Work Experience

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First of all, what another ridiculously busy week. We did some more gardening at the weekend and I dug another path before filling it with bark! We decided not to dig the semi-circle we discussed last week as this may have been too much bark for one garden.

I also borrowed a friends petrol strimmer and had some fun with that, what a beast! When I first went to use it, however, the throttle didn’t work didn’t work so I couldn’t use it. Now, I don’t know what’s got in to me recently because I’m usually crap with any form of manual labour, especially fixing things like this, I usually just ring my dad. This time, though, I decided to take it apart and see what was the matter and believe it or not (in fact, I still don’t believe it) I fixed it!! The best part is that the strimmer has different tools to put on the end so I also borrowed the hedge trimmer attachment. This was extremely dangerous but very cool. I managed to chop our conifers into a square(ish) shape without hurting anybody or even losing a body part.

Anyway, enough of my garden and on to work. As you can probably guess from the title coupled with the fact that I’m too old to do work experience myself, this week we have had a lovely young adolescent male join our team to do some “work experience”. This is usually something that neither the 15 year old student that is forced in to it and the willing employer that has taken them on, don’t particularly want to do. Well, in my experience this is the case and it isn’t the first time we’ve done it. To be honest, though, our office is actually a pretty good place to go on work experience if you like IT as we cover almost every aspect you can think of. We are also first line, second line, and even advanced technical support rolled in to one!

So Monday morning came and when I got to work I learnt that my manager, Steve, wasn’t going to be in that day, he had an ill child to take care of and was “working” from home. Brilliant, this left the 4 of us to come up with a work plan and give our school boy something to do without the direction of a manager. Saying that, most of the things we do are without the direction of a manager (I hope he doesn’t read this!). So at 9:30, the lad arrives and introduces himself as Alex. But I’m not going to call him Alex. I’m going to call him Axel. This is mainly because of the extremely long hair that spouted from his head but also because of his rock ‘n’ roll personality that was filled with angst.

The first thing we got him to do was build a laptop (as in installing Windows and our corporate apps, not physically making one!). We always set this task for a work experience bod as it’s a good but basic IT experience and usually takes the best part of a day to do. Not Axel, though, he was still working on it mid morning on Tuesday. Anyway, going back to Monday, my colleague, Warren, asked Axel on at least four occasions whether he’d like to come with him and do something (IT related, of course). I managed to witness two of these instances…

Warren: “Axel, there’s a problem with the MFD* on the first floor. Do you want to come upstairs with me and take a look?”
Axel: “Er, I’m ok, I’ll just wait down here.”
*an MFD is a Multi Function Device or basically a printer/scanner/photocopier

Warren: “Axel, I’ve got to install some more memory in someone’s computer as it’s running really slow. Do you want to come with me?”
Axel: “Er, where is it?”
Warren: “It’s just over at our offices next door, literally a 1-2 minute walk.”
Axel: “Er, no I’m ok, it’s a bit cold outside. I’ll just wait here.”

I was speechless, I mean shouldn’t a 15 year old boy on work experience do what he is told/asked? I felt like saying “Axel, when somebody asks you if you’d like to go and do something, they are politely saying ‘come with me, we are going to do this’, it’s not really a negotiation”. Luckily my manager said exactly this when he came back on Tuesday… Obviously Steve was filled in with what Axel was like so he tried it himself; he told Axel that he had to go next door to let an engineer in to the server room to install a new phone line and asked if he’d like to go with him. Surprisingly enough, Axel didn’t want to and replied with “Er, no I’m ok, it’s raining outside, I’ll just wait here”.

When Steve got back, he had a chat with Axel. He asked him what he’d like to get out of work experience. “Er,” was his reply. To be fair to the kid, he did admit that there was nothing left on the work experience list that he wanted to do so he was practically “pushed” into doing this. So Steve asked if their was any aspect of IT that he was interested in and Axel said that he liked learning about the insides of computers and how they work. This was instantly shot down with the fact he declined the offer from Warren to open up a computer and put some more RAM in it. The next question was what did Axel wanted to do in life, what career did he want to pursue. The answer to this was shocking. He said…

“I don’t know. I don’t really want to prepare myself and learn about something if when I start a job, it’s not what I want to do.”

