Saturday, 31 August 2013

Crossing back over the Border

Friday 30th August 

Today we packed our cases and left Niagara Falls heading for Ithaca; home of Cornell University. 
One Last Look at The Falls

On this occasion the Sat Nav took us through downtown Niagara and it truly was like Blackpool. The part of town where we were staying looked quite restrained by comparison. 

We crossed the Rainbow Bridge back in to America and drove through the Immigration checkpoint in no time at all ... Usually I pick the slowest checkout queue at the Supermarket but this time I struck lucky!

It was then a drive of one hundred and sixty miles down towards Ithaca in The Finger Lakes region of New York State. 

As we neared our destination we took a brief detour to view the Taughannock Falls which plummet 215 feet in a gorge very close to town ... I'm guessing we may be taking a walk up to see them at close quarters tomorrow. 

After checking in to our motel we took a wander down in to Ithaca but I am afraid it didn't have a huge amount to offer. The central shopping district was filled with ethnic and craft stores ... All very nice, but not selling anything you would want to buy!

As we wandered home we nipped in to a Diner to escape the heat and humidity and seek rehydration. It was a Fab little place and, as we found out later that evening, it served amazing fast food.  

Friday, 30 August 2013

Lazy Day

Thursday 29th August 

Thursday had been designated a "chill day" by 30% which meant that there was no driving or other organised activities. 

We walked down river towards the American Falls but the humidity combined with temperatures in the high nineties was exhausting so we headed back to the air conditioned comfort of our room and took in the sights from there ...

... I may have had a brief kip. 

I also persuaded 30% to invest ten bucks to get a fist full of hotel wifi accounts and passwords and she spent the time wisely bragging on Facebook ...

... and also finding us accommodation in Ithaca for tomorrow. 

The evening was taken up with a pizza and a wander down to Horseshoe Falls to check out the night time illuminations. 

I quite liked Niagara. There is bugger all to see other than the falls but they are impressive and change depending on time of day and angle of view. It is many years too late to avoid development around the falls and on the Canadian side, at least, things could have been oh so much worse. Overall I'm glad I've seen them. I'm not sure I would come back but I'm glad I've seen 'em. 

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Day 6: Binghamton to Niagara Falls

Wednesday 28th August

There is not a huge amount to report for today as most of it was spent in the car travelling 280 miles from Binghamton up to Niagara Falls. 

The forested hills and mountains that were the backdrop to yesterday's drive gave way to farming country and fields of maize and open sided barns filled with dairy cows took their place. 

In the afternoon an eagle eyed 30% spotted a Walmart from the freeway and we took a detour for this now mandated element of any US road trip ...

... An hour later we exited the store laden with jeans, T shirts and other sundry items. 

Back on the road we drove some more and in the mid afternoon arrived in Buffalo on the US side of the falls. This was the point that we learnt two things ...

.... 1) We DO have Canadian maps in our Sat Nav and 2) the aforementioned GPS unit appears to be set to direct us through the shittiest, most derelict part of any town ... Buffalo's steel works no longer work!

We looked out over Lake Erie as we drove towards the Canadian border and managed to persuade TP that it was no deeper than 2' 6" at any point. 

By four o'clock we were settled in our hotel room that has a fine view of both sets of falls. 

Later we took a walk along the park that leads right up to the edge of Horseshoe Falls before returning for dinner and an early night. 

It is fair to sy that I was shattered after the drive. 

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Back on the road again

Tuesday 27th August 

After packing our cases we wandered around the block before settling once again in The Murray Hill Diner for breakfast. It was then a case of checking out and trundling our cases a few blocks West to Penn Street Station where we caught a train out to Newark Airport. 

We arrived around midday and headed over to the Avis office to pick up our car. After a few minutes familiarising myself with the Chevrolet, and realising that there  was nowhere to stick the Sat Nav suction cup bracket, we headed out of the conurbation towards Newburgh.  

The buildings and blocks were replaced by a landscape of rolling, forested hills with the occasional clapperboard house within sight of the road. 

