Monday, November 15, 2004

November 15 (Monday): We Live In A World. After a night’s sleep made up of broken pockets of snooze, I awaken awaiting the 7AM alarm buzz like a criminal awaiting the guillotine.

Impatient, I find myself unable to wait for the alarm clock to actually buzz, so before that time I find myself already up and moving. With the morning still pitch black outside, I find myself staggering around my home (for now), getting dressed in the dark during hours that are otherwise foreign to me for a Monday morning.

Hesitantly I step out to go and get the letter from the post office and when I do, it is further notice from GloboChem with regards to disciplinary action against myself, with a hearing set for this Friday at 2PM, which doesn’t really suit me as that day I am supposed to be in London on my tax retake course. The paranoid side of me suspects this may have been set intentionally. Worryingly the letter tells me that due to action against me being Gross Misconduct, the company can give me a summary dismissal which means they do not have to give me a period of notice and are not required to pay me, leaving very very little breathing space. It reads:

“Dear Jason

I am writing to tell you that you are required to attend a disciplinary hearing on Friday 19th November 2004 at 2pm, which will be held in our offices. At this hearing the question of disciplinary action against you, in accordance with the Firm’s disciplinary procedure, will be considered with regard to the allegations of gross misconduct on your part.

It was drawn to our attention that you have a personal website that you maintain and update on a regular basis and that the content of this website contains inappropriate reference to the Partnership’s employees, partners and clients such that would be severely prejudicial to the good name of the partnership. As you will be aware we consider conduct prejudicial to the good name of the partnership as gross misconduct (as spelt out in the Contractual Terms of the Staff Handbook) and since it has been established that your website can be discovered through searches under some client names we have grave concerns that your comments are not private to you but have become public. You will also be aware that gross misconduct can lead to summary dismissal. Furthermore we require that during the period of your employment you shall devote your whole time and attention during working hours to your duties and shall faithfully carry out all work which may be required and this is also laid out in the handbook; our investigations have established that work hours have been used to update your website.

In addition, following your exam failures you are no longer entitled to study leave but have been studying whilst at work. You are in breach of the requirement to devote your whole time and attention during working hours to your duties; this impacts seriously on the other team members and is considered by us as serious misconduct and subject to disciplinary actions.

You are entitled, if you wish, to be accompanied by another work colleague or your trade union representative.”

Ouch. Working as an extension of my suspension notice, some accusations rub and some less so. I think really it would be pretty difficult for me to update my website at work without access to the internet (I do not even have a telephone on my desk). Likewise, it is pretty difficult for me study at work when my textbooks are just physically too heavy/large to drag into work. However, these points are beside the point with regards to the grey area of the website, an offence so in vogue it seems nobody actually knows the correct way of going about with dealing such conduct.

I return home to find Sara has been attempting to buzz me on MSN. We discuss the letter and how I am unclear as to what to do today. I tell her that I am going to go into work early (8AM) before the crowds and have a word. She says she shouldn’t bother going in, just phone. She does however add that if they tell me to stay, that I am working, that they are not going to sack me. However, if they send me home, she reckons I will be sacked.

