Free At Last

In fairness, finishing my first term of Uni isn’t quite up there with gaining civil rights plus I am a middle-class white boy. Nonetheless, and though it shall pass, for the moment I am sitting in bed with coffee just feeling as if some tyrannical yoke – of capitalist oppression? Apologies, still writing for exams – has been lifted. If I were on the other side of this post I should scoff at the whingeing student bleating away. From this side all I can remark on was how bloody tough it has been this first term.

I imagine it is largely to do with my congenital idleness married to the first formal academic environment since school finished some *ahem* twenty years ago. It was a shock. On induction day we had warnings about trying to do anything else other than study. Two day long lectures plus one, one hour tutorial a week  meant I indulged in a small snort of derision. I was so very wrong. Part-time job has gone, much socialising has gone, girlfriend has gone and application has steadily increased. Although I am not up to the additional voluntary thirty hours a week of self-directed input suggested, I am creeping towards it.

All I need to do today is get ready to go to Canuckistan by buying dollars, chucking a few shirts in a bag and indulging in totally guilt-free feelings of excitement that precipitate a trip home to B.C.

If you are my mother’s neighbour in Canada and are reading this then I remember your kind remarks and will drop by to say hello. Two options for you are now available: battening down the hatches, turning off the lights and cowering in a back room pretending you are not in (a very British way of dealing with Trick or Treaters incidentally) or alternatively, mines an egg-nog laced with rum thank you very much.

These last two to three weeks has been a time of a relentlessly steady but minutely incremental application of pressure. If anyone wants to know about the Hegelian dialectic approach to crude Marxist theory please don’t expect me to enlighten you. No essays, no revision and no exams. Free, free at last. Well until next January.

Bah Humbug

My Manager Says…

I had an extremely circular conversation with Becky from the Co-Operative car insurance team today. I was very (very) good as I didn’t allow any hint of frustration or incredulity slip into my voice. Nonetheless, having had a 20 min chat with the Co-Op Home Insurance – my home insurance provider – Customer Services team who ended up assuring me in unequivocal terms that the included legal protection policy extended to motor cars and all things related Becky insists that the home insurance part – “nuffink to do wiv us” – are wrong.

“I asked and my manager says no…”.

Can you see how good I was not to get frustrated or be incredulous? The Co-Op is The Co-Op is The Co-Op, end of discussion. The letterheads are similar, the font identical, colours the same etc etc. I already buy insurance from them and they provide the electricity. It’s The Co-Op and that’s as far as I care.

Not for The Co-Op apparently. We are one but we are totally different is how they operate. I suggested to young Becky that she might like to direct her manager towards page 24 of the home insurance policy document which, sadly, I have read. It is very specific in the exclusions and cars ain’t in it. Anywhere. Nein. Nada. Nach. You get the idea. Deaf ears because….wait for it….”my manager says no”.

Gotta love joined up thinking in companies. It is doubly frustrating because I want the Co-Op to be good. I am emotionally invested in their brand, which is something they just don’t seem to get.

After all that the quote was twice that of elsewhere. 25 min on the dog’n’bone, but I did hang out all the washing and do the dishes so not really a loss of time.

Blovember #7 – The Least Worst Option

Don’t get me wrong, I ain’t no politico. My general view on politicians is best expressed by the quote; “The desire to become a politician should automatically disqualify that person from ever being one” which is variously attributed to several people including even Billy Connolly. I wish there was a box on the ballot that says “None Of The Above”. As @Sophie_Gee wryly observed though, “what if that is the majority option?”. Hmm, let me think on that. I may be a while.

Nonetheless, the Tea Party which seems to be the deeply right-wing and religiously biased (flawed?) equivalent of the Monster Raving Loony Party has failed, through the failure of everybody’s favourite Mormon bishop to become El Presidente, to even get a sniff at proper power and the mere sight of “The Football“. Obama is indeed the Least Worst Option so we can all breathe a bit easier for the next 3.5 years.

Blovember #2

Day 2 and I feel like a kid being made to write the “what I did on my holidays” post half-term standard fodder.

