Thursday, January 28, 2010

Weighing the Odds

With almost two weeks on the job safely tucked away under my belt, I can now make that list that I've been dying to post for a while. As was expected, the new job is a challenge. I'm not wholly convinced that this is how I'd like to spend my days, but there's the very practical aspect of rent and a fast depleting bank balance to consider. I'm confused right now. So I thought I'd post the pros and cons both and have you, the readers weight in with your opinions. See, that's how much I value your comments and feedback!

I always like to end on a positive note, so with that in mind let's start with the not-so-great aspects of the new job.
  • It is a long ass commute! Really Long. About an hour and 20 minutes in the am. In the evenings jumps to an hour and 30, 40, 50.... The buses are infrequent and often operate independent to the prescribed bus schedule. Someone once mentioned that one of the best Scottish pieces of fiction is the bus timetable. I used to laugh at that. Not any more.

  • Boss Man is not very organised very disorganised. Which is perhaps why he wanted to hire me and my list making and organisational skills in the first place. But in order for me to get going, I need him to give me some ground rules. Hell, I need him to be in the office for about 5 minutes running so that I can ask him a bunch of questions that have been piling up since last Monday.

  • The work is pure admin. Filing, invoicing, billing, answering phones and the likes. Not a whole lot to do either, so very long periods of silence and drumming around to find something to keep me occupied.

  • The pay reflects the work. Scant on a good day.

  • I am on my own. Literally. It is I, me and myself in the office every hour of every day. The work men filter in about twice a day; to pick up jobs in the morning and return completed lines in the afternoon. Sometimes, they don't return them until the next day, so that's just one outsider visit for me. The community centre where the office is located has a steady stream of people (mostly kids and disabled adults) coming in to use the meeting rooms and facilities, but there's not a whole lot of chance for interaction with anyone other than the receptionist in the morning when I get in and the cafeteria lady at lunch time.
  • The neighbourhood is not the best. In fact, it could be said that it is one of the worst in the G Town area. As Beans puts it, they have a lot of "clients" who live around here. This means not much chance of getting out during lunch and having a wander around and perhaps getting some errands done. The less walking around here, the better!

Still, it is not totally grey skies and rain clouds. There are some very nice points to this job and they are:
  • It is a JOB! Something that will pay me and help inflate that sad sad bank statement of mine. Regular pay however scanty is infinitely better than no pay at all.

  • Boss Man is a nice man. He's easy going, generous and wants desperately to help me out. In many ways, I am unqualified for the job as he initially wanted someone who could run the office and also manage the books; something that I know nothing about. Still, instead of turning me down flat, he's given me a chance and for that, I am truly grateful.

  • There is the distinct possibility that my job role might change dramatically after April if Boss Man is awarded a particular contract that will keep the business very busy for at least the next year. In addition, there seem to be some other things a-brewing at this point which Boss Man would like me to be a part of at a later stage.

  • The people here at the community centre are really quite nice and friendly. They've gone out of their way to make me feel welcome. There is a small cafeteria here that sells simple but discounted meals so at least I don't have to worry about wandering around the neighbourhood looking for lunch. The cafeteria lady has even told me that she'll heat up any packed lunch that I bring. How nice is that?
The next time Boss Man is in the office (which I hope will be this afternoon), I'm going to talk to him about potentially coming in only 3 days a week to do all the work. That will give me time for a) classes to learn how to use the accounting and payroll systems (which will give me more money) and b) another p/t job so that I can supplement my income. There's no way I'm going to be able to continue on just what's he's paying me. Not if I want to flit off to Paris and Rome and Madrid every now and then. And really, the lure of all those places just a cheap flight away is what is making me stick it out here.
Still, even if he says nay, what option do I have? I'll just have to stick it out here until I find something else. In that, I have little choice. I'm hoping that won't happen. I really do not want to let him down after a few months. Not after he took a risk with hiring me and basically set me back on the path to self redemption!
Reader, what do you think?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Rabbie Woulda've Bin Proude O Mae

Today is Rabbie Burns Day. For those who don't speak Scottish, that is meant to be Robbie or Robert Burns, widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland; the very lad who penned such memorable ditties such as Auld Lang Syne which we've all at some point or the other sung drunkenly on New Year's Eve or A Red Red Rose which we've all listened to at some or the other wedding and wondered which drunken sod wrote those sappy lines. Now you know.

