little games.

I was unable to take any leave. The Corporation works in a way unique to itself I think, and I have found myself acting in a position for nearly a year now. By the time things get back to normal it will be over a year. During this time I have also acted in a yet higher position for four months, having two (three counting myself) untrained staff to look after. Of course, no one asked me whether I wanted to do it, or even seemed to think whether or not I might be capable of it. I was exhausted after that little effort, and have managed to have one week’s leave which was just wonderful.

I worry about you a bit – you are earning enough to eat properly aren’t you? It’s so damnable that anything one enjoys doing so often doesn’t give financial return.

Her schoolgirl daughter has been giving me a hand in the garden and is quite useful although I really prefer doing it alone! Still it provides extra pocket-money for her…

Mayoral aspirations

It looks doubtful that the contract will be renewed after the second year, however things may change. Hopefully the Council will take pity on me. However, it generally can see more justification in a prestigious car for the Lord Mayor than in employing a few more people.

Jobs

I’ve pretty much decided to give up on teaching for a career. I like teaching, but I’m not very good at the crowd-control side of the job.

I’ve been doing a month’s relieving 45 minutes drive away. It went OK I suppose but it was a bit hairy in parts – the last 4 weeks of a 15-week term is not an idea time to take over an undisciplined class! However. It’s a shame for the kids having 3 teachers in a year actually – especially as there’s not much else that’s stable at home for many of them around the school area.

engineer au pair

 

This change of plan meant X had to get her au pair a little earlier than expected and a lady from Turkey arrived just a few weeks ago. She has just finished University and is now an Industrial Engineer. Her English is limited but, being a very clever lady, is improving every day. She hopes to stay here for a year whilst her fiance is doing   his National Service.

 

X continues to be a complete mystery to me. Programmers really are on a different planet from the rest of us humans but, nevertheless, he is successful and enjoys what he does. No parent can ask more than that!

I’m supposed to find which diseases the butterfly caterpillars (which we export as pupae to live butterfly displays in UK and USA) die of and prevent them…

I am in a bit of a quandary at work. My boss is not managing as coherently (I can’t think how else to phrase it) as he was. In fact, I think he has got steadily worse over the last two years. During the last couple of weeks he has behaved quite irrationally on occasion. As there is no one much to observe this who can advise him to take all of that leave which is owing to him, I think I may have to take a rather drastic step and go and talk to someone about it. I don’t want him to have a breakdown. I feel like a tattletale.

Your new regime sounds ‘challenging’ if very hard work and I hope it won’t wear you out, particularly with a bossy boss. How I loathe the type who send peremptory notes and I do hope I wasn’t like that in the days when I ran a department! To [our family], who are always right, it comes hard doesn’t it?

Employment here is very bad, except if one has specific qualifications and experience e.g. mining engineer, accountant and top-level managerial experience. I have an interview for a job next week. The job is assistant archivist. I don’t know why they are even interviewing me, but perhaps there weren’t many real archivists who applied.

I muddle along as best I can. It’s a real case of ‘do what you can where you are with what you’ve got’!

It seems that as usual my out-of-date fantasy about having very little work in August and doing things like going home early and tidying the desk drawers, is indeed a fantasy, as I have to write the Annual Report by the end of August, complete with graphs and appendices etc., write various bids, re-vamp part of our education service, and finalise a whole range of service advice leaflets and programmes.

Your last letter relayed all the health problems you ended up with after the row with your boss. Wasn’t worth it, was it? I developed a back problem I think as a result of long hours and too much SITTING, SITTING, SITTING!!! Fortunately it came right on its own, or with the help of the change in jobs. I was so miserable in my work I think my mind was looking for ways to put an end to the stress if you know what I mean.

 

Money

I happen to be the most useless person in the world at keeping track of my finances (there are as yet undiscovered African tribesmen who could maintain a bank account better), and at the time of the wedding – and many times since, I’m embarrassed to say – I was seriously wobbly in a fiscal sense.

I have just vented my spleen on the local hospital management as a protest at the monstrous charges we have to pay under the reformed, streamlined, user-pays, homogenised, de-humanised health ‘service’. I’ll probably have to pay in the end but I guess a protest on the way won’t go amiss! I recently heard of a person who wrote to say she wasn’t paying on principle. The bill was handed to debt collectors. Their fifth letter contained the information that they had ensured that she now had the lowest credit rating possible and that in future no business in the country would lend her money, allow hire purchase or give her a mortgage.

I am very interested in the Heseltine-Thatcher quarrel, as Westland shares are one of my few remaining English investments. Obviously whoever wins the quarrel, I have lost most of my money in the company already – but at least if their future is worth squabbling about, presumably they are not going to be left to go down the drain without trace, and might one day get back to paying dividends and being worth more than the 2 1/2p that they are proposing to write the shares down to at present!

She seized half his capital and all the furnishings of his house. She then refused all his many offers of maintenance for the offspring and insisted on fighting it out in the courts at a cost in lawyers of some strange amount to each party. Then the judge by some miracle awarded her much less than X had offered her in the first place so she is ever skulking around sniffing for more!

I am alarmed at your state of having 2 mortgages and no job… I never have enough money – who does? – so for the past 8 months I have been taking in a student lodger… It has worked quite well – but of course it meant a lot of heaving around of stuff from one bedroom to another and the loss of privacy.

X wrote to me and said he was in S.E. Asia again until March. He must be about 90 by now. I hope if I live that long, that I’ll be able to get about like him at that age. (Silly idea really – I certainly won’t have enough money.)

no water

I moved into X’s house… He’s on leave… As soon as I moved in I found an unpaid electricity bill, I paid that and was pleased to have averted a crisis. Then I found an unpaid water bill and paid that. There was still water in the tank, so I didn’t know the water had already been cut off until the afternoon of 24th December.

We all need a job

“Don’t whatever you do go filing for Jesus – it sounds fairly mad and sinister in the extreme! Even a few hours on a Monday would finish me very rapidly I think, especially as her filing system is so plainly madly designed and you would soon be crazy too.”

“… the redundancy provision in our newly agreed Enterprise Bargaining Agreement is much more generous than the previous provision. It would give me several months in which to find alternative work, before I was bankrupt. (Perish the thought.)”

“I’ve spent my mornings being what is grandly known as Office Manager of a large private preschool… The school is owned by a witch, but is run by her gay, 40-something son and his ‘partner’, each of whom is a delight and between them they provide a lot of fun and laughter each day …”

“More and more seems to be expected of people and I seem to spend more and more time doing things like ‘Asset protection programme’ and ‘Environmental management plan’ for our area, than doing what is actually on my job description and for which I am ostensibly paid. This is not to mention ‘Department management plan’ which details all of the things we are to achieve in our department in numbered and dot-pointed detail, with names attached. Then there is the ‘Performance management plan’ which each person is required to have, and which repeats the Departmental management plan in a rehashed and individual form. I understand that this sort of thing is a disease affecting businesses the world over.”

Yes, it’s plan bingo everywhere!