Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I commute therefore I am

It is one of the horrors of my life that I inevitably seem to get jobs in central London. I keep trying to do otherwise, to be 'normal' and have a job close to home, but every time I've tried, as sure as the sun rises in the East I get moved to central London.

This is a problem.

For most of London it takes me in the region of one and one half hours door to door. In one job it was around two hours. That means three hours a day, 15 hours a week, or approximately 90 working days a year, essentially doing very little. Sure, I read, sometimes I snooze, I do what email I can, but its generally non productive, and non relaxing time. Yes, I can read, but reading stuffed in a too small seat jammed between others, with all of the attendant sights, smells and sounds of a crouded train carraige is NOT relaxing.

It is a best a divergance.

Sadly, of the two jobs I am currently in competition for, one is in central London, one is, horror of horrors, in the London suburbs and would require me to drive. Driving on a race track or off road, is fun, driving during peak school journey rush hour, is NOT fun.

I think if I could change just one thing about my life, it would be this. Poor me...

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Please excuse me, but could you leave?

My autumn last year was extremely odd, and extremely busy. On the one hand, I was hands down busy. A host of initiatives, changes on all side to the function I managed, and the setting of plans that would fundamentally change the way the business was supported. It all felt like it was going well.

On the other hand, my interaction with my senior colegues was slowly degrading. Just not in the same way. One of the men I was closest too started dodging meetings. Yet I knew he was also madly busy as well as travelling, so annoying as it was I understood it. Another, located on the other side of the earth, wasn't returning calls. Even though I was in deep discussion with his team about a staff re-organisation and interviewing new hires. My own boss never talked to me, but then he never did.

It all added up to a smell that wasn't particularly nice. I did gently probe with people I trusted, but was getting back positive, not negative noises.

Since then I found out that something else was going on in the background. My dear boss, an old school manager who understood my function not at all, but felt it important enough to have me report to him, had a little quibble with his boss, the chairman. It seems that in a board meeting the chairman asked him what the strategy for my division was, and he mumbled an answer. This wasn't because there wasn't a strategy, I'd talked him through it many times, I just don't think he understood it.

And so ensued a little power struggle of the sort those two frequently got into. Other non executive directors were involved, highly paid consultants were consulted, and my boss threw his hands up in the air, had the chairman's hand inserted up his backside into his mouth, and a 'strategy' was born.

All this I believe took some time. It happened with more and more people being talked to, and amazingly none of them talked to me. Very unusual in as leaky an organisation as mine. I like to believe this was primarily due to embaressment. That it was generally known I was doing a good job, and that everyone was a bit shame faced about what was to happen. Then again, maybe they are all self absorbed egoists and cared not a hoot about a collegue they'd worked with for years.

The end result was that I had a meeting with my boss put into my diary some weeks in the future. My understanding this was to discuss strategy, and I spent considerable time preparing.

When I got to his office and we sat down, the conversation when essentially thus, "I'm terribly sorry, but I've just done a strategic review of your function, and I'm afraid I'm going to have to re-organise. There won't be a position in the firm for you going forward. We'll be generous in recognition of your valuable contribution. Shall I call in our nice HR lady?" Then he scampered.

I paraphrase, but not much really. If the conversation took more than two minutes I'd be shocked. He really did scamper too. Got out of that room faster than I'd ever seen him move. At least he had the grace to look ever so slightly embaressed, but not much.

To put it lightly, I was gobsmacked. Here I was, in a glass walled conference room and it felt like my world had exploded. Given the stress of the previous six months I stood there, and had to physically pull my emotions into check.

The nice HR lady, who actually is nice, and I considered a friend, took one look at me and asked if I still needed a few minutes. I nodded, unable to speak for fear I'd burst into tears. It actually took me about ten minutes before I felt enough in control to walk the few paces down the hall to her office.

I got tea and sympathy, well, she is HR, then the cold hard facts. They were generous... enough. Not generous as I would term the word, but generous enough that it was not worth my while to fight. So I took my few scraps of paper, made some mumbled excuses to my PA and team, and did my own version of scampering. Then I walked, called my wife, walked, walked some more, found myself miles upon miles from the office and finally found it in me to get on the tube and train and got myself home.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The flying of time

I can't quite believe its been as long as it has since my last short post. I did have the best of intentions to become a good loyal blogger again, but it didn't quite work out.

Partially that was due to going through a very bad place. I have had to realise that though I am by no means defined by my job, loosing my job the way I did got to me in ways I just did not expect. I ran head first into a lovely bout of depression.

I functioned, got up in the morning, got the kids ready for school, was there when they got back, made dinner, tidied the house, that sort of thing, but I wasn't functional. I hit moments when I could barely control my emotions, would find myself standing in a hall, tears streaming down my face, or realise I just lost an hour looking at a wall, not really thinking or doing anything.

I did get on with some things, kept just enough focus to get the job search going. It got off to a rather good start, but you know what? I really don't think I interviewed very well, despite having a pretty good track record in that regard. I lost out on three seperate jobs.

In all my life, and many many interviews, I think I'd only ever lost out on two jobs before. If I went for a job, I tended to get it. Not this time.

Didn't do much around the house either. I meant to. I wrote a long list of chores and tasks. I just didn't get to them, or if I did, didn't do them very well.

Its not a time that I remember with much fondness, nor pride. I don't think well of myself through those months.

Then things started to turn, though it was a bit topsy turvey. Through a contact of a contact I managed to land some freelance consulting work. A bit below my previous job, but in a way that was good. I've managed to do it with my eyes closed.

Which was a good thing really, as I still wasn't that functional.

The turning point was my wife getting frustrated, as only she can, and shouting at me. It wasn't a pleasant moment. I crumpled, literally as well as figuratively. Just lost it, started sobbing, the works. Another memory I'm not that fond of, for a host of reasons.

I'm not sure my wife was remembering how she felt the previous year when she lost her job. She went though perhaps a darker time than I had. I was terribly worried about her at one stage. She got through it though.

And... though I could have wished for a more sympathetic trigger, so have I. It did the trick, kick started me into remembering who I am, and how, actually, I'm not the guy who crumples and cries, but can be pretty good at getting things done.

So I am now. The contract is good, and has been extended. It pays enough to cover our costs and keep most of my redundancy squirreled away. Which is a good thing. I've got a couple job conversations going, one of which I'm both really keen on, and at the moment they seem keen on me. Another couple weeks to go before that concludes, but I'm hopeful. And if it doesn't work out, there's two more also looking good. Choices are not a bad thing.

I'm doing more about the house, and, for the moment, the wife and I have patched things over Perhaps not well, I still feel a bit sore, as I think does she, but we'll work it out. Somehow.

So, for now, I think I'll take this up again. There are things I need to get off my chest, need to talk about. Some of that dark time was very dark indeed. If you can bear to listen, I'll try not to moan too much. To be honest, my life really isn't that bad, it just took a little shaking up for me to remember that. Plus, there are some good things to talk about too.

Anyone want to see pictures of how our epic 2 year house extention job worked out?