Now everyone who reads here most likely knows where I work. Taking forms from a long line of people staring at me and my colleagues (especially when we scuttle away from our desks to take a turn for tea or lunch break). I process, stamp and initial these forms, then make sure that the payment goes through (otherwise I don't sleep at night). It seems that I generate and stamp a ridiculous amount of paper. Indeed in my head I refer to my job as stampy-stampy. Every now and then I might make a difference, but mostly I settle for making it as pleasant and human as possible for me and the customer sitting in front of me. Someone commented last week that I did help it feel less like a walk of shame. That's a feeling that's creeping in all around as the global financial crisis (or maybe I should just bite the bullet and call it a recession?) means more people lose their jobs. I'm starting to have to explain over and over how the system works and why a person may have to do things that sometimes seem pointless or even counter productive to them in terms of getting more work.
On my good days I can get to a point with most people where I say, "let me explain how it all works and then you will have some choices about how you deal with it". And most reasonably bright people will accept that and as we go on will grasp that there are things that I can't say outright, but will catch my drift. Not so the very well educated lady I saw yesterday, who had not completed her form properly or in any way that I could consider acceptable (I'm a softie, I look for ways for people to be right) and would not stop arguing about the unfairness of it all for long enough for me to explain anything. I felt my ire rising and rising. I tried to explain again, fumbling in my efforts, confusing the fact that everyone has to comply with the same legislation with the other fact that everyone's circumstances are different. Inside I was agreeing with many of the points she raised. And then I felt like the petty bureaucrat. Then my anger rose inside again as I remembered my times on the dole and how I would just fill out the bloody paperwork and do what I needed to do keep getting the money to pay my rent. In the end, I asked her to stop speaking until I had explained what she needed to do. It wasn't a happy interaction. And then I felt angry because there are so many people who have been doing this for so long that they don't question the system, they know it as well as I do. And others might look down on those people, thinking but I'm not like that. And for some reason that really sticks in my craw. We're all different and unique, but all people, no matter what our circumstances. How times are a changing. Again.
Now I guess I had such a crap day at work yesterday because I didn't sleep that much on Monday because that was crappy too. My office has a system of seeing people based on when they come in and there was someone who had been waiting an hour to lodge a claim. That's not acceptable but we work as hard and as fast as we can with what we have and when a busy patch hits a small office, well it's like a small restaurant being slammed with orders and the kitchen getting backed up. Anyway I swapped from my other job to help out and when I went to greet her in the waiting room, she nearly bit my head off. She'd been waiting, she didn't have time for this and basically she wanted it done five minutes ago. I told her it would take about ten minutes and there was more snapping. Normally people vent, then settle, but this woman kept on and on. She was so nasty that I had to say that unless she could stop being so hostile, I would not be able to take her claim and she'd have to see someone else. I'm usually pretty tough at work but this time I was shaking at the photocopier. The worst thing was she had a child with her, and every time the poor kid moved or spoke there were harsh words. Despite the fact that kids run all about our waiting room and that everyone understands that kids will be kids and despite the fact that this kid was behaving far better than I would expect any kid her age who'd just waited for an hour in a boring government office with nothing to do. Now I can be pretty strict with Grace, but I so don't want to be that mother. Let it out and Breathe.
And today. Well, today was just long and tiring. With a headache that warranted two sets of panadol fairly close together. But towards the end I saw a lovely customer and she asked, how are you? To which I replied, tired. ..That's an honest answer, she said and there's not enough of that in this world. She was tired too and we laughed. Real laughter. Just one of those small moments. It was a good way to end the day.
I'm going shoe and opshopping tomorrow. Yay.
ps, that's not a picture of where I work but some snaps I took of the Coburg library one day when I was out shopping.
pps I feel like I shouldn't really write about work, but I sure needed the therapy. It's really a pretty good place to work overall.
Cathy, Michelle and Eleanor at Mezze in the charmed evening light
Yesterday I went to visit a new friend who lives just down the road. Grace came too and we took the wheelbarrow, to pick up some roses that they'd decided weren't their cup of tea (and if they all turn out to be white - they won't be mine either but we'll see). Of course I checked out her house, which is not quite the same as ours but similar. It was interesting as I hadn't seen inside since the open for inspection, just after we'd bought ours. Grace played with her daughters toys and we drank tea. I took the roses home came back to get Grace and then another local woman arrived with her boy (who is about Grace's age) and baby. The kids ate chips together and then played like angels (doesn't always happen but when your child has lots of play with other children you tend to get some perspective on that, I've discovered) and we drank tea in the perfect autumn warmth. I keep having these quite overwhelming moments of feeling lucky and it turns out, Emily has them too. I'm not the only one who feared moving out in the sticks and maybe missing something we had in the inner city, only to find that we are in the middle of this fabulous community of young families. With amazing parkland and green spaces. What's more, it's a place where our lifestyle choices don't feel so weird, where other men stay at home to look after children, where sometimes there are people around during the week. Often there are things going on out in the court (I try not to get tense about the burnouts - you do have to take the good with the dubious), neighbours giving us apples over the back fence and another neighbour warning us about planting roses under the electricity line (yes, I did resist rolling my eyes, because he's quite old and lots of things worry him). We reassured him that we'd be careful of pipes and overhead lines.
