Wind-up doll

After the last of work I’m stepping up my search for another job. I felt in no hurry before. Much as I want to get back into my old trade, I also wanted to do right by my new employers. In my mind that meant sticking around for 6 months or so before upping the ante. I don’t know if I can survive 6 months though.

Nothing bad happened, just the thing left me feeling a bit sour last night.

On Monday we were back at our desk doing some real work after a week of training. Theoretically it was daunting, but we had been well-trained so there was no reason for real doubt. We were sat at our desks and told to go at it.

About an hour in I got up to make a cup of tea. As I passed one of my training colleagues I stopped to ask how he was going. He was working on something and asked me a question. As I stood there the woman supervising us happened by. What’s going on? she asked. My colleague responded to her. She then launched into a mini rant directed entirely at me.

Basically she told me that she doesn’t want us working with each other, or seeking help between us. I could understand that, and in fact had no desire to share knowledge I was not certain of myself. Moral support is a different thing though. We went through training together, and in a sense were in the lifeboat together – it’s a shared experience that builds bonds. Those bonds give security and confidence, and are a trigger for memory.

I didn’t get the chance to say any of that. She went on, her face stern, staring at me, my colleague ignored (later he told me he was shocked at the display). She basically told me to mind my business and keep clear of the others. I quietly fumed, but said nothing, nodding my head and went to get my cup of tea.

This was the same woman who ignored me the other week when I made a gentle joke with her. She’s not a particularly warm type, but on this occasion I think she was laying down the law to exert her authority over me. I suspect she thinks I’m too confident and independent. She had watched as previously my colleagues had come to me for support (Hannah had said, unwisely as it turns out, that she saw me as their team leader). I was to be taken down a peg or two.

The whole episode was pretty silly, and I didn’t take it to heart. If that’s the way she feels then that’s her beeswax. Unfortunately it had other consequences. Effectively it meant we worked in isolation after that. There was no support or encouragement between us because we were afraid of causing trouble. Hannah, who was struggling, came close to tossing the whole thing in out of frustration. I gave her encouragement when I could, but what she really needed was some practical assistance and confidence – neither of which we were able to provide.

Hannah’s frustration was shared by the rest of us. What was straightforward in training was much more complex in real life, because there are always more variations and complexity in real life. We were basically dumped in the deep end, with little support. I struggled on that Monday, and went home feeling both a little demoralised and quite pissed off at the manner of things. The next day John, who is very capable, told me had felt exactly the same way.

I was much better Tuesday, and improved throughout the week, but it shouldn’t have been so hard. The help we got was piecemeal, and did little to impart logic or order on the situation. It was not because people were unwilling to help, but rather because they were busy with other things. I think a morning paired with an experienced operator would likely have been sufficient to get us going, but we never had that opportunity. Instead we had to struggle on and find our own way. It was very inefficient, and pretty disappointing.

You survive though, and while I complain I had it a lot better than most.

I mentioned before I think how regimented it is. Your breaks are all prescribed to the minute, you have to sign in and sign out, and get told off if you don’t, and even if you take less break than you should. You can’t start work a minute before your time, and are not allowed to work a minute past your allocated home time. It’s the very definition of clock watching, and very foreign to me.

On Friday we were told that from next week we would be measured on that performance – clocking in and clocking out, and so on. They expect 100% compliance. And what happens if you don’t meet that? I wondered. I can’t take it seriously, and know that I’m just the type to disregard it altogether some day. Okay, I’ll go along with it, but it seems juvenile, and more to the point, mindless.

I had a discussion with a friend about it and we both wondered what purpose it serves. Both of us come from more professional backgrounds, and to us it seems ridiculous. Not everyone is like us though. There are many who thrive on regulation and regimentation; who like to know exactly what they’re meant to do at a particular time. It’s comfort and security, and in that way they end up working at the same place for 20, 30, 40 years, following the same comfortable routines every day of it.

That’s pretty well anti-H. I don’t like being told how to march, when to march and how long for. I like thinking for myself, and acting independently. I don’t like being treated like a child whereby I have to record everything I do. I’m a fucking adult, and a responsible one too. (Incidentally, I think this is obvious to anyone who meets me, which explains the woman’s behaviour towards me.)

I’ll play along for now, but there’s nothing long term in this for me. I’m not a wind-up fucking doll. I’m can’t be put in a box and expect to play nice, and I’m fucked if I know how anyone can.

This is my sourness. The work is dour – clerical process working – but I can cope with that. I can even manage the environment. I’ve got my issues with this woman, but the rest of the team are pleasant. The company seems good too. What I’m not going to handle well is this mindless observance of petty rules. That may make me all sorts of things, but ultimately what it makes me is me. I don’t want to change. We’ve had a tough time, but that me is the me that can take me other places, better places, and he’s only going to manage that by being true to himself. That’s not being small, or shrinking to fit a situation. One day I want to flex my muscles again.

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