Isn’t that basically a scapegoat for everything, for school even?!? This kid clearly didn’t have a future in mind… In the end, Steve basically told him to go home and think about what he wanted to get out of this experience and what he wanted to achieve. Then, to come back the next day with the appropriate enthusiasm and willingness to do things or not bother coming back.

Today was the next day. At 9:05 this morning, Steve got a call from HR. They had received a call from Axel’s mum saying that he came home a bit stressed last night and this morning he’s got a headache so he wont be coming in, I’m guessing that it will be a 3 day headache and that he won’t be back all week.

You may be thinking that we were a little harsh on the kid but what were we supposed to do? I mean, I’m happy to help someone who wants to learn and get a good experience from something but when you have a boy like Axel who just doesn’t want to do anything while on work experience (or with his life for that matter) then it’s best all around that we don’t waste each others time…

Anyway, I’m glad to say that I have this Friday off work as we are going to a wedding in Manchester. It’s a bit of a drive to go to a wedding but seeing as we’ve had to pay for two nights in a hotel, I’m hoping it will be a good weekend!

Motion Sensor Light Switches – Good or Bad?

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I understand that they can be useful and save money if they are positioned well and in the right rooms. Why wouldn’t they? Lights switch on when there is someone in the room and switch off when it’s empty.

My experience, however, says otherwise…

Personally, I think they are a complete waste of time and pretty pointless. At least in my place of work! Let me explain what triggered this venting post…

As you have probably guessed, we recently had motion sensor light switches fitted in our offices (although, funnily enough, the senior management offices were omitted from the scheme). This includes the toilets. Now, without going in to too much detail, I’ve had a slightly dodgy tummy for the last week or so and to be honest, I’m not the fastest on the toilet at the best of times.

Anyway, I had to go today. Nothing like being paid to poo, eh? You know toilets often have two doors (to prevent people from seeing in when the first door is opened), well that is where the motion sensor is, between those two doors. The light switch, which no longer works, is also situated here. I, and everyone else, used to simply flick the lights on when going in and flick them back off when we left. We have now had this privilege taken away from us.

Whoever set the timer on this sensor must be the fastest defecater in history, because today the lights kindly switched themselves off before I had finished my business. Actually, this isn’t the first time this has happened but today it was extremely dull and cloudy outside so not much light was coming through the window. Couple this with the fact that I was sat in an enclosed cubicle and, as you can imagine, it was pretty bloody dark. I was, however, grateful that it wasn’t a late winter afternoon as I would have been sat in pitch black. Now, is it just me, or does it make sense to put a sensor above the one and only cubicle that resides in this toilet? Clearly not!

This now meant that I couldn’t really see what I was doing. I needed that light back on. I waited a while hoping that a fellow colleague would need to relieve themselves and enter the toilet, triggering the motion sensor. This did not happen. The only way that light was coming back on was if I triggered it myself…

So there I am, trousers around my ankles unlocking the cubicle door. Luckily, the second main door to the toilet is literally two metres away from the cubicle door so I only had to venture out for a couple of seconds. I pulled the door open, half expecting someone to be coming through the first door, and the lights flickered and jumped back in to action! To my amazement, I managed to get back in my cubicle, lock the door and reseat myself without anyone coming in and witnessing the act. I can’t even begin to imagine what I would do (or what they would do for that matter) if someone had.

So this is the main reason I really hate motion sensor light switches.

Another reason, which actually costs the company more rather than saving them money, is that when I pop into the kitchen, which has its own window by the way, to put my lunch in the fridge, the lights come on and stay on for about 10 minutes. How is that more efficient when before we had motion sensor light switches I would have just walked in and put my lunch in the fridge without even turning a light on!! This is also the case with many other rooms, I really can’t see the point…

Anyway, that is enough ranting from me, I think you get the idea that I don’t like motion sensor light switches!

I will just have to remember to take a torch with me on my next toilet break.

Getting Used to Blogging… I’ll Get There in the End!

Today my man flu is still in full swing. In fact, my nose is worse. My wife, Holly, seemed to be convinced that it was hay fever and made me take antihistamines, which surprisingly enough… did absolutely nothing! This did make me feel temporarily better as it proved that she is not always right. Just most of the time! I soon deteriorated when I remembered that I was still suffering from man flu and it was nothing to do with the pollen floating around in the atmosphere.