Anyway, the day before that, after lunch with some women from the pool group, our little family went to a Harmony Day picnic for dinner at the local primary school. Grace and I met the prep teacher and while looking around the junior school discussed school readiness in quite some detail, which has certainly given me pause for thought. We hung out with other families we knew and stopped for a drink at someones' house on the way home. As the kids played around us. So relaxing. This would never have happened in our old life in Brunswick. Maybe it was because we were renters or because we lived on a main road, but I don't know, maybe this area just suits us better. I'm pretty excited that Grace might go to this school sooner than we thought and that here is another part of this community we can be part off. Perhaps I'll get used to feeling like this.
Eleanor bellydances, Suse captures the moment and Sandra has just or is about to slip ten cents down her dress!
Then the weekend before that, well that was the Stitches and Craft show. A big event in one of my other communities. I feel like there was so much I didn't get to see or do at the show itself, half a day wasn't enough and it was hot and muggy. But I did get to meet some lovely crafty bloggers and then go out for the most hilarious, riotously, fun dinner which Sooz organised and captures the feel of so well in this post at Mezze (definitely a restaurant I'd go back to). It's always great to catch up with bloggers I've met before and excellent to meet others that I feel like I should have met already, but somehow hadn't. I don't think I've ever been to a disappointing blogmeet and this was no exception. We talked and talked. About our lives and craft and stuff and blogging (of course - how lovely to talk about blogging with people whose eyes don't glaze over) and more stuff. So much talking that be the end of the night I felt quite hoarse. Oh, and we got gifts too. It was kind of like Christmas. I did worry, not being super crafty these days but I stuck with what I do and it turned out pretty well even if I say myself. And it went to the lovely Betty Jo, who as it turns out lives quite close to enough to my 'hood to swim in the pool. I received a parcel from Sandra which contained some beautiful felt and a delightful owl who is now living on the kitchen window sill and is talked to regularly by Grace, who has taken firm possession.
Later that weekend I also visited Suse at her home with the amazing view and had morning tea with her, her charming sons and the lovely Eleanor. Again, so much fun. Thank you so much Suse! Then all too quickly the weekend was over and it was back to my other community. The work one. And oh my dear, that corner of my world is just a little dour at the moment. Long lines of customers. Three days takes so much energy, I'm zonked by the end of it. And I can't really grizzle at all, because as one customer so politely pointed out to me, I have a good, secure (as they come) job. In a growth area right now. That feels so not right. Not to worry. At the end of each week now, I always cycle back into my local community vibe and in about a month I have five weeks leave. Which will include a craft weekend, a week at home with just me and Grace, maybe a family road trip and lots of just hanging in my 'hood. Counting the days.
Earlier this evening I was watching that show about Churchill's bodyguard on telly with G and the earth shook. It felt very strange and wobbly. Not at all scary because a) it didn't last very long and b) nothing fell off the shelves or fell down even. I asked G and he thought it was just the windows rattling or someone outside but agreed there might have been a tremor. Just before I googled "earth tremor" and found this and a slightly more detailed report here with comments full of crazy talk.
I was right. The earth did move.
I did take some pictures of the rain on my little camera yesterday but haven't got around to downloading them because I'm feeling slack, slack, slack. So I thought I'd do this memey thing that I keep seeing around, most recently at ethel loves fred. You choose the 6th photo from the 6th folder of your photos. Now I have a kind of compulsive folder system for most of my photos, there's a standard set of folders that are archived at the end of each season and then I make new standard folders and sub folders. But my 6th folder at the moment is an odd one that just hangs around until it's big enough to archive - the experimental or altered folder. These are the 6th, 7th and 8th from that folder and they're sort of a set.
They're pictures I took at the end of last winter when we were still in our old house, but some time after we'd bought this one. At some stage I put them through the olderator that I found at The Bird Bath and never got around to posting them. Now I must say that I found the olderator process extremely slow and unless you have a superfast broadband connection, it helps to shrink the size of the image first. I'm still thinking about the old house on and off at the moment. Especially when I pass it on the tram or hear that the new occupants may have pulled up the dreadful carpet. Even though I love our new house. And like the neighbourhood here much more. With the creeks and the parks and the friendly community, it's an environment I feel more at home in somehow. Yet I'm still nostalgic. Funny that. I guess the old house and me were like an old foot and an old sock. We were very comfortable together. We had history. Years and years of seasons together. Me and the new house, well we've had a summer together now and we got through that OK, now we have to see how we go with a winter.
So what's in your 6th folder?