An awkward moment ….

At work yesterday, I was asked by a senior colleague to assist a new worker lift some heavy items as she was pregnant. She wasn’t an especially large woman but had a fairly substantial baby bump.

I followed her to the storeroom and saw her pick up a large box. I advised her not to do that and that I was there to lift the heavier things. She responded with ‘I’m not pregnant’. Awkward moment! I tried to ignore the comment and changed the subject. She went on with ‘I was pregnant last year and I’m trying to lose weight at the moment’. The awkwardness continued.

Thankfully, she wasn’t upset and I managed to complete the task quickly and escape quickly without further adding to my embarrassment.

I went back to the senior colleague and advised that the woman wasn’t pregnant. He responded without a raised eyebrow with ‘She was when I saw her last year’. Last year??! I’m no expert but a gestation period of 15 months is surely on the long side. To be honest, all I could do was laugh.

My embarrassment was shared. My manager (based again on my senior colleague’s advice), advised the woman to task it easy while she was pregnant. Thankfully, the woman took it all in her stride and found amusement in the fact that the manager went bright red when advised otherwise.

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I won’t be trusting that colleague again!

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Anxious and depressed – The next day

Following on from my post Anxious and depressed I went to bed feeling flat and depressed.

As is often the case with me but unfortunately cannot be predicted, I woke up the next day feeling physically better and mentally ok. I wouldn’t say 100% as they are rare days indeed but definitely considerably better in the head.

The next step was to obtain a medical certificate from my doctor to cover me for my absence for 2 days. The first question the doctor asked was ‘How are you?’. My response was ‘Good!’. Probably not the response he would expect from someone that is asking for a medical certificate but it was my honest response.

I then went on to explain that physically I felt great but I had been struggling mentally. Honestly, I always feel awkward in these conversations as mental health issues must seem like a scam for anyone that doesn’t suffer from them. It’s not like a blood pressure or thermometer can tell the story of what is going on in my head.

In fairness, I’m not much better than the rest. If anyone complains of a migraine, I just think they have a headache and they are overreacting. Surely a bad headache only needs an aspirin? Of course, I have never had a migraine and therefore have no idea how bad they are. Like mental health problems, it is not something I can see and I can’t relate to the pain it causes. I should know better, I know.

Anyone, the doctor was understanding and offered to write me a certificate for the rest of the week off. A nice offer (especially as I have 4am starts) but I do find that the longer I’m away from work, the harder it is to return, so I said I will return to work tomorrow.

Hopefully, the black dog of depression doesn’t visit for a while.

Anxious and depressed

The last few days I have noticed that I have been noticeably run down. Not feeling unwell but lacking in energy.

To counter the lack of energy and to stave off a possible cold or flu, I have been trying to take it easy and get a lot of sleep. Unfortunately, I had to work on the weekend and one of the mornings was very cold and I was situated in a breezeway.

I arrived home from work last night and did very little. I slumped in my lounge chair and stared at the TV screen for a couple of hours without taking much notice of what was on. I had almost zero energy to do anything but eat and take a shower.

In the back of my mind, a worry started to creep in about specialised work training that was due to commence today. The training would involve being around approximately 50 colleagues over 3 days. I had known about the training for a couple of weeks but only last night did I start to experience anxiety about being in a room with a large crowd.

I slept a bit restlessly and struggled to get out of bed when the alarm went off. I got up and started to wander around. I felt physically unwell and drained but not to the point of needing to take a day off sick. Unfortunately, what was overwhelming me was a feeling of anxiety and depression about the days training.

I went through the motions of having breakfast until I decided that I would not be able to confront the training and called in sick. I went back to bed and slept until 10:30 but awoke feeling no more refreshed.

For me, there is often a direct correlation between my physical and mental health. When I feel fit and healthy, I am able to cope difficult situations. Frequently, I am able to resolve matters calmly and methodically when others around me panic. However, when I feel rundown or sick, I find it impossible manage even simple matters and can barely face people. Not ideal when the job is face to face customer service.

