Tag Archives: work

Happy birthday, Mum

Not many women live their lives in virtual obscurity, as far as the wider world is concerned, and yet have such a true impact on their future.  A mother is a very special person, as I’m sure most people will agree, but to have laid such firm foundations for two generations (so far) is not something that can be overlooked.

Coming from an immigrant family, she arrived in England as a toddler over ten years before the start of World War II.  She grew up in the English education system which she hated, until one teacher gave her a love of history.  She lost her mother whilst she was still in her teens and her father when she was still in her early twenties, being effectively brought up by a maiden aunt.  She lost close members of her family in the Holocaust.  She made her own way in employment and lived on her own for many years.

She and her aunt were on the verge of emigrating to Australia – they had the papers ready – when she met Dad.  If ever there was a story of love at first sight, this was it.  She actually told someone that, if she didn’t marry this one, she would never marry.  I’m sure she meant it.  On Dad’s part, he felt exactly the same and the story could only have had one end.  Mum and her aunt didn’t go to Australia and I am the living proof.

Her own life – early loss of a mother, fending for herself to some extent, caring for a dying father – could have made her such a very different person, full of hate and bitterness.  However, it all strengthened her and she was a woman of high morals and principles.  This didn’t stop her from also being compassionate and understanding.

Her legacy is a far-reaching one.  As children, we were given a good, solid grounding in how you treated people and life in general:

  • See the best in them unless provided with evidence to the contrary.  It was not often seen but you really did not want to get on her wrong side!
  • Work for what you want – nothing actually comes free.
  • Plan – surprises aren’t all good.
  • Be faithful – friendship is a two-way arrangement.
  • Everyone deserves your respect – I know that, between my sister and I, we have raised three old-fashioned (in the best way) gentlemen and a formidable woman, and the fact is often remarked upon.
  • We all deserve the same chances.

Thank you, Mum, for being who you were and for helping us to forge our futures.  Happy Birthday.

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That one colleague …

I recently heard of a newly appointed member of an office staff, who resigned only a couple of weeks after starting work.  It wasn’t the workload or that the job didn’t match the advertised description.  It wasn’t the hours or the rate of pay.  It was one other person in the establishment, who made her life so awful in that short time that she couldn’t stay, regardless of any other good aspects of the job.

We’ve all been there.  We’ve all had a job that would have been perfect if not for that one colleague, who had an over-inflated sense of their own importance.  We’ve all felt the frustration of knowing what was the right thing to do but being thwarted at every turn by one person, who seemed to have sway over the final decision makers.  We’ve all seen more than one of our colleagues feeling the same way but equally impotent.  It’s not an easy situation to resolve and no blame should be laid at the feet of those too insecure or lacking in self-confidence to stand their ground.  It’s harder if the difficult person is longer established, even if your position is senior.

At some point, this situation will ex – or im – plode.  This will not be good for anyone at the point of ignition but it will ultimately clear the air.  It may result in someone leaving – it should be the catalyst, but that isn’t a given.  However, someone – the senior manager for preference – needs to be strong.

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Leaving work has opened many new horizons.  More time to do things during the week without rushing it all; more energy to do those things; less watching the clock and the calendar.  Above all, however, there is ‘not having to cope with work politics’.  In the most cordial and friendly of environments, there is always someone who thinks they can rule the roost, even if they aren’t the chief chicken.  I wish it was simple to take that stand, but it isn’t.  We can only hope that someone will have enough before it is too late.