A tale of woe and customer service

Happy nearly Friday Loungers! Here’s a funny story for you. I’m actually, truly, so snowed with work I’ve gone and delved into the Face First archives for a delightful story of work hell for you this week.
Upon reflection, I’m SO VERY grateful to be snuggled up at my desk under a pile of paper in my ugg boots. Getting older can be a beautiful thing.

A bit what I look like right now, except not quite so much like a sheep.

I am doing great big leapy happy jumps of YAY to be hit up with an unrealistic deadline next week, because it means I am WORKING and working HARD. There’s nothing I love better. (OK – that’s kind of rubbish …  I can’t drink wine at the same time, so that kind of sux, and there are other things, like holidays and cocktails and swimming and reading in the sun and being on boats …) Anyway. Digressing. Working is pretty great.

The little trickle of opportunity is starting to flow again, and I’m feeling like hugging the world, I’m so grateful. Freelance work is such a capricious beast, it’s a bit like a Christmas present whenever a work offer pops up in your inbox.

This means I will be leaving you sad and lonely next week while I stick my bum in the air (and wave it around like I just don’t care … sorry. Sometimes my brain to keyboard filter needs a really big SMACK.) So don’t forget me.

Meanwhile, this lull has given me pause to reflect on the less savoury jobs I’ve had in my life. Strangely enough, most of them have been centred around customer service. From this we’ll conclude that I generally suck at people. Don’t argue with me. I do.

Job 1. Charcoal chicken shop. Time of employment: 3.25 hours

Do you have any idea how HOT it is in a chicken shop? Do you have any idea how heavy a rack of chickens is when they’re all raw, before they load them up onto the rack for roasting? Neither did I. My poor little flimsy 15-year old arms couldn’t quite cope, and I dropped the whole pole of pale wrinkly little squidgy smelly chickens into the ash and coals, covering them in black dust and turning myself into some kind of camouflaged warpainted black-faced child, complete with sweat streaks and bright white eyes of terror. The evil demented shop owner tried to get out of paying me my $17 for the days’ work, given I had cost him a rack of chickens. My dad went and yelled at him though. He showed him. Bastard.

 

Don’t they look cute and cosy all snuggled up together over the fire?

Job 2. Checkout chick. Time of employment: 1 year – 4 hrs per week = $20

Wow. I said WOW. Can you even believe the cash I was raking in? I trotted up to the local IGA two afternoons after school each week, to earn the princely sum of $20. There was a girl who worked there full-time, and we used to glare at each other in mutual disrespect, because I refused to take her lectures on the importance of the job seriously. Eventually I got into trouble because I couldn’t say no to selling whipped cream bulbs to all the local school boys who came in. How could I? They were cute! I pretended I had NO idea they weren’t using them to help their dear mothers bake cakes.

Useful for dispensing cream and …. ??

 

 Job 3. Pizza Hut call centre: Time of employment – 18 months

This was possibly the worst of the lot. I’ve never been abused or sworn at so much in my life as I have over pizza. And, as I’m pretty good and bad with confrontation at the same time, I never managed to deal with it properly. We were supposed to put them straight through to the managers, but because that’s exactly what these losers wanted; ‘My pizza’s late. Put me through to the manager’, that’s exactly what I refused to do. Oops. I was very cold and polite and tried to sort it out for them, but HATED the disrespect from people over pizza. I can recall on more than one occasion saying ‘Dude – it’s a PIZZA. Stop swearing at me.’ I’d be stubborn and pigheaded with them on the phone, but when I hung up I was usually shaking. When I eventually got really jaded by the job I’d just wait long enough until they swore, and then I’d hang up on them. I was allowed to do that. When someone asked if I was interested in applying for any Supervisor roles I said HELL NO – they ONLY get to talk to all the sweary angry people, all day. Like I said, me and people. Not a great combination.

This actually exists in the UK. Want to watch me vomit and die of heart failure at the same time??

Job 4. Black Stump – waitressing: Time of employment – 18 months? 

We had fun here – ‘At the Slack Dump, we’re Famous for our mistakes.’ I was a waitress,  my brother was a waiter, and my then boyfriend worked behind the bar. There was a good crowd of people there for a while and we did plenty of time at the pub after closing time. We were united by our horror at the appalling quality of the food we served at unnecessarily high prices. It was a good place for old people who wanted a ‘home-cooked’ style meal with their (frozen and boiled) corn on the cob, jacket potato, steak (generally overcooked and left to dry out on the bain marie) and cookie-cutter peas and carrots, but otherwise, we couldn’t really understand why people would come. But come they did, and the tips were GREAT. I was a pretty good waitress, and I banked all my pay and just lived off the tips. I went to a 21st one night at the last minute in my ‘Famous’ shirt – a black polo with big ugly orange lettering splashed across the chest (with additional splatters of sour cream). It was an awesome party, but you’ll be surprised to hear I did not pick up that night.

