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.
It’s the end of March and things had not got much better. Our usual whole-team meetings were now bi-monthly and there were rumours flying around about possible job losses. The head of our service had called a special meeting as he put it “To discuss certain issues!” He was quite up front from the start. The department had to save £XYZ the next financial year and that there could/would be job cuts. But there was good news too. The Early Leavers Initiative (see this post) that I had been rejected for was now looking at every application with a view to acceptance. The caveat was that it was a time-limited offer and we would have to work fast, because after the offer finished, the early link to the work pension would no longer be available.
My initial reaction was not a very positive one. I took the view that I was too important before, so I was too important now! After my initial thoughts had calmed down a little, I talked it over with my wife and decided that there was no harm in applying again, especially as I was no longer IT ‘king-pin’ that has been before my heart operation. And of course, if I was not happy with the offer I would be getting, I could always refuse it and carry on.
The offer came through at the end of April and it was about what we were expecting. So after more talk and lot of soul searching, we decided it was the best thing. We decided that I should carry on until the end of October as this would give us more time to make any plans we needed. My idea was that I would take about 6 months off, doing jobs around the house that I had not had time to do, then start to look for some part-time work. I knew that after half a year, I could possibly apply for my old job back in a part-time capacity, but that thought never got off the ground at all.
So after about 1 year of jobs and taking it easy (sometimes) I started to look for something paid to do. This wasn’t going to be easy. I had applied certain conditions to the job search. I could not work weekends (my wife worked Sundays, and Saturday was our ‘family day’). Evenings were also out as I just didn’t want evening work and I only wanted to work a maximum of 14 hours, over a 2 day period. This did limit the kind of work that was available. I also did not want a managerial/supervisory responsibility which limited it even further. It was nearly another year before I was successful.
The staff party went as well as could be expected, even the short time I was there. I think subconsciously I knew that it would and I also knew that there would be no problem with R***. He was the excuse I used to get out of going for the full evening. I know it’s wrong of me to use the possibility of him having a ‘melt-down’ to get out of something, but it was the only thing I had. The problem is, that I’m not a fan of social get-togethers. They just don’t have any appeal these days. It must be an age thing because when I was in my early 20’s you would not have been able to stop me. Anyway it seems that they were glad I went and wished I had stopped longer.
They are a great team to work with and I enjoy their company. This job is just what I wanted from a part-time job. The hours could not be better. The location is ideal and the wage, well I don’t expect any more for what I do. Its quite a physical job, but for two days of 6 and a half hours, I seem to be coping. They made me extremely welcome for the first day, and usually that kind welcome doesn’t continue more than a couple of weeks, but I still feel the same as I felt the first day, which can’t be bad.
When I say packaging, I mean excess packaging. Let me give you an example. Two weeks ago, Mrs H needed to buy some baked beans. We have to get a branded type, as R*** will only eat a certain brand. As this is his mainstay food source, we tend to go through a lots of baked beans. So we usually look for multi-packs or special offers. The ‘Buy 2 – Get 1 Free’ type of offers. Now where I have a problem, is the multi-pack system. Why is there a need to wrap the four/six tins in a sheet of polythene? Can the store not say something like “Six tins for the price of 4”, instead of wrapping six tins and making ‘2 Free"’ on the packaging? Or just mark it up on the shelf, say One tin = 51p, Four tins £1.94? I’m sure the customers are not so stupid as not to able to work out which is cheapest! It would save on the need for the polythene wrapper, which in my experience is not usually recyclable. I did ask the manager at one store why they wrapped multi-packs, and was told “It is to make it easier for the customer pick up!” i will leave you to your own opinions on that statement
I recently had a problem with Twitter. For the past three months I have been using an app, on my smartphone to send multiple tweets using the extremely popular #FF or #FollowFriday hash tags. The app quite simply pulls up a list of all the people that follow you, and the app then tweets a message followed by #FF, to all in that list. Well, as I mentioned, I have been doing this regularly for the past three months, without any problems at all. Then on this Friday past, I used the app as usual. When I came to login at home, I found that my account had been suspended! I quickly emailed Twitter support, and was told that “I had abused the @reply system, by sending large amounts of unsolicited messages.” The account was then ‘unsuspended’ and, after a few hours, I could carry on as normal. They really annoying thing was that the support call was closed, and I was unable to explain what had happened. I am now considering my options with Twitter. I enjoy using it, and enjoy the connections I have made using it, but if it is starting to get more restrictive, then it may have to go.