January 1990. I was at college at the time, and for a project I was doing, I had to apply for work experience, mainly involving computers. I ended up at a local bank, and I was there for a week. A week too long, to be brutally honest.
I was of course, nervous and anxious to do well. The work was unpaid as well, but I was in for an extremely rough ride. It so happened that in the team was a former form member at school. I never spoke to her very much while at school, she never spoke very much in return, but she sure made up for it here.
In cahoots with this former school colleague was a supervisor who was rather unfriendly, to put it mildly. She had ideas above her station and was slightly power mad. She also had her mind made up that I was fair game to be endlessly criticised and talked down to.
It wasn’t a happy experience, the rest of the staff and management were very unhelpful, and I was pleased when it all ended. Very uncomfortable and nasty. But I had one more parting shot at the two people previously spoken about. After one unhappy day, I said “I’m so glad that I’m finishing in a few days time, because you sure don’t know how to treat people very well!” The reply was predictable and unrepeatable.
I remember being set up by the staff to accept a phone call from a “manager” at another branch. Being naive and gullible, I was sucked in to the trap and given a volley of abuse down the phone. I reported the event to the branch manager, who was as effective as a chocolate teapot. I wouldn’t have been surprised if the manager was in on the “joke”.
So this was my first experience of staff hostility, nastiness and vindictiveness a regular experience throughout the week. Sadly, at some other places I worked at, this was also the case. I’m so glad I work and volunteer in mental health now, working with people with manners and empathy is a world away from most of my working existence. Sometimes it takes being ill and being to hell and back to give something back to society.
I’ll always remember January 1990, and not with affection. Can’t stand work politics and the ability of people to walk over others to climb the greasy pole. Sad really, but that says more about them than me.
Allen Brooks xx