20 January 2017 (Friday) - End of an Era
I ‘m in something of a reflective mood; I've worked for the same employer for over thirty years; today felt odd. As I wave goodbye to the place I still find it hard to be objective about my time there.
I went for interview for my first job with them in August 1984. I went to the interview from the Boys Brigade camp which was taking place in Smarden in (as luck would have it) in a field adjacent to a farm which was to become such a large part of my life in recent years. I can distinctly remember going for that interview; and as I walked into the hospital I can remember a definite and strong feeling of "NO!"; almost as though God himself was telling me not to go for the interview. But I did; I was offered the job, and I started on September 10 1984.
I hated it. After a couple of months I was seriously considering moving back to Hastings. The job was OK ; I was just working with some rather nasty women. But as time moved on so did they, and they were replaced by people I quite liked. Success in exams got me state registered, and three years after that saw promotion to a supervisor grade.
For all that I grumbled from time to time I was in a job that I could do, and that I felt rewarding. Over the years I trained twenty-five people from appointment to state registration, and even got to travel the country to assess candidates on their suitability to be state registered. Admittedly the night staff would often (usually twice a week) call me in after midnight to sort various issues, but I didn't mind. In retrospect it was good to be able to contribute to the running of a hospital so intimately.
However years in a senior position had its drawbacks. As did being a naturally vocal sort of person. Looking back I should have kept my mouth shut and not argued with the bosses. But I've never been a "yes man"... In August 2011 I made a rather serious mistake (on a day when I'd been asked to do two peoples' jobs). During the investigation another error came to light for which I was given the blame.
After a rather nasty few months a boss who I had thwarted a few times gave me a choice: downgraded and transferred to another place of work or sacked for gross incompetence.
I was (and still am) rather bitter about this; years of service thrown back in my face. I had missed countless family get-togethers and children's birthday parties because I was needed at work. I would regularly give up plans (at a moment's notice) to cover shifts because of other people’s sicknesses and problems. None of this counted for anything.
Everyone with whom I worked at the time rather felt that my punishment was a massive over-reaction, I lost count of the senior managers who told me that they felt I had been treated shabbily, but only six of them felt strongly enough to write a letter of support on my behalf. Most people were frightened of what was seen as a tyrannical management. Mine wasn't the only dismissal at the time.
It was an odd time; there are lots of maxims and proverbs about "knowing who your friends are". I hope none of my loyal readers ever have to find this out. For me it was a serious eye-opener. People with whom I've never got on wrote the most wonderful letters of support for me. Other people with whom I had been close for twenty-five years totally turned their backs on me. I still see those who refused to defend me (when they don't seem me first and then hide); none of them have the courage to look me in the eye. One of them saw me at the railway station recently. He hid behind a pillar, and as I deliberately moved about so did he; clearly trying to hide from me.
My pride felt I should tell them to stick it; practicality made me swallow my pride. I took the downgrade as I needed an income. I spent two years job-hunting. I achieved nothing. After a while I managed to progress back up two grades, but I was (and still am) still saying "yes sir no sir" to people I'd interviewed, appointed and trained. The chance for advancement back to a supervisor grade came up last summer. I applied; I didn't get the job because at interview I "came over as myself". I've been told that for all that the people on the interview panel know me (one has known me since 1983), had I lied to them and pretended to be someone I'm not and spouted the correct management catch-phrases (that I despise) I would have got the promotion.
I'm not unhappy in my job, but I feel I could do so much more than I'm currently doing.
A vacancy came up at Maidstone. It is time for a fresh start.