Tuesday, February 14, 2006

My stock is falling.

I must admit, I'm actually quite proud of myself today. Not only have I knuckled down to some hard graft, but I've also resisted the my usual derogatory remarks and sarcastic comments to my fellow shlums and have even abstained from going on the internet (fist cup of tea at 9am excluded of course). Not something to wrote home about, granted, but worthy of noting here.

The office is in a very tranquil state. Sean, possibly due to his extended weekend is in a most pleasant mood. This doesn't mean he's skipping around the office with a smile on his face, rather his face hasn't get gone crimson the vain on his head isn't throbbing and he hasn't slammed his pen on his desk muttering "this place is a f***ing joke". This is a good sign.
Tom has been away from the office for the majority of the morning today too and therefore i haven't been asked to stable frickin' pieces of paper, or photocopy two pieces of paper or something equally pedantic for him. I feel I should point out, in his defence, since my return to work after my lengthy absense, Tom has conveniently for me, now directed all of his petty little tasks to Mike instead. I feel no remorse about this, especially as Mike is to be jumping ship soon.

Lee is in a bit of a fluster though. Usually I can get on with him the easiest of all the office staff as he's the only one anywhere near my age group, and in a previous life, was a musician back in Bury (he knew Elbow apparently-though when I met them non of them knew him)- a bass player no less. He's got what I would refer to as a text book music taste, he like the classics; Marvin Gaye, Led Zeppelin, Stone Roses, etc. Nothing too risky. He's also bought into the Artic Monkeys phenomenon hook, line and sinker. When I said it's good- he immediately responded with "it's better than good! It's genius". A little over zealously to say the least. We also had a debate on the merits of Channel 4's the IT Crowd as he thinks it's a big pile of “student silly pap” and that My Name Is Earl is "genius".

For the records please let it be known I like My name is Earl. Infact, I told everyman and his dog to watch it because of Jason Lee, who as you may already be aware, appeared in a handful of Kevin Smith films and was the best thing in each one. My only reservation is that it's not very funny. The IT Crowd on the other hand; I just find a 'silly' and a refreshing change from all the 'clever comedies' The Office etc al that I watch, as no matter how good they are they rarely make you laugh out loud, which is sometimes what I want. Belly laughs galore! I'm a laughter junkie.

So he's good chap to have around the office. Unfortunately he's a bit of a stress head. I have no doubts, he would have been the type of kid who would have panicked and started his homework the day it was given to him, rather than the night before as I chose to do. Clearly this work ethos has been beneficial to him as he's a home owner, new car owner and is content with his social status and cat, however, this dedication can make him appear a tad rude from time to time.

I suppose the last thing you want when you've got a tight deadline to meet is a hairy sod like me waffling on about my dislike for mayonnaise or as an example of yesterday's discussion, why people who buy mixed frozen vegetables are chumps. –(I am a scintillating conversationalist am I not?) His response is not to acknowledge me and just continue to stare at the computer.

When I first started here, the division between the 'workers' and 'the slackers' was clear for all to see. I was recruited to the 'workers' side and enjoyed late afternoons slagging off Fat Karen’s skiving, and Gerry 'early doors' lack of effort and commitment. However, since November/October time, no one has confided in me about the unfairness of the work loads, or why Dave is always conveniently out on a site visit when his lunch break comes-(this was a really contentious issue at the time). The balance has shifted. I am now one of the slackers and a rarely make the tea. My stock is falling.

It's going to take more than wearing an ironed shirt and abstaining from the sarcasm to get back in the good books of my fellow colleagues. Perhaps they've stumbled across this blog? Perhaps they’ve hacked into my computer when I wasn't here and read what I’ve written about them? Perhaps they've heard me masturbating in the toilet? Either way, I plan to show them I can be a model employee. I'm just going to check My Space first though...

Most jobs I've had (27 and counting) I have tried my best to impress the boss or supervisor, it’s in my nature to, at first aim to please. The only exception to this was when I first started my three year hell at the Abbey National Insurance Customer Service Department. As I had only planned to work there for a couple of months I felt the sucking up to one's superiors was unnecessary. Carmel was the room’s co-ordinator and everyone slightly feared her and kissed her arse. Her birthdays the team leaders who several hours earlier would have been bitching about her, would gather round her desk and each give her a individual present. It was vomit inducing.

In my books she was okay I guess, a fat lady though, but not fat in the same way as Fat Karen. Karen eats none stop and drinks 2 litres of coke a day, whilst Carmel, in public at least, always appeared to be on a diet, not that it ever showed. Her main job was to sit in the room (which they laughably referred to as studio 4) and make sure that the teams were working hard. It was almost Dickensian really.

If, for example your phone was in the 'not ready' status and there were calls waiting, she would politely and with a smile on her chubby face ask "is everything okay?" to which the culprit would either apologise, stating they didn't realise, or say they were doing follow up work. Either way, in response she would ask them sternly but nicely, to answer a call. Often people referred to her as The Smiling Assassin, and there were rumours that she was sacked in her last job for bullying. I didn't believe this nor did I give a crap.
She would often ask me "is everything okay" my usual response was "yes thanks, how are you" and then look away and casually answer a call several moments later. The thing was though, every time I responded in this way she would laugh- loudly. This was my response every time for the first few months.

She would also ask how I was, and my usual response was "crap. I hate this job", again her response was to laugh loudly…too loudly for my liking. I'm assuming that she thought I was a card or a joker, but as you’ll probably know yourself, I am neither. I was genuinely unhappy that after 4 years of working towards an art degree I was working in an insurance call centre speaking to idiots all day, hiding in the toilets to avoid work, and getting the piss taken out of me on ‘Dress Down Friday’ as I didn’t wear a tracksuit. “You’re clothes are jarg!” or “My top is worth more than your house” etc etc.

If anything, my honest response to her questions, and always using foul language somehow, I think, did me a favour. Within a month I was embarrassingly made the "Brand Hero" -the Abbey Nat's employee of the week. I don't know how I managed it. I think it had something to do with my telephone voice. Coming from Harrogate had fro the first time been beneficial rather than a cause of discontent.

As the years went by, I slowly conformed and became part of the establishment, although never fully. My scruffyness and sarcasm always kept me out of that crowd.

Several months before I left I was covering for Elaine, my team leader, and noticed that some of the advisors were in the 'not ready status' and as instructed, I was forced to go up to them and ask them to take some calls. Her response was "who the fook do you think you are? You’re not a team leader". Fair point I thought. Of course this didn't endear them to me and that I was starting to alienate myself further. I realised that I had joined the darkside and was being slowing carved into a bigger cog on the Abbey National General Insurance Wheel. I left shortly afterwards with no job to go to. I had escaped with most of my sanity left.

So perhaps I shouldn’t try too hard to get back into my team's goodbooks as it will no doubt make me unhappier.

Perhaps a few more hours on My Spage wouldn't hurt.

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