Stress and Tech – hand in hand


A bit of a stressful week this week. Our broadband contract was due to expire at the end of the month, and although it would continued (they usually do with Sky) the cost would have escalated quite a way, based on the initial quote they gave us. So they “invite” us to call them to see if we can get a better deal. My wife deals old routerwith this kind of thing, as I don’t have the patience and whilst on the call on Monday asked about a new Router. We have always been told, by new routerSky to ask about equipment whenever we renew, even if there’s not a problem, which there wasn’t. The person that she dealt with said that there would be no problem and that there would be a new one in the post that day. As good as her word, the new router arrived on Wednesday morning.

The first issue that we were hit with was that is was about 1 inch wider and longer allPig in Mud round. It also was an upright one as opposed to the flat one we were used to. This meant a whole rearrangement of my desk for the thing to fit. After a bit of “huffing” and “puffing” I managed to place it in the best position. Now came the mammoth task of setting up all the devices with the new router. However, I was in my element doing this. It brought many memories from my work life. Dashing from device to device with my check-list and passwords, I was like a pig in a muddy puddle.

Then I hit the first real problem!

The new router would not connect to the Sky Q box! I tried everything, but it just would not happen. This of course meant that many of the features that came with the contract were not available. For example, we could not open Netflix. It also meant that the youngest son’s TV and mini box didn’t Help-Deskwork either. Not although he probably won’t be back here until April, we needed to get it fixed straight away. My wife rang Sky and after a 45 minute wait in a queue managed to explain the problem. The phone was passed to me to go through some troubleshooting (which I had already done) before the help-desk operator decided that an engineer was required. He was booked in for Thursday between 12:00 an 17:00. 

Then came problem two!

The printer we use is a wi-fi connected printer that we all share. the new router would not connect to the printer. I followed all the included instructions (again!) but still nothing. By now, I was beginning to get a little Printerbit annoyed. I looked online at the HP printer site and followed all their ‘helpful’ ideas, but to no avail. In the end, Google came to my rescue. And it was a simple fix. All I needed to do was to uninstall the printer, then reinstall it. Next problem. The printer installation media was on a DVD and this laptop does not have one. I ended up downloading the installation software from the internet. After that, it all went really smoothly which just left the Sky Q box not connected and the help desk advised that the engineer would get everything working, one way or another.

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The engineer duly arrived at the appointed time and we conducted the call through the living room window. They are not allowed into the house because of the virus. We went through a number of questions. and heCable asked what the new router was. When he saw it he said there had been some problems with that type. We proceed to try and connect using an ethernet cable, which worked straight away. But as soon as the cable was removed, the connection was lost. He came up with two solutions: number one was to permanently connect with a cable, but that would mean lifting the carpet to hide the cable which was not a good idea. Option two was to revert back to the old router. That seemed the best idea, and he gave us the latest model of the old one. Once plugged in, all the problems went away, although I still had to reinstall the printer again.

Once again, I spent an hour doing my impression of a “pig in a puddle” whilst I connected all the devices, but touch wood, there are no more issues.

I suppose, at the end of the day, that the old maxim “If it’s not broken, then don’t fix it” applies here.

 

 

Work concerns …


Work at the cafe is going through a funny phase at the moment. My hours are normally 10:30 until 17:00 on Monday and Tuesday Usually we are quite busy for the start of the week but for the past three weeks, cover numbers have been dropping. From an average of around 65, last Monday the covers dropped to 31. This was so low that the owner told me not to come in until 12:00 the next day. The numbers were slightly up on the previous day, but not to such a great extent. This lead to the boss saying that she would ‘let me know’ what hours I would be working this week, by the end of the week.

To me, the ‘end of the week’ meant Friday, but it did not happen, and I resorted to texting her on Saturday evening. The answer came back more or less straight away. It was to 12:00 until ‘finish’ both days and that ‘we can take it from there!’ The problem I have is that my job as a kitchen assistant/porter is a zero-hours contract. In fact, the only two people who have proper contracts are the assistant manager and the main chef. The rest of us, even the full-time waitress are on zero-hour contracts. It is just the nature of the business, and as I have recently discovered the hospitality section is one of the biggest users of zero-hour contracts. It is very disturbing.

A good deal …


I have been thinking about changing my mobile supplier for a while now. I’m with Three and have been for a good few years. My most recent contract, was a 12 month deal with 8gb of data and unlimited text and calls for £10.27 a month. The contract formally ended towards the end of last month, so I was looking around the deals that were available to see if I could get a better one.

