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The Work Experience

By Lilian Tait

Smashwords Edition

Copyright 2017 Lilian Tait

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The Work Experience


Hello! Yes, it’s me! Your humble narrator! Back again! But...it is with a particular agenda in mind! The world of work! From the Hell that is jobseeking, to the joys of being part of the working population, I am prepared to give it the old college try! From my own side of things, I felt compelled to write this because, recently, after having worked religiously for twenty years (but, not continuously! I mean, I had to eat, sleep, stop myself from going insane at times at the logistical nightmare that is human existence, you get my meaning!) I found myself among the unemployed, through no fault of my own. It was either the job, or my health, and my health won out! It is my understanding that, if you are in a situation where you can’t decide what to do, something happens that takes the decision out of your hands. In my case, I felt like my brain was going to explode with all of the conflicting information my immediate superiors were bombarding me with! I knew I was doing a good job, but they pushed, and pushed, and pushed me so far, that, if I didn’t leave, and leave when I did, I wouldn’t have been able to recover, as I have. It’s taken me a few months, but, here’s the thing! I worked for my previous boss for thirteen years, and never once did I experience the symptoms I did when working for my most recent boss, who I inherited after the business was bought out. The big boss (who I got on with really well) offered me a post in another shop, and it was like Utopia for my two month trial, until I agreed to stay on in that shop, which then evolved into The Little Shop Of Horrors! Two in particular! And, before I knew what was going on, I found myself trying to grapple with the most gruesome twosome it had ever been my great misfortune to work with! And, by November 2015, I was exhibiting the very scary early signs of stress! And it is indeed frightening when you feel like your brain is shutting down like regional T.V stations used to in the 1980s, when the continuity announcer would appear on screen and say that there were no more programmes, and bid you goodnight! I’ll explain all this later! Needless to say, you know you’re in a bad work situation when all it takes is nine months for your brain to start going into self preservation mode. Apparently, the brain, when under chronic stress, produces macrophages, and, in turn, affects short term memory, speech, concentration, coordination, thinking, motor responses. There was a study conducted in Ohio, where mice, when repeatedly exposed to a bully, or ‘alpha’ mouse, exhibited memory loss, in that they couldn’t remember the location of a hole they had made only moments before. But, when the bully mouse was removed, within a month, their short term memories returned. As the brain has no pain receptors, this is how chronic stress manifests itself, via brain inflammation. I googled it, and everything checked out! My short term memory is all but restored now, but, when I was working under these conditions (don’t get me wrong, the work was easy, it was the supervisor and the manager who were hard work!) I felt like I was locked out of my brilliant brain, and others who have experienced this will relate to this. Now, at the time of writing this, I am still desperately seeking work, and don’t plan on releasing this until I am in a job again. After all, I don’t want to ruin my chances of getting a new job, so, if you are reading this, you can take it as read that I have found myself a job. Due to circumstances beyond my immediate control, which I will also elaborate upon later, I wasn’t given the opportunity to stay in my job while seeking another one, but, on reflection, I couldn’t have lasted any longer and I wanted to get my head together for my next posting. So, sit back and relax! Take a break from those endless job listings, and spend some time with me! Can you think of a better person to spend your time with? No? Then, let us proceed! Dust down your resume, and step into my universe! You’ll be glad you did! And...you are very welcome!

Lilian Tait

January 2017

Part One

The Early Days

So, time to cast my mind back to where it all began! Early November 2016!

