Trying To Warn The New House-Keeper

I have already mentioned in one of my posts in this series that after two weeks of being in my new role – my first job back in London – I gave my notice in. We had agreed we would give each other four weeks notice. I wondered whether I would be able to honour that. My boss seemed disappointed, but when I told him I thought he and I were too different and he would probably to find a house-keeper who was more like-minded, he seemed to think I was right. Of course I was right. However, I was concerned that any new house-keeper should be warned of his behaviour.

I started applying for other “tied-accommodation” posts from my second day there. There was a family over in Notting Hill looking for a live-in housekeeper. I had two interviews with them and they liked me. They checked my references and security record and they were happy to give me a starting date. But I had to wait until their current housekeeper moved back home – which was a few weeks. I had an escape route all planned!

In the meantime, my new boss asked me to have a look over applications he was receiving from those interested in being the new house-keeper once I had left. I was surprised how many applicants there were. Some of the applicants were men. My boss made it clear he was only interested in female applicants. Hmm. I made sure I deleted any e-mails from applicants who looked to be in their twenties or younger. I was very worried about another woman walking into this situation blindly. I also ignored any applicants from those without any house-keeping experience. Some of the applicants were overseas and they were asking my boss to sponsor them so they could come and work in the UK.

Eventually I short-listed two applicants, both women were a few years older than me and I hoped would have enough maturity to deal with my boss. The first my boss rejected because he did not like her photo. The second he was pleased with and he invited her for an interview. Now I wrote about what happened the day she came for the interview in an e-mail to Stuart, and I have copied and pasted it below!

What an odd day. My boss had arranged to interview a candidate to replace me as housekeeper. He asked me to be there during the interview and tell me what I thought of the candidate.
We both liked the lady who we interviewed.  She has been a house-keeper for 16 years and I tested her a little – she seemed knowledgeable.  And she complimented me highly on the way the house looked. The whole time I was wondering how I could go about warning her about the behaviour to anticipate from my boss.
I had to go to the dry-cleaners before they closed. So I said goodbye to the candidate, as it seemed that the interview was finished. When I arrived back half an hour later, her car was still in the drive, but my boss’s car was gone. Neither of them were in the house. I started to wonder.
My boss obviously thought she was suitable, because while I went down to the dry-cleaners, and left them to sort out the fine details, he had taken her out to a local restaurant….(he is a quick mover isn’t he!) Apparently, once she was alone with him, she had related to him that she has to get out of the place she is staying that very next day. She was not in any danger. She explained the reason was that she wanted to avoid paying another month’s rent on her current accommodation, so she just asked outright if she could move in immediately. My boss said yes before we had even checked her references.

So she is moving in tomorrow!  Unbelievable!

 

Image 18 of 21Anyway I decided to move into the spare guest suite at the top of the house – which is very lovely and big – and I have a massive bathtub to myself (bathroom that locks!!!) all week. I can’t wait to have a soak in the bath-tub. I have cleaned the house-keeper’s suite thoroughly tonight, inside of all the drawers.  I just washed the bed linen and mattress topper.  I cleaned the room as if I was cleaning for a princess. When I moved in, nobody had thought to clean the rooms before my arrival which I found odd.

 

It will be nice to have her company this week before I go.  BTW I did very tactfully tip her off that there were particular reasons I wasn’t entirely comfortable with staying here on my own.  But when I saw her sitting right next to my boss and her body language and the way she touched him – I thought maybe she won’t be bothered by him.

 

I just hope she turns out to be genuine.  Much as my boss has his particular ways that I have found challenging….the thought crossed my mind that some women would try to take advantage of his trust.

 

Well….I am going to have to leave it up to the two of them to work out. I cannot be overly concerned about the behaviour of other people. I have to take responsibility for my own actions and behaviour. I have stood up to my boss time and time and have done so as respectfully as I could. I realized he does not see his behaviour as wrong because other women who have worked for him have responded to his ways. They welcomed his attentions. He thinks his behaviour is fine and normal. He thinks I have the problem. At first he called me frigid, but now he thinks it’s all because I was attacked and he thinks I need more counselling.

