final meeting – first published 31 October 2013


The last day of October 2013 was the day of my final redundancy meeting. CJ was up before I left for work because he was off on a course. This meant the gym was a cacophony of coughing, I’m surprised the neighbours weren’t complaining. After one particularly lung wrenching bout of coughing from him I said, “annoying isn’t it?” in the spirit of being sympathetic. CJ is not known for his cheery disposition first thing in the morning and thought I was moaning at him. A mother’s place is in the wrong, I guess. It set the pattern for the day.

31 October 2013

The outside world was wet and windy. Not gale force windy, just normal, trees swaying a bit, scarf blowing in face type stuff. Because of all the dampness and cold the front door has decided to stick and makes a noise like a banshee when you try to open it, possibly a good excuse for not answering to trick or treaters later, so I went out the back way. The cotinus seems to be skipping the brilliant red phase this year and going straight for the yellowing, leaf dropping off stage, maybe because we had such a warm dry summer who knows. Still it looked quite pretty with rain drops clinging to what’s left of the flower heads.


Walking from the bus stop to the office it felt like walking through a river of leaves, I couldn’t even see the pavement. I did spot a cluster of odd, brownish topped mushrooms, or should that be toadstools, like little buns that had been brushed with beaten egg and baked, growing in the bark chip under the shrubs beside the path. Looked to me as if something had been nibbling at them and I wondered idly if squirrels, or maybe rats, like mushrooms and know which ones are safe to eat?




This morning we had our meetings with the HR Witch. I’m probably being a little cruel here as it isn’t her fault or her decision but, if you take the job, you have to put up with the consequences, or you should do. There wasn’t much to say really. She said, if the decision stood, the office would close on 20 December and that would be my leaving date. The New, New COO will make the final decision tomorrow.

When she said he couldn’t come to the office because he had a meeting but he would phone Anika and let her know and she would tell us I saw red. To make a decision like that and then be too cowardly to tell people to their faces seemed wrong. He went down in my estimation considerably at that moment.
“I’m sorry but I think that is unacceptable,” I found myself saying. Usually I am the most tactful, polite, wouldn’t say boo to a goose type person but something about these meetings, the way we have been treated, seems to have blocked my thinking before speaking reflexes. “When I was made redundant from the Mad House the MD of the whole company, had the balls to come and tell us to our faces. He is the very top man that you see on TV on the news. If someone is man enough to make the decision he should be man enough to tell us to our faces, not put that responsibility onto Anika.”

There was a bit of blustering and back tracking after that and she stuttered that he might come down in person. I doubt he will and, if I’m honest, I’d rather not see him, but still, it’s the principle of the matter. I have an email from the CEO saved in my inbox saying we would be treated with dignity and respect, this most certainly is not either.

Once I’d had lunch I’d calmed down a bit and got back to typing up my dictations from yesterday. Alice had some packages of cruise books to pack up and send out and she was having problems with them. The duct tape kept getting tangled up, as it does, and the packages, which were quite large and unwieldy, kept toppling over or falling off the desk. She was getting really cross with them which probably didn’t help, so I kept my head down. One big box toppled over on the desk with a loud crash and she said, “Oh bugger, now it’s broken my leg!” Obviously this made me look up.

Straight away I could see what she was talking about, it was one of the little plastic legs at the back of her keyboard that angle it up to make it easier to type. She was so cross I tried to keep a straight face, really I did, but I couldn’t and ended up snorting hysterically.
“Shall I call an ambulance?” I said when I’d sort of recovered. Of course she then realised what she’d said and we both burst out giggling.

Arabella was in a turnaround meeting most of the afternoon so there was time to look into the inbox/intray exercise thing a little closer. I have to admit the idea of it was bothering me, not the prioritising and dealing with an inbox obviously, I do that every day. It was the not really knowing what to expect. Anyhow, I did some more Googling and found a practice test I could have a go at.

