Friday, 9 January 2009


That's not a sad sigh or an exasperated sigh or a resigned sigh or a depressed sigh (the medication is great) but a relaxed one. Husband is out eating pizza, drinking beer and talking about guitars with his teenage protege. The children have been great fun this evening and have now gone to bed with no complaints but many hugs and giggles. The house is quiet. The television is off (I rarely watch TV in the living room if I am in alone). I am browsing blogs (go and read Mary's response to the 5 question interview I sent her - beats mine into a cocked hat) and drinking tea. Lots of tea.

I started my new job on Monday of this week. The fact I am feeling this chilled out and relaxed on Friday should give a clear indication of how it has gone so far. In a word - well. It is very very weird to go from working in a small private practice to working in a big public body-type place, but weird in a good way. The level of organisation is impressive, if a little difficult to get used to.

As an example, when I was a partner in private practice, we partners effectively were the business. The buck stopped with us in all sorts of ways. We bought the coffee and teabags. We opened and distributed the mail. If you came into the office early, you might have found the senior partner up a ladder changing a lightbulb with me, the junior partner, holding the ladder and passing him the tools (odd light fitting, don't ask). You see, if a member of staff did this and fell off the ladder, they'd sue. If either the senior partner or I fell off, we couldn't. So we often did the routine maintenance tasks because there just wasn't anyone else to do them. And that included fiddling with the thermostat for the prehistoric central heating system, a task which involved using a small screwdriver to remove the cover and trying not to touch most of the inside otherwise you got a small-ish electric shock. The thermostat was right outside my office door and for years I would hear the aforementioned senior partner fiddling with it and then using Very Bad Words when he touched the wrong bit by mistake.

By comparison, the new job is in an organisation big enough to have departments for everything. I was working at my desk today and concluded that my computer monitor is too high. It is sitting on top of the CPU and I noticed other people in the room had their monitors on their desks with the CPUs tucked underneath on the floor. My deskmate opposite me confirmed I could get the CPU moved: I should phone the IT department and get someone to come and do it for me. I almost laughed - in my last job I disconnected, moved and re-connected computer equipment myself. All the time. Surely it would be okay to move one bit onto the floor by myself? But no. She assured me the IT department would be cross if I touched their baby. I got the impression that they are really not keen on us using the PCs at all, but since we have to use them to work, the IT guys grudgingly allow us to touch them. So I need to phone a specialist on Monday morning to move one piece of computer equipment 36 inches to the south.

The whole week has been sort of like that: enjoyable culture shock. I have had induction training in lots of areas, some of it crucial and useful like how to use the time recording system and how to actually get into the monumentally complex case management system, some of it less so. On Wednesday I had a 40 minute induction session on how to use the phone. No, really, I did. You can ask me anything now, I am an expert. To be fair, the actual phones are quite groovy and can look up people's names and numbers for you and do all sorts of swish conference call type stuff but as no-one is going to want to phone me in my new job (I no longer deal with the public! Hallelujah!) I will probably be able to forget more or less everything I learned. Except the extension number for the IT department. I get the feeling that will be important.

I also had training from the departmental fire officer, who looked absolutely mortified as he advised me and the other woman who started recently, that he had to give us an induction tour. Which consisted of him taking us round the building and pointing out fire exits (aka the doors to the outside world marked with huge "Fire Exit" signs) and fire extinguishers (aka those big red things hanging from the walls all around the building and marked "fire extinguisher"). In fact, we all share the same office and as we left the room for our tour, the other woman pointed to the huge door located 4 feet to our left. "I'm guessing that's the fire exit we should be heading for if the alarm goes off?" she said. It was.

I am also finding it a bit difficult to get used to leaving at 1pm and not apologising for the fact. I feel like I am dogging school, like someone is going to catch me with my coat on at 1.05pm and demand to know where the hell I think I'm going at this time. I am leaving work in Edinburgh in January IN DAYLIGHT! That is just freaky. But fun. It means I get to do fun stuff like meet the wonderful, multi-talented and only occasionally abusive Kal for coffee. In the National Trust Tea Room. We dropped the average age in there by about 30 years just by walking in the door. Kal's street cred was dropping off the scale by the time we left. Bwa-ha-ha! Next time it will be Jenners' Cafe for a Horlicks. Trauma Queen may not survive the trauma!

