Friday, March 30, 2018

Pandemonium at the puppy party

Quickly achieved pariah status yesterday evening by taking, what turned out to be, the largest yet youngest puppy along to our local vet's puppy party. Intended as a general information session and puppy socialisation opportunity, our pride and joy rapidly ensured it descended into yappy chaos, with a bit of 'strenuous' biting play on the side. First off, our boy managed to alienate a female dachsund pup, who obviously saw him as an uncouth bit of very rough from the get go. Next up was a playful spaniel; he was initially well-up for some rough house stuff, but became over-excited as what looked to be a budding bromance quickly descended into a bottom and privates sniffing free-for-all with a bit of strong arm stuff thrown in. This culminated in a fight or flight bowel evacuation of such epic proportions that his mortified owner pointedly went to sit as far from us as possible. Sensing a pressing further training need, I took discretion to be the better part of valour and so we were the first to leave, much to the general relief of puppies, owners and veterinary staff.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Going into care

At the end of last September, I made a quantum break from my immediate past forms of employment - freelance editing and teaching - and took a job in the care sector. Now, society at large has a strange relationship with the concept of working in care: we're either doing a job that no-one else wants; working for a pittance looking after those that society would rather not have to deal with; or much patronised by politicians as selfless angels who dedicate themselves to caring for others. Depending on your views and/or personal experience at the time, you can mix and match these responses to suit your taste. For instance, if you've been mildly inconvenienced or embarrassed by a person with a learning disability displaying 'challenging behaviour' in public, you might go for the two former; but if you've seen support workers with happy smiling residents enjoying even the most mundane of activities, for example buying chocolate or catching a bus, you can slide into the latter camp and maybe even feel something approaching a nice warm glow. The truth lies somewhere in between; I've had good days and bad days in my new role. I don't teach ideas or correct text anymore, but I am called on to use some of those skills, as well as being empathetic to the needs of residents who face a world they don't understand or feel frightened by; we make the best of their situation and help them to make the most of their lives, exercising as much independence as they can handle while maintaining their dignity when things go wrong, as they inevitably will. It would help, of course, if the patronising words of politicians were matched by pay rates that exceeded the legal minimum, or if care providers didn't have a perpetual eye on the 'bottom line' or the share price: privatised care is a cynical oxymoron at best, pure balance sheet driven at worst. And of course, far more care staff need union representation; join as soon as you can, the monthly subs give you a peace of mind and strength of purpose than merely relying on the bland pronouncements of managers and HR could ever do.

Friday, March 02, 2018

Tesco*: protecting you from chaos and civil unrest

The spooks at MI5 have long considered that the UK is only 4 mealtimes away from chaos, meaning that any catastrophic event that prevents access to food for the next 4 meals could lead to a breakdown in law n' order. While no-one would like to see this theory put to the test, a conversation with a Tesco employee on yesterday's evening shift showed that MI5 might not be too wide of the mark. His shelf stacking shift had been enlivened by conversations with customers who seemed to be in the grip of snow-induced paranoia regarding low stocks or empty shelves. The simple reason being that Tesco operates daily deliveries and stores don't stockpile large amounts across their entire product range. But this seemed to be beyond the grasp of some of yesterday's shoppers; one man even went to far as to say that he knew as a fact that Tesco weren't putting goods out on the shelves and demanded to speak to a manager about it. *other supermarkets will also be available when catastrophe or apocalypse beckon.