17 November 2009 – what kind of people am I working for?

A fish out of water

A fish out of water

Today I found out a little more about Tom, the man who sits next to Maddie and always looks slightly uncomfortable and a little scared, like a fish out of water. Mind you, I know just how he feels. From the outset I thought he didn’t really seem to fit in, he hardly speaks to anyone and never comes to the canteen. This morning in team talk Maddie told him he was going to be put on special coaching and he looked like he was going to cry. I felt terribly sorry for him and it made me wonder what his story was. Continue reading

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3 November 2009 – weight gain and a power cut

The rain was coming down hard and fast

The rain was coming down hard and fast

Oh poo! Because I forgot the weigh in yesterday in all the excitement (if that’s the right word) of my first full day with my team, I weighed in today instead. There has been a gain. Another pound has crept on and, while a little voice inside my heads says ‘this doesn’t count because weigh in day is Monday,’ I know it does and another step has been taken down the slippery slope. Continue reading

2 November 2009 – meeting the team

Feeling lost and lonely

Feeling lost and lonely

You’d think at forty nine going on fifty I’d be too old for new girl nerves. Turns out I’m not. Today was my first full day with my new team and I was in such a tiz over this I forgot about my weigh in. Probably for the best because I’m pretty sure the scales didn’t have any good news for me anyway. Continue reading

19 October 2009 – going in the wrong direction

Chocolate binge

Weight gain after Wednesday’s chocolate binge

This morning’s weigh in wasn’t really a surprise what with the lack of exercise and the chocolate binge on Wednesday when the service and maintenance/target contract bombshell was dropped. Another pound on, eleven stone eight. This is not good, at this rate I’ll be back in the twelves before I finish this blasted training. Continue reading

8 October 2009 – walking through the war zone to work

Not the safest walk to work

Not the safest walk to work

On my walk from the bus stop to the office this morning there was a woman collapsed on the pavement by the shops. At first I thought she was ill and I actually walked up to her to see if I could help before I saw the three empty Special Brew cans and smelt the alcohol fumes. She wasn’t ill, she was dead drunk at eight thirty in the morning! Really I should have guessed, the walk from the bus to to office is a little like walking through a war zone, drunks, beggars, odd looking people muttering to themselves. It feels like it’s only a matter of time before I get mugged. Continue reading

6 October 2009 – coffee, tests and trying not to fall asleep

Temptation in the canteen

Temptation in the canteen

The highlight of today was when they handed out the pass cards. This meant I could get a coffee from the canteen at lunchtime. Dev showed me how to work the machine to put money on the card, which was a tad on the embarrassing side because it turned out to be extremely simple, basically just put the card in the slot at the top and the money in the other slot then press the button. It even takes notes, although I didn’t have any, but there’s an ATM at the other end of the canteen so I guess I could have got some money out if I’d wanted to. Probably best not though or I might have been tempted by all the cooked food, chocolate bars and cakes. Continue reading

5 October 2009 – the new girl again

The ugly brown building

The ugly brown building

Monday 5

My first day at the Mad House started with a weigh in. The slow march into new territory continues and I have lost another pound, I am officially in the lower half of the elevens now at eleven six. I don’t mind admitting I did a little happy dance.

In my usual fashion I’d been steadfastly refusing to think about my first day at my new job until I absolutely had to but, being as I was actually getting ready to go there, I couldn’t avoid thinking about it any longer. The general feeling was dread. For a start there was all the stuff about being the oldest and fattest going round and round in my head, then the stuff about not being able to do the job, not understanding the training, not retaining the information I needed to learn. In short, fear of failure and humiliation. On top of that was the horror of being back in a call centre, a job I swore I would never, ever do again.

So I found myself standing outside the big, ugly building looking up at all those floors of hideous brown bricks and glass. As usual, I was early, I’m pathologically ridiculously early for everything, so I stood for a while contemplating my fate. There was a huge temptation to turn and run but how would I explain that to Commando? In the end I went through the automatic doors into the foyer and gave my name to the man sitting looking bored at reception. Why couldn’t I have got a job sitting in reception? I could do that, no headsets there.

