Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Someone else's bad day

Just after I graduated, I lived in Temporary Office Worker land, on and off for about four years. Sometimes it was fun. Sometimes it was no security and a pile of shite. Mostly, I think it was ok, but I had a couple of really bad placements where I just couldn't hack the office politics and couldn't seem to do anything right. I was young and a bit daft, and although I tried hard I remember getting a few bollockings for not doing things right. On a couple of occasions this was just an older member of staff throwing their weight around. And a few times it was because I just hadn't done the job properly.

I always found the latter quite hard to deal with and would beat myself up thinking I would never find a proper job. Being a temp, you're often at the bottom of the heap and responsible for essential but very dull details. It's not that exciting but it's important you do rather boring stuff well. I nearly always tried my best, but it does seem a bit pointless, particularly if there's no permanent contract at the end of it.

Fast forward a few years, and I'm now in a relatively responsible job. A temp has been looking after my admin work when I was away.

She seems really nice, but her work has been, well, erratic. Basic stuff like reading and comprehending e-mails, and drafting coherent, accurate replies hasn't been great. And she seems clueless about how the organisation I work for actually operates, even on a basic, general knowledge sort of level.

I'd let things go and let things go. And hoped that when I delved into my inbox sent her re-written drafts of her letters, or let her know that that wasn't how we did things, that she'd twig that she really needed to pay a bit more attention to detail.

Except, she didn't. I was getting increasingly bitter about spending some of my maternity leave sorting her mistakes. In the end, she made another few mistakes that seemed to be mostly caused by just not paying attention; mostly ones that I could explain or apologise away, but one that was potentially quite serious. I queried the serious one today and she was apologetic and gave me her version of events. Then I'd discovered she'd either completely bullshitted me or just not understood something fairly basic. And then she got into a complete panic and everything to do with this particular matter went haywire, because in her haste to try and sort it out, she still didn't take in what I was asking her to do.

I so know that feeling.

But I could have ended up carrying the can for her general dizziness, so found myself having to speak to her boss. Who is going to have a word with her. I imagine she probably feels just as shit as I did in my early 20s when I stuffed up.

I feel bad. It's not helped that I haven't been around to field queries, although I don't understand why, when I've said to ask if she's not sure, she evidently hasn't. She's not a terrible person, she's just probably in that phase where you find out that work is less fulfilling than school and college would have you believe. But then, the sloppy grammar and the constant mistakes make me look sloppy, too. At the end of the day, she needs to do the job, even if it's not very exciting.

Feels weird being on the other side of the fence, though.

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