Month: August 2016

Gloria and the Herbalists

herbalist

A rare sighting of your loyal correspondent. That’s me on the right, chatting to two boys. They are selling African medicinal herbs and are very knowledgeable. They are in some famous gardens that I’ll tell you about later that surround the art museum in Cape Town, which is that white building behind us. Table Mountain is the background. Nice shot, huh. How often do people take photos of you from behind with both Rastas and famous landmarks in shot? Not very, that’s how often.

There will be a lot more photos in due course, I think I shot 1,400 in total, most of them boring work shots but also a lot of stuff that you will like. It takes time to sort through that many photos, so that’s what I’ve been doing for the last few days, so I can get my work report written.

While sorting photos, I’ve been thinking very carefully about what to do about this horrible day job because the World’s Worst Company’s new season starts in two weeks and once it’s up and running I am tied in until Xmas. Here is my decision: I am going to give it another 4 months, until the end of this calendar year and will not quit before then. Analysis:

  • I am loyal to the CEO, aka The Terminator. He hired me. He is shit-hot. He has a tough job on his hands trying to make this company recover its health. He will be disappointed if I walk out. He doesn’t want to give up on me yet, and I would like him to not give up on me yet. I would also like him to take me with him to his next job.
  • I am loyal to our customers, some of whom have signed contracts for this coming season based on the expectation that they will be working with me, because I am a ROCK STAR and outshine any other client-facing member of staff.
  • My new line manager, Brian, seems like a reasonable person and The Terminator likes him, so that’s the sole recommendation that I would value.
  • I like a challenge and I don’t like to fail at things.
  • In my career history, I have almost no experience with office politics, this is because I own the company. You agree with me or you can go and work elsewhere. However, in companies that I do not own, there will be politics that I cannot deal with using the usual tactics. As much as it does not benefit the organisation when our staff behave like tossers, it also does not benefit when I make it clear that I think they are tossers. If I am interested in what benefits the organisation, which I am, and of being some use to the Terminator, which I am, then I need to become a diplomat. Because working here at a high level of seniority means managing these people, no matter how incompetent they are, or how far away from what I was led to expect, it is what we have to work with. For now. So I need to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

FFS. Being a grown-up is hard.

Jehst: Weed

 

Miss Congeniality

Jesus Christ. I am busy today but I really have to get this down somewhere.

So I went to the World’s Worst Company today to have a performance review with my new line manager. He’s quite a plain speaker, which is good. He patiently revealed to me that I still understand nothing about the organisational culture, after a year of being absolutely battered by it. He broke it down for me like this. I wish I were joking. This is what he said. No word of a lie.

In this company, there are 3 classes of people.

There’s an underclass that has no qualifications and no business experience. These people are cheap to employ and some of them have been there for 20+ years and are scared of losing their jobs, as well they might be. They hate the classes above them.

The middle class has qualifications but no business experience (are you noticing a theme here). These people are also quite cheap to employ because they are young. They are not quite as scared of losing their jobs, but they are still scared. They hate the class above them.

The upper class has qualifications and business experience. It’s a very small class indeed, comprising me, him, the new CEO, aka The Terminator, and a very small handful of other people.

Now here’s the shocker. Within this organisation, which has been muddling along for a long time, there are not one but two measures of success. The first one is performance – big surprise, right? It never crossed my mind that anything else would matter. The second one is congeniality. That means popularity. That means ‘people think you are nice’.

So in theory, I said to my new line manager, I could be terrible at my job, deliver crap performance, but as long as everyone thought I was nice, my job would be safe. Yes, he said. Fucking hell, Brian, I said, with my head in my hands. What are we doing? I don’t understand what we are doing.

So – in order to win at this game, I have to get these two lower classes to agree that I am nice. And they absolutely hate me, to a man. The reason they hate me so much, my new line manager revealed, is because (1) I talk about business and show my experience, this is like a red rag to a bull, and (2) I haven’t been participating in the popularity contest that I didn’t know existed.

There are formal scores for congeniality – I wish I were making this up, I swear to God, I am not making it up. So for example you can win points by going out for drinks on a Friday night. So this leads to the most incredibly surreal situation where groups of people who absolutely hate each other’s guts go out for drinks every Friday night and are fake nice to each other, because if you don’t do that, you aren’t Congenial.

