Thursday, November 03, 2005

My shit year continued

Well in my last post I mentioned that I was having staffing problems and that Amy was part of all that. One thing I did forget to mention about Amy, is that she was often late to work. I would arrive expecting her to be there or turn up soon after, and I would get a phone call an hour later saying she was at the doctor's! One time she didn't even call and turned up at 11am, rather than 8am, when she was supposed to start, saying that she had been to her friends house because her brother had just died. I know that sentence sounds callous on my part, but there are three reasons for that. Firstly, I was at the end of my patience with her. Secondly, she could at least have rung - she does have a mobile phone. I was beginning to worry about her, then when I found out she was ok, I got annoyed. Thirdly, a few days later I asked her if she was going to the funeral, and she replied that she was not. I would have greater sympathy for what happened if she had at least attended the funeral. By the end of the four months that I put up with her, I went through my diary where I jot down who was in for work for pay etc., and realised that this sort of behaviour was averaging at least once a week! I don't know why I put up with it for so long.

In addition to this, I had another staff member who worked every Thursday. His name was Joel - the wanna be actor/producer. He was the sort of person where if you told him to do something, you would have to ask about three times before it was done. I had come from an environment where if I asked a staff member to please do a job, it was done immediately, or at least prioritised accordingly.
Joel was often at least a few minutes late. This I don't mind so much, but there was one afternoon when he had come in and was busily talking to one of the other staff members. Being fairly quiet, I said to him that I was going to send him home. The time was ten minutes past two. He looked at the clock, turned to me and very cooly said, I'll work till 2.30pm and then go. He then turned back around to the other staff member and continued his conversation. That was it. I told him very calmly but forcefully, that no, he was finishing up now, and if he was concerned about the extra ten minutes past the hour, that we can put that down for all the times that he's late. Lucky for him he didn't answer me back, because I think I would have fired him on the spot.
Well, I'm going to unfortunately admit that I put up with this kind of behaviour from him for far too long.

One day I told him that I wanted to let him go, he actually pleaded with me and set about making a case as to how badly he needed the money etc. Me feeling sorry for him actually relented. I know, very bad management on my part! I will admit to that.
When I did finally make a firm stand and say that I was letting him go and there were going to be no 'buts' about it, he came in for his final pay check and walked into the back area where one of the other girls was cleaning the floor using bleach. Joel is the type of guy who wears his jean trouser legs well over his shoes dragging along the ground. You can guess what happened. The next day he brought in his jeans, nicely folded in a plastic bag, and proceeded to show me the damage the bleach had done. He then asked me to cough up $250 for them, as this was the amount he had paid for them. I told him no, and that because he had walked into the back area on his own accord, that was his bad luck. I well and truly had had enough of him by this stage.
To cut a long story short, I eventually did offer to pay him for it, but he didn't bother coming in for the money, so that was the end of that.
This all happened towards the end of our stay at the cafe. So, for the first four months I had to put up with Amy and for the latter part I was putting up with Joel. I think the final three months I was fairly stress free with regards to staff. Except for Tanya, who wasn't a bad worker, and is a lovely person, but she suffers from depression and that made things difficult. She would often use her children as excuses, and it's very hard to argue with that. How can you argue that work comes before family? Particularly as I don't believe in that.

On a personal note, one of the things I found hardest to deal with, was the fact that people thought I was stupid. It was an attitude that came from people time and time again. Just because you work behind a counter does not mean you are stupid and uneducated. I constantly found that I was justifyng myself. Richard and friends kept on telling me to just smile and take their money. In my previous job, I was always talking to borrowers. They respected my opinion. They would come and ask me for advice on what to read. I would help them with their research. I found at the cafe that I was not getting anything out of it. I would go home each night disatisfied with my job, with an aching body because I had been on my feet all day. Considering all my previous jobs were all government positions, I suppose I was a bit spoiled. I just didn't know how spoilt I was until I went into business for myself.

Well, a year went by,and we finally sold it!
Looking back it all seems a bit surreal. I literally have to ask myself, did I really do that? Did I work myself to the bone that much
Now, two years later, I am working a very comfortable job at a university library and I am studying an undergraduate degree to become a teacher. It all seems a world away from the cafe. So, that's the story of my shit year. I went into it, with optimism, excitement, big stars in my eyes, only to come away, deflated, sad and fairly teary. But, as they say, when a door closes a window opens, and that's exactly what's happened to me. I had been thinking of doing teaching for quite a few years, and that whole episode propelled me towards it.

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