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Monthly Archives: July 2012

I was having dinner with friends last night (I had a small side salad and some fries….no seriously, I really did have a salad…mainly because I’d stuffed a double cheeseburger down my gob on the way to the restaurant so that I wouldn’t have to pay for a full meal once I got there…crafty!) and one of our party was bemoaning the fact she had to sack somebody’s ass in the morning….my wife as it happens.  Don’t mess.

In a bid to make her feel better about RUINING SOMEBODY’S LIFE….I said…“Oh don’t worry about it…I remember all the times I’ve been sacked.  He’ll get over it.”

Much mirthfull chuckling ensued from my fellow diners.  Turns out I was the only one to have experienced multiple sackings.

Who knew?  I thought that was all part of life’s great tapestry.

When asked to elaborate on my history of failure,  I was reminded of the first job I ever lost….and more importantly….why.

To cut to the chase, I was 18 years old and my mother was nipping my head about getting a job.

Any job.

JUST GET A BLOODY JOB MARK!

She seemed particularly smitten with the idea of me waiting tables or flipping burgers (or both at once if she’d had her way).  Neither of which appealed in the slightest. No. If I was actually going to have to work and stuff, I’d do it on my own terms goddamnit!

And so it was I got a part-time job (drum roll please) stacking shelves at my local DIY superstore for £35 a week!

Sticking it to the man!

It started off well enough.  I got my lovely red overalls and a was told to tie my hair in a bun.

Splendid!

Then I was given a sticker gun (COOL!), a trolley full of padlocks and a mission to stack as many shelves as I could in three hours.

After the first couple of days the novelty had worn off.  Stacking shelves was booooooring.  Clearly I was going to have use my initiative if I was to survive in this strange new environment.

And so it was that I began to devise cunning ways of going to work without actually doing any work.

Not as easy as you might imagine.

Here are a few edited highlights of how to kill 9 hours a week in a DIY store and get paid for it.

  1. Take your trolley of nuts and bolts and instead of actually stacking any of them….simply push the trolley slowly around the store in a zig zag fashion, LOOKIING LIKE YOU’RE JUST ABOUT TO STACK SOMETHING!  If you see your manager…stop the trolley and fiddle with your sticker gun until he goes away. If you’ve ever been shopping with a woman, this should be a doddle
  2. If you have been asked to clean up an attic area on top of the canteen room.  Simply climb on top of the roof…have a wee mooch about until you discover some cans of anti-freeze and (OH JOY!) a box full of tampons.  Now position yourself in a quiet corner of the roof and spend the next hour or so playing “shoot the tampon until it sticks to the wall”.  Eventually you will have made a nice blue lunar landscape collage that future generations of underpaid skivers will discover and be most impressed by.
  3. If you are lucky enough to have a skip full of old packing boxes out the back, and it’s a toasty sunny day.  Jump in the skip…flatten some of the boxes into a little cot and have a nice wee snooze.  Nobody will think to look for you there.  But stay alert…..I had forgotten that the skip was still in use and almost blew my cover when I was rudely awoken by a hail of cardboard boxes landing on my noggin.  Damn near took an eye out!
  4. If you have been asked to build a flat pack bench for display purposes.  Make sure you drag it out for 3 hours.  Just don’t expect your boss to be impressed by your efforts.  Apparenlty he could do it in half an hour.  Aye, right you are.
  5. If you’ve been asked to drive the company mini-van to the local tip.  Don’t forget that you can kill some serious time by taking it to an empty car park on the way back for a totally rad skid-athon.  Just be careful…those things tip way too easily.  Luckily they’re also light enough to push back up again without doing yourself a mischief.

And so, you can imagine my surprise and shock when I was taken into the manager’s office after 3 months of loyal service and told my skills were no longer required.

“I’m sorry…why exactly are you sacking me again?”, I enquired…incredulously.

