Tuesday, 31 January 2006

flipping heck

[Longer than usual. Bear with me]


A while ago I decided that it would be good for me to get out and do a bit of temping, as part of my 'getting back to normal' process after so long being subject to panic attacks and general not-being-able-to-cope-with-stuff. There was also the 'climbing the walls being sat at home on my own while B and R are out working' thing.

So before Christmas, I made an appointment with an agency, updated my CV, cleaned my shoes, fished my one presentable suit that doesn't look like an antique from the early 1990's out of the wardrobe and ... promptly had a panic attack as I was about to get in the car to drive to the appointment.

Score: 0

A couple of weeks ago, I decided I was ready to try again.

So, I went though the same routine, this time with a different agency, one that I'd worked for a few years ago. I explained that I worked for myself, mostly at home, but had a bit of spare time and thought it would be good for me to get out and work with other people sometimes. I said that I was looking for long-term part-time placements, or very short-term full-time. Towards the end of the interview, because the woman interviewing me seemed so down to earth, I also added that I'd been suffering from depression and this was part of my rehabilitation plan.

It was definitely a good thing to have mentioned - she responded by telling me briefly about her impending gallstones operation and we moved on to discussing my CV.

Score: 1

Ten days ago, she called and offered me six weeks full-time work, starting in February, just as a 'this might be too long for you, but I thought I'd ask'. It was too long, she had no problem with that.

Last Friday, at 4pm, she phoned and offered me three to five days in a local high-school office, starting yesterday. She said it was a bit of copy-typing and some reception work.

It sounded fun and I accepted it.

Score: 2

Yesterday I turned up at the school, coped very well with the SIMS software they use, fielded phone calls from all sides, typed letters about detentions, exclusions and confiscations and went home, triumphant.

Last night, I lay awake all night worrying about going in again, and this morning, I couldn't manage to get out the door.

Score: minus several million

Hence, 'bollocks'.

However, I've phoned the agency and rather than confabulate some mysterious vomiting syndrome, I explained that it was just too stressful, as I hadn't worked for a while.

Score: 0

It WAS pretty stressful. It's a rough school.

But that wasn't really the problem.

The problem was that a few (a very small number) of the staff seemed to be really angry at the students all the time. The phrases 'little fuckers', 'little bastards' and 'scum' were all used to describe them in the office and the staff room.

While I was on reception, one kid came and asked for his mobile phone back - it had been confiscated earlier in the day because he'd been using it in class. He wasn't supposed to have it back until Friday and was having a sulky , low-grade grumble to see if that would help him get it back any earlier.

The woman I was on reception with put her hands on the reception desk and leant towards him and really had a go at him. In my opinion, it inflamed the situation. If she'd just said 'no, you know the rules, come back Friday, or get a note from the teacher who took it away', the kid would have sat there grumbling for a bit and then gone away. But she provoked him and he ended up telling at her that he would break in to the safe and get it back himself. He didn't shout. It was just low-grade rude twelve-year-old sulkiness.

He got a very definite telling off for his behaviour from one of the members of the teaching staff who I thought was very good with him - no raised voices, no shouting, ensuring the kid kept eye contact during the conversation.

No-one spoke to the member of staff about her behaviour. And it was really her behaviour that was the nail in the stress-coffin that meant I felt I couldn't go back.

Surely respect should work both ways?

The kids do often behave poorly, they aren't blameless, or little angels with no responsibility for their own actions. But, you can excuse them to a certain extent, because they don't know any better. And one of the reasons they don't know any better is that the adults around them aren't setting them a good example and don't respect them as individuals.

If we ever do eventually adopt children, they are probably going to be this kind of difficult child. I don't want their teachers or the school staff calling them 'little fuckers' behind their backs, or mine.

Thoughts? Am I right? Am I wrong?

I am quite distressed by this.

B and R are interviewing people for casual staff positions today. I am listening and making tea.

Tea is not stressful. I like tea.

Overall score from the whole experience: 1, I reckon.

It could be worse.

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