Monday, April 08, 2013
The Trials of Job....Part 1 of 3
I've written about some of my workplaces before but here is one from the other side of the fence, so to speak. There were a few of those too. Here's one:
In chatting with Daughter the other day, I was recalling a particularly appalling work position I took back in the day when I was in my late thirties. I was hired as controller/office manager in a small manufacturing plant I'll call “Briggs”. There were five in my department who reported to me. What struck me as odd from the beginning was that I was the tallest person in the office at 5' 8”. The president was a wee British man, and by wee I mean about 5' 3”. (Sorry, I'm of the age where metric for the most part is a challenge.) The two salesmen were equally short. And I noted I drove the smallest car. The president, Harry, drove a blue Lincoln Continental with a cushion on the driver's seat to keep his head above the steering wheel.
From my very first day there I sensed a resentment from my staff. They had adored my predecessor, Vivian, whom I had met during the transition. I had the impression that they firmly believed that Lucy, the accounts payable clerk, should have succeeded Vivian. Lucy ruled the roost now that Vivian was gone.
There were very strict rules in the office. Every pencil, note pad cover, pen, paper clip, stapler and coffee cup had to be in the colour favoured by the company, fondly called “Briggs Blue”. Even the office chairs, in-baskets, and out-baskets, teapots and water cooler. No other colour was allowed. Harry was adamant on this. Harry liked to stand behind us as we worked. He would come into my office and walk behind my chair and even when questioned as to what he wanted, he would just humph and say in his nasal cockney voice “Oh carry on, carry on, act loik I'm not 'ere.” It only took me a half a day to find this behaviour offputting - and I reported to the man!
Single mothers with a household to maintain can't be choosy when it comes to employment. I persisted in trying to turn this whole scene around. I was able to escape every day with the bank deposit for I had taken that task away from the credit manager, but not without a struggle. I added office supply shopping, purchase of bank drafts and letters of credit and mail pickups and drop-offs to my daily outing and then added my lunch hour. I could escape every day for two hours. Liberation! A brief reprieve!
I mentally prepared myself every morning when I got up for my "Blue Life with the Munchkins”. Mean-spirited, I know, but in this hostile atmosphere (and it was increasingly so) it was sometimes the only humourous thought that would get me through those workdays.
To be continued.