 

I am skipping away from him…and oh so very glad about it.

 

The family I am going to work for in Notting Hill seem really nice.  I am pleased. And I am quite excited about living in Notting Hill – a very interesting part of London.
It will be good for me to concentrate on settling in with them.  They have a stunning house, very very tasteful and stuffed with exquisite “stuff”…I am going to be learning how to look after their beautiful possessions.  I like that.  It is very interesting to work for people with a passion for fascinating “stuff”.  It’s a big team effort in their household.  So it will be nice that everyday I will see the lovely lady of the house, the nanny and the PA and also see some of the man of the house and the children.  I am sure I suit a family more.

My First Job Back In London

There were six months when I first tried to get back on my feet again in London – which were challenging. I think it is probably a good time to write about the “disaster” that was my attempt to start back at work, after a almost a year long break from work. Wait until you read what I had to deal with!

I had a “situation” I had not really encountered before. When I think back, I have very mixed feelings towards the man involved. I think you will see I have every right to be angry and yet, I still find myself baffled that he does not realize perhaps how inappropriate he was. I honestly believe his conscience excused his actions. In fact, he seemed to think that I had some kind of problem – which in a funny way was true, just not the problem he thought I had. I would welcome your feedback because though I rarely think back on the “situation” I am going to relate to you, I still am not sure what to make of it at times.

distressed

 

As many of you know, I was the victim of a crime in the summer of 2015. On being discharged from hospital, I left London and travelled directly up to the North of England to stay with family. I spent almost a year with various family members in the North of England and Wales. My family were wonderful, but in some respects I was cocooned from the world outside. Once I felt I was ready, I sought to return to London. I knew I was not ready to work full-time, so I searched for accommodation and part-time work. I had been in “tied-accommodation” posts before, (before I moved to London I worked and lived on a beautiful countryside estate which was a wonderful life for me) so I thought this might be the best option for me. That would mean accommodation would be provided and I would have work to do for the owner of the accommodation.

There are many posts in London that offer accommodation. Au pairs, house-keepers, live-in care assistants, butlers…the range of accommodation and the requirements are very diverse. It’s not quite “Downton Abbey” these days, but not a long way from it. I know of “tied-accommodation” posts that as well as beautiful living quarters also offer a £60,000 salary. But in return you would have a massive amount of responsibility. I did not want the responsibility of anybody who was ill, or with children, I was not ready for that. So I was looking at house-keeping roles primarily.

I saw an advert that stated that in return for accommodation, the owner/principle required ten hours work each week and would pay £200 per week. Now in all honesty – that did not sound right at all. £20 per hour for the work required and free accommodation. I thought there must be a mis-print in the advertisement. Nevertheless, I contacted the person advertising the post to make enquiries. I was asked to send my CV and a photograph which I did so. Then I was asked to attend an interview down in London. I travelled down to London (even the journey down was a strange experience that could easily make up another post). The gentleman I had been corresponding with picked me up from the tube station and drove me to the property he lived in.

interviewAs with any interview, I was a little nervous. This was my first interview after a year of recovering from physical injuries and emotional trauma and I was quite shaky to be honest. I was worried about how to reply to any questions about the year long break I had from work. But those questions did not come. The gentleman seemed to want me to relax and tell me about myself. I rambled on about how my parents have always set an example in being hard-working, humble and honest and I try to live by those same qualities. He threw in questions along the lines of did I have a boyfriend? had I been married? did I have children? He also specified that he liked women to be women and to wear skirts or dresses.

