Wednesday, 25 August 2010

The "joys" of working for a Government department - sorry, no wine content whatsoever!

At the day job yesterday, I received a note requesting that I call a customer, who had not received the result of a search that they were expecting (the search had been completed on our computer system, so would have generated an automatic print-off at our central processing hub, somewhere else in the country). I called the customer, but the person who took my call said he was briefly out of the office, but would get him to call me back when he returned. I mentioned that I would be going home within 15 minutes and don't work on Wednesdays, so one of my colleagues might need to deal with it. To which this person (who didn't know me from Adam) commented "Ah, the joys of working for a Government department", to which I replied that, as a part-timer, I was paid accordingly. Without pausing for breath, he added "and a nice fat pension, to boot".

I guess it would have been futile to explain to this idiot that I worked part-time because I was trying to build a wine business and that - more often than not - I'm probably at home working late into the night, whilst he is sitting with his feet up (or out spending his expense account). Because, believe it or not, this man works for a bank. And we all know how tough the banking industry is having it, these days, after having brought the country (nay, the world) to the brink of financial meltdown through profligacy and greed. Of course, if I had expressed such an opinion to him as a retort, I would probably have been given a right royal rollocking for doing so. And anyway, I like to think that I wouldn't sink to the same level as this person, in making mileage out of such a generalised, blinkered viewpoint.

Nevertheless, this little episode left a pretty sour taste in the mouth, I can tell you. In the department I work for, we bend over backwards to offer a level of customer service which just might be unrivalled, certainly in any other Government department, and quite possibly anywhere else in the service industry. So much so that we have far too many people involved in management, or looking after the customer, or simply auditing what we do. I dare say that we probably even have auditors auditing the auditors. Which leaves far too few people to actually do the day-to-day "work". Under normal circumstances, I probably would have complained to our customer service department, having received such shabby treatment from one of our own customers, but I would have expected short shrift. Which depressed me even more, because it is bad enough working in a job I despise, for a salary which (contrary to poular opinion) is worth less each passing year, and for an organisation which (through its own profligacy and bad management) has engendered a level of demoralisation amongst its staff that I have never before witnessed.

Rant over. Back to wine. Who knows, one day I might be able to make a full-time living out of it!


AlanM said...

I can empathise Leon. As a teacher I am used to comments about short days and holidays from people who have a fair amount of holidays themselves and don't have to take work home very night etc. I don't expect sympathy as we do enjoy good holidays (the one perk). But people say things as a cliché.
Mind I'd have found it hard to keep quiet if it was a banker. They have screwed us all over, we've bailed them out and asked how they want us positioned for the next time!

David Bennett- Optometrist and Contact Lens Practitioner said...

bad day at the office dear?

Cheer up matey. It is all in your head really - honest.

Here's a cheery thought - just think of the 6 weeks "holiday" the teachers get! I recall my parents wingeing on and on about it...Poor people.

Leon Stolarski said...

Oi, you! Don't you go upsetting the teachers, especially when they are good customers of mine (see Alan's comment above)!

Anyway, every day is a bad day at the office, where I work. ;-)

Alan - you've hit the nail on the head (with apologies to any bankers who might buy my wines)!

Ben Hopkins said...

I'm a banker in the sense that I work for a bank. I am involved in structuring certain forms of financing big ticket items (planes, trains, power stations, tankers) for clients.

As regards bailing out, it's pretty sure that the poor old taxpayer will make a handsome profit on the stakes they now hold in various banks, as well as receiving an income stream in the form of dividends until the eventual sale of said stake.

There are plenty of arguments to be made that the previous government are equally responsible for the mess we find ourselves in today, both for the pisspoor regulatory framework, and the profligate nature of their spending from 2001 to their eventual demise.

I'm not one for bashing public service or public servants. My parents were both teachers, so I saw at first hand how hard they worked, under difficult conditions in inner-city Coventry. Unfortunately my daughter has to spend a lot of time in hospital, and so I see at first hand the dedication and professionalism of the majority of front line NHS staff.

It's just tiresome to hear lazy generalisations. I'm sure the bloke who gave you grief on the phone was an arsehole, believe me, there are plenty of arseholes who work in banks. Equally there are plenty of people in all professions and walks of life who are arseholes.

Rant over, I buy your wines, and read your blog, and will continue to do both. In fact, I'm going to go to the website and buy a mixed case right now, to try and play a small part in helping you escape the day job.

Leon Stolarski said...

Ben - what a lovely, balanced, responsible reply. I hope my (ever-so-slightly) tongue in cheek tone about bankers came across loud and clear. I am sure that 99% of people who work for the banks are in pretty much the same position as 99% of civil servants, in that they work hard for their pay and don't actually make the millions some of those at the top actually get. It may well be that the guy who was so quick to tar us all with the same brush was (like me) just a relatively low-paid worker, who just happens to believe too much of what he reads in the press.

Anyway, today's another day (and another day at the day job - hence my tardiness at moderating your post).

Right - time for me to download your order and see what goodies you've chosen! ;-))

AlanM said...

Ben, you should have been a diplomat or a BBC reporter, that is beautifully balanced. I disagree with you about the role of the banks in causing the crisis but let's not fall out.
David, I was tongue in cheek, the 6 weeks is the perk no question. There's not many others.