Now, I didn’t take the decision to quit lightly! I enlisted the help of a trusted family member, who, despite being five years my junior, has a very sensible head on her shoulders! I told her my dilemma, and her response was immediate. I suppose I would have done the same, but, I had to get an outside perspective! Sherlock Holmes valued ‘an outside eye’, as he put it, and so, it made sense to ask her opinion. In fact, she tipped me off about what was going on in that Little Shop Of Horrors very early on, from around August 2015, and the endless progress reports I sent her via text! ‘They don’t like you,’ were her exact words! And, boy, was she right! The big boss is out of this equation, so, don’t factor him in on this story! And there were a few others who did like me, I suppose, but, over time, even the very people who I had worked with under the old order, fell prey to the ringleader and the lies she spread about me, and how was I supposed to compete with that? My instinct never fails me, and it works outside of me, like an intuitive response, if you will! I sensed that there was a lot going on behind the scenes that I didn’t know about! All I knew was that I worked hard and, for the most part, well! Even over the next year, I soldiered on, and was able to pull it out of the hat! It was only when the ringleader took a nervous breakdown, and blamed me for it, that I realised I was really up against it, and sought advice. I suspected that this nervous breakdown was brought on by something going on in the ringleader’s home life, or to draw attention away from a big boo boo she had made somewhere, because, I have wracked my brain, and, I can’t think of anything I did wrong that would have triggered it! I came in, did my work, got the hell out of there at the end of my shift! That’s it!

As for the lead up to the event, my advisor said I should text the big boss, and tell him I wanted out, which I did. We arranged a meeting away from the shop a few days later. I was on holiday at the time, and we talked for a bit. I hoped he would have been able to overturn what had happened. But, he couldn’t, and he said that the manager of the shop I worked in (he is best buds with him, by the way) wouldn’t fire me, but I begged to differ. From the ridiculous reasons cited in my disciplinary letter, the outcome of which would mean a final written warning or dismissal, it would only take one more stupid thing I allegedly did for the manager to view that as grounds for dismissal. Or, when the appraisals rolled around in January, all it would take was a bad appraisal to get me out the door. Something I knew the management specialised in, if the last put down session was anything to go by! It was getting to the point where, if I looked at the manager funny, he would instantly dismiss me, by putting some sort of weird spin on it, just to get me out. I figured, this way, I got some severance pay, and I refused to let this venomous manager get the satisfaction of firing me. If I were to tell you that my last appraisal lasted two hours (this guy really knew how to spin things out! More on that later!) and that none of it was complimentary or constructive, and, in some sense, completely irrelevant, you’ll have some idea of what I was dealing with. If anything, it was like a one on one motivational speech session, where the manager’s sole 'motive’ was to make me feel like the scum of the Earth, like I was the sole nominee in the Worst Worker and Human Being In The Whole History Of The Entire Universe Awards. I sensed, after the two hour ear bashing, that merely made me feel like my glass was half empty, and not half full, that he derived some sense of glee at being able to spend a whole two hours trashing my good reputation, and I held on to my belief that I’d worked for thirteen years with very little complaint! It was my understanding that appraisals weren’t put down, confidence trashing sessions, and that they were meant to be productive, constructive, discussions, with the nett gain of a better performance. Only, despite the scarcity of constructive advice, when I put into practice what had been suggested, it got me nowhere! I couldn’t go any faster than I was going, the Narc had absolutely no idea how difficult, and time consuming it could be constantly climbing over people to get stock, in a tiny dispensary, working with a super slow computer, and being landed with extra paperwork. And yet more confidence bashing! You can guess the rest! So, here we have a classic example of a decision being made for you! And, that was it! In the next part I’ll cover exactly what led up to this sorry state of affairs, and I have touched on this before in other novellas, it’s only here that I have decided to tell all! It is what it is! I wrote out my resignation letter on the spot, and I was free to go. There was no way I could have worked my month’s notice under such conditions. What’s more, I wasn’t allowed to cite my reasons for quitting, (and they were numerous), on my resignation letter, which made me wonder if the manager had something on the big boss, as if he didn’t want to offend him! Why the hell not? It’s part of being in authority, to be able to receive feedback, negative or otherwise. It makes for a better manager, right? Or, it was more than possible that this wasn’t his first altercation in relation to this manager, in which, I could safely surmise, a fair few good, decent, normal employees decided to get the hell out of Dodge because he was so damned lazy and disrespectful, and, by extension, impossible to work with. He would never leave, because he’d have bother finding a similar posting elsewhere, which meant that the decision to go fell to the other party in the equation. Despite the severance I got, I was owed for my holiday pay too, which, conveniently, the ‘manager’ didn’t put through. I should have followed that up, but chose not to. More fool me! But, there was more to come! All will be revealed soon! Suddenly, I found myself with a lot of time on my hands. I applied like crazy for jobs, and amid all this, I was fighting what I suspected to be some sort of depression, which lasted a couple of months. Remember the white mice I mentioned earlier? They also exhibited symptoms of depression, that didn’t disappear right away when the anti inflammatory drugs were administered by the boffins, and I’d bet dollars to doughnuts, that was the case with me, but you have to bear in mind that humans are bigger than white mice, so you have to do the math accordingly! Makes sense, doesn’t it? Dr Bach, the herbal remedy bod, likened medical treatment to that of the battlefield. Conventional medication tackles the immediate symptoms, which is like the army you fight in front of you, but doesn’t take into account the army waiting in the hills, or, what he would call, the ‘underlying cause’. So, while medication keeps the symptoms at bay, unless the underlying cause is addressed, then it’s never going to be fully resolved, see? Again, it makes sense!