Newburgh was about 75 miles from Newark and is home to the delightfully tacky Orange County Choppers that provided ten years of material for the American Chopper TV series. There was no sign of the disfunctional Teuttle family but the store cum showroom cum cafe was an interesting diversion and made a welcome break after an hour and a half on the road. 

After taking our fill of Choppers we hit the road again with the aim of reaching Binghamton, a further one hundred and twenty miles nearer our next scheduled stop at Niagara Falls. 

The road wound through the Catsgill Mountains with a view of forest to the horizon and an empty highway. This was in complete contrast to the city scenes experienced earlier in the day

As the afternoon progresses we played roadkill poker to fill the time. I made a good start with a raccoon and a porcupine but 30% managed to play a live deer that no one saw but her. She then went on to turn her single deer in to a pair when a doe crossed the road less than 75 yards ahead of us ... She was winning hands down. A discussion developed with the aim of formalising the rules of the game and TP announced that nothing could beat a dead bear ....

....  until I pointed out that a Full House comprised three dead bears and a mangled, blond teenage girl. 

This was much more fun than I-Spy. 

We eventually arrived in Binghamton at around seven, checked in to a motel and hinted down a Diner before collapsing in front of the TV. 

More Sightseeing

Monday 26th August

This morning we started walking uptown along Lexington and stopped off at a Deli for breakfast en route to Grand Central Station. 

We wandered around the station foyer for a while and TP and 30% found the Apple Store therein where they lingered fondling the electronic goodies. 

After exiting the station we continued up Lexington and within a short while the Radio City Music Hall sign could be seen up ahead. We had now reached our next destination; The Rockefeller Tower. The tower was built during The Depression and is famous for the photograph taken during construction of the Steel Riggers eating lunch on a girder hundreds of feet in the air. 

We checked out the shops on the basement level before purchasing our tickets for The Top of The Rock. The elevator ride to the 67th floor was a journey in itself as the elevator carriage had a glass ceiling and the shaft was studded with blue lights that accentuated the high speed ride to the top. 

The views over the city were fantastic and without the crush of fellow tourists that we experienced yesterday at the Empire State Building. The icing on the cake was that the view also included the aforementioned skyscraper. We wandered around the observatory platform and ascended a couple more floors to the uppermost deck where a 360 degree view of the city could be enjoyed. 

We felt neither crushed or hurried at the top of The Rockefeller Building and descended when a few drops of rain started to fall from a sky that threatened a downpour. 

We continued our walk uptown and stopped for a coffee in the foyer of The Nearest Circle of Hell in NYC before wandering on to The Central Park Zoo via the vast glass cube that is the Apple Store. 

The zoo was a relaxing break from the hustle of the city and we spent a couple of hours wandering around this petite menagerie. We saw most of the exhibits but I must admit that I am developing a theory based on the fact that neither the Harbour Seal nor the Polar Bear could be seen in their enclosures. A coincidence ... I think not!

After the zoo we wandered out of the park and headed for the nearest subway station wearied by our day in the city. Dinner was eaten close to our hotel as we were too tired to explore further. 

Monday, 26 August 2013

Sightseeing Essentials

Sunday 25th August 

This morning we breakfasted once again at the Murray Hill Diner before walking a few blocks West to board a subway train down to the Southernmost tip of Manhattan. 

We found ourselves at Battery Park where we took a ferry out to Liberty Island to view the Statue close up. 
After an enjoyable hour walking in the sun we headed back to Battery Park and took  return trip on the Staten Island Ferry ... it would have been rude not to as it is, after all, a free service. 

The afternoon saw u s take a stroll through the Financial District and we took in Wall Street and the famous bronze Bull Market statue amongst the many sights. Some of the older buildings in this area may not have the height of the newer towers of steel and glass but the y have an ornate grandeur that is simply stunning. 

We closed out our afternoon by walking out to the East River and partway across the Brooklyn Bridge before we turned around and rode the subway back up to 33rd Street. 

