May 28, 2018

Day Job , part 4 - Feeble minded peasants

Gratuitous photo of Frank
Condescension pretty much sums up the general feel I got from that job.

Belgian administration ( I'm sure it's not the only one) has a lot of bosses and chiefs and presidents and heads. It is often joked that there are more bosses than workers, it sure felt that way there.
I never quite understood the structure of the hierarchy, I never tried to either. Our boss had a boss2 who had a boss3 who worked for a president...then there was a side boss...
When we signed our "poor worker" contract, we were instructed by boss3 to greet everyone in the morning, to the chagrin of most other bosses and employees. When I saw how most were annoyed by the simple fact we, feeble minded peasants, would say hello to them, I really felt it was my duty to go say hello to every single  person present in the offices when I arrived EVERY SINGLE MORNING. To be fair, some people working there are very nice and didn't treat us differently from anyone else...
To our boss we were all dumb and lazy-assed thieves and liars. Still, paradoxically she left us to our own devices over 99% of the time. She enjoyed making odd threats...like "I have spies all over town, they'll know", "they can see you from their homes", or when we'd get boxes full  of random stuff, "I know exactly what's in those boxes!" (so surely you'll  have notive it is covered in mice/rats feces? ....but that's a story for a future post)
Oddly though she hated our guts, she still defended us against the other bosses...probably because it's her they were attacking through us. Especially the side boss. They hated each other. Well, I can understand why she'd hate our boss as that side boss was the only one who seemed to see/mind that weird shop. I really didn't appreciate she'd try to get to her through us. Everything we did bothered her. In the morning we had to wait for our boss to arrive to get the shop keys and till. But we couldn't wait in the hallway. So we waited in the lobby, but that was disorderly too. After 6 months of that, someone finally decided to  let us access the shop keys without our boss being there.
Oh, and  though we had to punch our presence cards in the main offices, we didn't have any keys to enter the building and basically had to wait until someone let us in. When I asked for a key I was told off, I didn't need one (still it bothered them to open the door for us).

Every day we also had to fax the baker. The fax machine was in a locked office. And sometimes there was no one in that office and we had to find the key to access the fax. And not too many people had one...the side boss had one...but "how dare we, the half-baked minions,  disturb the management?"...
I don't know what was so precious in that office that they were afraid we'd steal... the fax machine...like, who still uses a fax machine in the 21st century? I had not sent one in...20 years...

I could never figure out boss2. He seemed completely oblivious to how the shop was run. I don't know if he really didn't notice, if he didn't care or if he was complicit. Boss3 was a friend of out boss...I am not sure why as they didn't seem to have anything in common...but I imagine that's why our boss was still there, being compelely incompetent for the job and being disliked by pretty much everyone.
Of course everyone pretended to like our  boss as she was responsible (why, of why?) of the clocking machine. It was, I am not kidding, the only computer software she could use. That program was always opened on her desktop. She was super skilled at fidgeting in there...she had tons of overtime :'D . We, on the other hand, had a fixed work sechedule so we never had overtime...and even when we worked overtime, she'd usually just remove it from the records :/

What I really hated the most though was how they'd talk  among themselves like we were not there, or how they'd go hush hush not to talk in front of us sometimes. How we were never invited when they had office parties. How we never were informed of the office events (though they were legally bound to do it).

To be continued...
Read part   part 1 here
                   part 2 here
                   part 3 here


May 24, 2018

Day job- Part 3- of money and rules and pointless things

I woke up like that one morning...
As much as I hated the whole "atmosphere" of my job, I still enjoyed getting out of the house and the actual "shop" part of it. And the money of course. It paid really well. Unrealistically well...my love of money made me hang in there.
One of  my 2 colleagues didn't share that money love and one day she just didn't show up for work.  That is really how toxic the place is, if honesty and decency are core values for you. When she dropped by to say hello a year later, she was still  crying over her experience.

Preposterous job and rules...
The boss never explained anything to me, my colleagues did. And it had been that way for many many years...so the actual rules and ways the shop should be run were a looooong way off. You know, like that game you play when the first person comes with a sentence, repeats it in the ear of the next player and so on and at the end the sentence is completely different.
Not that it mattered much as it was just a pretend shop where we were getting to actually sell stuff.