Anyway, January 25th is his birthday and an excellent day to celebrate all things Scottish, including of course a very Scottish dinner of haggis (sheep belly stuffed with unmentionables), tatties (mashed potatoes) and neeps (steamed and mashed turnips). Yes, they do go in for the gourmet meals here, don't they?
Sadly, my first Burns day in Scotland was spectacularly uneventful. Unless you count frozen pizza and watching Glee on TV as a celebration of sorts. However, in honour of Mr. Burns and Scotland in general, here's a pic from my very first tasting of their national dish when VBF and her friends had arranged a dinner and night out for me the very first time I visited in 2006. It wasn't the best version of the meal; for one, the restaurant "was out" of mashed potatoes and so they gave me a side of fries instead. And secondly, the meat was rather over cooked with the result a tad dry. VBF and friend spent most of the evening apologising on behalf of their chef! Note my expression as I'm trying to figure out if I like the concoction or not!
My second experience with haggis didn't happen until last weekend when I found out that Tescos and other stores actually sell ready made haggis-in-a-can that is supposed to be really very yummy. In an attempt to suspend my disbelief, I tried some and the results were quite unexpected as it turned out to be very delicious indeed! And so easy to prepare! Open tin, mash up contents into bowl, pop bowl in microwave for 5 minutes, serve hot. The sides actually took longer to cook!
So, that is my contribution to Rabbie's Day. I will endeavour to do better next year!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

At Last, At Last... Employed at Last!

The title says it all, but apparently my loyal readers are clamouring for details. So here goes.

Back in December, I met Mr. B at the charity Christmas party. He came up to congratulate me on my award and mentioned that he had been at the ball and was impressed with execution of the event. Over champagne, we chatted about my past work experiences as he was curious as to how I had gotten involved with fundraising and event planning. I told him all about my professional past. He mentioned that he owned a small building and maintenance company and that he was looking for someone to work in the office managing the administrative end of the business. Would you be interested in something like that? he asked. If so, give me a call and we'll set something up. And voila, just like that, I had a job! After months of sending out CVs and applications and at times literally pounding the pavement and dropping of job apps in stores and such, all it took was a Christmas party and some champagne and some mingling with fellow guests to get me into the coveted "Employed Only" club!

I was a bit afraid that he might be put off by the fact that I was going to be away for a month, but apparently that worked well for him since his business was shut over the holidays. When I got back last week, I gave him a call and we met last Friday to hash out details. He needs an office manager/administrator type person to take the reigns and maintain and manage the in flows and outflows of the business. He also talked about potentially doing some work to grow and expand the business beyond its current roster of recurring clients. So far so good. The catch was that the office was located outside of G Town, in a suburb east of the city. There was a bus I could take from the city centre, but that would mean an hour's commute - at the very least. The job would also require me to work independently for the most part. That is something that I'm used to; what is new is the fact that I would be totally on my own, no one else in the office. For someone who is driven by social interactions that is going to be a toughie.

Still, as the adage goes, beggars cannot be choosers. I started on Monday and we're going to take it a day at a time. Hopefully, this will be the turning point that has elude me for so long.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Tired Mind, Aching Heart

The month in India was over all too soon. Before I knew it, I was rushing around the house trying to locate all of my clothes and random belongings to shove into bags that were crammed packed. so crammed packed that I needed to go buy a new carry on bag. Red. Very Snazzy. Me Likey!

In spite of my flippant attitude to leaving, the heart was heavy indeed. The biopsy results came back on the 4th. The dreaded C word was confirmed. A chill crept around everyone's hearts, but we tried to stay positive. Find out more, the docs said. So, the day before I left, Papa was taken in for a PET scan. Again, there was the drama of calling for a cardiac ambulance, telling him about going in for more tests, fasting before the tests, calming him, reassuring him. Stressful for everyone.

Leaving was so very hard. But I had come to make my peace, say goodbye. And so I did. One last kiss, one last hug, one last look. All burned into my memory. They now need to last a lifetime.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Welcome 2010

This is how I brought in the new year. With a circle of friends, some beer and sparkler sticks! Simple, but highly effective! Here's hoping that it is a good one!

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