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My apologies that I couldn’t update the blog more often recently – although once you’ve read what I’ve been doing over the last few weeks, I trust you will understand why.

Today, after four years, nine months and seven days, I have left my job!

Now, I can explain a little bit more about what has already happened.
 
Back in May, I was suspended for a “severe breach of security” – I had a link to my website on my BT Directory entry, which was locked (and had been since I got the password stuck over two years before it). This link was there initially when I first transitioned, so I could use this as a way of proving who I was on the phone (i.e. pre-therapy, when my voice was questioned, I could give them this, and ask them to click the link. It usually worked, too).

Now, of course, the above security breach would have absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I’d complained about the team coach who brought the case against me!

That lasted just over a week, but on the day they came to hand me my investigation letter, I gave them a doctors line. My own docs were quite happy to sign me off for a bit, but not forever – I can see why. To be honest, the stress of thinking about going back to work was really getting to me. So, anyway, I remained signed off for June, and early July.

Now, the docs want me to go back to work. I don’t have a problem with working between now & surgery (I am one-fifth of a point above my BMI target at the moment – 30.2!), but I can’t work where I was.

I can’t fight any more!

Yes, normally I’d go in with a wedge of paper evidence, and try to clear my name.

For what?

So I can continue to struggle by on the breadline?

Did you know, even after all those years of service, that I was only about £10 a week or so better off against Statutory Sick Pay, Housing Benefit & Council Tax Benefit? No wonder I was forever broke, looking like I did.

So, I could fight, clear my name. Go back to a job that I was quite clearly “stuck” in, until the next managers rift. Go back to no more money. Go back to being over 400 miles away from the one that I love. I spent at least £10 a week in travel alone, just within the city.

A certain Caroline has been exceptionally wonderful to me over the last three and a half months, and has vowed to keep helping me. She said on her own journal “My priority at the moment is to help Suzy though her transition, surgery and recovery. I can't easily explain what I feel the need to do that as that would require too many eastern religious concepts to explain properly.” Basically she wants to help me, without further questioning. Maybe it’s some kind of subconscious form of payback for those I’ve helped in the past.

Last night, I broke down with a very sore combination – very upset, sharp chest pains, tummy cramps, and a headache. That’s not sustainable. I can’t carry on like that forever.

The search for a new job had already begun. It’s more than likely I will be working down south somewhere – north Hertfordshire, Cambridge city, south Cambridgeshire, west Essex somewhere.

I’m sat here at the moment in Royston, typing this. I know it’s Friday 13th, but already I am starting to feel the relief. The breeze from the wind, the trees and the trains, is enough to cool this room. It’s almost like a wind of change. It’s still sinking in. I’ve threatened to do it often enough. Now, I have.

Later in the evening, we went out to "celebrate" our weeks so far (no alcohol consumed... until we got home!)
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The air around work has been growing into an almost unbearable state of tension. It’s something that should not be overlooked, but management just steamroller our feelings (i.e. we don’t care if you’ve not been paid by us and have no money, that’s not our problem, get into work). As I said earlier in the week, new management will quite often be hard as nails for a short time after a reshuffle. This explains all the forms I’ve had to sign recently – not just me – over things that you’d not normally have any grounds for complaint – like why you were four minutes late from break etc. Why do I say “not normally”? Well, if management are nice to you, you are nice to them. That is how it should be – it’s productive for any working environment. It’s a long since forgotten concept at my place, though. It’s sad, but we are expected to bend and flex in every direction. Yes, I got my new shifts approved – but the same manager has since lost my trust and appreciation for what happened last week, let alone this week’s gubbings.

So, anyway, this is the one day this week, where I end up with less breaks, because I am only working for 9.5 hours (not 10). It’s legal, but just. I’m not whining, it’s my choice. Otherwise, four 10-hour shifts would be paid 38 – and I’m only contracted for 37.5, and that’s all they can authorize.

You may well be wondering why I am saying all this now? Well, a lot happened last week, that’s for sure. What happened today almost breeds on breach of contract, although I’m not claiming any legal knowledge here.

Picture the scene if you will, I’m on a call, and have just placed a customer on hold, so I can test their line. The manager who didn’t process a timesheet for me (claiming it was lost) thirteen days ago, which lead to me not getting any pay six days ago, comes up to me and tells me that he had my timesheet to process – I gave him another timesheet, so he could process this one, and pay me a week late. Well, guess what? He was going to hand it into the agency on Monday, but then forgot he wasn’t actually in the building on Monday, being a bank holiday. He didn’t come back from last Friday until yesterday, so I won’t be getting paid the money I should have had six days ago, until a week on Tuesday.

As he said this, I pulled back from my desk, so I could look at him face-on. He then said how it was ok, because he was being honest and admitting it.

I personally am trying to avoid getting upset, and he’s taking the credit for it.

On reflection, I could have sworn, said something bitter, did something violent, or walked out the door. I didn’t. I did question exactly how what I was supposed to do in the meantime, and I was reminded that “I’m just being honest with you”.

