Brisk Business

The week trickles ahead, and my recent run of good fortune seems to be continuing.

I’ve been working every day this week, and not just in the cleaning job I mentioned in my previous post. That is going OK. About as best you can hope for when you’re cleaning toilets, I suppose. Even better when on the radio comes Linger by the Cranberries, you start whistling – “Do you have to let it linger?” – as a member of staff walks in to use the toilet cubicle…

Aside from such amusements it’s very mundane. But at least I get paid for doing it. Better still, I’m getting paid more than I did at the petrol station, and don’t have a shitty boss, and don’t have to live with the constant threat of losing pay.

Even better, this morning my wage slip arrived. I’ve been paid on time, and taxed correctly. I’ve yet to receive a wage slip from my former employer, and the whole thing was administered incorrectly. If I don’t get wageslips in the end, it’s going to make next year’s self-assessment form incredibly difficult.

But amidst all this, my computer business has been not too bad either. I’ve had several customers the past few days, each one producing a decent level of return for my time investment, and each one seeming very pleased with the service and all promising to recommend to me to anyone they know who has a computer to fix.

It’s been a struggle… because I’ve done most of the home visits by walking to them. One of them was 2.5miles, but I have no choice at the moment but to keep my costs to a minimum. Perhaps it will encourage me to get a car. But I still think I’m the wrong side of 30 for the insurance companies. There’s no way I can afford £1,000+ a year just on insurance. But it hasn’t been too bad, anyway. I don’t mind walking. Gets me out the house and keeps me relatively active!

The only real black mark against it has been the failure of eBay to produce any useful leads. I took a gamble, hoping the eBay shop would drive traffic to my website. It hasn’t. I’m just left with a bill for a large number of crappy auctions which ended for pennies as I tried to get rid of the rubbish lying in this room. Never mind…

That is still very much in prospect. In fact, I’m going there in a couple of weeks time to scout out somewhere to live. If it can all be wrapped up the same day and an agreement in principle made then there’s no reason why I wouldn’t be able to move by October. I have no real ties here. It would be sad to move, of course, but again and again I think to myself that my time here has run out.

It’s going to happen soon. Just when is still to be decided…

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Bangor Bound

“Didn’t we have a lovely day the day we went to Bangor” is something my mum came out with when I told her I was having a day out there. Apparently, it’s some old song. I don’t know. She comes out with some crackers.

It never struck me as one of the places I would actually look forward to, but this small town on the North West Wales coast was in fact a rather nice day out.

My purpose for the visit was to mix a bit of business with pleasure. A friend of mine is doing a lot of political activity there. I decided to come along and help the effort on one of their “action days” – which basically involved miles of walking shoving leaflets through letterboxes.

The good news was that the weather was absolutely perfect. Couldn’t have been any better. Glorious sunshine, a tiny breeze to keep it cool, but not too hot. Which is important when you’re doing physical exercise. Especially as I was the lucky one to carry my group’s leaflets around in my backpack.

We were well looked after with some fantastic hospitality. Food and drinks, all provided freely, and a wonderful little cottage as a base for our operations. It’s just exactly what you need when you’re doing something like this. Wasn’t too stressful either. In fact, we had a great time.

Then, when we’d all finished, we departed for the bar for a celebratory drink. It gave me a great chance to catch up with my old friend whom I’d not seen in years. Even better was that I didn’t have to pay, because it’s tradition in these things for the person who we’re all working for to thank their activists in such a way!

Well, the only thing I did pay for was the cost of travel. I had to get up at 5:30am yesterday to be there for 9:30… and, pleasingly, the train journey went extremely smoothly. It only cost £15 too, thanks to the shiny new railcard I’ve invested in.

But the early start wasn’t too much of a problem for me anyway. The main reason: I have once more found myself a little job to supplement my income. In truth, it’s something I’ve always had the option of doing but was never too keen on it.

My uncle is an area manager of a cleaning firm. He got me a job at the drop of a hat, especially when he heard about the scum I worked for in my previous job. It’s only a few hours each day, bright and early in the morning, but that suits me fine. I’m home by 10am, and then I’ve got the rest of the day to myself.

And recently, I’ve actually had plenty of stuff to do. Business has been fairly good the past three weeks. Still not huge amounts of money, but it is showing potential. Seems I’m getting lucky right now.

About bloody time. It’s been a tough past couple of months.

Stuffed

In the first ever event of its kind, according to my parents – who should know, I took them out for a meal this lunchtime.

We went to our local Harvester pub to take advantage of their very good meal prices and superb unlimited salad bar offer. No, I’m not on commission.

It was nice to get out of the house for a bit, away from the rest of the family, just the three of us, able to relax and enjoy our surroundings. The place is lovely, out the way from the usual eating venues, and better still, somewhere we haven’t been to before.

And when the value is calculated, it’s pretty damn good. £10 a head for what was effectively a four course meal, starting with a large helping of salad, some pasta with garlic bread (with another big bowl of salad), then a giant chocolate fudge ice cream dessert (£2.99) and a cup of coffee to finish.

I had to pay for the lot, but I’ve been threatening to do that for years. In fact it had become a bit of a joke around these parts. “I’ll pay” was what I would quip before we’d head out to dinner. It’s not like we do this that often, maybe once a month, and that’s usually because it’s someone’s birthday.

