Saturday, 15 May 2021

Mid-May update (and a bit of a moan)

Mid-May already! Is it just me or is the passing of the year speeding up? I suppose it doesn't help that we're still so busy at work that I've done overtime the past two weekends (not as much as last month, but still!) and many of our survey appointments are teetering dangerously close to JULY now. We've also had to put a hold - twice in two weeks - on receiving any new work, outside of private jobs, from panel managers as my colleague couldn't keep up with booking the appointments! We're always looking ahead, it seems.

Anyway, it's good for business and the push is on now, as the stamp duty for properties up to £500k comes to an end at the end of June and everyone needs their surveys 'today'. We've had a number of cancellations because people want/need it completed faster than we can do it. We can always fill the space but it's a larger number than normal, simply because of the pressure of the market. The next relief falls to properties up to £250k, through September. There'll be a lot of flats, I imagine. After that, furlough comes to an end, stamp duty comes to an end, and I think the work will become more manageable.

I have my work review on 24 May. I'm going to ask if I can adjust my working hours a bit from 9:00-5:30 to 8:30-5:00. I've been getting there for 8:00 since February, so it's not a big stretch. I feel that, as one of the office 'elders', I should be allowed some consideration, particularly as there are now two of us who work until 5:30.

Our office manager (P) is back in the office two days a week now but is retiring in September. We've hired someone to take her place (H), but it's a bit complicated as H is off to the US to see her son in June for several months. H is coming in a couple of times a week to train with P until she leaves, then once H is back, she'll be coming in more regularly until P leaves for good. So many changes!

Adjustment is ongoing with my colleague (T). Things have been better, but there are still questions (why this/that/the other, etc.) and there was a discussion the other day with the accountant about her role and admin generally. In a company with 500 employees, it's going to entail different things than in a company with less than 10, just like it's going to entail different things in every single office you work in. A lot of what you do depends on how the office runs, their guidelines, policies and procedures, so you have to be flexible and be prepared to work differently than you have previously. Adapt to your environment, not the other way around. 'Administrator' in our office encompasses a grey area - it's both reasonably specific and whatever is asked of you, really, and with only three of us, surely it means helping each other where you're able and pitching in to get stuff done, rather than moaning about it? Part of me admires T for setting strong boundaries and being confident enough to do so, but at the same time, I'm getting incrementally more work because she keeps questioning how is one person expected to do 'so much' and then little suggestions are made that suddenly add to my workload and make it easier to do hers. How P doesn't understand how busy she is. 😒 She doesn't know that I've taken on doing part of her job already. I'm not bothered by it, as it actually helps me get organised for the day. But as and when I'm on holiday for any length of time once P leaves, there's going to be some hard, sharp learning curves.

I don't have any more time in my day than she does, and I'm the one who's been doing overtime so that we can stay on top of the typing (perfectly aware this is my choice). P is typing even on her days off, so not feeling any sympathy.

The problem stems, I think, from the fact that she says she didn't get a job description. I'm not sure I got one either if I'm honest (don't actually remember). Also, when she was trained, she wasn't told about all the stuff that she's (apparently) supposed to do, nor, she says, was she told about it all in the interview. I don't know. There was supposed to be a job description written up, but it didn't get done (no surprise). And that's her area of questions. She feels she's being taken advantage of. But if there are questions/concerns/etc., about what she believes/feels she was hired to do, I'm not the right person to speak with. She needs to discuss her concerns with the people who hired her - the MDs. Certainly, Mrs MD will have no qualms about reviewing the interview with her and what was said during it.

We're unprecedentedly busy. But, it will slow down and be easier to manage. When it was mentioned that it's been so quiet in the past that there have been days when no work at all came in, there was a moan about that. Apparently, there's no win!

The accountant, after the administrator discussion, regretted engaging. 'If she doesn't like it, she can find another job,' she muttered. This from a straight-talking Northerner!

Yikes! Obviously a much-needed vent. Sorry!!

On a lighter note, I enjoyed the Welsh Crime Festival very much. So much, in fact, that I'd like to go next year. Aberystwyth is a town I've wanted to visit since Hinterland (a point noted in the opening ad), so I think the opportunity to visit/attend the 2022 Festival and see the town is something I need to plan for. I've already had a brief, post-festival chat with my sister about it so we'll see where it goes. Five days in Wales would be lovely and something to really look forward to (assuming it doesn't rain. Ha ha!).

Along with my Intro to Forensic Science course, I registered for four others: BBC Good Food 'Learn How to Bake', Forensic Psychology (witness interviewing, etc.), Start Writing Fiction and a Mindfulness course which starts at the end of May. Phew! Feeling like I may have taken on a bit too much, seeing as I've already fallen behind in the Intro to Forensic Science course. Oh, well. I've got this weekend to dip into it and try to get caught up. I'm not sure it's all relevant, but it IS interesting and will help me to be able to paint a slightly more realistic forensic picture in my book - I hope!