Work was a bit better, however, as I was able to lock myself away in an unused room with the excuse that I don’t want to infect everyone else. The fact we all work in an open office made my boss happy to oblige. This meant peace and quiet, no phones or people popping in with computer problems and I could actually get a lot of work done even though I felt ill.

I popped home during lunch to see the family because the kids are also a bit poorly and my 4 year old son, Liam, had his first visit to the ‘big’ school that he’ll be starting at in September. Luckily, the nursery is on the same site and literally next door so it wasn’t too much of a change for him and he said he loved it. He had to go back to nursery in the afternoon too so it was a long day for him as he’s only used to half days.

My 15 month old daughter, Laura, however, was not so happy. She was sat in her highchair, having thrown her lunch all over the floor, and was now crying. No, not crying; whingeing and moaning, loudly, with a face full of snot. I picked her up and she stopped. After Liam had gone to nursery I had a short 15 minute playtime with Laura, the usual stuff; tickling, throwing her about, chasing her around, and she was happy and laughing. After being back at work for 30 minutes I get a text message from Holly…

“What the hell is wrong with this child?”

To which I reply, “She wants me!”

My poorly little girl wants her daddy. At first this made me smile but unfortunately I was stuck at work and Holly would have to persevere. I suggested taking her out for walk so she would hopefully fall asleep in her pushchair. Almost an hour and a half later I get another text telling me that she has finally gone to sleep!

I love my family more than anything, but I don’t think I could cope with being a househusband! I don’t know how Holly does it. Coming to work is like an escape for me, and even though sometimes I feel like putting my head in my hands and crying, or smashing something (or someone!) up depending on the day I’ve had, I’d still rather be there than at home all day.

Once I did finally get home, all was ok again but it was about to change… We have a small tactic we play with Liam where we say we are going to beat him at doing something when he doesn’t want to do it. Whether this be running up the stairs to bed, going to nursery, or going to the toilet. This evening it was eating our dinner. I was, of course, the winner; Holly came in a close second while Laura came third (although half of her dinner was on the floor). This meant that Liam was going to be last. What a mistake it was to point out this fact. We had to listen to half an hour of screaming and arguing that Laura was the loser and he was the winner. I think we need to revise this tactic and use it wisely in the future!

Luckily, however, by bed time he had calmed down and did go straight to sleep. Laura did not! I tried walking her to the shop but she sat bolt upright in her pushchair and refused to go to sleep. I did get a tub of Ben & Jerry’s out of it though so it wasn’t all bad! She has now finally gone to sleep and with the way I’m feeling, I’m going next.

So that was my second post, rather long and detailed when reading it back but I’m sure I’ll get better with time!

Good night…

My First Post (how original!)

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Maybe it’s because I’m new to blogging, maybe it’s just my inability to plough right in to things, either way I really felt like I needed an introductory post despite reading that it’s actually more popular to just start blogging as if you’ve been doing it for months. So here it is! Unfortunately, however, after spending so much time thinking of a blog name and choosing a theme and adding a picture (why do they give you so many options!?!) I am going to have to keep this rather short as it’s late and I feel pretty crap. I have a cold, a sore throat and a headache. Basically, I’m on the way to being hospitalised with the deadly man flu any day now.

I’ve been wanting to start a blog for almost a year now but I never knew what to write about. I still don’t really but I thought ‘what’s the one thing I know more than anyone else about?

My life…

It will probably be rather boring but at least I’ve started the ball rolling and have accomplished one of my ambitions; to start a blog. So it’s here that I will write about my everyday life, the events that happen – good and bad, my job, the joys of parenthood, the joys(?) of marriage and, from time to time, my thoughts and opinions on things I feel strongly about or happen to be on my mind as I blog.

Anyway, short and sweet I know, but it’s nearly midnight, I’ve got work in the morning, both kids are a bit ill (not as bad as me, of course, nothing is worse than man flu) and my eyelids feel like they have glue on them. I promise to write a more lengthy and (hopefully) interesting post tomorrow.

Night night