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Milk (redux)

In which FP gets a reluctant refund


A couple of people have, for reasons best known to themselves, asked how I’m getting on with the office milk lady since we fell out. Well, I don’t think I’m any more popular with her than I was. Fed up of there being no milk, and fed up of the woman in question – Administrator Of The Tea Fund – refusing to accept that tea supplies were anything to do with her, I told her that in that case she could give me back the balance of what I’d put into the fund, and I’d make my own arrangements from now on. Which might have been a bit petty, the balance being only 20p, but there you go.

She said “I’ll give you it later.” A few hours later, she phoned me up.

“Have you stopped chucking your little tantrum yet?” she said. “We’ve got some milk in – are you back in the fund or do you still want your money back?”

“I’ll have my money back, please.”

“You’ll be very thirsty this afternoon then.”

“Er, no I won’t be.”

“Well it’s very silly of you, you’re cutting your nose off to spite your face.”

There was a pause. I wasn’t entirely sure what she expected me to say, other than possibly start begging for her forgiveness.

“So are you back in the tea fund now?” she continued, persistently.

“No, I’d still like my 20p back please.”

“Well, I gave you one last chance. I’ll get some change and bring it down for you in a few minutes. You said you don’t want your 20p back?” A nasty little switch at the end there.

“No, I’d still like my 20p back please.”

“Fine. I’ll see you later.”

So, a few minutes later she came downstairs, slammed 20p on my desk, and went away again. And since then, all has been peace and quiet. I can see why some colleagues, those who have to work with her more, don’t like her very much, though, after that conversation. This is someone whose job is to talk to customers over the phone, take orders, and so on – it makes me wonder if she tries doubling back on herself and making quickly misleading switches when she’s on the phone to customers as well as to colleagues.

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Milk

In which we upset colleagues


At the office, I’ve been doing more to make myself unpopular. Specifically: I’ve fallen out with the woman who runs the tea fund.

My complaint is this: if you run the tea fund, then you’re responsible for buying tea, milk, coffee, sugar, and so on. If I give you money, to buy tea, then your job is to make sure tea gets bought. Tea Fund Lady – who has only taken the task on recently – did not see things this way. She was there to collect the money. The money sat in her drawer, and anyone who wanted to go and buy supplies could go and get some. Buying supplies herself, though, was entirely out of the question. It was entirely impossible, she said, because she doesn’t have a car. I was tempted to set up a “Stop The Tea Fund Lady Starving!” campaign, because if buying groceries is that difficult I’m not sure how she manages to stay alive.

So, the way I see it, I may as well manage things myself from now on. Have my own tea bags and my own milk, and see how much it ends up costing me. We will see.

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Everyday life

In which the truth gets told


The last couple of years, I’ve posted “guess which bits are true” posts on April 1st.

I didn’t particularly feel like trying to fool anyone this year. Things have been a bit too stressful, lately, for me to spend much time writing here; for me to spend much time writing true things, never mind about making things up.

Work has been rather busy lately; a lot of upheaval. I’ve heard it said that when you see people under stress, it can bring out new qualities in them. It hasn’t seemed true, to me. It’s pushed people to become more extreme versions of their ordinary selves. The tetchy people are tetchier, the people who flap around panicking panic more, and the arse-lickers use their tongue ever more often. And, on the other hand, the nice friendly people are just as nice and friendly as ever.

At least everything else is going well. And we didn’t get too snowed-in, camping. I could tell it was a good sign when K – who had never been camping before – started saying “the next time we go camping, we’ll have to…”

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Infamy

In which FP discovers more people read this site than he thought


I went for a drink with people from the office. This may have been a mistake – on the other hand, it’s better to know things.

“Oh, we all read your blog,” said someone from the Accounts department. “Your boss told us he reads it too. We know you change all the names, so we try and work out who everyone is. ______ was convinced that she was ‘the cute one from the Accounts office’ and we kept trying to persuade her that it wasn’t her.”

Maybe it’s a good thing I haven’t mentioned work much in the past few months, then. Or, alternatively, now I know they’re reading, that might mean I can mention them more. With it all understood and on the level.

(Yes, I know, I have to think about things to post before I can decide whether to post them or not)

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Something for nothing

In which our eyebrows are raised when we learn that Americans all have free healthcare just like us


The scene: the office conversation, a quick conversation with a new member of staff whilst the kettle boiled. He was telling me all about his past, his former history of self-employment.

“… but you can’t do anything in this country nowadays, it’s terrible for small businesses, this government, it really is, they want to get control of every little thing…”

I thought: I know exactly what’s coming here.

“…it makes it impossible to run your own life…”

… any second now …

“it’s this Nanny State…”

BINGO! As soon as someone, especially a certain type of person, starts along that line of argument, they’re going to mention the Nanny State, which rules every aspect of our lives and tells us exactly what we can and can’t do. These are the people who believe that Christmas is being banned, or that the government has banned blackboards for being racist, and that it’s Political Correctness Gone Mad. And I don’t understand them. Do they never look at the world around them? Do they believe anything they hear or read?

He rambled on about how much better everything was in America – how life is far better, the taxes are lower, everyone is better off and lives a wonderful life without government interference.

“Yes, until they fall ill and can’t afford to pay for treatment,” I said.

“No, no, medicine is free in the USA too,” he replied.

