Land of Disposable People

 

It is most interesting, how this is being regarded.  The idea now is to instantly forget negative things and push on to the next part of the conveyor belt.  Nobody cares what happens to you, nobody cares if you have any rights, nobody has any responsibility.

As a very old-school type that protects their staff, deals with their own problems, helps other people where they can, this never stops shocking me.  Everyone I met this morning at my breakfast meeting had a story.  The worst one was a legal financial services abuse story, about which none of the thousands of people who have to implement it are likely to do anything.

Hence, even before the Conservatives erode things still further, nobody has any rights, nobody has any responsibility and nobody cares.  From a situation twenty years ago where I was barking at companies for failing to manage their data properly, we now have a situation where nobody knows what management means, as far as they are aware it is something to do with having power over other people and making the paperwork look correct.

It is exhausting and terrifying living in a world like this, where people like SB are free to express their insanity by taking it out on other people.  I am a very bottom line thinker, and my feeling was that if we cut to the bottom line and dealt with the health issue, other things would subside.  It was not until I was told that the stuff I had seen related to probable coercion that I became furious.

So, there is still action to be taken, because in the normal course of events, any flow of information is now likely to be impeded by normal means.  Nobody wants bad news, and nobody cares what happens to anyone.

At least part of the problem is better, but I imagine some things will be worse.

Anyway, it certainly seems as if I should entirely ignore the implications of being falsely accused of stuff that isn’t relevant.

Sending an email and giving people books has never been causes for accusations and professional detriment in my experience, and I frankly want to see this company hauled over the coals for it.  They detected vulnerability because of my grief, and they exploited it.

I had already dealt with the immediate problem when they decided to make things worse, and I was told, as if this was some gospel truth, that they ‘had to be seen to be doing their jobs.’  Their job is not to make people frightened or make sure they have no income.  Their job as managers is to make it possible for people to work without being terrified by a mentally ill, corrupt individual who feeds on terror.

Ironically I had had a t shirt made ten days ago, ‘because we matter’ being the slogan.  It arrived today.  I didn’t find it funny.

 

 

 

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Seven weeks

It took seven weeks to the day for him to turn ‘your seriousness is astonishingly beautiful’ into ‘my prospects and life have been utterly destroyed.’ And that was with me ignoring most of the fight or flight responses and the attempts to get some semblance of what he thinks are normal feelings out of me.

Pretty low-grade stuff really, he expected me to get angry about bullshit and jealous.  Not a lot of point in that.  I am not so vain that I assume people should like me just because I like them, so it didn’t pan out well, and presumably annoyed him intensely after all that work he put in looking completely different than he did in the first place.  Ironically I liked the shy geek, I did not particularly like the rippling sex god. The rest was just bullshit chemistry, and thankfully I am too ancient to get that carried away.  Once you already met and lost the love of your life, these things don’t mean that much. (when am I going to stop crying every time Wolfe pops into my head?)

I am told that this is his idea of fun.  If this is the working culture that the company like to promote, you are better off avoiding it.  Kyle, who was utterly disgusted by the way the other manager treated us, to the point of leaving over it, is now incensed. (the first manager we had told me that invisible people in the office were saying nasty things about me – this is what passes for management with these people)

None of this helps now.  I have to spend today planning how on earth I am going to reframe the next two years as Plan A has failed thanks to SB and his puppet managers.

There is nothing laudable about what they did, and if I was a team leader or a business dealing with that company, I would terminate them immediately if I thought this was how they conducted themselves.

I laugh when I think of all the graduate programmes I would have killed to be on, that are populated with people who have no clue about management, and no clue how to run a business, never mind consult on someone else’s.

I will be making sure that no business I deal with in the future ever use this company, and I get around a lot.

 

 

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The Professional

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The Professional – Ina Disguise

The last story for SB.   I would not want to live like you.

 

What did you do last night?” the woman appeared to be smiling at him, but he increasingly found it difficult to tell what people really thought. They often appeared to be friendly, and then you would find they ignored you as they passed your desk, or some other indication of contempt.

Watched a film.” The professional’s life was isolated unless he was drinking. Drinking made him feel better for a while, and as he got drunk rather easily, he numbed up quite quickly as a rule.

He quite liked people who had just started in the job, as they were nervous and frightened. Since this gave him an obvious advantage, they weren’t a threat yet. Hence he would spend time being seen to be helpful, so that they would stupidly trust him later, when they might pose more of a potential obstacle.