Today I applied to Sophos for a v interesting looking role as the Sales Enablement Program Manager – Learning & Development. Looks v interesting, plays v well to my strengths and is relatively local. I don’t mind business travel but at this stage in life am not looking to relocate as that is for peeps without kids at a non-boarding  school.

The interesting thing to see is whether I am even spoken to, as my CV is coming to the UK HR Dept via a friend of a friend in Vancouver. I have never ever ever received a reply to an application via Linkedin as my CV isn’t a nice boilerplate example of I did this and then this and then this where the respective “thises” have been a steady progression along an A-B-C-D sort of obvious line. I like to think I have had an interesting and informative life but  we’ll see what Sophos think.

Blovember

So it’s a cheap an easy title? I am sitting in bed when I remembered that I was talked into once a day blogging in November by Musings From the Sofa. This is for NaBloPoMo – stupid sounding name imho. Blovember, much better.

Day 1 and there is project slippage. Hi ho. We’ll see what gives in a week. Nothing of note today apart from staying in touch with friends and recovering from yesterday. I bought a pair of orange and blue trainers for £25.The orange is so bright I can find them in the dark as they seem to emit their own energy. Most odd. They didn’t have a Chernobyl glow in daylight.

Yesterday was pretty cool. I stepped into something I hadn’t done for 10 years and it came back more naturally then I had hoped. My old boss from 14y year ago is the CEO of a firm with one of those – picked from the air, sounds kinda tecchie and most importantly the domain name is available – names. Flexiant. I really enjoyed it as it was especially challenging as it was a seasoned and experienced audience. If you don’t get credibility in the first 5 minutes the next 10 hours are hellish. I did, they weren’t.

Off to bed. More tomorrow.

Kiss me first Mr Estate Agent

Estate Agents used to strut around when selling houses as they couldn’t shift them fast enough. You snooze, you lose was the general feeling. These days in the UK the property sales market is v. v. weak yet the Lettings market is incredibly robust. Rents are high reflecting high demand and limited supply much as you learnt in Economics 101. As the estate Agents are no longer wallowing around in fat sale commissions and are relying on income from their lettings side they have decided that they obviously can’t keep sticking it to the Landlords who have the power to choose who represents them but instead they will screw the person with no options. To whit: the renter.

Estate Agents 2

I am renting a property right now and not only do I pay a deposit – very understandable – but I pay a mixture of other non-refundable fees that are the Estate Agents cost of doing business. They have worked out that they can not only pass these costs on for things like reference checks but hell, why not skim a bit on the side and round it up a little? They farm out reference checks to a third party on-line but it is apparently £60 per check.  £60, give me a break. After all, they want the house, we’re the agents, demand is high, it’ll rent regardless…drop your trousers sir. The “screw you” attitude gets better. I pay a deposit over the phone with my Debit Card and they even want to pass on the 30 pence (50 cents) handling charge on a £320.00 transaction. Talk about being nickeled and dimed to death.

The complete absurdity of the total lack of business acumen (not my job ‘guv, rules are rules) displayed by the chap in the office that obviously isn’t his? When I ask about my receipt the clown offers to post it. At least a £1 operation. I declined and tried to make the point that I wasn’t going to be petty and he could staple it to the inevitable hard copy of the rental agreement. Deaf ears, he just didn’t see.

When I go to the supermarket I don’t stand at the till and pay a further cleaning charge, staff pension supplement, stacking fee etc etc. What you see is what you pay. All those things are the cost of doing business.  estate Agents are always mystified as to why they are considered in such a poor light. I wonder why no-one wants to sit by them at a dinner party? I wonder.

PS: Kiss me first in the title stems from the crude but apt saying; I like to be kissed when I am screwed.

What she misses…

Prompted by me remarking that GP surgeries never seemed to operate hours to cater for working folk and not just people with nothing better to do with their time, a British friend that lived in the US for 7 years and is relatively recently back remarked to me, “I miss dealing with companies/service providers that see it as their goal to serve me and accommodate my needs and that don’t expect me to modify my life around their inflexibility”…or similar.

In the UK it is my experience that something as simple as seeing your GP at a time to suit a working person (like they are, grrrr….) is fraught with difficulty. Evenings or Saturday’s? Novel huh?

We pay for this – not as directly as money changing hands between us but through pretty high taxes. Who’s zoomin who?