At first, it was great being off! I found myself setting up a daytime T.V schedule all of my very own, in between food shopping trips and attending interviews. And, of course, going Hell for leather checking out so many job listings it was enough to scunner myself, and God knows,I kept at it! But, as I recovered, I found myself getting restless and frustrated, as we all do, especially those of us who are used to working, thus avoiding the daytime T.V nightmare! Some would argue that I should have taken time off sick, but I couldn’t do this. For two reasons. One, I couldn’t have managed on sick pay, especially as it would have taken months to recover, (and, just to clarify, it took me till around the beginning of February 2017 before I started feeling like myself again, so, about three months by my own personal reckoning and everything came back to me with alarming clarity, I was being psychologically poisoned in that hell hole!) and, more importantly, two, going back there would be like immediately hitting the nearest bar after spending months in a drying out clinic! Go figure! It is scary, the uncertainty of the situation I have found myself in, but, there was no other way round it. I was out of options. What would you have done? Show of hands! Would you stay, or go? Only we are in charge of our destinies! Let’s move on!

Part Two

Behind The Scenes

Now, time for a history lesson! At this present moment, The Two Ronnies is on Yesterday, the T.V channel! There’s a joke in there somewhere! See if you can spot it!

Anyway, sometimes you really don’t know what’s going on ‘behind the scenes’ in your workplace! Before the takeover of the place I had worked in for thirteen years, I found it easier, because everyone was pretty much upfront about their feelings and thoughts. My then boss certainly had his moments, but he liked to have his rant, and then he’d be okay again! There was very little in house bitching, because it was too close knit, and we all knew what we thought of each other! So, that was a plus! Having kept a diary for over twenty years has helped me make sense of things! Sort of! As long as I knew where I was, I was happy! It was an environment where we were too busy to play mind games, twist melons, and indulge in what I like to call inane Mind Fuckery. (Apologies for the swearing!). If it’s not already a recognised term, then, I’m patenting it! Terms and conditions apply! All that mattered was the work, and my boss relied very heavily on me, and in those thirteen years, I only had three sick days off, and I was never late for work! I was rather proud of my track record! I just did the work, that was it!

But, the 2014 takeover changed everything!

I was, as you know, moved to another shop as a sort of test run, and, I liked it enough to stay on! Only, I hadn’t banked on the true colours of the supervisor,who, only after conducting extensive research, I discovered was some sort of undiagnosed narcissist, and the manager, who she kept complaining to, about me, willingly took her side, and took some sort of pleasure in informing me, constantly, about how unhappy she was with me, and, I couldn’t work out why! He had issues too, and as long as he continues to let people walk all over him, he’ll continue to have them! Not to mention that he had a whole other history of underhandedness. No wonder they got on so well! Now you know exactly who I was up against, time to tell my story!

