So much for that!

Friday, 30 September 2011

So much for holding onto my 'feel-good' feelings from my holiday - first day back working with Nora and she's hacked me off so much.

I don't understand how she can be so patronising!  Does not matter what I do (and I do everything asked of me and more) I get no thanks, just condescending questions as to why I've done things a certain way or why I've not done something else already (not enough hours in the day and oh, I'm not a mind-reader).  Seriously, I can not do anything right in her book!  And she has a horrible knack of making you feel small.  :'(   I was nearly in tears.

On top of that, Nora is suddenly on a drive to cut-back and save money everywhere she can.  That pretty much explains why Billy has been given some extra shifts and not me.  He's a teenager - she does not have to pay him as much as me.

So aside from the fact that I'm still fuming at her attitude towards I now have an added concern; that the shop is not making enough money to keep me on.  Billy has no other job lined up, he costs her less (for another year or two I think, is it 21 the minimum wage goes up?) and I've done most of the donkey work on the website already ... so once Christmas is over, is she really going to need me?

Screw it.  I'm working on my CV right this minute and got a potential employer in my sights.

Already daydreaming of handing my notice in ... would it be bad form to give her the finger and tell her what a nasty person she is as I waltz out on my last day?  Meh, probably ... but again, I can daydream for the time being ...

'The' Shopping has begun

Thursday, 29 September 2011

I refuse to use the 'C'-word until after Halloween.  I detest that the end of year decorations and bits are already in the shops.

However, I must be organised this year.  If I'm still working at the Shop come December, there is a chance I could be working an awful lot so I can not put off the shopping for long because A) I won't have much time to shop and B) I won't be paid until the end of December (obviously) so the extra income I anticipate for that month simply won't be there in time to purchase anything!

Not to mention the buzzword of the year - budget.   Mine is quite limited, more so than last year.

I have 9 people to buy for.  Plus a birthday present.  Essentially, I'm aiming to spend £10 per person, going up to £15 if necessary.  I wouldn't want to find the perfect gift and not get it just because it's a few quid over budget but I can't do that with everybody.

So far I have purchased the following:

Gift #1 - sister ~ voucher for Hobbycraft

She likes making cards and will no doubt be making lots in the coming weeks.  She'll need to replenish her bits and bobs afterwards.  With any luck there will be a sale on in the new year so her £10 voucher will go further when she gets to spend it.

Gift #2 - mum ~ earrings

Fully aware of my financial situation, my mother dropped an obvious hint about a set of earrings she really liked for only £9.99.  A pity they won't come as a surprise but at least I know she'll like them!

So two gifts and only £20 spent.  Ideally, I want to purchase all gifts for £100 or under in total.

I'm sure I can do it. :)

Keeping Up Appearances

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Today on the Daily Mail website is this article;

Keeping up appearances: Jane's husband doesn't have a job anymore ... and she can barely live with the shame

The title alone got me a bit annoyed.  With everything that's been happening in the economy you'd think by now there wouldn't be so much 'shame' and stigma about losing your job.  There's millions unemployed.  Unless you've got blinkers on and live in your own little world, you'll know someone who has been affected in some way, either by losing their job, their job currently at risk, or simply struggling with their bills.

So with trepidation, I read the article.

The first half of the opening paragraph left me with extremely limited sympathy.

"The children still have pony lessons, she's kept on the cleaner ..."

They have three children.  One girl is noted as having the riding lessons, a boy having tennis lessons.  Neither of these past times are cheap!  And as for the cleaner - can you not pick up a loo-brush yourself?  It's not hard to run the hoover around.

The youngest daughter, aged 8, suggests to her unemployed father about training as a bus driver - she saw an advert about the training opportunity and he could earn £125 a day.

"My husband, Andy, winces.  My eyes fill with tears.  He's got a History degree from Cambridge, a Masters degree in Business, and years of senior experience in strategic management.  Bus driving isn't exactly the future he'd planned."

No one who is employment planned for it.  Plenty of people with degrees are out of work.  I've got a ten-year solid work history, good skills and experience and I struggled to find something - but I did find some work.  I did not turn my nose up at the offer of delivering leaflets and working in a shop which was something I never wanted to go back to, but seriously, you can not afford to be picky.

This man has been unemployed for four years - perhaps he ought to lower his expectations a little?  I swallowed my pride early on and applied to fast food restaurants.  No offense to anybody who works in those places, but for me, at the time, it felt like desperation was kicking in - I wanted a job, any job.  This 'Andy' who has a wife and three children apparently failed to see the potential opportunity his eight-year-old presented him with.  Who says bus driving was to be his new career?  If it meant some income I'd have jumped at the chance!  Hell, I'd jump at it now!  £125 per day?  That's twice what I'm earning now.  There are plenty of people who would take that opportunity and be grateful for it.

