Tuesday, April 09, 2013

The Trials of Job....Part 2 of 3

See Part 1 here.

To add to the fun, Harry was a firm believer in socializing. Golf days, bowling days, baseball days, barbeque days, picnics in public park days. This was a far, far worse nightmare than the office. And there was no choice on attendance as he was encouraging company spirit by (a) giving the day off and (b) paying us all. I remember at one baseball hoot where I wasn't chosen to go on either of the teams, sitting on a bleacher and thinking: “Sweet Mr. Jesus Jones, what effing planet have I landed on” amidst the squeals of delight and laughter all around me as the others ran around in their Briggs Blue uniforms. I got to the point where I thought I was the one at fault. Why the hell wasn't I a Stepford Munchkin like the rest of them?

I was saved from hare-kari by Yvonne who was the quality control supervisor in the plant and who also wasn't chosen for one of the fun-filled baseball game teams. She turned out to be Harry's sister-in-law (sister to his wife) and just about hated his guts as he did hers. I could see the grim set of his mouth when he saw us together. Yvonne was employed there because of her husband who was Harry's best friend and was the shipping manager.

When you're trapped like that, very much a square peg in a round hole, there's very little energy left over to seek another job. It's all about survival - there are kids and other responsibilities of the household. This one pay cheque away from disaster life does exist. I lived it. And I'm sure my ill-concealed misery and isolation did not endear me to anyone there, apart from Yvonne who was suffering equally. We were on the outside looking in on this surreal blue comraderie and non-stop jollity, Harry in the middle grinning benevolence on everyone but us, poking his staff on the shoulders from behind their office chairs to raucous laughter, telling off colour jokes involving animal sex et al to his appreciative audience who lapped it all up. I felt my face was set in a permanent lemony pruney construct. The nun amongst the rabble. I was absolutely wretched.

I stuck it out, made the best of it, sat for hours in the computer room (yeah, those were the days!) inserting those huge old floppy disks into behemoth machines, feeding room sized printers with enormous boxes of perforated paper with 4 layers of carbon, tapping those huge old keyboards, listening to the grinding and chugging of all the machinery around me, waiting for the weekly breakdowns of some essential component like the printer or the floppy drives or an outraged orange message on the tiny black screen of the (blue) monitor. Sitting with Harry in his office, reviewing all this vomitous output. Harry liked to highlight and annotate every line with a (blue) highlighter so he could revise and revise and revise his annual budgets every month (seriously!), all changes that I had to input over many hours and for a grand finale to this he would obsess about minescule government tax rebates which took me forever to complete in triplicate. On a typewriter.

It all came to a head for me at the Christmas Party held at a swanky hotel which involved dinner and dancing and a special floor show for the chairman from California who was our guest of honour. I sat with Yvonne and her husband. To this day I thank Yvonne. a very funny Yorkshire woman.

To be continued.


  1. You make me realise how fortunate I was. most of the places I worked had a large contingent of men and although they teased, bantered and played tricks on me, they were caring and protective at the same time. I often think that growing up in the middle of a crowd of brothers was a good preparation for my working life.

  2. Looking forward to part 3! I must say it's all sounding very familiar so far. The pressure of that Lucy woman (and all the other munchkins) thinking she deserved your job must've been unbearable on its own!

  3. I remember those huge printers using up tons of paper with prefixed carbon sheets. We used to have language problems with me insisting that they should be called prints out and the geeks insisting that they should be called print outs.

  4. I'm holding my breath! How did it all end? Hurry up ---bring on part 3---don't keep us in suspense!

  5. June:

    Lucy and her team fought me every inch of the way and Harry colluded in this with closed door sessions with Lucy. When I challenged him on this, he accused me of not working on their loyalty to me as their "team leader".


  6. Absolutely dreadful. Harry sounds like David Brent in The Office. I would also hate all that artificial jollity and conviviality. I look forward to how you managed to escape from workplace hell and find something more suitable.

  7. This is hilarious - I know it was an ordeal at the time but the re-telling gave me a good chuckle. Keep going, you must have plenty more tales from the daily grind.


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