My next job was in publishing while I was still studying at uni, and I thought it was AWESOME to be going off to a proper desk while all my friends were trying not to get bailed up at service stations each night. I had officially arrived in GROWN-UP LAND.

What was your worst job ever? Does customer service really suck, or am I just a princess?

Come and take a seat in The Lounge. Add your link below. Tell us about your work tales of woe.

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Fake it till you make it?

 

Feeling a bit like this today.

This is an awkward post to write because it means I’m blowing my cover. I wanted to write this yesterday, but I was entirely too demoralised to even put words together. The truth is, I’m feeling inadequate. Not a great way to be when you’re trying to project ‘eau de confidence’ and make your next post-kid career move.

I’ve been at home looking after my gorgeous girls for five years now, freelancing all the while, and love, love loving it (some of the time). It’s been really hard, I admit, and I never get the balance right. I always feel like half a mum, and I’m crap at being a ‘domestic goddess’, whatever the hell that is. This is half the thing that paralyses me from blogging. I see these gorgeous, decorative, creative and beautiful blogs with crafty mums making and baking … I am not her. I can only do words, be a mum, and cook, while doing daggy dancing to Yo Gabba Gabba (‘Don’t Bite Your Friends’. Best song EVER.)

BUT, working from home as I have been, it means I can drop everything for my girls, and pick up the hours late into the night, and on weekends, and always at least be a physical presence for them in the home, even if I’m in the office burrowing into my piles of paper. (They do keep me warm at night.)

Now? Now… I’m in a quiet patch.

This is me. Metaphorically, obviously. I have SOME hair.

SCARY PART A) The quiet patch. There is nothing more scary to a freelancer than a quiet patch that lasts a few months. I’ve been incredibly lucky for the last few years, and have been referred so much work I’ve been constantly flat out, which delights me. As soon as it stops, the self-doubt creeps in. I know the industry is in a state of flux, and everyone’s feeling the pinch, so I’m licking my wounds, and looking elsewhere. OUTSIDE. It is terrifying.

SCARY PART B) Finding a part-time job. Newsflash: there aren’t any. OK – there I go with the sweeping statements  I tend to make when I’m feeling inadequate and overwhelmed. There are some. A very small number in my field, being vied for by the vast number of people who, like me, need flexible working arrangements for any number of reasons, one of which is raising children. Why are the only available jobs full-time? I know it’s frustrating as an employer to juggle a job-share arrangement, and to organise hot-desks or telecommuting situations, but I also firmly believe that employees who are offered such flexible arrangements work twice as hard and are twice as loyal. I certainly work my butt off when I’m freelancing, because I’m paid by the hour. Why stop for lunch when it means an hour I’d have to otherwise work into the night? Why take a sick day when I’m not dead? I plough on through. Every working mother I know works DAMN hard because she’s there to get her work done as efficiently as she can so she can get home to her other job.

SCARY PART C) The job interview. YAY! I had one this week which is awesome. I made it to the interview stage (so I must look OK on paper), and my fingers and toes and even my eyelashes are crossed for a positive phone call in the next day or so. But wow – I hadn’t realised how out-of-date my work wardrobe has become in five years. I tried all of my clothes on the night before (nothing like planning ahead. I’m good like that) and realised my suit no longer fitted me (amazingly it had grown!?) and my pants were all really ill-fitting and badly cut. Who was the girl who bought these bad clothes? Surely not the same person who works away in her home office looking stylish, glamourous and effortless in ugh boots and leggings. I’d forgotten about the part where your hands shake when you go to drink the water they offer you, and the part where you get hot because you are nervous, and the part where your voice sounds funny because you’re speaking too quickly, and the words aren’t the ones you chose in your head. Ah. Well. Time will tell.*

So – this is where I’m at this week. In an inadequate nutshell. HELP! I’m in a nutshell!  I did, however, mow the lawn. WIN! Very badly – I may have blunted something when the sparks flew off the concrete of the gutter.

I’ve decided to just grit my teeth and hang on until I feel useful again, and less like a washed-up career lemon. Because everybody has some use for a lemon, right? Like I always say (not really, this is my first time, but I will say it a number of times after today, and then it will be  always) ‘If life hands you lemons, hang onto them, because they make your gin taste much better.’ Although they may have said it more eloquently below. Yes? Are you still with me? At least I make gin taste good.

 

This is the answer to life. Yoda has spoken.

* Time has told. I didn’t get the job. So now I feel worse than a lemon, which is … um… a grapefruit?