“Really?” I said, because that really doesn’t square with everything else I’ve been told about the USA over the years.

“Yes, it’s all free, just as it is here,” he said. I was tempted to ask if the land is also flowing with milk and honey, with dollar bills and chocolate coins growing on the trees, but I’m not sure if he’d have realised where the joke was.

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Why the weather doesn’t bother me

In which FP is remarkably un-bothered


“Ohh, isn’t it awful weather lately?” people keep saying. “It feels like it’s winter already.”

Well, the weather doesn’t bother me.

Cool days are a good thing. Summer heat is too hot. A cool grey breezy day is relaxed, the sort of day work can get done. A windier day is energetic, the sort of day you want to do work. Both are useful.

Rain is a good thing. Rain doesn’t bother me either. I don’t mind walking in it, getting slightly wet, when I can always get dry again later.

The one other reason the weather doesn’t bother me, though: I rarely see it anyway. I don’t smoke. Room 3B (the IT office) has no windows. I’m insulated. Some days I wish there was a cool grey breeze on me, instead of the standard filtered and air-conditioned air that flows out of the ceiling vent.* But, nevertheless, the weather doesn’t bother me.

* Although we had to fight to get it, if you remember back that far.

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Back away from the phone and breathe slowly

In which people refuse to be in the wrong


Or, the support call from hell.

I will summarise. A known nuisance. She says she’s reporting an error that she’s told me about many, many times before. I, of course, have never heard of the error message she’s reporting. I tell her the general resolution steps: click on X, Y and Z in that order. It doesn’t work, so I ask her to reboot her computer and phone back.

She phones back, ten minutes later. “I did Q, Y and Z, like you asked me to…”

I ask her to repeat, to confirm she isn’t confused.

“Yes, you definitely told me to do Q, Y and Z.”

“I’m sorry, but I thought I asked you to do X, not Q?” For one thing, Q doesn’t take you to a place you can do Y. So if you did that, you’re clearly lying about having done anything at all.

“I know what you told me to do – you definitely asked me to do Q. Now, can you just fix my computer instead of arguing about you said this and that?”

I despair, sometimes. I wonder how people who don’t listen to anything they’re told, who expect the world to organise itself around them for their own benefit, ever get to where they are in life.

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Smoking

In which the office suddenly becomes a much busier place


Room 3B (IT Office) is – as is standard practice for Room 3Bs and IT Offices, I think – located deep in a remote part of the Head Office building. Not many people pass our door, other than the people in the adjacent rooms. Not many people pop by to say hello, because our office isn’t exactly in a well-trafficked part of the building. Sometimes this is a good thing. We don’t get disturbed much, when we’re busy.*

That’s all about to change. Tonight, the Upstairs Smoking Room closes, and we’re suddenly on a busy corridor – the direct route from the Busy Offices to the new Outdoor Smoking Area – or, the bike shed, as it’s also known. To be fair, it was built specially for the new workplace smoking law. On the other hand, it is definitely a bike shed; there’s a bike rack in it.

Some of the management are a bit unhappy about this. Not because it might mean extra fraternisation with the IT department, but because of the distance involved, crossing from one side of the building to the other to reach the Outdoor Smoking Area. It might mean smoking breaks being extended by a whole 2 minutes or so, just to cross the office. Me, I don’t particularly care; although if people are going to pass by and say hello more, it can’t be a bad thing.

* Although, of course, you can guarantee that when we do get interrupted, it’ll be when we are busy.

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Frustration

In which things always go wrong … unless FP wants them to go wrong


Or, A Work Story.

We need a new printer. The MD says: “Order a new printer!” Our manager waits until he’s out of earshot, then says: “get Spare Printer X working and use that instead.”

So, I find Spare Printer X out, and do manage to get it working. I test it. It seems to be fine. But then, a strange thing starts happening.

I give it a page to print. Let’s call it Page A. It prints it. All is well.

I test a different page. Page B. The printer happily prints another copy of Page A.

A third page to the printer? Out comes Page A again.

Let’s try a four-page document. I get: four copies of Page A.

Switch to a different application. It works! It prints what I tell it to – Page X this time.

I print Page Y from that application. I get Page X again.

Go back to the first program. Still printing Page A.

Let’s reboot the printer. Let’s print. Oh look, Page A.

OK, it’s not the printer. Let’s reboot the printer, and the computer, wait ten minutes, turn them back on. Check there are no files spooled and waiting. Print something. Out comes: Page A. Now this, surely, is physically impossible.*

The boss pops down to check how I’m getting along. “It’s borked,” I say. “It only ever prints copies of the first thing you told it to print. It’s useless. Look.” I repeat my last, failed, print request. It prints perfectly. Arse.

“Looks fine to me,” says the boss. “Put it in, and see if they have any problems.”

Of course, I know it’s never going to work now.

* or at least, extremely improbable, if you follow Sherlock Holmes’ philosophy.

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Shredder update

In which the broken shredder is sensibly disposed of, to our disappointment


The shredder didn’t go anywhere, in the end. Before anyone could lift it, the branch office phoned up and said: “don’t throw it away! Fix it!” I explained it was unfixable, by me at any rate. So, they phoned up the office secretary and said: “don’t let FP throw it away! Find someone competent to fix it!” The office secretary told them to stop being silly, and started shopping for a replacement, before throwing the broken one out in a sensible, unimaginative fashion. I was mildly disappointed.

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