After dinner we walked a few blocks North and took in The Empire State Building. The view of New York's skyline from the 86th floor observation deck was incredible but it was incredibly busy up there with a constant crush of sightseers jostling to take in the city at night.  

So, after this busy day, how did I close things out? A few beers and a movie on TV? ...

... Well basically "yes", but there was also a brief session spent vigorously pumping  plunger in our hotel suite's lavatory ...

... Thanks TP

Sunday, 25 August 2013

A walk in the park

Saturday 24th August 

As to be expected, I woke early this morning and loitered until TP and 30% entered the land of the living. Fortunately their body clocks were still on BST and neither of the slept too late. 

Shortly after eight we headed across the road to a nearby Deli for breakfast and a double espresso and a short stack with sausage set me up for the day.  

We then headed down in to the subway in an attempt to get uptown quickly and with minimum effort.* I think it is fair to say that our first trip was relatively successful in that we headed in the right direction but selection of an Express train rather than a local one meant that we somewhat overshot the 81st Street station and had to double back on ourselves. We eventually arrived at our destination have been treated to a peculiar piece of performance art involving two women having a very deep and meaningful argument for much of our journey. 

81st Street is the location of the American Museum of Natural History and we spent much of the day wandering through it's halls and exhibits. The high points were the dinosaur galleries and the live tropical frog exhibits both of which stood out in a museum that does nothing by half.**

We left the museum late in the afternoon and walked across the street and in to Central Park. Once in the park we walked in a roughly South Westerly direction taking in the sights and sounds as we headed back in the direction of Times Square. 

The park was exactly as it appears in every movie scene ever shot there. It was filled with New Yorkers and tourists enjoying this fine sunny day. People talked and walked, rode and rowed and played, occasionally in plaid, in this fine open space set within it's encircling range of concrete and steel mountains. 

Considering how much walking we had already done in the day we were incredibly keen on exiting the park and decided to walk back to the hotel ...

... It was only later that I realised that from 81st Street to East 34th is at least 50 Blocks!

We didn't walk far in search of dinner this evening. 
* overground transport is far from rapid due to traffic and pedestrian volumes
** by way of an example; the African mammals hall features eight mounted elephants as it's centrepiece 

A Letter from America

Friday 23rd August

We were out of bed shortly after five o'clock this morning as we needed to be at Birmingham by seven to check in for the 8.55 United Airlines flight to Newark. 

Seven or so hours later we emerged from US Customs and caught a shuttle bus to the Affinia Dumont Hotel at the junction of Lexington and East 34th Street. Our suite is up on the 17th floor and has views of the Chrysler Building only eight blocks away to the East. 
After dumping our bags we headed out and made out first tentative exploration of NYC. The Empire State Building is a couple of blocks West of our hotel and we passed it as we headed up towards Times Square. We dipped in and out of Stores as we wandered and Macy's was one of our stops. Jet lag and general tiredness started to kick in and we looped back via the Chrysler Building as we headed back towards our hotel. 

I feel that I should give my initial impression of New York City and basically it is a city, ignore the hype and that is exactly what it is; a city, no more, no less. I'm not saying I dislike it but it is just a large city with it's particular set of land marks and customs and I look forward to exploring it over the next few days. 

So far I can report that the hamburger I ate at a nondescript delicatessen was amazingly tasty and put British "gourmet"  burgers to shame, I was delighted to find 10 dollars on the sidewalk as I wandered the streets and ecstatic when I discovered that the local Deli sells Leffe Blond ...

... Belgian Lager and Summer in New York City, is there a better way to start a holiday. 

And I haven't even mentioned the topless  young lady I encountered in Times Square!

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Life Events

Thursday 22nd August

Today was significant for both TP and me. In the case of my one and only son, it was GCSE results day, whilst in my case it was my last 
"working day" in The Nine Circles of Hell. 

The plan was for 30% to take TP in to school to collect his results whilst I loaded T & M in to the back of the Defender and took them over to the kennels where they will spend the next twelve days in the eccentric care of Chris and Yvonne. 