As I pointed out earlier, the shop was located across the parking lot from the main office. Still we didn't have a phone landline. Nor the Internet. And we were not supposed to have our mobiles either. But the boss and other people kept calling us on our mobiles...as there was no landline. We were also supposed to call them in case of problem. As long we were not seen in public using our phone, I imagine...After having been told we were not allowed to use our phone during work hours one time too many, one day we just stopped answering when the boss called. After 20 minutes, a furious banshee burst into the shop...WHY IS NO ONE ANSWERING?
Imagine our fake sheepish answer.

Cleaning rules were also a bit odd . We had weekly sheets with all the tasks. And then there were 2-week sheets, monthly sheets and semester sheets. Only, we always got all the sheets every week. Also, the tasks were pretty redundant as they were poorly thought out. Had we followed the sheets, we would have cleaned the same places 3 times on the same day and some other things would have never been cleaned.
There was a binder with all the cleaning instructions, which product to use for which task.
Do I need to point out that the boss had no idea what product had to be used for the different tasks? Once she had my colleague clean the floor with the toilet product.
We were also supposed to clean the walls and ceilings. Without a ladder. The main shop and entry  had 3 meter+ high walls. Maybe we were training for the circus too?

Oh and that time the boss decided we'd give free frozen meat. Two large antique filthy freezers were brought in. "Clean them!" she said. My young skinny colleague ended up inside the freezers as we were all too short to clean the bottom. We didn't have any actual cleaning brush to scrub so we used the floor broom..yeah, gross...really really gross...oh, and we also used the toilet cleaning product as it was the only one strong enough to remove the antique grime. It is a bit sad to think those 2 dirty freezers were coming from a retirement home, and had been used that filthy until recently.

You can read  part 1 here
                      part 2 here

May 21, 2018

Finally new stuff


It sure took me a long time to start working on my shops again. Truth is I am bored now. They're going nowhere and I want to make new things I don't have the skills to make...and I am very reluctant to invest time and money in new skills due to my lack of  succes in pretty much anything I have an interest in...
Not in a good place...







My Plug shop on Etsy
www.dinafragola.com
My Etsy shop
My Dawanda shop

May 18, 2018

Dayjob, part 2 - Second Day

The neverending story...
The least I can say is that I was majorly under impressed by my first day.

Comes day 2...I finally met my boss...and, well, trust your first impression...this is not going to be a smooth ride. One of the first things she told me is that she had many lovers. Do.I. look.like.I.care? If she couldn't find anything more important to tell me on our first meeting...
I also met my new colleagues as the Polish girl was gone. Turns out I already knew one of them, so that was cool. Also turned out that she hated the boss...with a passion...
On top of my 2 colleagues there was also a "volunteer". I never found out what she was doing there (other than spilling coffee and bread crumbs all over the place, no we're not supposed to eat here but she had hypoglycemia, or so she said)...why would you choose to "work" for free...in a shop anyway? Thankfully she left after a couple of months. Maybe she was just a spy for our boss, a thing we really can't put past her...just kind of funny the "spy" was not too strict about the rules. I won't say more as I don't want to get anyone into trouble.
Colleagues were less than kind with their comments on the boss...everything they told me was true and still not quite strong enough as I soon found out.

I started using the "in house" shop software. Very dated. Very poorly written. Full of bugs. Full of loopholes. Cost 5000 euros according to boss. Not sure if it was that badly designed on purpose or just out of sheer incompetence. How can I describe it? In a couple of weeks I basically discovered that you could change whatever you wanted in there...stocks, prices, tickets. I still have no idea why we could access that as there would have been easy ways to lock us out of those options.
Then there was the  ticket issue. We were supposed to print out the tickets on a regular office printer (as our cash register was just  a regular desk computer). Boss was adamant we had to print tickets on a sheet of paper cut in 4. But it was not possible. The paper would get stuck in the printer EVERY SINGLE TIME. Also the ticket was blank  as we couldn't center the print and everything would get "ghost printed" before it reached the paper. And we didn't have administrator access so we could change that ouserselves...Right, we could change everything we wanted in the shop software but not in the printer settings.
I gave up telling the boss after the third attempts...and we kept a pile of pretend cut-in-4 sheets by the computer and printed on a whole sheet. And when the boss would come to the shop, and saw us printing on a whole sheet...we just kept saying we forgot...and each time we were lectured about the waste of paper. Really.
We were soon accused of not only using lots of paper but also ink, and cleaning products. Oh, and water too. Not very suprising as we learned through customers and previous workers that the  teams before us never printed anything (no, no tickets) and never cleaned anything either (I could tell). So, yeah, we were indeed using more ink, paper, cleaning products and water.
But to our boss, she were printing stuff for ourselves (not sure what), stole the cleaning products and probably did our laundry with the shop washing machine too. Oddly (or not) we didn't have any laundry detergent  even though we were supposed to wash the shop stuff there. When I asked for some, boss said there was no budget for that. So laundry was done with hand soap. Whatever.