So, in summary, good first week, haven't actually done any work yet but looking forward to being allowed to do so. People I work with all seem nice, there is a bacon butty run in the morning if you want to participate, and I am loving LOVING picking the boys up from school. Especially the 10 minutes or so before they arrive and I get to sit in the car quietly reading a book. I really love that bit.

Now, a quick confession before I go. I was supposed to be running the Great Winter Run tomorrow but frankly I have done no training, and am staggeringly unprepared both physically and mentally (my brain has managed to convince my body that I Am Not A Runner again, despite having been able to run for over an hour at a time in May of last year). I would have taken a deep breath and donned the unbecoming lycra because Second Born was due to run in the junior version and I would have made the effort for him. However, SB arrived home today with a knee swathed in dressing and micropore tape. He had taken another tumble on the astroturf in yet another grudge match against P4J and gouged a chunk out of his right leg. It is not serious, just a deep-ish surface cut but it is right on his knee and he is limping and I suspect will have a spectacular bruise in the morning to boot. In other words, he can't run tomorrow and if he can't run, then my last incentive to do so myself has gone. So we are both wimping out.

But I have promised the former work colleague I was supposed to run with that I will get back in training and run the Great Edinburgh Run with her. For I am an idiot.


  1. Glad you enjoyed your first week. And I'm laughing a lot because I can completely relate to your culture shock. My first job was in the big Standard Life on Lothian Road, where you did nothing for yourself whatsoever - IT Dept, caterers, vending machines, Facilities Dept. Then I moved to a company of 30 people where if you were first in, you had to unlock the door, put the lights on and turn the alarm off (shock horror!)! And if the teabags ran out, I had to go to a shop (A SHOP!) and buy some more!

  2. What about if the senior partner fell on you?

    I did not think there *was* any daylight in Edinburgh in January. I know there is none in Glasgow in November. Hmm.

    So glad you are enjoying the new job and may it continue to go well! (From my experience I advise you to be super nice to the IT guy. How did I learn this? One of the embarrassing moments that is not on my blog.)

    At least you did not call the NT Tearoom drinkers 'wrinklies'. Thank you for that.

  3. Now you have a job exactly like mine. Nothing to do, you get to leave early and totally amuck with bureaucracy. It's all crazy good fun now, but some day in the not to distant future it will have you banging your head repeatedly on your desk. Mark my words. should you actually be blogging about work? (har har)

  4. I had to stop running back when my knee and hip gave out. Oh did everyone give me grief! Later (many years so) I learned that I actually have a birth defect in that leg causing the hip and pain problem and no, I should not run. What do I do now for exercise? Well, granted, it's not the best, but I do stairs. Everywhere I go, especially in my house. Eventually I hope to get to the gym again.

  5. I'm glad you enjoyed your first week. Enjoying your day job, I think, is so important!

  6. "So I need to phone a specialist on Monday morning to move one piece of computer equipment 36 inches to the south."

    Ugh. I used to be a staff session attorney for the Hawaii State Congress, and it was much the same. Rules for every type of maintenance or movement of stuff imaginable... absolutely ridiculous... especially since it took 'specialists' to change lightbulbs that were more than a certain number of feet in the air.

    As for the Great Winter Run... well, might be a good thing to have missed this year, as we're FREEZING down here, with lots of ice ont he ground and hundreds of people walking around frozen ponds/fields a couple of towns over. Not running weather! ;-)

  7. I instantly clicked to find out what Xup's job is so that I could get one too and she hasn't got a blog! Wah!

    Glad you're enjoying it. I'm jealous!

  8. I love the NTS tearoom. It's just round the corner from my office and that's my mum and my gran's local when they pop through to see me on a work day.

    We don't so much lower the age range and increase the volume level.

    I'm going back to running club on Thursday - you fancy it? We meet at Ainslie Park at half 6.

  9. I meant to say AS increase the volume level.


  10. Part time working sounds heavenly, I'm so envious!

    CP x