Actually I quite enjoyed it. The scenario was I was taking over as temporary manager of a branch of a bank and there were thirteen items in my inbox along with some sheets of information about who was who in the bank and what the brief was. There were sheets of sales figures for the six members of staff, appraisal forms, staff questionnaires, a complaint letter, some internal emails and memos. As I went through them I made notes on my pad.

By the time I’d finished the first read through I felt like I knew the staff, I’d identified several issues and had an idea of how I’d fix them if I really was their manager. I almost wished I was. At the end I was supposed to write an action plan of the order I’d deal with things and what actions I’d take but, as this was just a practice and no one was marking it, I kept all that in my head and clicked the link to see the answers. Obviously, there are no right or wrong answers as such, just ways of dealing with the problems and things that should have been picked up. Anyhow, I never did find out because it turns out you had to sign up for a subscription and pay to go any further which I wasn’t going to do. Still, it made me feel a little better about Friday’s interview even if I do still wish it was over and done with.

Afterwards, when I went to make a cup of coffee in the little kitchen I discovered the new six pint container of milk has sprung some kind of a leak. The bottom of the fridge was swimming with milk and I had to clean it all up before I could go any further. Even after I’d wiped down the plastic carton I could hardly tell where it was leaking from but, by the time I’d actually made my coffee, there was a minute puddle on milk on the worktop. Rather than put it back in the fridge I stood it on the draining board while I tried to find something to decant the milk into. Unless I poured it into individual mugs there was nothing. Just think how many mugs it would take to contain six pints of milk!

Then I had a bright idea. Actually it wasn’t my idea at all but a memory of something I’d seen on Mythbusters. For anyone not familiar with Mythbusters, it is a slightly geeky science show on Discovery channel where a group of special effects experts led by Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman use science to test and recreate myths, urban myths and the like. Not only is it interesting but it’s highly addictive too but, once it a while, it gives you the answer to a problem so you really should watch it, especially the duct tape episodes.

Duct tape can be used for more or less anything, including building a boat and a water carrier. If you haven’t watched the programme or you don’t have time to check out the video you will have to take my word for it. Unfortunately, it wasn’t completely successful on the milk carton leak front. It did help and the duct tape stayed in place but, by the end of the day, milk had begun to ooze through somehow. I’m putting this down to a total lack of proper preparation on my part and the inferior duct tape we have in the office. Still, it was a good idea and it saved quite a bit of milk.

It seems the meetings had us all a little cross/stressed/hysterical this afternoon. After I’d finished taping up the milk carton I stopped by Rose’s desk to speak to her about something. Noel, across the other side of the desk, was having a very involved sounding conversation with someone on the phone. When the conversation ended she put the phone down and said, to no one in particular, “He’s barking mad!”

We are fairly used to this kind of thing from Noel. She’s the customer services manager and often has to deal with slightly nutty or unreasonable passengers on the phone. Half of them really are barking mad.
“Never mind Noel, at least you wont have to deal with them much longer. I bet you won’t miss that,” Rose said.
“That wasn’t a customer, it was my husband,” Noel said. Cue more hysterical laughter.

It was dark and drizzly when I walked up the road to the bus stop and there were already a few costume clad groups of children wandering about. The bus arrived just as I got to the stop which hardly ever happens. Usually it sails by just before I get there. Unfortunately, as I got on I could see it was full to the brim with people standing in the aisles. Wonderful!

So I paid my two pounds, feeling a bit miffed I’d probably have to stand up all the way home, and squeezed between the first few people standing to get to somewhere I had something to hold on to. There was a young lad, about sixteen, sitting in the seat next to me and, without saying a word, he stood up and gave me his seat. I did thank him but, to be honest, it made me wonder if I look like an old wrinkly crone who needs a seat on the bus. Then again, maybe it’s the cold and the fact it’s Halloween, perhaps I look like a scary zombie type person. Either way it was nice to have a seat and his mother should be proud of him.

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Writer, walker, coffee drinker, chocolate eater, lover of nature, history and the little things that make me smile

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