I feel completely exhausted. They hired me BECAUSE of my business experience. Brian’s advice was this:

  • Don’t talk about business ever again. Don’t mention it. I can obviously mention it to our customers, who are not stupid and know what they are paying for, but don’t mention business ever again in front of a ‘colleague’.
  • Be more fake. Don’t say what you really think. Don’t say things in emails or on forms or in conversation which suggest any hint of displeasure with the most hostile working environment I’ve ever experienced. Say that everything is perfect and do whatever it takes to convince everyone that you are their best friend, no matter how much they quite obviously hate you.

At this point I’m completely drained of energy. Then we filled out the rest of the so called performance review form and there was some shit about my career aspirations. Being in this organisation is putting my career at risk, Brian, I said frankly, possibly for the last time. Okay, well don’t put that, he said, patiently, just make something up. Make something up that this organisation can actually do and say that’s what you aspire to.

Okay, I said. So then I filled out this form saying that this company is the happiest place on Earth and its staff are the nicest people I’ve ever met. I think that should do the trick. He’s going to take a look at it and if I lied convincingly enough, he can sign it off.

I wish I were joking. This goes against everything I believe in and it is one more item in the GET THE HELL OUT column. I should stop talking and get the hell out.

Choon.

Lee Perry: Vampire

In which I am a bit drunk and feel like writing about love and sex.

Let’s see if I can do this before my laptop dies or I fall asleep.

Background: I had a glass of wine with dinner and am in a swank hotel in Johannesburg, which is enough to put anyone in a good mood.

So let me tell you about the Person who I was illicitly in love with until the other day when I cut off the supply. While I was in Philadelphia I was missing this person terribly and now only about 2 weeks later I’m in South Africa and I’m not missing them at all, which just goes to show that as you get older you become extremely good at controlling your emotions.

I’ve known the Person for almost exactly a year and it has taken that long for them to reveal themselves to me and what game they are playing and in my view it is a very foolish and self-denying game.

I get lots of satisfaction out of (a) sex, of which there is an abundant supply, still, even though I am an old lady, and (b) romance and being in love. So I have very much enjoyed the long game over the last year in which the Person and I carefully and tentatively romanced each other in a rather illicit way and I was very much looking forward to having sex with them, because what else would you expect to do with someone you are romantically attached to.

I listen to the things people say, I listen to all the details. I’m a very sharp listener considering I’m a bit deaf. People make off the cuff remarks and do various little things and I notice all of it, and through this they reveal the particular version of reality that they are inhabiting.

So the first thing that I’ve noticed about the Person is that he is a bit insecure. Coincidentally, he’s a bit insecure about things that aren’t my best features either, except I don’t worry about them as much. I’ve noticed him making remarks from time to time about people being fat and having less than perfect teeth and there were times when I thought this was directed at me and perhaps in a superficial way it was. I am a bit bulgy around the middle, there is no denying it (nice tits, though, swings and roundabouts) and my teeth or more precisely my gums are far from my best feature because I keep smoking like the fool I am. THEN it dawned on me that the Person is actually worried about these aspects of himself, and that’s why he makes critical remarks about other people. He posted a picture of himself on social media in which he is on a beach in a pair of swimming shorts and of course I’ve never seen him with so few clothes on before and guess what he’s every bit as chunky around the middle as I am, the only difference being that I don’t make bitchy comments about other people being fat. So that was interesting. Once that penny had dropped, I started paying attention to his attitude to his own teeth (which are far better than mine although not perfect) and he hides them. You know when people hide their teeth, they don’t smile or laugh properly and they use their lips like a suit of clothes. He does that. Interesting, huh.

And then there’s this other thing, the love and sex thing. So there was a period quite recently where our relationship was really heating up and it seemed to me that we were right on the brink of something happening. He has a particular weakness for big tits and my boobage is as impressive as my bulgy tum. I can really get some cleavage going on if I dress right and he can’t keep his eyes off it and there have been several times when he came and stood so unmistakably close to me and was shaking with desire and CLEARLY wanted to put his hands on me, which I wished he would. Then he panicked and backed off and went all frosty and borderline aggressive. And it was around this time that I started to pay very close attention to the things he says about his female friends. He talks about them in this very odd way and makes them sound like needy fuckwits.

