Last Friday I started a new job, as a quality control opp at a soup factory.
I really enjoyed my first three twelve hour shifts; they flew by, my colleagues are good company and I had a feeling of positivity and hope. Until Monday, when I started vomiting and had to leave work early, for obvious reasons.
As it happened, Tuesday to Friday were my day’s off, and other than spending most of Monday in bed after getting back from work and a nasty headache on Tuesday afternoon, they went well and I was looking forward to getting back to work and my new challenge. I would be on my own in the QC testing room most of the day, covering all of the different production lines.
I got to work as usual, only to be told that they weren’t expecting me and had been training someone else during the week to take my job. As you can imagine, I became quite distressed and during the morning expressed myself repeatedly on the subject.
Here’s what I wrote to my agency rep on the subject:
Hi ****, could you tell me what’s going on please. I’ve come to work this morning as usual to be told the QA’s weren’t expecting me in and that someone else is training to be a QC. I’m here still, obviously, in Sauce Release but I’d like to know what’s happening and why I’ve had no communication from anyone. Thanks, Rosemarie Cawkwell
I felt unwanted and useless. I also felt betrayed. No one had contacted me to tell me there was a problem with my work, and no one admitted to knowing the reason I’d been cast out after such a short period. I wanted to escape in to a pocket universe and cry, preferably in a corner.
My first instinctive response to the news, when the QA Supervisor finally bothered to contact me, that they didn’t want me anymore (still no explanation) but that she would talk to the production manager about me joining the production team in pack out, was to tell them to stuff the job and walk out. Luckily, a colleague persuaded me to stay and finish the shift. It gave me time to think.
Running concurrently with my distress was my increasing stress; I have bills to pay. I’ve made commitments that rely on my having a regular income; I couldn’t get past the terror that I would be out of work again. If I walked out of the job the jobcentre wouldn’t let me have JSA again, so I made the decision to stay and make the best of it.
Still stressed but resigned to the situation I consider my next move. After talking to other colleagues, including the shift production supervisor I visited the production manager and extracted an assurance that they would try to find work for me. After that I wasn’t stressed anymore.
Stress, I’ve found, when arising from unexpected circumstances, can be reduced when I have a chance to think about my objectives and plan a way forward. I had to change my objective from ‘build on my career in quality control’ to ‘earn enough to pay the bills’. To do that I’ll take the position offered and find another way to get further up the ladder.
Unlike stress, distress can’t be reduced by these rational plans. Other than wanting to hide and cry I found the distress insidiously affecting my conversation. I’m not necessarily chatty but I started talking to random people at work going over and over the same ground. I found myself becoming suspicious of one of the QA’s, thinking that she’s the one who turned the supervisor against me and was withholding information. Even when I finished work for the day, knowing I had a job to come back to the next day and that the agency rep., who had finally responded, was going to investigate, I couldn’t shake my distress about the situation. I felt and still feel like a massive failure.
Worse still, as a longer term consequence, the distress triggered a migraine last night and I’ve had to miss a day at work. I’ve spent the day in bed, sleeping until midday, and then pottering about the house before returning to bed this afternoon.
This is adding to my worritting, because I don’t want to lose the job in production just because I couldn’t go to work today. I text the agency rep. explaining the situation but I don’t think she understands the severity of migraines. I had to use the words ‘debilitating pain and nausea’. I have work tomorrow though and am going to make an effort to be an exemplary employee from now on.
The situation has punctured my enthusiasm for the job but needs must, so I’d better make the best of the situation.
Plus, I can always get my revenge in fiction.