What Goes Around, Comes Around

Here’s something of interest to those who know me: http://www.kentonline.co.uk/kentonline/news/2012/august/17/roger_moore.aspx

A little bit of background for you?

Last year, wanting to leave one job for more security, I applied to work for the Kent County Agricultural Society. I couldn’t believe the advert, the position was working as PA to the Executive Manager of the Showground, his remit was to organise and put on the longstanding, annual Kent County Show.  I applied and waited with baited breath to see if I got selected for interview.  I did have other things on my mind – Mike had just embarked on the judicial process which would, we were 99.9% sure of, end in his imprisonment.  Our days were spent working, both of us had jobs and evenings were taken up with form filling, trying to persuade the Legal Aid people we did not have £10,000 to contribute towards Mike’s legal costs. And of course, in discussion as to how I would cope with Mike being away.

And then I got an interview and Mike had his first Magistrate Court appearance.  And then I got the job and the day before starting, we were in London to attend Mike’s hearing at the Institute of Chartered Accountants and the same week, on my second day at work in my new job, Mike attended his Plea and Case Management hearing at the County Court.

Last year, the Kent Show made a loss and this was down mostly to the rain, which lashed the marquees.   After the Show, I plunged into my work dealing with all the complaints from visitors, I loved it.  It absorbed my day and took me away from issues at home.

A month later, I took a day off to be with Mike as he was sentenced to three years in prison and then I returned to work as if nothing had happened.  And two weeks later, with the burden of all that was going on gnawing away at me, I took the foolish decision to tell Roger Moore what had been happening and where my husband was.  He took the news extremely well, said that it had nothing to do with me, I’d not been accused of anything, but, and here’s the big but, he felt he should tell the Board of the Kent County Agricultural Society what had been going on.

After that there was a flurry closed door meetings and naively, I thought nothing of this.  Roger went on holiday, and being his PA, I had access to his emails.  I was stunned as emails from a certain member of the board to Roger began asking about details of my husband’s crime and whether or not I should have disclosed to the Board AT INTERVIEW that my husband had been arrested.  The emails intimated that I might claim unfair dismissal if the Board chose to take action against me.  I was aghast.  I printed off the email and showed it to a member of staff there – wrong decision number two.  She actually looked fearful and told me I shouldn’t have printed off the email, but I couldn’t understand what she was talking about.  I put the email in my handbag ready to show to Mike at our next visit, I didn’t know what to do.

The image of two members of the Board marching in and telling me I needed to accompany them upstairs to a meeting and that I was entitled to bring another member of staff with me is etched into my memory.  Indeed, remembering the face of the female member of the board actually makes my stomach churn to this day.  I was suspended on the grounds of having committed a gross misconduct because I had printed and removed from the premises, a confidential email that was the property of the Board of the Kent County Agricultural Society.  Even though that email referred directly to me and my husband and my continuing employ at the Society.

We went through the disciplinary hearings, I was accompanied throughout by an extremely kind and expert friend who, like me, believed that it simply was not possible for them to dismiss me on such spurious grounds.  But we were both wrong.  In the end, seeing the writing on the wall, I paid my money and consulted a solicitor.  She confirmed that I had done wrong, and on that fact combined with my mere two months of employment, I didn’t have a leg to stand on.  The only benefit of my hard earned £80.00 bill was that she wrote to the Society and asked if I could resign rather than be dismissed, something they graciously allowed me to do.  I had only ever been sacked once in my career and that was my first ever job.  I did not want this blemish to go down on my cv.

So Roger, you must know how it feels now.  Sickening.  I was lucky, as you may have realised, I am an extremely dedicated worker.  I was rocked, took a week to recover, picked myself up and applied to Sainsbury’s, thinking they might be my only route to earn money that I desperately needed now that I was fending for myself.  I nearly took the job offered to me, but when I actually sat down and worked out how much I would be paid, I realised I couldn’t afford to pay the bills.  Thankfully a job came up at a temporary agency, and the rest is history.  Impressed by my work I was offered full time employment and am happily beavering away to this day.

In my opinion, the Board of the Kent County Agricultural Society are demonstrating extremely short sightedness.  They have stated that the role of Executive Manager, and that of his secretary too I’d expect, is being axed to save money.  But the Show limps on year after year and without an Executive Manager I’d hazard a guess it’s limping into the graveyard.

To a potential employer

I’ve taken a bit of a risk, but under my new banner of “live for today” I felt the risk was a necessary one.  I have linked this blog to every other form of social media I contribute to.  That in itself is not desperately dangerous, but I decided to also publish the link to my blog on my “LinkedIn” site.  LinkedIn, for those who don’t know, is a Business social networking site.

I have been worrying for a while now, about the answer I would give during a job interview, to the question “what does your husband do for a living”?  This puts me in a bit of a predicament.  Most importantly, it is a question that is not allowed at interview, however, if I did choose to answer, and it would be strange and suspicious if I did not, and I fudged my response, I could be accused, at a later stage, of lying at interview – and perhaps again lose my job.   If I choose to tell the truth, I could well not be employed on the basis of my husband’s past actions.