Me, I like being single. In fact, I fucking love it. I am popular with boys. There are three of them in London right now, excitedly waiting for me to come home. Not second-rate ones, either. They range in age from 21 to 28. They are all handsome. The youngest one is unbelievably gorgeous, to the point that I can’t believe my good fortune. The middle one has been a devoted courtier of mine for 2 years. The oldest one is a scientist with a PhD. See how nicely I do. I am not at all short of attention and I can’t really imagine why I would want to trade that in for a relationship unless there was some compelling external reason, which there isn’t. I am a very fortunate woman. I’ve never been a big fan of couples and as I get older, richer and more hungry for adventure, the less interested I become. I like romance, as light and fluffy as candyfloss and I like to get laid, ideally with someone new who I’m not tired of.

Not so for the Person. After I started Listening, I noticed that he made two or three remarks about his female friends that made me think that they and also he were in need of some sort of help. Of one, after he’d done criticising her weight (she is quite a bit heavier than average) he remarked ‘at least she’s got a man’, like it was some sort of achievement (!!!! what is it, 1950? what do you mean ‘got a man’? I have enough men to start pimping them out, I wouldn’t call A man anything to get excited about). Then soon after that there was another occasion where I can’t remember the exact words but he referred to his female friends collectively as trying to capture A man and settle down like it’s some sort of difficult quest. I’m a feminist, okay, and a second-wave feminist into the bargain. IMO, being shackled to some idiotic guy who keeps knocking you up and won’t do the housework is the default condition that society would very much like to see ALL women consigned to, and the difficult part is RESISTING it. What a terribly sad state of mental health these poor women must be in, I thought, assuming they even exist.

And of course, it doesn’t matter whether they exist or not, because it’s not about them, it’s about him and how he sees himself. And how he sees himself is a far better catch than he actually is, considering he’s pushing 35 and still living with his mom and dad and has the CV of an 18 year old (okay, 22, let’s be fair). And so it becomes clear that this is where his satisfaction comes from. My satisfaction comes from developing romantic crushes on people and then bringing them to fruition in the bedroom. His satisfaction derives from other people developing romantic crushes on him and then pulling back and not having sex with them and not letting himself be in a position where someone has Got A Man and it’s him.

Which is okay and everything, I’m hardly in a position to be judgmental with my taste for hot boys who are half my age, you know, do your thing. Whatever floats your boat. But even so. I just don’t QUITE see how declining to have sex with people is more fun than actually having sex with them. Perhaps it’s not just his waistline and his teeth that he’s worried about.

So there you go. So after all of that I just went straight to the part of my brain that concerns the Person and switched off the romantic feelings at the mains. And that’s why he’s not getting laid and I’m going home to a fan base. I’m having the scientist as a matter of priority as soon as I get back. Very nice Finnish boy. Blond. Very attractive. So that’s my agenda for when I get off the plane in the UK. See my hairdresser to get my roots done. Take the Finnish boy to bed.

And that’s all the slightly pornographic news. Let’s have a nice vintage tune.

Naughty by Nature: Written On Ya Kitten

 

How I fell in love with capitalism.

All right! Let’s post while I’m in a goddamn happy mood.

I am not oblivious to the irony of having to come to South Africa, of all places, to learn to love money and private business.

I am making some NICE money out here. I just held a meeting this morning at the SA offices of one of the world’s largest companies and they really rolled out the red carpet for me, AS ONE WOULD HOPE. 15 people in senior positions hanging on every word that falls from my lips. I don’t even have to present anything. I don’t need a Powerpoint deck. I don’t need to wear a suit. I show up in jeans and tell them a few stories and they look at me like I was personally sent by God to make everyone richer.

THAT’S MORE LIKE IT.

Jesus Christ. I used to have very serious reservations about capitalism and the accumulation of money for its own sake. Then I took that utterly ridiculous day job, partly to soothe my conscience, and I found myself surrounded by people who are totally uncritical of capitalism and are self-styled business experts but are NO GOOD AT IT. FFS, guys. I can make 200% of your annual salary in a matter of days without even changing my clothes or writing anything down, no wonder you hate me. I’m not even taking it that seriously.

The SA office is going to give me so much work and since this particular organisation operates in 50 countries, with a little bit of luck I’m going to be economically secure for quite a long time.

I rule. The minute I get some invoices paid I’m having liposuction, more new teeth and I’m even starting to think that I should have an ethical diamond for my 50th birthday, like I’ve always wanted. I feel like showing up at work in September wearing some bling and looking like the celebrity I am.

Let’s have our theme tune.

DR Period: Money