People threaten you in various ways, he found. Sometimes it was by challenging you, being too correct. Sometimes it was by appearing to be friendly and becoming intrusive. Sometimes they just failed to meet targets, and this was a threat because it impacted his spreadsheets. The danger was everywhere. Having bitten and scratched to get his two hundred and fifty pounds a day, he was not likely to want to give it up.

In response, the professional had taken to exerting control over smaller and smaller things, to the point of ensuring that people filled in information that nobody cared about or checked and delegating tasks that did not take him particularly long. In this way, his time was freed up for writing reports and destroying any potential competition. He also devoted time to making sure his bosses knew he could be depended upon.

The professional’s entire posture had become affected by this paranoia, to the point that his shoulders crouched forward and he superficially appeared to be quite small. This meant that he found it easier to conceal the expressions of contempt that frequently crossed his face as he interacted with people. Only someone watching out for it would notice the mask slipping, the blank expression replaced with a psychotic rage for a second before he carefully concealed it.

Now and again, a woman would become interested, and then she had to be neutralised. The one exception to this was a married woman he had successfully blackmailed into sleeping with him, whom he controlled by a combination of looming over her desk, issuing his instructions for the day, or ignoring anything she said, which he frequently did as she frantically tried to communicate with him. Women were objects of contempt. He despised peoples ‘attempts to help.’ They were usually threats, covered by some crazy person’s idea of helpfulness.

He did not imagine himself to be pleasant to work with. He imagined himself to be a true professional, and made use of every contractual point he could find to isolate and attack his victims. People who had found him friendly and pleasant would suddenly find themselves at the end of a corporate gun as he decimated any potential problems. This was survival. He was the fittest.

The professional kept on in this way for years. The staff would whisper to each other about it. People came and went at his whim.

And then she came.

She was an artist, although this meant nothing to him. She was an author, which meant he had to carefully scrutinise and reject everything she had to say. She liked him, which meant he would have to get rid of her. He stared at her, for days at a time, sizing her up for the kill, one way or another. Maybe she would enjoy pain?

She was funny for a while, trying to avoid him she would skirt around the outside of the office because she was so frightened of being accused of anything. She had made some involuntary pass at him, which had been extremely funny because he knew the minute she did that, he had the weapon he needed to destroy her.

He quite enjoyed feeling attractive. He started going to the gym in between drinks, updated his wardrobe, changed his hair. His entire posture improved until he appeared twice the size. He was happy to be looked at. He took to screwing the little married woman a bit more often, although she did not like it. What else were women for, other than gaining advantage?

The artist emailed him. This was a threat, so he made a complaint leading to her being warned, although the warning was so gently put that she did not even know it was a warning.

When the artist spotted that he was, in fact, sleeping with the married woman she backed off and redoubled her efforts to avoid looking at him. He did not like that, the hatred really set in. Why did she not appear to want him anymore? Had he not become even more beautiful? She was now an irritant, even though she wasn’t even on his team. It was time to get rid of her.

The artist tried to communicate with him from a distance, so that she would not say anything wrong. She tried to redirect any conversation onto safer ground so that they could work together, he would respond with hostility and accusations. She tried to transfer onto another shift, so that she did not have to deal with him. They refused.

The last straw was when she tried to give him a book on dealing with stress. This was appalling. How dare she! He complained of harassment, on the basis of a total of five conversations in three months, three of which he had started himself. Now she would understand how big and powerful he really was.

The artist was then dragged into an office for a second time, told that her attempts to resolve any problems by means other than making accusations or hurting people were ‘unprofessional’ and fired by an inexperienced little South African oik who expected her to grovel to him.

The artist sighed and left Lilliput behind.

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Is there such a thing as being too driven?

driven: adjective

UK  /ˈdrɪv.ən/ US  /ˈdrɪv.ən/

Someone who is driven is so determined to achieve something or be successful that all of their behaviour is directed towards this aim:

Like most of the lawyers that I know, Rachel is driven.

So, today’s burning question is – is there such a thing as being too driven?

The answer is yes, but it has taken me decades to accept it and understand why.  During my first career nothing stopped me, however within 2 years of leading teams in my twenties I had many bad habits bashed out of me, including:

Over-discipline whilst being a soft touch:  People retain the bad bits and forget the good.  All that happens is that they are extremely surprised when you are nice to them. As I was saying about being double-talked – fear is not actually all that helpful for most jobs.  Tough benevolence is better in terms of your team’s perception than Soft Terror. eg.  Presenting yourself as being fun and very helpful will gather more intelligence and awareness of the team’s current strengths and weaknesses than austerity.  It also seems ridiculous to up targets when people are still worried about quality levels, however if you want to do this, you need to up the confidence level of the team generally, and you cannot do this without humour.

