Every so often there comes a time when it feels that things are falling apart and I run out of resources to deal with my problems, yesterday was one of those days.
A few weeks ago I found out that Robert’s daycare will be closed for a full month over the holidays; namely from December 16th to January 16th. During the same time Lucy will be away in the Eastern Cape, and Robert’s dad may not be available either because he wants to travel to Canada. This throws a spanner in the works for me, because apart from paying a month’s fees for the daycare and getting only half a month, I will have to resort to the holiday after-care and pay additional fees for that. I thought I pre-empted the situation by reporting to my planning department early and working out a suggested schedule. I described my predicament in detail and got the usual bland response : “we will let you know”. I wasn’t surprised when I did not hear any feedback from the planners but I was in total shock when I showed up on Thrusday and saw that according to the December roster I was allocated a completely random schedule with a mixture of early and late shifts and with working days on Christmas and Boxing Days. I cannot describe my feeling of anger when I saw that, but the actual slap on the face came when I read the agent briefing online stating that they delayed the schedule in order to give 20 agents vacation over the holidays. I read in disbelief that they actually gave 20 agents vacation over the holiday, and why not me too ? and why the heck did they give me afternoon shifts again when I specifically requested morning shifts? Somebody obviously cares a lot about me and my situation in the ivory management tower. The management team member I spoke with about my problem showed up on the floor and when I asked him what happened there, he just shrugged his shoulders and informed me that he referred my problem to his superior S. and they were still going to speak to me.. This is supposed to make me feel real important, happy and relieved.
Thursday was the day when I made my first really stupid mistake at work, it has been a long way coming. This comes closely after a written warning I received for a safety relevant mistake with the loading of radioactive dangerous goods, so things do not look good for this load control agent. I left the office quickly because I could not stand the place for another minute.
The Global productivity manager or whatever his name is in this company called me on my way home and set up a meeting for Friday after the end of my shift to discuss my situation.
Yesterday was the greatest day of my life. I am awarding management the best accolades for caring and for helping me. I think they just wanted to make a point. Not only did I have the pleasure of Global productivity but also Global team leading on my case. They both started what can be best described as a sermon. Lambasting me because I was not showing flexibility and of asking for stuff that is not practicable. When I tried to point out to them that I have problems and I have no idea how I could make them fit in the scheme of their rules and policies they said everyone had choices. When I said that they did not even come back to me with feedback and just hit me with a computer generated roster, they said they were sorry but they had to get the roster out. When I said that they awarded 20 agents vacation over the holidays why didn’t they consider me? They said my initial request was not for a vacation. Yes, they do understand my problem but company policies and contractual obligations etc. Mr. Global Productivity chirped in by saying that they always helped me before but I did not show any appreciation (was I perhaps being punished in December for my lack of appreciation since April?) I have no idea. What followed was complete breakdown from my side, because I felt I was talking to a wall, while they continued to dance round and around rules and regulations : I can swap shifts with other agents, I can swap three shifts within my roster, I can try perhaps and ask for vacation ( a pathetic two days) and perhaps a few comp days -compensation days for public holidays worked (of which I have a few but I cannot waste since I still owe the company so many working days). Mr productivity did not want even to promise me the possibility of working consistent morning shifts, because they have no ideas what the scheduling will be like. How can they expect 100% flexibility from someone who has so limited options, I have no idea. In all the bosses wanted me to know that I am only one of 170 people, and every one of them has personal problems.
The bosses did not agree with me when I pointed out that the privilege of sitting in their managerial positions entails dealing with lesser employees problems and addressing them; they figured that all they need to do is address the needs of the corporation. I am sorry they have got it wrong. Productivity is not a one way issue from the side of the corporation, it is the people who have to be productive. Productivity requires putting the correct person in the correct place at the correct time. Making the employee happy is also key to productivity, yet this is something that these people in their ivory towers haven’t figured out yet. We have an extremely high staff turnover, and of course it is always the brightest, the most intelligent and those with the highest self esteem are the first to leave. Those who stay are normally the less bright, those with low self esteem, and those who like me cannot afford to leave.
The meeting took almost an hour and I know in my heart that they only wanted to make a point. Lest I forget that they are helping me out and “bending” the rules to do so. The chose the wrong person to exercise their sense of authority, and in the process they made me lose some of my dignity, and I resent them for that. Just before I left I asked them about the new shifts they were planning for part time employees, I was just grasping at straws and looking for any solution. They presented me with a leaflet that had just been made public today. I stuffed it in my bag and rushed to catch a taxi to the daycare to pick up my son.
My resentment towards management grew when I glanced at the leaflet on the way home, to discover that it contained no less than 20 different part-time working options. Couldn’t these people realize that at least one of them would work for me? If they cared enough perhaps, but my guess is that they just did not think about my situation, it is my problem after all. Well, at least productivity is going a step in the right direction by offering people options and modules according to their preference. I am surprised it hadn’t dawned on them before that 170 people would certainly have different requirements and by giving each person a schedule that suits their requirements they end up with efficient planning and real productivity. Not a randomly spat out computer roster. I just wish they produced this wonder somewhere at the beginning of the meeting, it would have helped me keep my composure.
Yesterday’s trials have taken their tolls on me and I succumbed to the flu. Robert is still suffering with it; I had to give him two suppositories for fever last night. He still has no appetite and routinely spits out my food offerings. I am starting to get really fed up with this whole thing, the worry, the mess and the constant nightly vigil. If my boy doesn’t get better over the weekend we will have another trip to the doctor on Monday.