"We were once a typical middle class family - comfortable, not super-rich, children in good state schools but with private lessons for tennis and riding. Skiing in February, a nice hotel in Spain or Italy in the summer."

Sorry, that's typical middle class??  I would peg that as 'lower-upper' at the very least.  My family is considered 'upper-middle' - we have a nice big house (most of the mortgage has been paid off, we've been here since before I was born), four children who went to local state schools (not the best but not bad, we all did well in our exams) but we certainly couldn't afford private lessons.  We each got pocket money each month which wasn't much but we learnt the value of money early on, saving up for nice things that we wanted; we were not handed luxuries to us on a plate.   As for holidays, we went to a caravan site most years, occasionally renting a nice villa in France in later years when we were all earning money and could contribute to the holiday as a family.   I wore a lot of hand-me-down clothes from my elder sister, my brothers did the same with their clothes.  We went to charity shops and car boot sales for toys and books rather than buying the latest new thing.   Christmases and birthdays, we never went without anything!

We were not poor, we just knew how to handle our money and not waste it on the most expensive things just because they're the most expensive things.

"Since Andy was made redundant four years now, our income has plummeted."

First thing to go would be the cleaner!  Honestly, who can't run a hoover or duster around?  Andy out of work, the children all old enough to help out and Jane works freelance - and they still need a cleaner to come by??

"Andy will probably have to sign on ... but it's unlikely that he'll find any jobs for his level of seniority advertised at the local job centre."

Apparently Andy hasn't bothered to even look.  There are all kinds of level of jobs being advertised, and if he has to take a job that's a little below 'his level' then boo-hoo; at least he'd have a job!

The attitude of this pair is mind-boggling.

"Some friends of ours were terrified of traumatising their children if they admitted that Daddy didn't have a job anymore.  So each morning he'd dress in a suit and head for the station, take a train to London and spend the day in a library.  They lived this charade for six months until he set up his own business."

Seriously?  I think those people were more traumatised than their children were likely to be!  You're not alone in this situation!!  I steadfastly maintain that it is not that shameful!!  Instead, they lied to their children instead of educating them that sometimes bad things happen and the family has to be careful with their money.  What's so traumatising?  Do the little darlings need to be kept in the dark so they can still enjoy their designer label clothing?   What bubble do these people live in?!

To Jane and Andy's credit, they explained the situation to their children instead of putting their heads in the sand.  But that said ...

"The kids have learned to do without expensive clothes and electronic gadgets; the paint is peeling from our windowsills.  There's a long list of things we dont' buy anymore; books, clothes, magazines, handbags.  Lucy proudly boasts of the money she's saved when she goes shopping with her friends."

Why buy kids expensive clothes in the first place?  They're kids!  They're going to play around in them.  A nice set of clothes for going out, fine, but don't stock their wardrobes with nothing from Next and then act like it's terrible to have to buy second-hand now and then.  Magazines and handbags?  Why are you buying handbags on a regular basis??  Mags and books - there's such a thing called a library where you can borrow them for free!  As for the girl boasting of money she's saved - she's 16 according to the article, has she found a part-time job or is that pocket money she's spending?

"We've managed to keep up Jack's tennis lessons and Emily's riding, with help from my parents.  I know they'd do anything to help us ... but it still felt humiliating when I paid their cheque into our account."

Unless your child is on track to become a world class tennis player or horse rider, these are expensive luxuries that they can survive without.  If there's a career in it and the child is set on it, that's different, you invest in their talent now.  But if I were the child getting pricey private lessons knowing my dad was out of work I'd volunteer to give up the lessons or contribute my pocket money / get a part time job to help cover the cost.  I wouldn't have my parents shouldering the full cost like that.  And we don't have grandparents to help with the costs either - we either pay for things ourselves or we go without.  We don't keep a cleaner and take money from others to pay for horse riding!

"Even worse was applying for a bursary so that Jack could go abroad with his cricket team.  I knew it was the only way we could afford it; I knew he'd be upset if he couldn't go.  But the thought of people in the cricket club - our peers, our equals - judging our need, made me physically sick.  I wrote the application three times, and three times I threw it away before forcing myself to send it off.  The bursary was granted and Jack went on his tour.  I haven't set foot in the cricket club since."