Presenting the negative before the positive: I used to work with an academic who teetered around the edges of the emotional intelligence movement – you may want to look up Positive Psychology for this one – telling people that “they must achieve or else” is far less effective than telling them they are doing a good job, and you want to help them get even better.

Not allowing people to have their own terms:  I have, in the past, been presented with carved vegetables from staff who absolutely loved me despite me working them into the ground twenty hours a day.  Be aware that even at your worst, if you are expressing something about yourself you are contributing to group effort rather than imposing a structure that is not necessarily helpful.

Class structures: In the UK in particular, we have to be extremely class sensitive.  I, as a posh person who happens to swear quite a lot, have had a lot of issues with staff who believed that they were working in a glorified death camp, with all the associated rules.

It is far better to retain a certain level of humility when managing, again this facilitates communication.  If people feel, as they did a few weeks ago, that they are contributing to a group effort they will put more work in than if they feel you are behind them with a giant socio-economic whip.  By this I mean, be careful of creating artificial structures which inadvertently exclude people.  People will follow your example, so you need to encourage a spirit of cooperation.  At one point I had a devout Catholic Irish boy working with an Apprentice Boy from Northern Ireland. (sworn enemies)  It was not easy, but I managed to make it work.

Dealing with Senior Management:  Whilst they do like you to recognise where you are in the food chain, senior management do not like a crawler.  Being too nice is as bad as not caring.  It is important to present a piece of less pleasant information alongside every good bit to present an image of integrity.  Failing to do so implies you are hiding something.

I will do a few more posts on this, but this will do just now.

Much affection,

Ina the rebel.

 

 

 

 

 

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Why does it keep happening?

So, bit of self-evaluation here.  Why does it keep happening?

The employer have already seen the post from a few hours ago, so the mechanism of firing me is likely to already be underway.  Well done that man!

In the last job, as detailed, I did my job unusually well, but avoided speaking to the other staff as it transpired very quickly that I was a very different kind of person from them.  I showed them an artwork and it was met with such horror that I gave up trying.  The thug team leader in that situation simply milked me for information about a potential banking career and then awaited something that I would object to about company culture, which turned out to be my being forced to speak to other people about corporate videos that had a heavily political slant the company were unaware of. (see posts on fascism)

The email he used to get me fired said “if I was your employer, I would not force you to read Das Kapital and the works of Emile Durkheim and tell me how much you liked it in order to proceed in your job.”  According to fascist America, this is ‘unprofessional language.’

In this job, I sent a thoughtful, informative email stating that I had been inappropriate, expressing my apologies but not withdrawing the initial statement ‘your seriousness is astonishingly beautiful’ simply because the titanic dickhead appeared to be so pleased about it.  Otherwise it contained several reasons for not wishing to either continue communicating or showing any signs of connection at all, including this website.  I could not have been any nicer or more flexible in terms of communication.

Apparently the correct course of action was to be a big fat slapper and maintain some sort of coarse flirtation.  I am not really interested in stuff like that.  If something nice happens, especially when my mother has just been killed, I am likely to celebrate.  Unlike the person trying to get me fired, I actually am a serious person.  Wolfe would very quickly tell you that, never mind anyone else.

In the past, I have had people trying to get me fired because I am ‘not married, like the rest of the women,’  because I am ‘a bit funny,’  because I work too hard, (I kid you not) and because I have ‘too much experience.’

Basically, it seems that the workplace wants Machiavellian assholes, and anybody who is either honest, original or real is really not of this world.  If you are not dull, stupid, selfish and prepared to stab other people in the back to get whatever arbitrary advantage you can get from it, you are not with the herd and not at all useful.

So far in the current job, I have had had cause to cry every time I finished a shift.  Without fail, something unpleasant has happened with the exception of last Sunday, when I cried because I was very tired and despite being on a bit of a roll for once, had to go home.     I am not particularly good at it yet, but it is a kind of relief to have something to focus on other than worry.

The other day, I was in the supermarket buying sugarsnap peas, and I was accused of doing something anti-social by the checkout assistant.  This is how narrow people are.  Even eating a sugarsnap pea is to be held up for criticism. I always wonder whether I now wear a big badge saying ‘kick me.’ I have a friend with a similarly bullying family, and despite being enormously talented, he has had much the same life experience in terms of stupid people taking pot-shots at him and causing him problems.

I do not think it is helpful to dwell on it, and simply move on every time, however you do wonder how long it will be before you run out of places to run.