Honesty is still, for me, the best policy.  Although I do not want to go around saying “Hi I’m Carol, my husband’s currently serving three years for theft”, my whole life has changed.   My attitudes, sympathies and the reasons why I do what I do on a daily basis has changed.  The aspirations I had for the future, how I lived daily life, everything.  Remember, I had given up work to be a “housewife” before all this kicked off, I had to re-start my career.  Previously I worried not at all about money, it was there, we had a pension, life cover, sickness cover, we were insured to the back teeth.  If something broke down, we replaced it.  To not talk about this to others is extremely difficult – just the question “did you do anything nice at the weekend” puts me on my guard.  My weekend comprises of visiting my husband for one and a half hours every Saturday, so really I only spend Sunday doing “nothing”.

At my current position I have evaded any questions, I speak about the past, but not the future.  If I was to be asked a direct question “so what does your husband do?” I don’t know how I’d answer.  I am only a temporary secretary here so do not feel obliged to tell the full, unexpurgated truth.  But when I go for an interview, I think this will be different.  My last job I lost – on their part because I committed a gross misconduct in printing off, discussing and taking home an email (which was about me and what my husband had done).  I asked if I could resign rather than be sacked, for what I considered was not a gross misconduct, and eventually this was agreed.  The company felt there had been a breakdown of trust.  Do I want this to occur again – no way – I’d rather the truth was known before I started working or never revealed at all.  Given that I am applying for PA (Personal Assistant) positions, the chances are I will work closely with my employer and there will be a higher likelihood that the truth will be revealed.

So in a way, I am hoping that any links will be followed to this place and that if what my husband did is considered “a problem” to a future employer, I hope I will not be interviewed.  Maybe if asked the question I could just refer a potential employer here…..

Sorry Sainsbury’s, I can’t work for you

I hope I did the right thing by turning down the Sainsbury’s job.  I panicked.  Thought, after the last job debacle, that I was unemployable.  So the idea of working 24hrs a week, guaranteed, even though on a very low salary, was better than potentially not working at all.  I applied on-line, did the tests, passed, was invited for an interview, did some more tests (admission:  I struggled with the question  if someone bought 13 bottles of shampoo at .83p each (aha, person after my own heart, why waste money on shampoo) and they gave you a £20.00 note, how much change would they get?  Doh! Whatever it says on the automatic till change calculator machine…..) but apparently everyone struggles with that one!  But, nonetheless, I was a successful applicant.  But should I take on the job.  It wasn’t until I sat down and did my maths (with the aid of a calculator) that I worked out my income would just about cover my monthly bills!  I would, obviously, have to find another job to fit in around the 24hrs, but as a part time worker, I know that I will not find a high salary.  So, reluctantly, even though I so wanted to wear the “counter staff” hat (you know the one, with the netting to keep you hair out of the food) and learn how to pass a defrosted blob of pizza base through a machine, I had to turn down the offer.  Visions of me manning the Sainsbury’s pizza oven in the centre of the store went up in smoke, like my pizza’s would have done.

No, I have decided to take the plunge and accept any temporary work that comes along with the two agencies I am registered with.  Even if I have to do boring data entry work, it doesn’t matter.  And I won’t have to work weekends and over Christmas, which is something I was struggling to get my head around. 

Where am I with all my other outstanding issues, I hear you ask?  I’ve given up.  Husband has told me not to try struggling on alone and to send him his correspondence – he will deal with any future shitty issues.  We will be putting in a Small Claim to recover the monies owed to us by the ex-employer, but must warn her first of our intentions.  I’ve received a very nice explanation (at last) from the Legal Aid people.  If I knew know what I’d known then…. No, that’s not right…. It’s those known unknowns all over again.  If I knew then what I know now, we wouldn’t have gone to half the trouble to tell the Legal Aid people every single detail of out outgoings/incomings.  They seem to work on a “oh you worked for one month, we’ve multiplied that by 12 and that’s your annual salary”.  Fine if you had a job for a year, but if you were self employed, like both of us, and having the threat of prison hanging over you, meaning you couldn’t work, then that sheds a different light on the matter.  But no worries, I’m not going to dwell on it.  I’ve been advised that I won’t be chased for the money we owe and that I haven’t got, until husband gets out of prison.  Phew.

So, you you know what, I don’t think I currently have any problems – eek, what a strange feeling.  I’m sure something will come out of the post box in the week, it just has to.

ps: apologies for the change of font, I cut and pasted and can’t get the font the same.

Does life go on?

Small glitch on the employment front means that I will have to suspend my blogging temporarily until we see what comes out in the wash.  All you need to know is that a prison sentence is not just a sentence for the miscreant, but it includes the entire family.

If I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again – stay on the right side of the law, if not for yourself, for your loved ones.