The BBC baking course is like a mini-Bake Off. It's pretty basic, but you learn about baking processes, ingredients, tools, etc., i.e., salted v. unsalted butter, baking soda v. bicarbonate of soda, different baking tins, the process of baking powder v baking soda on a cake, etc. Good stuff! A Victoria sponge was the first item we made (mine was reasonably successful). We're also learning to make bread, brownies, shortcrust pastry and meringues. Yum!

I haven't yet started the writing course or the Forensic Psychology course, but need to start making some inroads before they become inaccessible (I don't really want to pay to continue access). Anyway, one lesson at a time and I will do what I can.

Tomorrow I'm supposed to be going on a walk with a friend, but the weather for the weekend is rain. It's supposed to have been raining all week, but we never got the forecast weather. We're forecase the same all next week. It's not especially nice to walk in the rain, but if it's just around the reserve it might not be too bad. All just a big 'wait and see'.

I took a bit of holiday around the bank holiday on 31 May and I'm hoping to see my cousin and Roomie E. Loose plans at this point. It will be nice to catch up. Hoping the weather will be nicer as well so we can get outside.

I've also pencilled a week off in July to visit with my sister. I suggested some time down there and then she can come here for a few days. She's got a housesit booked for July so is waiting to confirm dates, but I'm reasonably flexible. Will just be nice to have a good length of time off. Plus, I need to get the car out for a good, proper run (three hours on a dual carriageway should do it) and collect some things of mine that she has - my bike and my camp bed (which she'll need for her stay here). She's also got a set of dishes that she's giving me, so it's a trip I needed to do anyway.

Hospitality reopens on Monday - hotels, B&Bs, etc. - and indoor dining can begin again. I think hugs are also officially allowed again too. Hooray!

I was asked if I was able to start volunteering again at the coffee shop. I think it's been almost two years since I gave it up 'temporarily', but I had said that I would start again eventually. I don't have the 'excuse' of the shop anymore (I stepped back because it was getting to be too much to do both in one day)  but I always enjoyed it when I was there. My short answer was 'yes', but only once I've had both my jabs - second due 12 June - and that because our writing group is currently bi-weekly, I would have to send some available dates (Saturdays). That seems to be fine, so I will send available dates starting in July. I like to work up to these things! Ha ha!

Still rolling the thought of erasing/halving my debt around in my head. It's pride that's keeping me from making the decision to take that first step. It's hard to admit you're struggling and need help, especially financially. I keep rolling it around in my head and thinking I can manage - just 11 more months until I can cash out my RSP in Canada, but then I realise that we're only halfway through this month and despite a bigger paycheque last month, I only have £30 left for groceries for the next two weeks. The rest is earmarked for debt. I'm hoping to see my accountant colleague for tea and a walk around the reserve while I'm off at the end of May. She's eminently sensible and always has good advice about stuff. I have mentioned it to her, and how I'm struggling, and she said it's definitely something I should do. I just need to decide...

Anyhow. That's it for me this go round. I hope you're all well and safe and having a great weekend!


Treaders said...

Gosh you have been busy! I never minded being flat out at work but there had to be an end to it. You can only keep that going for so long, and frankly your colleague with the "boundaries" sounds like a real pain in the butt! As for your courses, I subscribed to the Good Food Guide for over 20 years (just yesterday I was going through a magazine dating back to 2001 - ripping out the recipes I liked and throwing the rest)!!! They are very good though. But it's kind of an odd mix you've got going there - forensics and how to bake! I'm sure there's method in your madness but I haven't quite figured it out yet!

JiCaLu said...

Love to see a little update from you! I hope your chat with your colleague re: debt goes well. I understand the pride bit, I am very prideful. You will pay it off, I know it. But it takes time!

As for your time off, yay! And love that you are doing courses, volunteering, making plans for next year - GO YOU. As for your co worker - yeeeeesh. I would not apply to a job with no job description. If you didn't know what you were getting into, how can you complain now?? She sounds overwhelmed, and may end up quitting sooner rather than later.

Wishing you all the best til your next check in!

Northern Living Allowance said...

Hi Treaders! Well, when I put it all on paper like that it sure feels like I've been busy, but I don't always see it that way :) Work is exhausting, but it WILL ease up - we can't maintain our current pace without consequence - and to be honest, it's nice to have the days going quickly. We'll long for these once we get to the point we're sitting and twiddling our thumbs again! There honestly isn't a method of madness for the courses - ha ha! They just all looked interesting and happen to now be a rather eclectic mix. I thought the baking would be interesting as I love to bake - why not learn the science behind it? BBC Good Food is amazing! And the forensic ones are ostensibly because I'm supposed to be writing a murder mystery and the information could be useful. We'll see! xx

Hi JiCaLu! Nice to hear from you! I actually went to a site yesterday to see if there was potentially any help I could get. It doesn't look like it because I make enough to pay all my bills. To that end, however, I did do some banking and adjust some direct debits down a little bit. That'll save me a bit of cash, but it's groceries I need to be mindful of. I sure can spend money on food! :/ As for my colleague, you got me thinking: there was recruitment for the position, which included the work involved. I only saw the ad once, but is that not a 'job description'? Hmm. Like I said, if she's feeling something's not right, then she needs to take it up with the MDs. Hope you are well! xx