The boy does tennis and cricket?  How many clubs and lessons does this boy attend?  Sorry, if you're in financial difficulties you'd have to reduce the outgoings, even if that means you ask the child to pick which one they'd rather stick with.  As for 'the only way we could afford it', again, get rid of the cleaner for a start!

I notice she refers to the cricket club people as peers and equals.  Not as friends.  Friends wouldn't judge you.  If they're going to mock you for getting a bursary then they aren't very nice people, so why would you want to hang out with them in the first place?  The bursaries are there for a reason!  And so what if they know you applied?  They could be having money problems for their own for all you know.

Andy is also not keen on re-training given the time involved in re-training.  He's had four years out of work - he could have re-trained in something at the beginning and already be earning some money - but no, starting at the bottom means a salary to match.  A low income verses no income ... sorry, that's a no-brainer.

"And why re-train when head-hunters are still calling with opportunities?"

Perhaps because instead of waiting around for someone to phone you with 'the perfect job' Andy could look for work and get a job by himself?  He gets to spend more time with his children which is a good thing (and I'm sure it wouldn't kill him to put some washing on or change a few beds instead of having the cleaner do it) but aside from the head-hunter calls, there's no mention of him attending interviews on a regular basis or even applying for other jobs that he found off his own efforts.

I feel sorry for him having a bit of a break-down with the stress of not having a job.  I was climbing the walls within weeks!  But if the stress is that bad, then surely he'd take any job, if he's as keen for work as Jane claims.

"It's not that I think materialistic things matter, but life feels dreary and miserable without them."

Which is blatantly saying that you do think materialistic things matter.  If they didn't, then life wouldn't feel dreary and miserable!  You'd appreciate what you have and realise that you can live without lots of luxuries.  It's not all doom and gloom just because you can't buy yourself another handbag to cheer yourself up!

As for treating themselves to the cinema once a week ... my boyfriend and I go perhaps once a month, often less than that, and we use the Orange Wednesday phone offer of buying one ticket and getting one free.  That is a treat for us!  How terrible that this poor family can only afford to go once a week. (Note the heavy sarcasm.)

"I'm proud of his flexibility, his survival instinct.  I rage at the world which can't find a use for his talent and experience."

Flexibility?  Survival instinct??  He can't bring himself to apply to be a bus driver and earn some money, any money, to put food on the table for his family!  He's sat waiting for someone to call with his dream senior-level career position so he can go back to earning what he did before!  That's not survival or being flexible in the slightest.

My sympathies are extremely limited for these kind of people - making out they're enduring such hardships when they don't know what hardship is  There's no denying that we as a country are in a mess and a lot of people are struggling - and I mean really struggling, not like Jane and Andy here.  I'll admit, I'm not in a terrible position - my income is limited, but I have two jobs, I'm not on benefits, my parents are keeping a roof over my head and I contribute to the household bills.  I can afford to run my car (just!) and I have good friends who didn't and don't judge me for what happened with my job situation.

I am wealthy in friends and family.  My account may not have much in it, but I'm optimistic and continuing my search for a full time job.  I'm not saying it'll happen soon, but I'm confident that I'll find full time work eventually.  The recession will end and the economy will recover - we're all just having to ride it out and make the best of things.


Went on my first leaflet delivery since returning from holiday.  Weather was much warmer than expected so I did not need the coat, hat and gloves I would have otherwise required in England at the end of September.

I walked into a lot of cobwebs - blergh!  Thankfully dodging any resident spiders.   Leaves are coming down everywhere and there are already conkers lying in the street.   Yep, autumn is here.

Back when I started this job I was adament that I didn't want to still be doing in when winter came.  So far it's not bad but I'm dreading January / February when the snow seems to turn up.  I wonder if deliveries get cancelled?  If they can't get them to me in the first place ...

Anyhoo, I'm a tad disgruntled.

When I left, my trolley was taken back.  My faithful and godsend of a trolley was re-claimed for someone else to use in my absence.  That would be fine - had they given me the same trolley back.  But no!  I now have a cruddy trolley that does not stay upright.  Whilst empty it just overbalances, so I had to lug extra leafelts around to try to balance it out when I'd finished my round.  Otherwise I have to prop it up against peoples walls etc or let it crash to the pavement.  Grrr.

Ok, it's just a trolley, but it was 'my' trolley and it was a good one!  I want it back!

Look for the silver lining ...

Monday, 26 September 2011

Since I've taken the best part of a month off of work, I'm rather glad to be back and earning some money.