This last person appeared to be bright, very interested in me, charming and very secure in his role.  It turns out that I was as usual wrong, and he was just the same as everyone else who did much the same thing.  I am sure he will be much happier once they fire me for whatever reason they come up with on Saturday.  I doubt they will leave it until next Wednesday as it will cost them more.

It’s very sad, and it means I have to spend today trying to secure an income for the cats and myself.

It is extremely tiresome being me.  I cannot get around it by avoiding speaking to people, and I cannot get around it by making friends.  I am obviously a freak, but even freaks need to make a living.

 

 

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Well that was short

Ok in keeping with the rest of my life, it turns out the dude is a titanic dickhead that betrayed my confidence the first chance he got.  He is probably getting me fired as I write this to avoid feeling ‘uncomfortable.’

The fact that this has made me uncomfortable of course does not matter, as these people are all far more important and worthwhile than I am.  My embarrassment is not significant, my feelings are not important and anything that is done to me is fair enough.

This is normal, and is the reason I was in the state I was in when I first met Wolfe, so no changes there then.

I am beyond caring why he was flirtatious to my face and passing information on to his bosses behind my back.  Probably married, but it’s none of my business. I’m more worried about how I am going to survive as this is obviously never going to stop happening.

I told his bosses what an outstanding manager he is – he really is – and politely asked him not to speak to me again.  I don’t think I can manage to be more civilised than that.

You can see why I don’t like people very much, can’t you?

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Too bad, how sad, moving swiftly on….

Finally woke up after sixteen hours recovering from my meeting with the largest tobacco company in the world.  They are moving into new ways of killing yourself.  Whilst I am in no position and have no wish to moralise about smoking, (I used to be an Olympic level smoker myself) vaporising their product is no better than burning it as far as my lymph nodes are concerned.  I have a friend who is a smoker, and his habit does not have the same effect on me as sitting in an enclosed space with a tobacco vaporiser going.

Apparently this method of imbibing tobacco is not actually regulated yet.  As it is considerably worse than vaping fluids, I fully expect that it will be banned in enclosed spaces in the fullness of time, as actual cigarettes were positively benign in comparison.

So much for them.  I will not be doing any work for them.

Just when I was moving into position to start on filming, it has emerged that the person I was working with has no connection or interest in the project, refused to understand what the project was about, and reverted to talking about the news as if it was something separate from him.

It is a form of self-protection to assume that there is nothing you can do to solve any problems, so I am not planning on taking a chisel and trapanning it into him.  Therefore, I now have to amass a team from scratch and get the job done properly.

A small delay is inevitable, but at least it is at this stage and not halfway through.  I have been put in this situation by this individual before, and it is extremely depressing.  To this day, he will try to start an argument rather than take any responsibility for any part of anything he does.  Kinda tired of that, so an early blow-off was preferable.

Thankfully, there are plenty of other exs, and I have my sights on one with some choreography experience.

Extremely tiresome, but inevitable and it is just as well it happened now rather than later.  In the meantime, I now have plenty of time to write and finish the shoe collection to pay for all this….

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Outgrown your job?

Today I am going to write a post I should have written about twenty years ago, because it would have saved me a lot of hassle.

I have had some astonishingly hostile treatment at work, even when avoiding contact with other workers.  I took to doing jobs that involved little to no contact with them some time ago.

Ironically, graduating was career suicide for quite a while.  As a student it is assumed that you are available for under-employment.  After finishing you are suddenly considered a threat, and I am not the only person that has had to remove qualifications from my CV in order to eat.

Basically if you find yourself in this position, it is time to look at the jobs you want to be in in five years and start listing the qualifications these jobs require.  Sometimes it is surprisingly doable to simply go and get those qualifications and then await the right opportunity.

It may seem like madness to invest in more education when your education is stopping you from finding a job to even keep you ticking over, but as with all things, an element of fantasy is important when pursuing your dream, whatever that may be.

Sometimes your dream may be non-work related, in which case you may prefer to simply look at salary levels and decide that way.  If your particular dream is time restricted (you aren’t going to be doing much pop singing at retirement age, for example) then it needs to be a job that you can do whilst pursuing your non-career dreams.

You may also find that your dream finds you.  There is at least one chef out there that worked with me as a musician who had just quit his degree, and found that cooking was as creative, if not more so, than his band.  The one I am thinking of went grey fairly quickly, so I am not sure how well he eventually did with the music.

This year, since I am kicking an almost passive income stream off, in the form of possibly marketing supermix in its reductionist form  (although I see someone has done a 45 ingredient version called Super Elixir) and potentially selling some books and games, my priority is thinking about marketing.

Next year I am likely to be thinking about production again, as I have rather a lot of work to do to get where Ina is going.