You can read part 1 here.

May 11, 2018

Day Job Part1

Whiling away the hours...
When I got offered that full time job 5 minutes away from home in late 2016, I seriously couldn't refuse. I needed/wanted the money,and well, in the Belgian job market it was quite unexpected. Of course I knew it would be way below my skills and education but I sincerely didn't mind. I felt a bit guilty  because that position was usually for people without high school education, but as I just said, job market is so bad, even those types of jobs are being taken by people with higher education.
So, there...I was going to work in a "social shop". A shop for people with very low income where food is cheaper and where you can also get free European Union aid.
I, very naively, thought it would be like any small grocery shops. Ha ha ha, right, a shop run by the Belgian administration.
Day one. When I arrived on the first day I was told that my direct boss and 2 colleagues were absent that day...and that  a former worker had been called back and was going to guide me through day one.
OK. Fine. A nice Polish girl with medium knowldedge of French and... 8-month pregnant.
Second surprise, the shop is located in another building...across the parking lot from the main offices...and  we work there unsupervised. OK.
The shop itself was the third surprise. It was an old grand house with stairs everywhere, turned into a shop on the ground floor and flats on the other levels. Though it was clean, the whole place looked kind of decrepit...and not suited to be a shop. To get to the storage room you had to go down 2 high steps and then up 2 higher still steps...so practical when you're carrying boxes...and to get the stuff in that room to start with...well, muscles required as there was no way a truck, nor a car, not even a cart could come near the building.
The main shopping space had super high ceiling, was lit by ancient neon tubes...and had a large fridge dating back to the disco era...and it was barely...staying alive...staying alive. When it turned on, the noise would make everything vibrate and the electric tension would drop in the whole building. New tennants above the shop always came to check what was making that horrendous noise.

Shop was only opened in the morning and  the afternoons were for re-stocking and cleaning.
The morning went by very slowly...the afternoon was even worse as there was nothing left in the storage room and cleaning was not really necessary after our 5 clients.

What I learned on my first day:
(Imagine the Polish accent) :"You never count the till money here, but we always count the till money here" and "we cannot have lunch in this building  but we usually have lunch here".
Fine, I'm flexible  😹 I was now officially a civil servant!

To be continued....

May 04, 2018

The day I (almost) died

Contemplation - Karen Hollingsworth www.karenhollingsworth.com
End of February. I started feeling really under the weather. I blamed it partly on my unfun job (that was coming to an end), the weather and a flu bug that all my colleagues seemed to share.
I went a first time to my GP who indeed diagnosed a stomach flu.
I didn't feel I was getting any better, went back to work and then one afternoon had to go back  home. Second visit to the GP, who again said it was a  nasty stomach flu. I was not convinced as pills for spams did nothing, but, well, you tend to want to trust your doctor, right?
I dragged myself all weekend, running a high fever...on Monday I tried to get another doctor appointment. Mine didn't have any spot until Tuesday morning...and I really didn't feel like I could wait that long nor drive myself anyway.
After 6pm I finally managed to get a doctor to make a house call. And just in time too as it turns out I had sepsis and was, well, dying.
An hour later I was in hospital under heavy antibiotics. My GP had missed an appendicitis...twice...
The week I spent in hospital is kind of blurry and feels very unreal. I am better now. I still have my appendix as the infection had spread too much to try to remove it. But I am completely exhausted both physically and mentally and to be honest I feel absolutely terrible.
If I could just sit at that desk on the painting and stare at the ocean...in peace and quiet...