Image 12 of 21I tried to clarify the amount of work needed and the arrangements involving accommodation and the rate of pay. He showed me the accommodation he proposed. It was a large double bedroom with a lot of storage space and an en suite bathroom. I asked about the amount of work required. He said there is not a lot to do. He and his son occupied the house. He asked for a couple of hours of cleaning each day from Monday – Friday. He said I could just relax at the weekend, there would be no work to do. He also said he would have some paper work and office work in connection with his business. I mentioned the advert said he would pay £200 per week, and asked was that a mistake. He said it was not a mistake. I mentioned that worked out as a rate of £20 per hour and free accommodation for some cleaning and office work. He affirmed that was the arrangement.

He was aware I had travelled from the North of England to London for the interview. He offered to put me up over night. I had already made other arrangements to stay with friends, so I declined.

Now…I did not feel totally comfortable with the situation. I would be living with two single men. The gentleman who had interviewed me was older than my Dad. His son was a few years younger than me. The accommodation I would be in was quite separate though. I would have my own quarters. He only needed two hours cleaning or other office work a day for five days a week. So many other “tied-accommodation” posts required very long hours and for you to be at the constant beck and call of your principle. This was by far the best arrangement financially, the best accommodation I was likely to obtain, and the easiest introduction back into work.

You may already have your doubts about me being in the accommodation with two single men. I did feel an aversion to the idea of being there myself. If you are reading this and thinking this sounds like trouble ahead, you are right to have those thoughts. But I doubted myself so much at that time. I was frightened of everything.

I was generally uneasy with all men at this point. I thought maybe my aversion to being there, was due to my general distrust and uneasiness around men. I thought I was overanxious and should try to accept that this was the best opportunity that was going to come along. The family member who I was staying with at the time needed me to move into another family member’s house because they were going to have some work done on their home. I thought that was the time to go to London rather than relocate to another county up north. I was desperate to be back in London. It was almost a year that I had been away.

I accepted the offer of work and accommodation and two weeks later I moved down to London with a suitcase with me clothes inside. How did it work out? Well…I don’t want this to be an enormous post. So now that I have set the scene for you, I am going to start another post with what happened once I had moved into the accommodation.

As the week goes on you may feel angrier and angrier and wonder why I was so feeble in dealing with these challenges. But as I have said…I was very vulnerable at this time – more so than I or any of my family realized.

Breathing Easy After Escaping The Big Chokey Smoke

I have just been for my second interview of the day.  It lasted hours!  It wasn’t like one of those big group interviews when they invite a hundred students and ask them what kind of animal or superhero they would liken themselves to.  It was just me, on my own…let’s ask her three hundred obscure questions.

What is all that about?  To be honest, the interviewer had such an astonishing poker face, I have no idea what he thinks of me, whether he thinks I will suit the role.

There was a stage when a thought ran through my mind:

“If this is the interview before I ever start the job…can you imagine what team meetings must be like???”

I am so exhausted by that marathon interview that I think that for me it is a no…the interview has completely put me off that role, even though it is for a much larger salary.

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Photo Credit: carloyuen @ pixabay.com

But there was something else…as I was leaving I started to get a feel for the area where the business is based.  There are government buildings down one side of the road and tourist attractions all the way down the other.  Right in the heart of Pea-soup City.  The  middle of the big chokey smoke.  Now I am breathing easy after escaping the mire and murk of the City Centre.

It was the murky air that I noticed first…and then the putrid fumes of rose petal tuna fish peppery puffs wafting from the roll ups held by various individuals leaning against walls.  I can still smell it in my hair and on my dress.

The interview was draining, the area was dingy…I did not like it.  I took 46 minutes to travel there, 52 minutes on the return journey.  I am just sure that this is not going to work.  And after the interview went so well this morning, what can I say?

I don’t want to travel into the middle of the big smoke every day…it’s yucky.  I think I am happier working in a relatively more easy-going London suberb.

Aaaah…well this is what interviews are all about.  They have the chance to scrutinise you and, I guess you also have the chance to suss them out and detect if they are going to make your life miserable.

I just remembered I have a post all about interviews:

 

 

 

Posted in Worth A Thousand Words

Thank you to  The Haunted Wordsmith  The Haunted Wordsmith for another beautiful photo prompt.