I came across an advert for a company called TalkMobile and the deal there were offering was, again a 12 month contract with 9gb of data and unlimited text and calls for £9 a month. They were also give the 1st 3 months at £4.50 a month. this worked out at a saving of £28.50 in the first year. It sounded a great deal and all I needed to do was get PAC (Porting Authorisation Code ) from Three and I could keep my same number.

The code was duly requested and I was all ready to change companies. However, within a couple of hours, I got a text message from Three which asked me to get in touch to talk about what they could do to ‘keep me on board’ as they said.

What followed was one of those ‘web-chat’ meetings (which I prefer). The operator wanted to know why, after all these years, was I looking to change? I explained that I wanted a cheaper deal. I explained the contract I had been looking at and asked the question “Can you equal or better that deal?” Very quickly, he came back with two offerings. The 1st was a 12 month contract with unlimited text and calls and 12gb of data for £8.00 a month. Or a similar contract with only 4gb of data for £5.00 a month. Success!

I decided that the 1st option was the best and I agreed. It was explained that when the paper version of the contract came through, It would show a monthly charge of £26.00, but would also show ‘recurring discounts’ of £8.00 and £10.00 in the final details. The new contact doesn’t start until the end of this month as it was explained that I was now into a new month and should have contacted them the week before. But that’s not a problem, so I’m one ‘happy bunny’ as they say.

From then to now … back to the start


I was informed by a phone call from the Catering Manager, that I was to return to the LGI the following Monday. It was as simple as that. I was half expecting it to be honest as the the person I was covering had come back to work. It wasn’t expected as everybody thought that the pressures of the job was too much for him. That was the main reason he had been on long term sickness and the reason I was covering his job. But he had returned and as such I was  surplus to requirement. The worrying thing was that the follow up letter from the Catering Manager, talked about the post I was to take up as being a ‘temporary position at the moment’. That did not sound so good.

At the time, I was not a big fan of the hospitals Trades Unions. The primary two were the National UnionUnion of Public Employees (NUPE) and the Confederation Of Health Service Employees (COSHE). The issue I had was that neither of these would have anything to do with employees under the age of 18. This I thought was unfair as the people most likely to have issues were the youngest of the workforce. However, one of my colleagues, K**** was a good friend of the shop steward. ContractHe mentioned to the steward (called D***) the problems I was facing . He looked closely into my initial contract and found a clause that stated that at the end of my training, I would be found a permanent position within the catering teams. The kicker to this clause was that it never been changed in subsequent contracts and still stood. They had to provide me with a permanent position. I was a bit worried that I would need to join the union, but this never materialised.

This delayed my return by a couple of weeks until I received a letter explaining that there had been “… some confusion … the job was a permanent job, but not necessarily in the same kitchen …” The letter finished with “…please report to the Main Kitchen for 9am on Monday …”

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The kitchen was divided into three sections: the vegetable section; the meat and fish section and my Vegparticular favourite; the pastry section. I was hoping that I would get pastry as it was what I felt was my best area. But there was some new girl in that section. More about her later. No, I got the section I was dreading, the vegetable section. I was not a veggie person, in fact apart from  baked beans and processed peas, I did not eat vegetables. Simply did not like them, and to be given the job of cooking the stuff felt like a little bit of ‘pay-back’ for my unintentional union help.

Hospital vegetables were not cooked the way vegetables are cooked these days. Before the late 1960’s vegetables were always cooked to death and whilst the 1970’s saw new thoughts on cooking, hospital vegetables were still being over cooked. The premise was that poorly people needed soft food. Thankfully, to a greater extent that has changed for the better.

There was a set order for the rotation of vegetables on the main meal. I cannot remember the order, but the list consisted of: carrots, green beans, swede, peas (always on Swede n CarrotFriday with the fish) and cabbage. Occasionally, there were broad beans and very occasionally mashed carrot and swede. The broad beans were always served in a white sauce, but the swede/carrot mash-up only occurred if there was a shortage of one or both of the two vegetables. I love it now but back then I thought it smelled awful, and fully thought it would taste disgusting.

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That first week was terrible and I did consider looking for another job. Staff treated The Goonsme very indifferently at first, but as the weeks went by, I found myself enjoying my role more. The person I worked with shared the same interests as me both in hobbies and music and had a very similar taste in comedy. We were both huge fans of The Goon Show and often talk to each other using a couple of The Goons voices.

I was also getting to know the ‘new girl’ a little better and things were starting to get to a similar stage as they were before I was forced to leave the Maternity hospital. And the ‘new girl’ was beginning to play a very important part in my life.