The Chronicles of Sonia (Life in Lockdown Lifting)
As pubs and shops re-open, I can’t help but remember the day lockdown started; March 23 rd , 2020. I had so many hopes and dreams! Now I just have Netflix.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen after watching Netflix in its totality I feel like my remote control; old, broken and the START button is stuck.
I used to be a lean, mean comedy machine! Now I’m just a lump in front of a screen. What happened?
‘THE ACHIEVERS’ is what happened! You might know some of them. Determined individuals who used lockdown to better themselves, turning the crisis into an 'opportunity'. Unlike some of us who turned the crisis into an excuse to drink.
'THE ACHIEVERS' learnt to speak eight languages, did MBA’s, PHD’s and memorized the human genome. Me? I learnt to drink straight from a Tequila bottle. (Squeeze ¼ lime in and dab rim with salt).
If that wasn’t enough, I get a letter telling me I’m old. Hey I already know that! Does the NHS have to rub it in?
‘We have sent you this letter as people in your age group are now able to get the coronavirus vaccine.’
‘We have sent you this letter because you’re old and probably don’t even know what an email is. Book your jab THIS INSTANT, so you don’t forget.’
Despite my developing decrepitude, I manage to book the appointment and a couple of weeks later find myself in the vaccine center. The place is amazing! Full of courageous people exposing their upper arms freely, no need for nurses to hold them down forcefully.
Like they did with me. Yes, I was a cry-baby … so what? I didn’t even get a biscuit or a sweetie! What kind of a vaccine roll out I this? It takes the biscuit!
I wasn’t the only one disappointed. Conspiracy theorists getting the jab left with a chip on their shoulder, I mean a chip on their upper arm.
Back home I found out about the vaccine war. Not the one between countries, but the war on ‘Who got it worst’. Plastered all over social media, it was like a moaner’s convention:
‘I got headaches, heavy flu symptoms and a sore arm. It lasted for days!’
‘Oh yeah? Well, I got all that plus shivers, bad stomach and my arm got infected! Not wanting to be left out of the pity party I posted, ‘My arm fell off!’
The truth is I was sooooo ill with side effects! I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy! Actually, I would wish it on my worst enemy: ex-husband, the tax man, HR ladies who fired me … it's a long list.
Nasty nostalgia aside, now that I've had my jab, I can't wait to get back to the office! Don’t get me wrong, I have a lovely office in what used to be a tiny walk-in wardrobe. The state agent described it as ‘cosy and intimate, ideal to get away from it all’. Yes, including my sanity.
Remember TGIF - Thank God it’s Friday? Now it’s more like, ‘Is it Friday? Or Sunday … what’s my name?’.
The office had so many perks! A desk, free pencils … even toilets! We didn’t even have to clean them! We had an office microwave, never mind everything came out smelling of a curry someone heated in 1985.
I miss the office martyr (every office has one), she’s usually called Lizzie. Lizzie has a cold, the flue, pneumonia … she still shows up for work! Lizzie gives birth and 20 minutes later she’s at her desk with the baby, placenta flying.
I even miss the Human Resource ladies. They always made me feel so …terrified. With their PIPS (Performance Improvement Plan), which were there to help you out. Yes, help you out of the door.
Exhilarating times! Like when the HR lady said, ‘Sonia I’m afraid you’re on the redundancy list’. Two days later she came back ‘We made a mistake you’re not on the list! It was a glitch!’
A month later I was still fired. It was ‘The Dress Rehearsal Redundancy! HR had invented a new way of making me feel worthless.
So much for office life … now I'm back in my wardrobe, thinking that virus or no virus, I better move on with my life! Maybe get a new remote control to start with.
As for those HR ladies? When they get their jab? They’re on MY list.
And that ain’t no glitch.
Sonia Aste is an engineer / writer / comedian working on getting her START button unstuck.
Rethinking your career goals during Covid with Meera Das
Now that I’m self-employed I wake up at midday, take 7-day weekends and … I’m out of work.
One self-employment’s biggest downer is not having a boss to blame when things go pear-shaped. Of course, I could blame myself, but that would mean taking on something called ‘responsibility’, which is against my company’s motto: ‘It’s not me, it’s them’.
