I brought my daughter up more or less single handed. I left my husband when she was 6 months old as it was better and safer to bring her up alone. When she reached the tender age of 1 year, after much nagging from my mother, I went out and got myself a job.
Just as a little by line to that. How things have changed. I remember ringing one company who were looking for trainee recruitment consultants who told me they would not consider me as I had a young baby!! Imagine being told THAT nowadays eh?
Eventually, I was offered an interview at a company my brother-in-law worked for. They were a major stock broking company in the days before they teamed up with the big banks and lost their identities. I started off there working in the data inputting section with a great bunch of girls and eventually moved over to their switchboard as it offered a regular ending time. In the data input section I would have to stay until the last deal was input and sometimes that wasn't practical having a young child at home.
That job was EVERYTHING to me. It paid excellent money for it's day, I got summer and Christmas bonuses. In fact, when I finally got my own flat, it carpeted and furnished the whole place and left me enough over to have holidays. Those were the days. The 80's. Yuppies, lots of money about and stock broker bonuses.
Gradually though, things started to change. We were bought out by a big High street bank and we moved to better premises and after the initial 'loyalty bonus' we didn't receive such good ones anymore.
The rot set in after an ex partner of the company was put in charge of our department. He had come from the American department and was basically put there to pasture until his well paid retirement. He started off by sacking the supervisor after some made up misdemeanor. By then I was the senior telephonist and as the assistant supervisor was off with a pregnancy related illness I was suddenly in charge of this huge switchroom. I must admit, now I wouldn't bat and eyelid, but then, I felt totally out of my depth, and just carried on as best I could.
We had a temp there. I will call her Lin, she lived in cloud cuckoo land but was one of those people who came across really normal. Looking back she was a right psycho. She was truely awful. She would tell one girl another had said something about her and then tell the other girl that the first girl had said something about her. They were all lies and she got away with it! Then to cap it off we got a new supervisor who had blagged her way into the company without knowing a thing and she was just as bad!! I will call her Frances.
One day, Frances came towards me, screaming at me that she 'Didn't want me as a senior telephonist and while she was there, I never would be!!' All in front of the other staff. Very unprofessional and I honestly had no idea what it was I had supposed to have done!! The other girls looked at me with mouthes open and I just shrugged, I needed the job, I hadn't been paid any extra to do the seniors role, so what the hell.
In those days I was quite submissive, but I decided to just go along with it and see what happened. I did a permanent 8-4 shift, it suited me, but again Frances came over and demanded I tell her what my shift preference was. I knew she was trying to goad me, so I told I would do whatever suited her. She started to get flustered and asked me again. Again I told her whatever suited her I would do. As I was now an ordinary telephonst an 8-4 was fine or I would get on the rota. I finished the sentence quite sweetly by saying 'You are the supervisor, you decide'. Secretly I was laughing because it made her furious. She had come over trying to pick a fight (I later discovered it was something else she could get me sacked for)and I had made her decide, but because she had come from her other job without any supervisory experience, she didn't know what to do and the previous incident just showed she had no sense at all. A good manager DOES NOT chew off staff in public.
Well to cut a long story short, I was called into the office one day and the partner in charge was there along with a personnel officer and they sacked me!! The reasons they sacked me we all cooked up by Lin and Frances, except for one reason which I had a valid excuse for and it was hardly a misconduct offence anyway! I was devastated, but more so, I was ashamed. The shame of being SACKED was awful. I am not perfect, but I hadn't done anything near to a sackable offence. During the interview, the personnel officer offered to find me another job with a different company and then they paid me LOTS of money to go quietly. Guilt. They knew it was an illegal dismissal and so did I, but I still felt SHAME!!!
I didn't know what to do with myself. My parents were great and I had money. But I still felt no-one would ever employ me again. I am not good at white lies, especially at interviews, so I found myself being honest. Even after ACAS stepped in (They intervene before a case goes to a tribunal, and I had started proceedings) and we reached an amicable agreement, I was still penalised for telling the truth so in the end I was forced to tell a lie at subsequent interviews!!!
(Oh and for any potential blackmailers out there. My current manager is WELL AWARE of this story)
But what happened then? Well I found another job at another company. Was made supervisor and to this day, even though I eventually had to move on from there as they were shutting the site, I still regard it as the best job I ever had!! The people were great, my social life took off. I had my first and only case of unrequited love (One day I will blog about that).
As for Lin and Frances, they eventually got the sack themselves. Frances had to go temping under a different name. Lin went to prison for something or another, and I survived.