So anyways after working 7 years for the one company and working my way up from a casual, to Permanent Part time and increasing my hours to almost full time, we had new owners come in. We were called to meetings. All staff on a Part Time contracts were to have their hours cut by 25%. At the time a full time contract was 74 hours a fortnight. My part time contract was 68.5 hours for the fortnight. When you take 25% out of that it is a significant chunk. I was struggling to make ends meet as it was. There was no way I could afford a pay cut of that magnitude. Great reward for 7 years of loyalty huh? This was on a Wednesday. When I got home that night I applied for about 50 jobs on Seek. Having not made a job application for over 7 years I felt out of touch and had no idea what I was doing. I took the next day off (Thursday). It was my long 9-7 shift. Wouldn’t you know it I got like 4 callbacks. One was for a full time role in a Call Centre. I thought to myself, Call Centre? I hate those pricks that ring you when you’re having dinner and stuff. But it was full time (At that stage at 29 years old I’d never had a full time job before, quite sad really) so I thought what the hell.
The next day was Friday and I was working my half day 12-5. Had the interview at 10 in the morning and it seemed to go okay. Anyway I was at work and they called me. Answering your mobile on the store floor was a big no no, but I didn’t give a shit at that stage. So the HR lady told me I had been successful in my application. WHOOO HOOOO! So immediately I walked off the shop floor and caught the lift up to level nine the Payroll/Admin Dept. I saw the person looking after my department and said and I quote. “What do I have to do to give 2 weeks’ notice?” So I wrote a resignation letter on the back of a returns slip and was so glad to have the shackles taken away. I had been working in a job I hated for 7 years. This was going to be the start of a new Era for me. I couldn’t wait to get stuck into it.
So 2 weeks later I started my career as an inbound customer service consultant. In training I seemed to excel at learning the computer systems. I picked up the product knowledge really quickly (It was an Internet Provider I was working for after all) and I was excited yet shitting myself for when we went live on the phones. Well it turned out I was really good at it. The days went so much quicker than my old job and when I got home at the end of the day I didn’t have a sore back, or sore legs from standing all day on a concrete floor. Also it was better pay than I had ever experienced in my life. The other part I loved about it was I had gone from working in a team where I was the youngest to working in a team where I was the oldest. I made some incredible friends, people I am still friends with today. My social life changed dramatically. I was out and about doing stuff most nights. Life was great. For the first time in my adult life I was almost happy. So much so, that during this time I didn’t feel the need for punting at all. I didn’t have the need to fill a void like I did previously.
Career wise in a short space of time things went well. It took less than 6 months and I was off the phones doing floor support, then I was taking Escalated calls (you know when you’re on the phone and you crack it and ask to speak to the supervisor, that was me LMAO). I even became a part of the Training and Development team and was taking advanced systems training. I was loving life. Things were fantastic I was so happy. That’s why what happened next was such a blow and such a kick in the teeth. In our call centre we had loads of email banter not dissimilar to interaction on Adult Forums. We were all friends and we didn’t mind taking the piss out of each other. Anyways a close mate of mine hurt his leg and his wound got infected and he took some time off. When he returned the banter continued it was good times. Anyways I made up an email mentioning there was a smell of rotting flesh coming from the IT dept where this guy worked. I only CC’d a handful of people. Everybody thought it was hilarious.
So anyway the contract manager tapped me on the shoulder and said she needed to have a quick chat. This wasn’t in irregular occurrence so I didn’t think twice about it. When I walked in there was a panel of people. I sat down and they pushed a printout of my email in front of me and asked “can you explain this please?” Errr.. It’s a joke I said. Everybody thought it was funny. The guy who I was poking fun at thought it was funny. What’s the issue? Well they gave me a sheet with a list of rules and regulations I had broken. Things from code of conduct to misuse of company email to Workplace Bullying. You name it; it was a pretty damning list. This was a Tuesday afternoon. I was told I was to go home as I was under a paid suspension and was to return on Thursday for a disciplinary hearing. I was shocked. I hadn’t seen this coming. This behavior was very very common in our workplace. The person I was kidding around with us was one of my best mates there. A guy who’s Birthday I had attended, he had attended mine. I even invited his Dad to my Birthday drinks. It just didn’t make sense.
So I had a couple of days off. I was pretty shaken up. But I spent a good deal of time preparing a defence. I was more than happy to cop whatever they dished out to me, as long as others who were engaging in the same behavior were treated the same. I also wanted to push the fact that I was friends with this guy and that he wasn’t offended and had actually found the joke funny himself. The level of support I got from my co-workers was overwhelming. They couldn’t believe what had happened. My friends were angry. So Thursday came around. I put my case forward. I believe I put forward a very convincing argument. So much so they told me they needed 3 hours to deliberate. All disciplinary hearings I had observed previously they usually knew the decision they were reaching beforehand so didn’t need much deliberation. So I went to the city and one of my old favourite pubs the Melbourne Central Lion which I think I have mentioned in previous Blog entries, for lunch. I returned to find out what my fate would be.
I was informed that after a lot of thought they had reached the difficult decision to terminate my employment. I was gutted. They asked me if I had anything to say and I said I was happy to cop this on the chin as long as they pulled everybody else in for a chat and put them through a similar process. I was escorted from the building like a common criminal. They didn’t even allow me to get my belongings from my locker or anything. So I walked out and didn’t look back and made my way home a broken man. I don’t think I am yet to recover fully from this setback almost 2 years later. For the record I am still friends today with the guy the email was about. And they never disciplined anybody else. Looks like I was to be made an example out of. I still don’t understand why they chose me but such is life.
So I got a handy payout and lucky it was late July as I also got my fat tax return so I could support myself for a little bit. All in all I spent 3 months at home. I hardly left the house, I would stay up till 6am and surface mid to late afternoon. The highlight of my life was watching the Trisha Goddard show on UKTV (think a British version of Jerry Springer) at 4:15am every day. I started to get used to the lifestyle and then the money ran out. What the fuck was I going to do? I even considered moving back home. I had hit rock bottom.
TO BE CONTINUED…