Theoretically both missions should have had the same duration so I was slightly concerned to return to an empty house. My mind went in to overdrive and I started to imagine worst case scenarios. Basically TP needed a minimum of B grades to allow him to enter the Sixth Form and study the A-level subjects of his choice. Unfortunately he had not bothered to develop a back- up plan so if he had failed to make the grades we had half a day to make alternative study arrangements.

I am delighted to say there was no need as they arrived home twenty minutes after me and reported a fine set of results with TP attaining his predicted grades in all of his subjects... he will be studying maths, physics, chemistry and music technology when term starts in a couple of weeks. 

After sincere congratulations and 'phone calls to grand parents we lunched and then I headed over to The Nearest Circle of Hell to return my lap top and pass. 

Fortunately my manager was not able to make the trip to see me off in person and had tefloned this task to a far more pleasant manager. We chatted as he ticked off the various items on his check list and it became apparent that he thought my decision to leave was wise. We also learnt that we both worked for the Inland Revenue at the same time and that he managed the DCS Engineer who provided much of the on site support for the systems and infrastructure I managed in Nottingham back in the 1990's...

... It is a small world!

I finally left the Nine Circles of Hell after a farewell chat with Grand Dad Jack* and headed in to Redditch to collect the oven element. 

It will therefore come as no surprise to learn that I then spent half an hour sprawled on the kitchen floor putting the oven back together. 

The remainder of the day was predictable too as holiday preparations were completed ...

... We have an early morning flight out of Birmingham to New York tomorrow. 

*I will miss the old sod. 

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

I love it when a plan comes together ...

... unfortunately today it was a case of almost, but not quite !

A few weeks ago an element failed in one of our ovens and, from previous experience, I was aware that I was looking at a sum in the region of one hundred and twenty pounds to get a man out to fix it. For this expenditure all I would get was a new oven element installed and I thought I might be able to get better value for my money with a fairly simple plan.

I ordered the element from the cooker manufacturer and once I knew approximately when it would arrive I booked in a mobile cooker cleaning service to come and give the beast a damned good going over. My plan was simple; during the cooker cleaning the oven would be dismantled and cleaned and all I had to do was halt proceedings for five minutes whilst I installed the new element and Bob's your Uncle' I would have a sparkly and fully functioning cooker for about the same price I had been quoted to come and install a twenty quid element.

This morning a very nice Gentleman arrived at The Pile and spent a good four hours giving our range cooker a thorough valeting and was more than happy for me to interrupt proceedings to install the new element ...

...Unfortunately the morons that manufactured the cooker managed to dispatch the wrong element despite being provided with both model and serial numbers. A quick phone call ensured a replacement would be here in the next few days but I now have the internal components of one of our ovens forming an interesting art installation on the kitchen worktop until it arrives.

The Completer/Finisher in me wasn't happy with this state of affairs so I headed in to Redditch to see if the local Domestic Appliance Spares Shop had an element in stock ...

... "it'll be here tomorrow Mate" was the reply I received. I ordered it working on the principal that it is always useful to have a spare and this way the oven will be restored to full functionality before we head off for our Summer Holiday.

I'm guessing that tomorrow could be a very busy day what with packing, dropping T&M off at the kennels, collecting TP's GCSE results, returning my laptop to the nearest circle of hell AND fixing the cooker.

Other Stuff

TP arrived home after his few days away in Cornwall and we "christened" the pristine hob by cooking the puff ball that I foraged a couple of days ago. It was lovely sliced, coated with bread crumbs and pan fried in butter. We served the mushroom slices topped with fried eggs and accompanied by home cured bacon.

It was very much a home made supper.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

On becoming the invisible man ...

The main activity on this morning's agenda was my Exit Interview with my manager. It came as no surprise that this was completed with a complete lack of flair and a minimum of interpersonal skills on his part and basically involved him reading items from his managerial checklist with the occasional pause for me to provide the appropriate confirmation.

