Payment By Results

In my line of work, there really is no other pay other than performance-related. To try to encourage customers I don’t charge if I can’t solve their problem.

In fact, that has never happened. I have always been able to fix it. And, without a doubt, much cheaper than what they would have had to pay if they’d gone to PC World for the same service. And I work much faster than them too.

But, when it comes to the world of cleaning, all results are not equal. I get paid £6/hour for the brief two hour stint I do every morning, almost regardless of how much effort I put in. Sadly, I am much too conscientious to be a slacker, and do the most half-arsed job possible while still picking up my wages.

No, instead I toil and do everything I’m asked to do to a bloody high standard. So much so that many of the staff there have started commenting, “I wouldn’t be bothered with that” when I started cleaning a urinal, and “she was crap anyway” about the cleaner whose job it is I’m covering.

It’s just in my nature, unfortunately. It means I’m always taken advantage of when I work for other people. I can’t help but put in more effort than necessary to complete a task. I just like to see things done properly.

It’s also one of the reasons why I’m desperate to make working for myself succeed. Because, as far as self-employment is concerned, hard work is invariably rewarded in some way. Either through customer satisfaction, extra pay, extra tips, or better, recommendations via word-of-mouth. Which, as all businesses know, is the publicity money simply can’t buy. Even better, that hard work directly benefits me. It doesn’t line someone else’s pocket.

But around these parts, when work is scarce (as it, sadly, is again this week) I have to find things to do to keep me occupied. Before I started my cleaning job, one of the things I would invariably do is clean up here.

But now… by the time I get home, iron my clothes, have a shower and get dressed, it’s virtually lunch time. Once that’s done, I have a couple of hours before my brother and sister get home from school. I used to do a lot more in this time cleaning-wise.

Now, I really can’t be bothered. I can’t imagine anything worse than doing cleaning and not getting paid for it! At least when I’ve got my hands in the khazi in work there is some financial reward for doing so. Here? Not a chance. Not even any appreciation.

In any case, I don’t really have much energy left. After a five mile round trip to work, on top of the physical effort, I’m pretty much done for the day. So I’ve dropped to doing the bare minimum to keep my mum quiet.

Still, it’s more than was done during the summer holidays. The house has been a bit of a mess for the last six weeks. It’s been nice to get a bit of peace back…

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…

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.

Houseson

In recent weeks it’s become very obvious to me that, as the job hunt continues to falter, I have taken on a new role in this household. My parents are out at work, my brother and sister are in school, and now even my other brother has a job and will be starting university shortly.

That leaves me here all day most of the time. Sure, I do the odd thing to get me out the house. But mostly I’m here. I do the washing up, I clean the kitchen and the bathroom, and I do the clothes washing too. Oh, and vacuum the house. Each day I do a combination of those things, helping the house keep ticking over. If I don’t do it, then it will be left to my parents (my siblings are useless), and they hardly get enough time to do anything in this house anyway. And that’s because my brothers and sister are always wanting taken places, to friends houses, and so my parents constantly act as a taxi service.

I don’t ever remember being that demanding when I was their age. But that’s probably because I was a bore. I did very little as a child. Never went anywhere. Never did anything. No wonder I’m so socially inept. But because of that I really didn’t ask for much at all.

For my mum and dad they don’t seem to get any peace. If it’s not the people living here then it’s my sister, who is extremely demanding on their time. And then it’s the rest of the family, who aren’t particularly helpful when it comes to looking after my grandparents.

So for me, and to alleviate my guilt for sponging off them for such a long time, I feel like I am at least making a contribution to the house by helping them out here. I know they appreciate it.

It puts a new perspective on the day though when you’re around here all the time. When you’re in work, the day generally seems to drag. When you’re here, it flies by. It is already mid morning. It will soon be lunch time, and once that comes around it’s almost time for my brother and sister to come home. When I shared this observation with my mum the other day, she said “Welcome to my world”. My mum was a housewife for over 20 years, from my elder sister’s birth right the way through to when she got a job a few years ago.

It’s a weird position to be in. You don’t feel like you’re achieving anything. And in a way you’re not. It’s not changing the world. But it does help calm the atmosphere in here. Plus, it keeps me from feeling too useless. I know that if I wasn’t doing all I am there would certainly be a lot more pressure in the house.And it’s not fair anyway.

We’re all getting older now. In theory things should be easing up. If anything, it’s going in the opposite direction.