Budget is likely to be a significant issue, so it will be interesting to see how I get on under serious time restriction, especially as I have no intention of abandoning the Boris project.

A few legal issues to deal with, so if I am quiet for a few days, worry not I shall return shortly.

Ina

 

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Ethical Issues at work

You would not think there were ethical issues with the idea of answering phones, but apparently there are.  You learn something new every day.

Obviously, there are ethical issues in the course of doing the job, such as integrity of medical information; making the right decision for the client who pays for you to answer the phone as against the needs of the person trying to contact them; ensuring that the company you directly work for are represented fairly; telling the truth or lying as to your position, depending on the wishes of the client.

What you do not expect is evidence of fascism  in a company who pride themselves on their ethos.

When I say fascism, I mean true fascism.  Fascism as corporatism.  The idea that the source of the income determines how you think and how to live your life.

If I was your employer, for example, I would not tell you that in order to progress or even remain in the company you had to read Das Kapital and the Koran and state that you liked it.  If I did, I would be doing something wrong, now wouldn’t I?

So, imagine my surprise when I received the following message from the CEO of my company, relayed via company email

I have found over the past several years that learning tends to correlate to many other areas of performance over time, and those who learn tend to ascend… And those who do not, tend to have other issues. 

As you can see, the idea is that if you don’t watch the indoctrination videos, you will not get on well in this company.  This is nothing to do with actual training.

She is not talking about answering phones – videos I have watched whilst with this company include messages from Richard Branson claiming to be an eco-warrior (he certainly isn’t) and Ben and Jerry’s, still pretending to be ethical (they sold out to Unilever several years ago) We were also treated to a video implying that disabled people were to be put to work to save the country money – this is an extremely sensitive issue in the UK at the moment, and when I objected to this, I was accused by one of the founders of being political.  Right, so it is political when I object to it, but it is not political when the company brings it up?  Murder is murder, whether the conservatives were responsible for it or you were. Death is death, whether it is political or not.

I am inclined to think this is innocence rather than guile, but the education provided by this company has nothing at all to do with answering phones and everything to do with promoting a laziness of thought that entails allowing the source of your income to provide knowledge that has nothing at all to do with the work you do for them.

This, I am afraid, is not the function of an employer.  In the event that they wanted to provide me with 300 videos about how to answer phones, then that would be relevant.  The thought police telling me that I am to believe lies punted by someone to sell products is not relevant.

I will now be accused of lack of team spirit, of refusing to toe the line, and of sabotaging their efforts to create a team where none exists.  I loved this job precisely because I do not have to deal with other staff.  They appear to want to make this impossible, and alongside this I am to be taught how to think, in a badly researched and ill-thought out way.

Such a shame.

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Hilarious work

Ahh it is good to be back in a workplace, particularly a workplace that is not terrified of me.

Yesterday, we had to create a presentation about some technicalities of our role.  There were three groups of relatively shy people, all of whom had been given a huge pile of information which they do not quite understand yet because we haven’t actually done any work.

My group consisted of a very sociable female, a lazy but very intelligent dude from Ghana, a reptilian brained financial whizzkid, and me.

So, I decided, the best way of utilising the human resource was to mind map the entire course in one graphic.

“I don’t know what that means.” said the reptilian “We only have to talk about this.”  he pointed at some dry technical information about software at the bottom of the page.  “And not even all of it, so I don’t know what you are doing.”  he shook his head.

“I did this.”  The Ghanian waved a piece of paper, even more sparse than my graphic at me, showing much the same information.  He is very smart, but there is such a thing as being too chill.

“What about this?”  the sociable female said, bringing up several worrying factors about our imminent work, all of which connected to actual people and their lives.

So, with this I had some hilarious conversations where I had to gently tell the reptilian he was a reptile to let the humanity into the graphic, none of which made a tremendous amount of sense to either of them.

What I ended up with was a single sheet showing everything we had learned and how to actually do the job on one handy sheet. We actually got a round of applause, because I had let the rest of the people voice their concerns and talk about what interested them and made best use of it.  In terms of a teamwork exercise, we smashed it.

From this I have always concluded that working in three dimensions when you are not bogged down in the flatter world of work is a good idea.  You get far more of a sense of overview, of how to create a more workable picture, and it makes it far easier to actually communicate your ideas.  Dialogue is less useful than letting the friction do its own work.

Today is the last day of this part of our training, and from next week we have to actually make all the systems work together.  This is probably the first time I have been rather sad to finish training, since we will all be sent on to our respective shifts and will not see each other again.

I suppose I had better start wearing an actual suit.

Sigh.

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