After 15 minutes were were finished and I was somewhat taken aback to find myself formally placed on Garden Leave with clear instructions not to enter any of the Circles of Hell without prior permission from a Daemon. Neither was I allowed to have any "business contact" with any of my colleagues from that point forward. Within moments of my interview ending an email arrived in my inbox covering the terms of my Garden Leave and, with the exception of the final sentence which thanked me for my contribution , the rest of the letter read like I was under suspicion of committing the most heinous of crimes ... Fucking Charming!

I finished off a couple of final deliverables and took one final peep at my inbox. It was interesting to note that my Manager had cancelled my access to an application that allows remote access to my email. Under the terms of my Garden Leave I am to "remain available for [Dante's] to communicate with" so how the hell does that work? 

My manager cancelled my mobile phone* over a week ago and has now removed my ability to access e-mail from home. How the fuck am I supposed to make myself available for Dante's to communicate with? Perhaps I am to use this spare time to develop my telepathic powers!

I should point out that I need to meet up with another manager at the nearest Circle of Hell on Thursday to return my laptop and at present only know the time of the interview as a room number was missing from the invitation ...

... Looks like I had better brush up on the mind reading skills pronto!

Feeling slightly bruised by this unnecessarily brusque handling of my final couple of days I wandered away from the laptop and decided to do something else instead ...

... I crammed myself in to my leathers, hauled the Ducati from the garage and headed over to a Vehicle Bodywork Company in Bidford on Avon to get a quote for the repairs to my recently scuffed fairing panel. I had a lengthy chat with a much tattooed gentlemen who introduced himself as "Dagger" and it was agreed that I should leave the spray job until the beginning of Winter and then drop off the damaged panels for him to paint at his leisure. His estimate for this work was a very economical eighty quid.

I left Bidford and then headed over towards the Nearest Circle of Hell in the hope of persuading Grand Dad Jack to come out for a natter, as he had frequently expressed an interest in perusing my bike. It came as no surprise that GJ was away from his desk on one of his extended tea breaks and consequently he was not answering his 'phone.

I headed back home and after putting my bike away I took T&M for our usual walk around the Three Miler arriving home to find 30% putting the finishing touches to supper.

I'm really not sure how I feel about today.
* This is the 'phone that I bought but that he refuses to allow to be "unlocked' from Dante's preferred cell 'phone provider. I wonder how annoyed he would be to know that the handset is now unlocked and my new Sim card has been accepted. There are several ways to skin a cat.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Why are you carrying an Ostrich Egg?

As to be expected, things are very quiet as I walk towards the perimeter of the Nine Circles of Hell. Consequently my most significant deliverable this morning was a Bolognaise Sauce that was later piled on a heap of spaghetti for supper this evening.

As the morning petered out I took an early lunch and then headed over to the local DIY store to pick up a few bags of dry mix concrete. It was then a trundle over to BMS's residence where the aforementioned concrete was wetted and mixed before being applied to his drive to form a more gentle ramp in to his garage ...

... apparently his mobility scooter is the lowered suspension model and it bottoms out when he enters the garage at speed.

All being well, he should be able to make high speed departures once the concrete has set in a couple of days time.

The remainder of the day was as quiet as the morning. I had a brief kip on the sofa before heading out around the Three Miler with T&M. As I wandered along the lanes I saw a white, almost spherical shape in the verge and headed over for a closer inspection. I was delighted to find a fresh puffball mushroom and carefully pried it loose from the earth as they make good eating. I spent the remainder of the walk looking like I was carrying the spoils from an Ostrich nest raid.

30% and I are alone at present as TP is spending a few days in Cornwall with one of his friends but we were joined this evening by Sally the Upholsterer with the curtains for the dining room. We had a pleasant evening catching up on each others news although it would be fair to say that Sally has had a rough time recently.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Supervision Needed?

For the past few days 30% hasn't felt quite right and after a morning wandering around the shops in Worcester we returned home and she took to her bed. It soon became apparent that she had picked up a bug and I was left pretty much to my own devices with regard to catering and entertainment.