 

And…yuck it was still hot….hot in the city…tonight…

…which of course brought this back to mind…

 

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

Like many cities, it costs an arm and a leg to rent a place in London..to buy a house here costs your entire soul – which is something that I am not willing to trade just to feel a sense of “ownership” over a few square feet in the middle of the big smoke.

feet-1868670_640Photo Credit: Pexels @ pixabay.com

I am very blessed at the moment with an incredibly reasonable rate of rent which allows me not to become obsessive about my penny-pinching ways.

Not only does it come at a reasonable rate, but the little flat (or apartment – I don’t use that term because it sounds a bit poncey to us Englishees) I live in right now is very pretty and spacious.  It is equipped with every convenience and fully furnished tastefully.

I had a wonderful holiday with family and friends but I was surprised to feel very joyful to be back in my sweet little abode.

One amazing bonus about this flat is how lovely and cool it stays throughout these sweltering days.  While I was away some people stayed in my little pad and they all said it was like paradise coming out of the heat of the day and walking into a chilled little oasis.

biting nailsNow this is on my mind because I have made a decision (I actually made it three weeks ago) and it involves these job interviews I have tomorrow.  I am nail-bitingly nervous about my decision – you know that dread of “what if it all goes wrong?”  What if I cannot pay my rent?  What if I am turned out on to the streets with my suitcase?

I have often pondered what an amazing find this little flat was and what are the chances of finding anywhere half as nice for an affordable rate?  The money that my landlords ask of me – what else could I afford to rent in London?

When I saw this picture prompt from The Haunted Wordsmith  The Haunted Wordsmith, it immediately answered my question – if it all goes wrong…if I find myself without any employment, this is probably about as much as I could afford to rent in London.  I am 5 foot 8 inches, so I am sure my legs would stick out of the washing machine even more than whoever is camping out in the machine in the picture.

For months I have been asking the question in the title of this post.  We have probably all done it at some point whilst in a job that is sucking all the life out of us.  Well…I recently made a decision and acted on it…and now I have to make sure I have the tenacity to make it work, to make it the right decision

But it has really hit home that the cost of living in London means everything is on a knife’s edge…if it all goes wrong…I will be heading for a launderette near you with my pound coins to stake my claim on one of the machines.  I will stick my suitcase up on top of the machine and throw my pillow inside and settle down to sleep .

So….with that optimistic thought in mind, I can going to say goodnight for now as I want to have a good night’s sleep before my interviews tomorrow.

Decisions – SCARY!!!!

 

 

https://thehauntedwordsmith.wordpress.com/2018/07/19/worth-a-thousand-words-3/

Job Interviews

Job interviews….!  Ay ay ay!!!

I don’t mind them really… I don’t really feel nerves, but afterwards I do sometimes cringe at the awkwardness.  It’s a bit like going for a blind date.  You don’t really know what the other person is looking for or comparing you to.  You sit there in the judgement seat while the other person seems to be analysing every word and gesture you make.

I have been for a few interviews recently which were 95% OK, however when I think back analytically, I realize I may have blundered by choosing the wrong words at the wrong time.

Job interviews

One interview I went to, I thought went well, except for the point I made of saying I had to be available every Friday to help my landlady.  The job is for two days a week on Tuesday and Thursday, however they want someone who is available to cover holiday time, and the most popular day for holidays is Friday.  When I first moved met my landlady, she wanted me to be available every Friday and Saturday, but she was flexible and thus all year I have helped her on Wednesdays and Fridays. So I expect she will be flexible if I change my job so long as I am available for at least one day mid-week and so long as I am able to accomplish all the tasks she needs help with.  So, there was no reason for me to make a fuss about Fridays.  But I said something else which was worse.  After the interview, the manager took me down to reception and we chatted a bit more.  She mentioned her back pain.  I asked her briefly whether she had had an injury and when she mentioned being in bed and reaching for something on the bed side table and feeling her back strain… I then alluded of the accumulative damage from lots of small incidents.  I came out with the phrase “the straw that breaks the camel’s back”.  As soon as I walked out of there I suddenly thought, did she think I was calling her a camel?

