he’s one bad mutha… shut yo mouth!

So I am employed, albeit on a temporary, open-ended contract. And my boss is now Joan Burton, the minister for the Department of Social Protection; the most ironically-named department in the state. It’s a little depressing, but it’s an income. I am grateful to be working.

I’ve been thinking about doing a “scoop from the inside” type thing here, but I signed an official secrets contract, and unfortunately my name has been attached to this blog all over Twitter. I don’t want to end up being convicted of treason; at least not over this. :) Besides, the gossip at the water cooler ain’t all that. Suffice to say my colleagues are every bit as embittered as you’d imagine and heartily despise the public they serve; especially poor people. Of course, there are reasons – some valid and some not – and some exceptions, like my kind, firm and fair manager.

People who know me know I’m outspoken (ha, understatement?). I have a reputation for it. I try to say what I mean, and mean what I say, and as a result I can be a bit blunt. Some people like it and some people don’t. People might not always agree with what I say or my means of getting there, but I consider myself a clear thinker and a clear communicator. I’ve given up trying to censor myself though: I’m not a bitch (much) and I don’t say things with the intention of hurting people or putting them in their place, although sometimes I do fail in my own standards of gentleness. I have tact where necessary. I’m not however above apologising in any such instances where tact appears in short supply. If I had a euro for every time someone said to me, “Jesus, tell us what you really think” I’d have, well, several euros. My friend Marie was right when she recently quoted to me, “If you say what you think, don’t expect to hear only what you like”. I have a problem holding my tongue when riled.

So I find myself in a difficult position at work. I want to challenge the attitudes of my co-workers. I cannot abide calling people who have caused no offence, based purely on their clothing or appearance, “scumbags” “scobies” “skangers” “knackers” and all the rest of it. I am forced to listen to this kind of thing all day long. Long-suffering overworked people in my department exact revenge for the difficulties of their role by being purposely belligerent, dismissive and obstructive to clients they dislike. They vent their frustrations by discussing challenging clients at every break. The whole environment makes me feel oppressed. If I were to challenge every instance of aggression/bigotry/bitterness, I’d be nagging literally all day. Ugh.

My plan of action is to be slow to speak on any such issues and to attempt to express my views by my behaviour. This is  a genuine challenge for me. I do not need to be liked by my co-workers, but I do wish to be at peace with them. If anyone has any tips on remaining zen at work and not absorbing all the negativity, I would really, really appreciate it. For now I am beginning each day in gratitude for having a job when so many others don’t. This gratitude evaporates over the course of the day and needs renewing every morning. It’s like a fuel that gets burnt out quickly.

All right, so let’s do the glass half-full bit. On the upside, the wolf is from the door for the next few months. What I earn will cover living expenses and my college fees for the second year of my chaplaincy degree. My manager is great. I’ve met some extremely nice colleagues (although my section from next week will be separate to theirs). I also get to travel to and from work most days with a wonderful friend who lives and works near me, who drives me there in her comfy car, with minimal travel costs, which is a daily treat.

And…there’s always Dilbert. And beer!


One Response to he’s one bad mutha… shut yo mouth!

  1. So glad to hear you have a job. As someone who works in the evil world of insurance, where we please our shareholders by paying as little as possible to those in their time of need (partly ironic, partly not) I understand the dilemma of doing the right thing without just ripping yourself apart. The attitudes sound horrendous – maybe for some it’s a coping mechanism, and maybe there are a number who want out of the cycle, so go for it with the leading by example thing. It is possible, if bloody hard, for one person to change a culture.

    Also good to hear your manager is fair and decent – maybe you can form an alliance :)

    What you are doing is very worthwhile – you get a chance to be with the sheep and not the goats by helping those genuinely in need. God bless you trying to do it.

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