Oftentimes, I am still physically able to attend the gym and train but the thought of going to work is overwhelming. I’m sure people would consider I am bludging as they don’t understand mental health and the impact it has.

I know the pain will pass in time but at the moment, that seems forever away, even if it is only a day or two. I also know that the training is essential and my absence today will be a black mark against my name.

Sometimes there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel and only dark.

Buying property – The incompetent agent

Once again, the poor ability of the real estate agent strikes again. As I posted in Buying property – Lazy agents, I have been in the process of buying an investment property through a less then impressive realtor.

Not only had he posted out of date photos that reflected the property in a poor light but he accepted, without negotiation, an offer that I consider was a fair bit under market value. His actions so far have not been to the benefit of the vendor.

Settlement date was due in a few days, when I received a call from my solicitor advising that the vendor was requesting an extension. The reason being that the owner was still looking for a property to rent. As I had been informed that the property was occupied by a renter and the owner was an investor, I saw no reason why the owner needed an extension for that reason. From my experience, it is usually the buyer that is seeking an extension to finalise finances.

So, I asked the solicitor ‘What does the owner looking for a new rental have anything to do with me?’. To which she replied ‘She is still living in the property (the one I sought to buy)’. I reviewed the contract and yes, the owner address was listed as the property address.

I called the agent to enquire and he apologetically confirmed that he thought the resident was a tenant and not the owner. The owner was still living at the property.

Ok, my bad also for not noticing on the contract but the agent had confirmed more than once that the ‘tenant’ was living in the property.

I ended up agreeing to the extension and the property settled a week later than initial contract date. An inconvenience to me only but did result in postponing potential open home viewings for prospective tenants.

It is interesting to note that the realtor had advised me that he had been in the business for 25 years. I would normally expect that an agent of 25 years would have better negotiation skills, have a sound understanding of his stock in hand and probably doing better than selling very low-level property.

Needless to say, if I do need to sell the property I will be looking elsewhere. If I need to buy again, however, he will be my go to man!

Sacrificing now for the long-term goal

My life at the moment:

  • Sleep
  • Work. Pick up overtime and extra shifts if possible
  • Eat
  • Shower/brush teeth
  • Train at gym
  • Feed cat (x several)
  • Shop for food. Buy sale options if possible
  • Renovate home to add value
  • Listen to podcasts
    • Property investing
    • Entrepreneurs
    • True crime
  • Review potential investment properties online
  • Watch TV
  • Blog
  • General home chores

What I’m not doing:

  • Socialising. I’m in a new city and haven’t made an effort to make friends outside of work to reduce obligation to socialise (I know, a bit sad)
  • Buying new clothes, except as a necessity. Work uniform supplied and live in t-shirts and tracksuit pants the rest of time
  • Drinking alcohol excessively (a couple of beers weekly now only)
  • Eating out. Very occasional pizza ordered with savings coupon
  • Spending money on entertainment. i.e. cinema

Sound boring? Yeah, it kind of is but I’m suffering for my goal at the moment. My main thought at the moment is money, with the goal of not having to worry about money in 5 years. My goal is so strong that my boring life doesn’t feel boring. I have a purpose and I feel motivated daily.

My lifestyle up to now has been less than financially effective. Though I have managed to accrue a little money through property capital gain, I really haven’t saved a considerable amount and definitely not enough to retire.

5 years is a fair time to go without but I’m putting it in perspective. If the next 5 years of sacrifice allows me to relax in retirement, the time is well worth it.

Embarrass the lazy with your work ethic

Quite a few years back (maybe decades in fact), a new member joined the team. He turned up first day professionally dressed with nicely pressed shirt and pants and wearing a tie. He was a friendly guy but other than on scheduled breaks, he didn’t join in with social banter. He kept his head down and worked hard.