I drive down with a lump in my throat at around 8.10 and as I pass the office, it appears that there is no one there yet. I drive past and park up at Creffield Road and walk in towards the office, thankfully when I get there Seymour’s car is parked outside so at least there is somebody home. I step through the door with a heavy heart and look for life. The door to Seymour’s office is open but he appears at the top of the stairs, emerging from Barlow’s office. I say “hello” and ask him if I’m in today. He responds aloofly “no”, as if (rightly) that was never in question. I think I respond “didn’t think so”. He leads me into his office where he closes the door behind me, sits me down and we discuss the latest letter. I tell him that I have only received it this morning, wanting to ask “why the hell did you send it registered?”. He says he was hoping to get it sorted out today but it wasn’t possible and that someone is still looking at some of it. I point out “yeah, its 600 pages!” and whisper/word “fuck!” to which Seymour responds “yeah but about 100 of them relate to work and 500 to your personal life to which I don’t care what you get up to or write”. Considering I spend most of my waking life at work, that’s actually not a bad ratio. I bring up the meeting set for Friday and he asks “does that cause a problem for you” and we head into the reception where he grabs the diary. I say “yeah, I’d really like to get this nipped in the bud and done”. He asks me how I have been keeping and I say “so so” (Boris Johnson might say “tremendous, little short of superb, on cracking form” but I wouldn’t). He asks me if I have been studying and I say “I’ve been trying to” and he mumbles “you need to buckle down”. This is a rather different John Seymour to last Wednesday, one I suspect I have since upset further. Our date is re-arranged for 2AM on Wednesday where he says “I’ll round up the troops” (and I’ll round up the cavalry). Not comfortable terminology. He briefly goes “or would you prefer it to be out of work hours” and before I get chance to say that’s preferable he continues “no, that’s best it’ll give me a chance to have a beer”. Great, he’ll be sacking me drunk. He adds that things aren’t easy because emotions are involved and that he’s “left things a bit because (he) wants things to calm down a bit in order to prevent reactions such as this” and he grabs my coat in a threatening way. Surprisingly unflinching, I reply “I would have preferred it that way” knowing fully that if they chose to slap me, everything would probably disappear in a puff of smoke as I would no longer be in the wrong. Was that a threat? As I leave I ask “can I have a bit of a heads up” but no dice. Wednesday hangs over my head like a noose.

I walk back to the car knowing it would have been better for me had I been told I was at work today, suddenly things seem worse than ever. I get in my car and head towards to Asda to buy the Ricky Gervais Politics DVD (I always vowed that if it came to this, that is what I would do). And obviously I hit works traffic and get held up.

I get home and Sara is no longer online, no longer there support and ill-advise me. I check my emails and there are various: Ross giving me Unison advice, the literary agents in London are telling me the obvious and Chris is in touch asking me what gives.

Early doors and Dad comes online asking me “why aren’t you at work”. I explain what I know but now when I say “it will be all right”, I am the least convinced that I have been to date (which to be honest, hasn’t been that much). He tells me that “mum is really worried” which is exactly what I don’t want to hear, I’m going to kill those two with worry from my behaviour and scrapes. Dad also adds that the dog is ill, adding to my latest shopping list of woes. It seems he now has a clot in his other ear (the first clot is why his right ear permanently droops). In some ways, this is the worst news of the lot, I am a firm believer that providing a person has their health, then everything will be ok. This statement doesn’t really convince me either.

Like a mole in it’s hole, I pretty much go back to bed and watch the new Ricky Gervais Politics DVD (as was always planned if I wasn’t back at work today). The DVD is ok, making me laugh in the circumstances. It turns out being several times better than the disappointing Animals DVD but still you are left thinking that Ricky Gervais is a lot funnier than this.

When that is finished, it still early morning in Planet Gram and today was supposed to be about more study but today turns out to be my day of feeling/acting like a rabbit caught in the headlights.

I go through panic and apply to numerous jobs on the Reed accountancy website. Almost immediately, an organisation called Office Angels (in Chelmsford) call and they want to see me for an interview. And then about an hour later Reed (in Ipswich) also phone me and likewise want to see me for an interview. After a little messing about (moving the Office Angels interview to the afternoon from the morning) I arrange two interviews for tomorrow and suddenly I feel positive/better from feeling pro-active. Still, I really do not want to be in the position (job hunting in exam and just before Christmas).

At lunchtime, I get some petrol put in my car (for tomorrows cross country trips) and pump my tyres (the slow puncture does not repair itself). I head over to Tesco Highwoods for lunch and buy food that would be otherwise ill-advised. Rational people will call this “comfort eating”.

In the afternoon, after aborted attempts at study proving impossible, I return to the Ricky Gervais DVD and with spirits raised slightly on this morning, this time around it is funnier second time around.

I settle into the usual crummy Monday night routine with special attention shown/lent to tomorrow’s appointments (I’m talking hygiene here!).

My night ends with watching Monkey Dust, which I have previously only casually watched but now being more attentive than ever, it is fascinating and truly twisted stuff. Which is right up my street it seems.

I don’t sleep easy.

np: Black Flag – Clocked In


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