“Well Mark…it’s like this….I’m sacking you for a lack of initiative. I don’t think you’re cut out for a career in this business. “ , he said with an inappropriate amount of smugness for a man whose sole achievement thus far was to climb the slippery slope of middle management in a fucking DIY store and look after twonks like me.

“And just exactly how much initiative does one need to stack a shelf?”  I huffed, as I was shown the door.

That shut him up.

Does this look like a man who is lacking in initiative?

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I know I promised this blog was going to be nothing but unadulterated fun, fun, fun!

I lied.

It’s also going to include poems.  Or at least the one anyway…

I’ve got a couple of great blog posts brewing….but they are going to require a certain amount of thought process.  This is hard enough at the best of times, so I thought I’d fob you off with something I wrote over a decade ago until my muse strikes.

The story behind this….my only poem….goes like this.

I’d moved to London two-years previously and had been temping my way round every shitty job in the city since then, looking for that elusive “foot in the door” job that would kick-start my illustrious rise up the food chain of life.

On this occasion, I found myself working as a temp secretary (oh the glamour!) for a company (whose name I have eradicated from memory) that refurbished Tube Station platforms….among other terrifically exciting projects.  I do remember that most of the office “banter” revolved around concrete.  So you can just imagine the hilarity.

I’d been there a couple of weeks and things weren’t going entirely well.  For a kick off, everybody thought I was gay.  Their reasoning behind this was that I was friendly to the only gay guy in the office…so I MUST BE ONE! Lovely bunch.

But, the first warning sign that my days were numbered and that it was unlikely I’d ever get a gold watch was when the head of HR called me into her office and asked if I’d been drinking.

The conversation went something like this:

“A few members of staff have complained to me that you smell of alcohol. So I have to ask if you’ve been drinking in the last 12 hours?”

*I should point out here I was absolutely flabbergasted there were so many arse licking jobsworth c*nts in my office….and completely bemused by this weird 12 hour rule*

“Yes…I have had a drink in the last 12 hours.  I was out on the piss last night until 4am…and it’s *checks watch* 1pm now…..I’m afraid I didn’t manage a shower this morning as I was running a tad late…..is that a problem?”

“Mark…we have a zero tolerance to alcohol in this firm.”

“Seriously?  So I can’t even have a pint at lunch time?”

“No Mark…have you been drinking at lunch time?  That’s a sackable offence.”

“Nope.”  *OF COURSE I HAVE!  IT’S THE ONLY WAY I CAN MAKE IT THROUGH THE AFTERNOON IN THE GOD FORSAKEN HELL HOLE!*  “So….let me get this straight…I’m not allowed to go out and have a drink unless I go to bed at 9pm the night before or I’ll get sacked?”

“Yes”

…..and so it went on until I promised this was a “one-off”.

To be fair…I was absolutely reeking of booze…..it had been a most excellent evening!  But honestly…

So….I went back to my desk, cast my eye around the shower of shit I was sharing an office with and wrote this poem.

SO THIS IS IT?  (August 1998)

So this is it?

I sit

Too tight

And typewrite….shite

You need to get a job, they said

With a suit and a tie and a pat on the head

So that’s what I did, because that’s what they said

So here sit I…

Like a turgid, fossilised shit

Brain dead, were it not for the drip…drip…drip

That infuriates senses that shouldn’t exist!

And then there’s the rhythmical, clinical, pumping machine

That spits out the paper without aid of steam

And causes your eyes to fall back in your head

As your mouth opens wide like a flytrap instead

So I sit here…

What’s one more hour added on to a year?

And I’ll curse every one of you bastards out there

With your stuff and your lives and your fabulous hair

Who don’t need to sit all alone in a chair

And stare at a screen

As it slowly….but surely

S h a t t e r s…………………..Y o u r…………………D r e a m s

Epilogue:

The next day I went in to work and was taken to an empty room filled floor to ceiling with filing cabinets. I was told that my job for the next few days was to pull out every contract in those cabinets, search for two specific pieces of paper, photocopy them once and then return them to the folder.

I told them to shove it.

And almost immediately after that….my adult life began…more about that later.