“Yeah, but that doesn’t help me now, does it?” I ask, trying to remain tactful while not wanting to be upset. I then remember I’ve got a customer waiting, so I finish off testing the line, and promise to come back and see him. Once the call is over, I walked a bit madly to his desk. “It’s ok, because [big boss, the one who ended up with my complaint letter] is going to see you about it anyway”.

When we’d finished, [big boss] was with another manager, so I head for the agency, to clarify exactly where I stood here. One manager now does all the timesheets for the remaining agency staff on the campaign – and has been this way for a few months, instead of each individual team coach doing it. The agency had not been made aware of this change in procedure. The agency person also assumed that all my issues had been resolved last Friday – once again, far from true. During my meeting, [big boss] comes down stairs to see the agency with reference to my case.

OK, so they now agree that they will process a same day payment for me for Friday – and they don’t mind paying for it. This is after seven days of my heartache, and at the same time, [big boss] is praising the other boss for his honesty “when he came and told me yesterday…:”

At this point, I am fighting back the tears, but this clicked with me.

“Yesterday?”

It appears the boss who sat on my timesheet realized this yesterday, but only told me today – more than 24 hours later.

Now, I’m really feeling like s*it.

[big boss] leaves to head back to his desk, and I finish off explaining to the agency about the way I was treated last Friday. I’m getting more upset by it all, but I manage to compose myself in the end, and head upstairs.

Next thing I know, I’m at the top of the stairs, and have been found by my own boss, and current admin manager, and I’m REALLY upset. I try to explain that I can’t trust them to pay me, especially as they’ve managed to keep it all to happen on a day that I not only won’t be in the building, but not even in the city.

We ended up with a bit of an impromptu discussion, before I was allowed a bit of time outside to get my head back together. After I got back to my desk, I was very tired, but still took on a very complicated callback for my own boss.

The trust I’ve built up with them over the last four years, seven months, and three days, is all but gone. At the moment, I am hoping against hell that history does not repeat itself two Fridays running – and I can’t see it happening this time, to be honest.

I’m only repeating what happened. It makes me feel really small and unimportant. Thankfully, I’ve got a nice weekend away, 422 miles away from the useless teapots.

Points here –
1. I complained, and it happened again.
2. One week of my heartache is equal to twenty five pounds to the company.
3. The company I do the job for is changing policies and procedures, without reference to our legal employers.
4. If we did something wrong we’d be told not to do it again. If we then claimed to be a hero for doing it again, we’d be on a warning – not being praised by [big boss].
5. [big boss] and the agency have both admitted that my suggestion is already “the way things should be done anyway”.
6. No-one has still found the other two timesheets I submitted for the week in question.
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So, the bus before the one I went for yesterday was cut (didn’t show up), and the one behind was two minutes late… the roadworks on Perth Road didn’t last long… and I managed into work, only just… and we were rushed off our feet almost all day long!
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… work was quiet, but not as quiet as last time – thankfully.

It was the first day of my new shift, but my bus got held up in roadworks at stop/go boards on the Perth Road, near Harris Academy. Might take one bus earlier bus tomorrow…

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A visit to Tayside House first, to speak with the “Sustainable Transport Team” at Dundee City Council (largely as a follow-up to the meeting that I had yesterday), and in discussion on transport related matters. We discussed the Service 14 issues that I’d brought up, and I explained why I did so. It’s because of those who I work with – at the moment, I spend up to five days a week with some of them, so I’d rather help where I can.

OK, picture the scene if you will. Dundee Bus Station, mid-afternoon. I’ve just collected a stock of some maps and timetables for display at work, and I’m heading there. Stagecoach Strathtay service 54 pulls in, a few moments down. It’s a Citylink coach for a start… 52433! (ex 453). We pulled out, hazard lights going, and get onto the Seagate. We have four passengers at this point – me, and three going to Perth. Driver says “Right, where do I go from here?”… and it wasn’t till we got round the corner that he found a driver who could show him how to get the hazard lights off! As you can guess, the combination of a out-swinging door and manual gearbox gave the driver a few hairy moments, but I was able to guide him through the route to the Technology Park, as well as giving him a quick verbal explanation on how to get to Perth on that journey (thankfully that trip on Service 54 is one of the easier ones to explain!)

So, I get into work a few moments down, through no fault of my own, but I feel semi-guilty for having enjoyed the entertainment.

Work was then mundane by comparison, but I think about the journey and the day ahead tomorrow, as well as seeing Caroline for the first time for twelve days.
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… and, naturally work was mobbed today, lots of calls and work to do! I spent a chunk of today preparing for tomorrow – where the week will take an interesting twist!
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… so quiet I was almost bored to tears! Working 1500-2300, and by the time I took lunch I’d taken NO calls. By the end of the shift, I’d done FIVE, and one of those was a wrong number… so little work, I almost felt sorry for writing the hours on my time sheet with the words “BANK HOLIDAY WORKED – 2.5x RATE” on my timesheet…  well I was there, even if there was no work to actually do!
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Those of you who know the location of my workplace (Dundee Technology Park) know that it is not far away from the boundary of Dundee and Angus, and Dundee and Perth & Kinross. Today I was sat so far away down the far end, it is a wonder that I was still within the city boundary… and no, the generator did not blow up this time!

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