In the beginning, it was good! I had my own office, and computer (which, for the record, was as slow as molasses! I mean, if it went any slower, it would break the time/space continuum!)and, like everyone else in the shop, I listened to the radio, but, via my mobile! The novelty soon wore off and I would only listen to it for twenty minutes a day for Pop Master on Radio 2, as I like the music quiz, it is my thing after all. And I was allowed to listen to music on my ipod shuffle, sometimes classical music! I received no complaints at all about this during my two month trial, but, once that had expired and I said to the big boss that I would stay on, that’s when all my troubles began! Suddenly, the pair of them were claiming that I ‘wasn’t concentrating’, despite doing exactly what I had been doing for the two months before, without complaint. All instigated by our friendly neighbourhood narcissist! So, because of what she said, I was told that I couldn’t listen to my music anymore! And then, a lot of weird stuff started happening! I was told I was making errors with trays (I used to fill trays from prescriptions, see) despite doing what I usually do! I had done this kind of work for many years, under my old boss, and my track record was excellent! That made me suspicious! Because, my computer work was spot on, and I couldn’t understand what was going on, but, I knew something was! Then I realised that I had sole custody of the computer work, but, I couldn’t control what happened to the trays once they were sent upstairs, and almost anyone could gain access to them! And this was where they reported all of the ‘errors’ I was making! Sure, we all make mistakes, but,there was no way I was making them to the extent they said I was! A hidden agenda? I think so! Then, the finger pointing and scapegoating began! Not only did I have to take the fall for staged errors, I was also held accountable for errors other members of staff had made with the trays! I tried to explain, in the beginning, but gave up eventually as the narcissist refused to let me explain! What was also strange was that I looked through a folder for a file that I had put a post it note on, and I checked the whole folder, only to find it wasn’t there! I returned to the room two hours later, and, it was there! Complete with post it note! I said that it wasn’t there when I checked the folder earlier on, so I know she put it there! But, she claimed that it had been there the whole time! I can say, right now, that it wasn’t! That was my starter for ten! Her daughter, who also worked there, and who was also there when I looked for the file, backed her mother, naturally! Classic mind fuckery! I read up on narcissism, and, in the workplace, they employ people, known as ‘flying monkeys’ (from the creatures in The Wizard Of Oz who are messengers of The Wicked Witch Of The West ) as pawns, to reinforce their false reality on to the victim (Which, in this case, was me!)She saw me looking for that file, but chose not to acknowledge it! I had no allies to turn to, because I reckon all that narcissist did was tell lies about me to everyone I worked with, making out that I was terrible, or mentally unstable. There was many a time I would walk into that room and they would all stop talking. I felt like I was in an episode of Shooting Stars when Vic Reeves tells a dove joke, and is met with complete silence! Not to mention the times when I’ve walked in and overheard my narcissistic supervisor badmouthing me! I reckoned the supervisor and the manager were setting me up in some way! I sensed it, but couldn’t prove it! And, here’s the kicker! On a couple of occasions, I noticed that items they said had gone missing from the trays, miraculously reappeared on the dispensary shelves downstairs! I actually found a tub of thiamine that had exactly eighty four tablets in it! It was the only one on the shelf! The rest were full! I even remembered counting them! Then, in November 2015, the manager presented me with a list they had been keeping upstairs, of everything that was missing! And,my mind couldn’t comprehend it at all! Because, to my knowledge, everything was accurate! It was like, all the loose tablets were being miscounted by two or one! Which wasn’t true! My guess was that they were (a) tampered with, or, (b)not noticed until later on, or, (c) they had been dropped or lost upstairs. The amounts were missing in quantities which would have been, as I’d call them, ‘Stand alone’ amounts, in that they wouldn’t be part of a complete card, but cut, and separated from the rest. And therefore, more likely to be overlooked, or possibly dropped and lost. The ones that went missing from inside the containers worried me, as they could only have disappeared if they had been physically removed, as I was becoming something of a fanatical perfectionist when it came to counting the tablets when this was first brought to my attention. The MD aka the 'big’ boss, found out about this, and suggested using sheets to record errors. I thought this was a good idea, as I’d be able to track things better, and see what was going on! Only, my detractors saw this as a golden opportunity to create a paper trail on me, and even more unaccountable errors turned up! But, bizarrely, none of them were down to loose tablets! Which is what I was accused of previously short changing the trays on! This time out, they were all packeted items! Understandably, I became increasingly annoyed as I was concentrating like crazy, and immediately decided to keep my own records, because I had no idea what was going on! I made a list of drug names, and put tally marks against the ones that had errors attached to them! The results were disturbing! What, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, are the odds of the same drugs constantly going missing? Mistakes are usually arbitrary, so you can expect random items to go missing, not, the same items! Anyone in the profession would agree that this would be an exceptionally rare occurrence, and concur that I was being set up in some way. And, on more than one occasion,Iago, aka the manager, kept making loaded statements like, ‘If you keep making the same mistakes, you’re not learning’, which he would say within earshot, to other staff members, but, I knew he meant me! I felt like I was losing ownership of my work, because I’d done all I could do under the circumstances, but, when your card’s marked, that’s it! In thirteen years of dispensing, never once had I encountered repeat errors with the same drugs! Whether they were jealous, or felt threatened by me, I will never know, but, they pulled out all the stops! Throw in constant interruptions to my work, numerous visits to the office from the manager, with the opening gambit of, ‘I’ve had reports that you...’ usually from the narcissist and other staff members who were brainwashed and gaslighted by her, (because they were afraid of being targeted themselves) about some trumped up charge, or me having done something to offend her Highness, of which I had no idea, and you’ve got a recipe for a nervous breakdown!