I've not seen Nora since coming back and I couldn't help but notice that next month she has booked a week off of work.  On all previous occasions that she has taken time off, I've been given extra days - excellent!  I anticipated even more money in my pocket!

Alas, that bubble was burst this afternoon.  I phoned her to check whether or not I was working this Saturday (none of my days have been put on the calander so best to find out early!) and her week off came up - it would appear that I am not getting any extra days, bar one single extra Saturday.

Her son, Billy, is going to be working instead.

Yep.  Billy.   He who is not even meant to still be employed given the not-so-long-ago announcement of "I don't think he should work for his mother any more."

Now, it is totally transparent that Billy has not had any success in finding alternative employment.  Whilst I was away his name crops up regularly on the calander.  That's no problem, if he doesn't have another job, he can help out.   But why am I not being given any extra days now that I'm back? (Especially when you consider that I am 'the' employee, not him.)  Even one would have been appreciated!  Why should an irrisponsible child like him get the extra income?  He doesn't pay any form of rent to his mother - apart from his mobile does he really have much in the way of bills?   He doesn't even pay for his train ticket to get to work!

Nevermind that I pay rent, need to buy petrol and pay for parking, plus various bills.

Sorry, rant over.   It's frustrating, but there is a silver lining to this situation;  I'm back on the job hunt - not working a full week or even the best part of one provides me with more opportunties to attend interviews.  It's happened before - I took on extra days in Nora absence and then could not attend an interview because I am the only employee!  No one to cover meant I was stuck at work and the opportunity was lost.

The lack of extra income does bite however.

First day back

Friday, 23 September 2011

Oh the thrill of going to back to work ... I shouldn't really be sarcastic, but let's face it, if you've read my previous posts regarding the Shop you'll be well aware that I wouldn't relish the thought of going back.

Primarily, I have to focus on the money.  After all, it's why we go to our respective jobs, is it not?   And Nora has put in the calendar that she's off for a week next month - that means more money in WG's pocket!  :D   With the end of year festive seasons on the approach (I refuse to use the C-word until after Halloween!!) I do have to start thinking about gifts - this year is going to be on a tighter budget than last year.

Anyway, my first day back wasn't too bad.  Nora wasn't in and it wasn't too busy nor too quiet until late afternoon which made for a steady pace for the most of the day.  I hate when it's too quiet, time just drags.

I'd really like to start being more positive about the job - OK, venting on this blog does wonders for pent up frustrations, but I'd rather not need to vent in the first place!  Not saying it won't happen, however I'd like to try not letting things get to me so much.  I stress out fairly easily and it does nothing for my health or state of mind.  My holiday did me the world of good and I want to hold onto those good-feelings for as long as possible.

So, the positives of today - back to work means pay!  And I'm back into looking at the dental nurse qualification.

Woohoo! I've cut back!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

During my travels, it dawned on me that there was something I could cut back on in order to save some money.

I did a post not long ago about things I was already being frugal about and was puzzling over what to cut back on.  It finally occured to me and it was a total face-palm moment, I assure you.

Website hosting.  I have a website that I used for experiementing with coding and design, esscentially working like an onling portfolio of my web skills.   And it's been sat there for a while, not being updated much and sucking £5 out of my account every month.

A fiver may not be much, but that's still £60 every year being plugged into something I'm hardly using.

So this morning I have requested the closure of my account.

No idea why it didn't occur to me before - perhaps because I've not used it in a while!   I've had no complaints about the company I'm with so I'll no doubt go back to them in the future, but for now, I think that five pounds extra a month is better off staying in my account to be spent on more esscental things.

It's no loss on my CV either - I designed a website for a friend which is still up and running (plus she is paying for the hosting herself) so I can still highlight my skills with that on it's own, rather than two sites that proclaim pretty much the same thing.

Huzzah, savings made!  (Or they will be if the company are on the ball and close my account before the next payment is due; I appreciate it may not be instantenous but hopefully it won't take long to be sorted out.)

Jet lag sucks!

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

I have returned!  I am currently suffering jet lag but still on my first day back home I'm back on the blog - dedicated or what?

I had such a wonderful time and I have every intention of returning to the USA ... funds permitting.

Having a break from everything has also done me the world of good.  Ever since finding myself unemployed (nearly a year ago now) it's been non-stop worry - so jetting off to the other side of the world was simply perfect.  Literally got away from everything, work rarely crossed my mind (I tried hard to keep it out of my mind but it reared its ugly head on a few occasions) and for the first time in months I felt relaxed and got some perspective on things.

No doubt I shall continue once I've had some sleep and unpacked!

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