When I left school and got a job, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my working life. I got a job in the Department of Social Security as a post clerk. Every day when the post came in, it had to be “linked” with its file. We would start in the main filing cabinets, pull the relevant files and pass them to the admin officers to deal with. The thing was of course that it was an office of 3 floors and many departments and, as computers were still a rarity in 1987, everything was paper. Each file had a barcode on the back, and each section had a department barcode too, and when files moved from one section to another, the files were supposed to be scanned and recorded as being wherever they went.
It was dull and frustrating work mostly, although there were 3 others who did the same job as me and we had a fun little team, we worked well together and always helped out. If one of us couldn’t find a file the others would help, or maybe if we were lucky one of us would already even know where it was. After a few months I prided myself on the fact that I could pretty much lay my hands on any of my clients' files within 5 minutes of being asked (any surname from A-F!). The other part of the job was basically filing – but if you were the one having to find the files, it was within your best interests to get your filing done.
Did you see that word “prided”? I took pride in my job. It was boring but the people made it fun; there was a chance that someone might notice how good I was at my job and I might get promoted; there was a certain satisfaction to being so organised (a talent that I discovered and have since exploited in my role as an EA). But ultimately, I had taken the job and I was getting paid to do it. My part of the contract was to do that job to the best of my ability for the money they paid me. If I didn’t like it I could find myself another job.
Eventually I did of course, no one wants to be that bored for ever. But in each job I’ve had since, I’ve always taken pride in my work. I’ve put in the effort, however bored I might be, because I’ve been employed to do that job, and frankly if I don’t do it properly they will sack me.
What is it these days that makes people think they are owed a living? People who think they can wing it? Coast along on their colleagues’ coat tails, call in sick with a slight cold, or worse, just pull a sickie because they have a hangover? Why don’t people do their jobs properly and deliver what they promise and when they promise it?
Those of you who follow me on Twitter will know of my ongoing issues with finding a decent cleaner. I had a fantastic cleaner in Norfolk, she was ex-military – now they are people who take pride in their jobs – she didn’t think it was beneath her, she chose to do the job and she was brilliant at it. Since I’ve been in London we have had 4 cleaners (in just under 2 years). The first one, Hannah, was in situ when I moved in with MrS. She cleaned like a demon. Like a Really Slow Demon. Gradually, more and more often she would turn up on a Thursday and only do 2 of her 4 hours, take the money and say she would do a “split shift this week”, supposedly coming back the next day. We didn’t mind at first, until she started not coming back to finish her shift, or if she did it would have to be on a Saturday morning or we’d come home and find her still here, and have to eat our dinner while she finished up. The final straw came on the day of MissS2’s 18 birthday when she had promised to turn up at 10am on the Saturday morning. She eventually turned up halfway through the afternoon and we had to ask her to leave in the end as we were all standing round in our finery waiting for her to finish so we could open the pre-dinner birthday champagne.
The next cleaner, Natalie, managed to turn up regularly, but also regularly did short hours, regularly broke our hoover and regularly missed out entire rooms. Next up was Jodie, who I insisted on meeting and explaining my expectations to and who provided her own cleaning materials. I had high hopes for her but within 3 weeks of being with us she cancelled on us at short notice 2 weeks in a row. Finally, we have had Angie for the past few months. She’s a stranger to initiative. I literally had to leave a-z instructions for her, she wouldn’t think to do things unless I asked her, even though I pretty much asked her to do the same thing each week. She didn’t bother telling me when we had run out of cleaning products until the week after - “sorry Lara you didn’t have any glass cleaner so couldn’t do your tables this week”. Worst of all she regularly cancelled at short notice, usually promising to come the next day (we never knew if she would or not). Then last week for the second week in a row the agency contacted me to say she was ill again. Initially they asked if she could come the next day to which I agreed, but then on Friday she was still ill so I agreed to Monday.
On Monday night I came home to a note apologising for the fact that the cleaning wasn’t “top spec” as she had still been ill and hadn’t been up to doing it all. She still took all her money though. And broke an iPhone charger (by hoovering it). Oddly there was no note about that. Then Thursday rolled round again and we had yet another excuse for her not turning up but the agency assured me that she would be there Friday. When I walked in the door on Friday to find an uncleaned house and the money still sat on the table it was the final straw. I don’t require much from a cleaner, other than that they turn up and clean. Rocket science it isn’t. Our contract with the agency has been terminated.
Neither the cleaners we had, nor the agency who employed them took any pride in their service. If you don’t like cleaning or you think cleaning is beneath you then don’t be a cleaner. If I was in the position where I had to take a cleaning job or starve, I would hate it, but if it was a way of earning money when I had none I’d do it and I’d do it well. I would be ashamed to think someone had employed me to do something and I’d done a crap job.
This week I’ve inadvertently had dealings with a company called matchmeajob.com. I applied for a role through Linked In which unfortunately meant adding my CV to this site.
Yesterday I got an email from *Umesh at matchmeajob.com.
Would you be interested in the following opportunity, currently available on matchmeajob.com?
Rate: 8.50 GBP
And underneath it (proudly) proclaimed
Why We Are Different
We don’t have ‘bots’ that crawl vacancies to match you like other job boards, as we believe that the best results can only be generated through the human effort, resulting in proper consideration towards your job search requirements. This results in better matches and happier job seekers!
Well, matchemeajob.com, clearly the humans you selected to read MY CV couldn’t detect, though clearly stated, that I live in central London and work as an Exec Assistant at considerably more than £8.50 per hour (which, incidentally, is diabolical. I pay my cleaner £10 an hour).
I replied to him in the (very) negative, quoting that paragraph back to him.
Just the same as I did when, no less than 15 minutes later, his colleague Hassan* sent me this:
Role Office Manager
Location: Exeter, Devon, United Kingdom
Rate: 8.00 - 8.50 GBP holiday, Pension
I’m not sure whether Exeter is closer to me than Birmingham?
Did they both take pride in doing their job properly? Maybe they are just really really crap at geography, in which case matchmeajob.com should take more pride in their recruitment/training processes, no?
Just when I thought I was done with fuckwittery for the week, this morning I was expecting a tradesman to give me a quote for a glass splashback. He was due at 9am. At 3pm he texted me to say sorry but offered no explanation as to why he hadn’t shown and offered to come tomorrow morning. Then there was the guy delivering my tumble dryer, who was happy to remove the old one from its position on the worktop but not (even with my help) lift the new one back up there. He left it in the middle of the kitchen and left with my old one, gaily tipping water out of it all the way down the hall saying “that’ll mop up”. He’s lucky I didn’t show him my mop up… his a**e.
The one shining light in all this? The Sainsbury’s delivery man, who on being told he couldn’t carry my groceries through to the kitchen because there was a bloody tumble dryer in the way, offered to help me lift it up on the worktop. Not his job, not his problem, no skin off his nose if it sat there until Christmas. But he offered. Without hesitation. (I declined as MrS was due home any moment.)
Look, if you really hate your job, or have no respect for your employer, at least
have a little respect for yourself and do a good job. Do it properly. Get it right. Who knows, you might even start a trend. Or get recognised and get a better job. Either way at least you’ll know you did your best and that’s all anyone can ever ask of you.
However, if your best is “fuckit, that’ll do” don’t expect to be employed by me anytime in the future.
*I changed these names as I have named the company