Two Weeks On

Another day off.

It’s another bank holiday weekend, the second of three that we get at this time of year. I have come to value them immensely. If there was one bank holiday weekend every month it would be so awesome. I now realise just how much I need catch up days, back to back. Two days gives me a day to do rubbish Adult Life Chores, and then a day to relax. I’m so used to only getting one day “off” per week that that day is spent savouring the freedom, rather than doing ALCs, or the incredibly tedious things I just keep putting off.

And off and off. One such example is the mountain of computer spare parts that I have had at home for maybe a year or more. Some of them I keep for legitimate reasons, cos I might need to use them in the future. But others I have had for such a long time because I kept saying that, one day, I would get a chance to get on eBay and get rid of the valuable bits.

Yesterday, I started at 8am and by 6pm had listed a mere 15 items. But that represents the sum total of the destruction of seven laptops… most of the bits are of such low value (£1/£2) that I don’t even want to spend the time wrapping and posting them. So in the bin they went. My living room now has much less of the computer workshop vibe.

In reality, if all those 15 items sell I will get a return of about £200 for my day. Three of them have gone so far, and all the higher value items. I had a feeling they would sell quickly, but hopefully the rest will too, as I could do with a little financial kickback.

Why? Because a few weeks ago I managed to screw up a client’s computer because I forgot to take the battery out of their laptop while changing the screen. Pretty pathetic, really, but I got lazy and complacent. 99% of the time I take the battery out before doing any work. But for some stupid reason I left it in while changing the screen. It must have caused a short, as by the time I’d finished it it would never work again.

We live and learn. I have been quite philosophical about it. In all the years I’ve been doing my job, nothing serious has ever gone wrong. A couple of minor things have happened, but I’ve always been able to recover the situation. This time, however, it was such a disaster I had no choice but to throw lots of my own money at it to set things right again.

Never mind.

But it’s been a quick couple of weeks. The work has been relentless, and my life has been generally rubbish. But I don’t really complain. I am more than aware of the fact that I am quite a loner. I do enjoy my own company. I enjoy relatively solitary leisure pursuits. It’s just been me all over, and it doesn’t even affect me any more.

Not quite sure that is a good thing in the bigger picture, but there you go.

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One Week On, One Week Off

After a week spent back in the family home, it’s almost time for it to end once more. For another week.

This continual process of one week here, one week in my supposed new home is a bit ridiculous really. It’s far more than I expected. I thought maybe I’d come home for a couple of days at most. But the way it works out, there really is no other way to do it. It’s not advisable for me to buy a ticket for my return until I’m home, because things can change rapidly.

For instance, I came back last Saturday, knowing I had work to take me through to Tuesday. But on the Monday the regular job I do at a school encountered some extra problems and asked me to come in again to help clear the backlog. So I did, and in fact spent the entire day there yesterday. More money for me.

I’ve no idea whether I would have made enough, or even anything, had I been living in my other home. I have had two phone calls since I started with small local ads, but one of them I couldn’t do anyway and the other was kind enough to wait until next week. So I haven’t missed out on too much.

But when I get back I’m going to give a fair old crack at the leafleting campaign. Or rather, a letter. It might have a better response rate. Plus, the content is better anyway than the last leafletting I did around here, which was a bit of a disaster.

That’s tomorrow. The past week has, as usual, flown by, even though I haven’t really been doing all that much. Did some housework for my parents. Had some work, as I said… but otherwise it’s just been me, my laptop and the BBC iPlayer. Anything to avoid having to watch I’m A Celebrity, which my family have lapsed into watching. Not good at all.

I was hoping to have a bit more work to do, but unfortunately my almost useless housemate has once again said he would be either a) getting some new clients for me and; b) doing a website design ready for me to code. Unfortunately, neither of this has happened. I’m now beginning to take everything he says with a massive pinch of salt. There’s almost no other way to keep my levels of disappointment down.

But today… there is something a little different. An old friend of mine is coming here as he wants me to do him a favour: watch him give a presentation. He needs some feedback for it, as he’s soon going to be giving it live in a university masters interview. Always nice to help out, and in any case it’s nice to still have some friends who don’t only exist in Facebookland…

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…

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.