Next on the downer list is not being able to take part in that timeless tradition of ‘Boss Bashing’, which I always found not only entertaining but very therapeutic. You might have experienced it. After work, you’re having drinks with fellow co-workers and all of a sudden it turns into ‘The Great British Boss Off’:
‘I can’t stand him! He’s a #$*beeeeeeeeep!’
‘Did you see the objectives he’s set us? What a *#beeeeping beeeeeeeeeep!!
I’d chip in, ‘He has more breasts than me!’, which to be frank isn’t difficult.
To continue with this tradition, I sometimes Boss Off in front of the mirror, ‘You’re really lazy! You need to get up earlier …’ but quickly get distracted by the fact that actually, he did have more breasts than me. So much for productivity.
I miss having a boss to blame and trust me, there have been many. A quick calculation revealed I’ve had more bosses than lovers (never overlapped). This is not only sad but stupid, as everyone knows an affair with your manager means ‘‘boss with benefits’. Perks like undeserved promotions, extra bonuses and trips to Tenerife for ‘The Team’ (of 2).
I don’t miss all my ex-bosses of course. Some were nasty, brown-nose climbers who cared more about their Prada shoes than their employees. Knowing the price of those designer shoes and how unproductive I was, they did have a point.
Others were like the world’s economy, always on the verge of collapse. Like that finance director who was found naked near his home mumbling, ‘I can’t! I can’t!’. He wasn’t talking about his sex life either. He recovered completely and today has a very profitable business helping companies deal with stress.
Luckily, I’ve also worked for some great people. Case example Sharon (to protect her awesomeness that’s her real name), who pioneered working from home years before it became common practice. She told me, ‘If I can’t trust you, I won’t hire you’.
Shocking! Didn’t she know I was Spanish? She was always first on the firing line, literarily. Her team (myself included) was made redundant shortly after she was fired.
The problem is the boss/employee relationship is like an arranged marriage, in that both sides are selected by individuals other than the couple themselves. The difference is that while in arranged marriages the parents have their children’s best interest at heart, in the workplace Human Resources has no heart.
What to do? Well, a group of disgruntled employees and I have developed an app to obtain information about future bosses before committing to the relationship. After all, WE (the ordinary employee) send CVs and references, yet we have absolutely nothing on our future managers. It’s not fair!
This is where BossAdvisor comes in. Like TripAdvisor, the watchdog type platform that operates with user-generated content on travel, BossAdvisor will do the same for managers, directors, CTO’s, CFO’s, CEO’s and Priti Patel.
To avoid unpleasant, time-consuming lawsuits, only first names will be used and foul language will not be admitted (even if your boss deserves it).
Our plan is to reach 66 million reviews (UK population), which is very ambitious, but not as farfetched as the yearly objectives most managers impose on us.
BossAdvisor has a three-tier rating system:
☹ BAD - Keep on looking.
☹☹ Very Bad - Don’t even think about it.
☹☹☹ TERRIBLE - Makes the Job Center look like paradise.
Our Pilot Plan has just started and it’s had a massive response! Here are some examples:
☹ BAD - CONTROL FREAK FRED you need a pass to go to the toilet, even when
working from home.
☹☹ Very Bad - JACK STABS YOUR BACK
☹☹☹ TERRIBLE - BIG EGO ED thinks he’s God. Except God is little humbler.
Want to join the Pilot Plan? Post your reviews! Be part of what will go down in history as
'The Great British Boss Off'
Sonia Aste is an engineer, writer and comedian who has a talent for holding a grudge.
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When I go back in time, I'm reminded of the community of Portfolio People we started to build that often met in person. Lockdown has given us the opportunity to revisit this and start to rebuild said community virtually (for now).
It therefore gives me great pleasure to introduce our Portfolio People Annual Membership. In summary:
Contact us for more information and check out the flyer attached
*T's and C's apply
Rupa Datta is Founder of Portfolio People - currently excited about the future of work and building a community of Portfolio People
The future of work right now is pretty fluid. Some of you may feel like you are going for interview after interview. Some of you may not have been invited to interview despite many an application. Then there's the camp that may well be in a job or a role. I put to you that it is healthy to go for an interview annually - even when you're not looking!
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