I felt like I was losing my mind! It was a logistical nightmare!

And, you would think that any boss worth their salt would welcome the introduction of a system to minimise errors, wouldn’t you? Well, I implemented several, but it was met with, ‘We don’t have time for that.’ (Quote, unquote!). That made me suspicious too!

(Point of note, added on 9.3.17. I’ve been reading this book called Mastery by Robert Greene, which is referenced further on,and felt that this was worth mentioning, as it made me feel a bit better about all this! So, it seems that I am not alone in this brouhaha! Benjamin Franklin, when working in London for a printing firm, didn’t approve of the custom the staff had of indulging in the odd pint or two of beer in their lunch hour, because he felt that it was inappropriate to drink during working hours, and so, refused to contribute to the ‘beer fund’. And then, within a few days of that, he noticed that mysterious errors were appearing in texts that he knew that he’d already thoroughly checked beforehand, and every other day, some other strange things were happening, that he couldn’t account for. Knowing that, if this continued, he would almost certainly be fired, he confronted the other members of staff, who said that it was all down to some ‘mysterious ghost’ that haunted the room. So, sensing that he was being sabotaged because he refused to contribute to the communal ‘beer fund’, he started contributing to it...and the sabotage stopped! It’s hardly a new thing, is it? But...great book! I haven’t finished it yet, got some way to go on it, but, just for the record, I have learned a lot from it so far! Nice to know that I rank right up there with eminent historical figures, isn’t it? Also, when Michael Faraday independently made a breakthrough discovery on electromagnetic current, using a unique experiment, he was nominated to be a member of the Royal Society, but his mentor, Humphry Davy, who was the president of the society, tried to block it, not only that, but when Faraday made another discovery a year later, Davy tried to claim partial credit for it!).

Sorry about that! Went a bit off piste there!

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