Another interview I attended, I know now that my period of notice to my current employers was too long for him to wait.  But I also remember at the interview asking him if he receives a lot of complaints.  When he asked what prompted my question I came out with an explanation in which I clearly insinuated that people who are wealthy from the south of England are more likely to complain about silly things.  That may not have gone down well either.

One interview I attended made me feel super uncomfortable.  The interviewer asked me what I would prefer to drink… wait for this… red or white?  His first question to me was, “are you married?”  As the interview continued I realised all of his questions had been personal, none of them were about the role he was hiring for, or my work experience.  I tried to steer the conversation around to the job itself, but he was not interested.  I asked him about uniform.  He said he likes women in skirts and dresses.  Which would not be a problem in itself, but I did not like that he cast his eyes up and down my legs. I had to travel to attend the interview of which he was aware.  He offered to put me up that night if I was tired, so I could travel back the next day.  I thanked him and made it clear that would not be necessary.  As I left, trying to repress my desire to run like the wind, he gave me a peck on the cheek and assured me he would be in touch soon.  Scaaaaaarey!  I blocked his e-mail address as soon as I was home.

Then I went for an interview when because of the relevant experience I had they asked me if I would be interested in the role of supervisor over a team of around fifteen to twenty.  To which I asked, “is the supervisor allowed to actually do any work?”  I then explained how much I love practical work, and I have been on construction projects were supervisors were discouraged from getting involved with practical work but were told it was there responsibility that every member of their team was trained, safe, with the right PPE and equipment, had to liaise with purchasing about needed resources and the site manager and other departments about all sorts of matters.  I said I love the kind of work I am applying for a role for, but the thought of having to motivate a team of tired, unenthusiastic youngsters who are addicted to looking at their phones repels me.  Then my interviewers spelt out the wages that supervisors receive compare to team members.  I replied that if they can’t find anyone else suitable I would consider the supervisor’s role.  Ha!  I am sure that impressed them – NOT!

I arrived at another interview and within a couple of minutes I realized that rather than the part-time role at a site twenty minutes walk away from my current abode, the manager was considering me for a full-time post almost an hour away via public transport.  I can’t even remember what his first question was, but I remember with shame my reply.  I told him that I have to think about myself and my own personal circumstances.  I said I want to simplify my life, not complicate it.  I told him that I had applied for the part-time role close to where I live because I want to squeeze more time out of life and get our and enjoy living rather than feeling trapped in an existence which is monotonous and unfulfilling.  Some how…he seemed to respect my honesty and by the end of the interview I thought I had almost charmed him into giving me the part-time role.  Apparently not!  I never heard back from him!

Then there was last Wednesday’s interview.  He interviewed me for over an hour and it seemed he was quite keen on me as a candidate.  There would be a lot to learn, but I mentioned how much studying I have done within my current role and that I have a much keener interest in construction trades over medical matters.  He seemed very positive.  But then right at the end…he said to me that he thinks I am very suitable for the role and he thinks I am looking for a career and he can offer me that chance.  Immediately I contradicted him!  I said I am not looking for a career.  I told him working for money is just a means to an end.  The end is a purposeful enjoyable life.  I said I enjoy work and give my best, but I am looking for a role that allows me to enjoy more of life, and that a key part of my life is unpaid voluntary work.

I seem to be calm and composed in interviews but also capable of throwing in something controversial or hard for my interviewers to swallow!  What is all that about?

I don’t really mind…if I am not what they are looking for, it is fine.  Just as going on a blind date, you can realize whether there is any potential or if it is more likely that there would be friction and frustration.  Sometimes when I hear I have not been successful after an interview, I almost feel relieved as if I have escaped a miserable existence.