But this time I really meant it. Out came the credit card. Like I said, it was nice to treat the family, and all without the rest of my brothers and sisters hanging on. Not that this is a game of one-upmanship, but, you know, I don’t think any of us ever show our appreciation for our parents… so it was nice to do that for a change.

We’re still all stuffed now, three hours since the meal. I probably won’t need to eat much later. Better that I just sit in this chair for a few more hours and let it all digest. Wouldn’t want to see my hard earned money again!

Meanwhile, it’s been a quiet week. No progress on the escape front. Just more hassle from the rest of my family, and more of me dearly wishing to get the hell out of here. It will happen. One day. Just not yet. When it does happen it will be a total nightmare, as the logistics of moving from The North to The South are horrendous.

But that’s yet another reason why I want to try to enjoy my time here, since it may not last for much longer. There may not be many more chances to treat my family, except for the odd weekend when I’m home.

This too shall pass – as I like to tell myself. The four most reassuring – and most frightening – words in language.

Boy, I sure do love depressing myself.

Holding Pattern

So I’ve spent the last week considering very carefully what my next move in life should be.

The problems outlined in my previous post still remain, and are no nearer to being solved. In fact, each day they go on drives me just a little bit more insane. Will I ever see my passport again? What a stupid bastard I was to hand it over in the first place.

But there has been a modicum of success business wise lately. Yes, I can’t believe it either. I’ve sold three PCs, all about the same time. How can this be? How can people suddenly arrive with requests for PCs all at the same time? Life is very weird. But all of these orders have now been fulfilled… with only minor farce resulting from the delayed arrival of one hard drive.

Then, as I fully expect, all will return to silence again. The phone will stop ringing. The e-mails will not arrive. All that will be left is just me. Sitting. Waiting. Wishing. As Jack Johnson sang. Good tune that.

Over the weekend just gone I had a meeting with a friend of mine. It was mostly to talk business… because he and I have big plans in formation. I’m fed up with life here. He’s fed up with his life. It just so happens that our talents and plans have co-incided for the first time in our lives. He’s been made redundant. I’ve been sitting around doing naff all for well over a year. Perfect!

We think we may be able to do my business and do it properly. Combining beautifully with his new media talents. Oh, and his ability to drive. And some new territory. Up North, no one really seems to care about computers. Down South… well, maybe it’s more likely to be the Land of Milk and Honey. And silicon.

This plan would involve me moving down South. Permanently. Well, permanently if it works. If it doesn’t work I’ll be back home by the time six months is up. But I’m prepared to take this gamble.

I’m starting to feel old. I’m starting to feel like my opportunities to take big gambles with my life are shrinking. I need to be doing something productive with my time, something that is genuinely going to be able to make me live a life. A life that’s actually worth living. Not like now.

Perhaps the stresses of having bills to pay and obligations will focus my mind, make me work harder at it. Because I know full well that I’ve not really given this my all. Partly through not being prepared to risk much. But also my lack of transportation and not wanting to put more upon my parents.

That’s another reason why I have to leave. I really must get out from under their feet. I’m no bother. I help out a lot. But I need to move on. They understand. I’m too big for the nest now.

Let’s just see what happens.

Nasty Knickers

So, my new job didn’t last very long. In fact, no more than seven weeks.

The reason was simple: the boss was a shit. A total, utter, copper-bottomed shit.

He spent all his time in rants of paranoid, delusional schizophrenia. Telling me to do my job all the time, despite mounting evidence that I was already doing my job, and doing it properly.

I couldn’t take the stress of him any more. The stress of the various signs and notices around the place telling everyone that they’ll get sacked if they don’t do X, Y and Z properly. That this, that and the other are totally unacceptable.

So the job had to go for the sake of my sanity. It wasn’t going particularly badly, but in truth the pay was appalling for the amount of work I was doing. Worse, I was doing night shifts and getting no extra reward for them, as is usual in most other employers.

Today, however, was the culmination of it all. After going in for my final bow, and insisting, firmly but politely, on my legal rights, the silly bastard started hurling personal abuse at me.

I stayed calm and rational, but he kept going. Knobhead this, knobjockey that. And all in the presence of his family (enslaved to work at his establishments and looking very embarrassed) and then later in the conversation in front of customers.

But then all of a sudden he switched. Like Jekyll goes to Hyde and back again, he was once more talking with me and working out what the best plan would be to end everything amicably and quickly.

Yet he remains one of these people from whom no errors are ever made or admitted. If they do make a mistake, it is invariably your fault. Everything is someone else’s responsibility, doesn’t matter who. The blame for everything that’s gone wrong was shifted from his overlords, the franchisor, to his fellow staff, to the managers, to the people he’d contracted the payroll out to, to the postal system. You name it, he blamed them.

Even better he then offered me a drink, which I took with glee. About the only free thing I’ve ever got from him and I wasn’t going to pass it up in the spirit of our suddenly blooming friendship.

At the end of it all though, things are still not right. I don’t have any wage slips. I still don’t have the pay I’m entitled to. I’m unsure whether he’s been deducting cash from my wages illegally. I’m not likely to get the accrued holiday pay. I still don’t have my property back, which he’s had for six weeks. This includes my passport, bank statements, graduation transcript and other documentation related to my self-employment.

All I can hope for is it all gets wound up very quickly and accurately. I now have his details and can nag him if I need to.

And then I have to work out what the hell to do with myself. Because everything I touch seems to turn to shit.