A few days into his work, I advised him that he could ease up a bit on his work output and there was no need to wear a tie. He politely thanked me for my advice and got back to his work. He continued to wear a tie and work hard every day.

After a while, the new guy started to make me uncomfortable. Definitely, he had done nothing wrong. His work was of a high quality, he arrived punctually for work and didn’t leave until he completed his work for the day. He took the minimum break allowed and only occasionally took coffee breaks. Even then, he would take his coffee back to his desk and drink rather than chat in the lunchroom. What was really making me uncomfortable was that he was making me embarrassed about my own work ethic.

I did arrive early for work but for the first half hour (at least), I would sip on a coffee, catch up on gossip with colleagues and send a few social emails. I would then work for an hour or so then take another break to wander around the office and say hello to people. Oftentimes I would spend a substantial part of the day sending out emails with regard to social activity for the weekend. In all honesty, I probably spent 3-4 hours at most at constructive work.

The new starter was putting me to shame and I felt it. He looked professional and acted it. I turned up primarily for my social agenda and to pick up an undeserved pay cheque.

Not surprisingly, the new starter received a higher opportunity after only a few months at work. Initially, I was annoyed as I had been there longer and blamed politics. After reflection though, and thankfully before I said anything stupid, I realised he deserved it a great deal more than me.

Admittedly, it did take me a few more years to really learn the lesson. I had started a new job and I committed myself to start fresh with the right attitude. I presented myself professionally daily and worked hard. If the end of the day came and I still needed to complete something, I would stay back to finish. I would regularly contribute ideas to make work more productive for the customer, even if it would occasionally result in more work for me. Funny enough, one of my colleagues said exactly what I had said previously, take it easy with the work and a tie isn’t necessary.

Little surprise when only a few months into the job I received an opportunity at a higher level. And guess what, I enjoyed my work a great deal more when I actually felt like I was making a positive contribution.

I have continued to present myself as a professional and work hard through several more jobs. I have frequently received higher opportunities and praise from managers. I also receive many comments from colleagues to pace myself with my work and dress more casually. I wonder if they are as embarrassed as I was a couple of decades earlier.

Prison justice – Fair and reasonable?

The other day, I was listening to a podcast on Case True Crime, the Anita Cobby murder. This episode focussed on the rape and murder of Anita Cobby by 5 men in 1986.

I’m old enough to remember this crime. It gained a large amount of media coverage due to the severity of the crime and probably due to the fact that Anita was a beautiful young woman.

Further to that, Anita was a former beauty pageant winner and a nurse, which a vibrant and caring nature. The murder was horrific, Anita was abducted while walking home at night and beaten, dragged through barbed wire, raped (by 4 of the 5 men) and then had her throat slit, almost to the point of decapitation. In some ways, perhaps death was a blessing rather than living after that ordeal.

The response from the public was unheard of in Australia. Huge crowds were seen at the courtroom hearings and abuse and death threats were yelled at the murderers. I recommend you listen to the podcast for more information.

My post relates to a story of prison justice that occurred to one of the convicted prisoners. One of the murderers had a plastic tube inserted in his anus, to which a length of barbed wire was inserted. The plastic tube was then removed, leaving the barbed wire inside. At following court hearings, he was unable to sit.

My view is that the punishment is fair and reasonable. It provides some justice for the crime. I’m sure that some will contend that wishing pain and suffering on another person makes me no better than the murderers themselves. I respond that the difference is that Anita was an innocent person. Her only ‘crime’ was walking home alone from the train station at night.

However, the murderers were serial offenders with long criminal histories. Amongst them, they had raped and burgled, one was an escapee from prison at the time of crime and were abusers of alcohol and drugs. In short, they served no purpose to society and never would.

The family and friends of Anita will suffer with the memory of her death for life. The husband of Anita in fact, turned to drugs and alcohol following her death and had a very long road to recovery.

I say, let the animals suffer. Prison justice is sometimes the only fair justice.