After a short while a young, incredibly beautiful Asian woman came out of the lift, through the turnstiles that stop unauthorised, possibly homicidal, members of the public getting in and shook my hand. She had a wide, wide smile on her face. Her name was Jas and she was one of my trainers. Actually it was slightly embarrassing because no one else had arrived, what with me being so early, and I’m not sure she knew quite what to do with me. Luckily, another early bird arrived about then. All my worries about being the oldest and the fattest melted away as soon as I saw her, she was, as far as I could tell by looking, older than me by a good few years and about the same size I’d been back in January, although way taller than me so she looked much better than I had back then. Her name was Kim.

There were six of us in my training group, myself, Kim, a dark haired girl call Emma (also bigger than me), Louise, a pretty blonde, Leo a bit of a joker in his early twenties and Clive, late twenties and a little too serious for my liking. There was also another trainer, Dev, an oriental looking guy who seemed a bit full of himself to me. We spent the morning doing ‘getting to know each’ other exercises, filling out forms and having our photos taken for pass cards so we could get into the building.

Jas took us on a bit of a tour, starting with the cafeteria on the first floor. There was an amazing coffee machine but, sadly, we couldn’t actually get one because you need to put money on your pass card for everything you buy and we didn’t have our pass cards yet. Still, that was probably for the best because there was also a lot of rather tempting food around. Good job I bought a packed lunch.

Then we visited one of the floors of the call centre. This was pretty much as I expected, rows and rows of desks, people talking into headsets, notices everywhere, motivational posters, big screens showing call waiting times and sales, a hive of activity. Unless you’ve worked in a call centre it’s hard to explain the sheer level of noise, all those people talking at once. I can’t imagine sitting at one of those desks or maybe I just don’t want to imagine. Thinking about it makes me shudder.

At lunchtime I went across the road to East Park and sat on a bench to eat my lunch. That’ll probably get me a bad name with the trainers because everyone else ate their lunch in the training room. To be honest I don’t care if they think I’m not a team player, I had to get out of that building. This does not bode well for the rest of my working life at the Mad House, half a day and I’m desperate to escape.

Then it was back to the training room on the second from top floor where we had a long presentation about the history of the company, followed by another about data protection laws. Having such boring lectures straight after lunch was probably not the best planning. I don’t think I was the only one who could hardly keep their eyes open. After that we needed our wits about us because we had our first look at the system. Jas showed us how to find an account, which seemed fairly simple, understanding all the information less so. There are actually two systems running side by side and you have to flick between the two. This was the point when I wondered if I was actually up to the job. When I stole a glance at Kim she looked absolutely terrified. At least I wasn’t alone in that.

When I got home tonight my head was buzzing with stuff. All that information just kept going round and round leaving me feeling confused and more scared than I did at the beginning of the day. All that and I haven’t even answered a phone yet!

21 September 2009 – Nou Camp, Parc Guell and the ghost of Gaudi

The gates of Parc Guell

The gates of Parc Guell

Monday morning had me checking my phone every five minutes to see if the Mad House had called. Every time I looked and saw no missed calls and no texts I became more sure I hadn’t got the job. Ok, so I didn’t really want it but if I couldn’t even get a proxy call centre job I didn’t want what hope did I have? It seemed the only people who wanted to employ me were people I couldn’t bear the idea of working for. Oh well, back to the drawing board. Continue reading

20 September 2009 – Barcelona, what a city!

Casa Batlló, my favourite of all Gaudi's creations

Casa Batll√≥, my favourite of all Gaudi’s creations

As this is just a weekend break we wanted to make the most of the time we had but today was Sunday so we weren’t sure what would be open, especially as Spain is a predominantly Catholic country. We decided to head towards the centre of Barcelona and see what we could find. After all, the Gaudi buildings could be looked at from the street, even if everything was shut. If the worst came to the worst we could head for the beach. Continue reading

24 August 2009 – bridges well and truly burnt

Burning my bridges

Burning my bridges

Another pound down this week. Two would have been nicer but I’m not complaining. There wasn’t much time for celebrating though because I was working in Gosport so everything was a bit of a rush, especially as I have to make a decent lunch to take with me. When I’m working in the village I can eat at home and I leave later so I have a more relaxed morning. There was no opportunity for personal job hunting either. Mind you I feel as if I’ve exhausted every avenue, I’ve applied for so many jobs and short of applying for the same ones again there isn’t much more I could do. Working in Gosport all day just made me more determined though, I really couldn’t stand that horrible atmosphere every day. Continue reading