The entertainment was easily covered and I lost most of the afternoon to a hideously long snooze on the sofa. I then attempted to banish the post siesta drowsiness with a walk but rain drops started to fall from a leaden sky and the Three Miler was more accurately described as the Three Quarter Miler this evening.

I then needed to prepare "Dinner for One" and, after a wander around the kitchen, settled upon a omelette as eggs were in plentiful supply. Four eggs, a slice of ham and some cheese were rapidly formed in to a perfect omelette and a couple of chunks of crusty bread provided a perfect accompaniment to this sofa supper.

As I pondered the variety of sweet and savoury fillings that can be folded in to an omelette I wondered whether Marmite would work.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Is this what they mean by Garden Leave ?

I had one and one half days of annual leave to take before I emerge from the Nine Circles of Hell in to the blinding sunrise of a new job. Yesterday afternoon and all day today have been strategically booked to dissuade any of my colleagues or managers from attempting to give me anything to do. My logic is as follows ...

... No-one is going to expect anything much from me  in the last week, or rather 4 days, of my penury in Dante's Inferno. However, in my penultimate week, the Daemons might be less forgiving, so I have booked my remaining leave to minimise their opportunities for giving me work.*

Before I recount today's activities I probably need to fill in my activities over the past few weeks. Basically I decided to take Garden Leave whether Dante's liked it or not. My approach was as follows; I decided to perform the bare minimum that I assumed would avoid me being on the receiving end of any irritating complaints. This involved me dialling in to the early morning team call where I announced my presence. I then said nothing more unless I was asked a direct question. Needless to say, none were asked and my interpretation of this was that I was not required for the rest of the day and I metaphorically wandered off to do something far more interesting.***

Obviously I didn't have a Team Call today and, after a leisurely breakfast, I dealt with a few items of personal paperwork and accounting before heading over to Bad Man Senior's residence. The plan for today was to collect BMS, several lengths of timber and his decrepit garden gate. All being well the timber would get assembled to form a new gate and BMS and I would have a relatively relaxing day pottering in the garage with a leisurely lunch roughly around the mid point ...

... and that is exactly what we did. By four o'clock I was loading a new garden gate on to the Defender's roof rack and we headed back to the BMS residence where the gate dropped neatly on to the original hinge pins. After a swift cup of tea courtesy of SMS I attached the latch and bolt and the gate was as good as new.

All I need to do now is spend and hour or so tidying up the garage.
* According to their own "guidelines" I should be on Garden Leave but for reasons kept to themselves they seem content to leave me "working" ** on a Client Engagement.
** Snigger!
*** My lawn looks lovely and there is nothing better than an hour's kip on the sofa on a warm afternoon.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Where are we going to hang it?

Saturday started with a trip over to the picture framer to collect the small oil painting that we acquired at Littleton Auction a month ago. It looks fantastic now it has been framed and all we need to do now is decide on where to hang it.

After collecting the painting from Evesham we headed over to Redditch where 30% attended an eye test and I decided to refresh elements of my work wardrobe. After all, I suppose I had better look the part in view of the fact that any reputation I had means very little to my new employer.

We arrived home in time for lunch and then I have to admit both 30% and I fell asleep for a couple of hours. I awoke as the heat of the day started to wane and took T&M out for a circuit of the Three Miler. Upon my return it was time to tidy myself up as we had decided to sample the menu at one of the Pubs in the Village.

It is well over a year since we last visited this Hostelry and it has had troublesome times. Tenant after tenant has failed to make a viable business of it and in the past few months the freehold was finally sold. It has been purchased by a local couple and they have made a sound start on re-establishing the business. They have tidied up the entrance, designed a simple but elegant pub grub menu and appear to run it with a level of enthusiasm borne making a significant investment.

We had a good meal in pleasant surroundings and I took slight pleasure in noting that, as we left after our meal, The Bull's Head appeared to have significantly more trade than the other pub sat on the Village Green.

Friday, 2 August 2013

There are some Tossers about

At present the Engagement is in a phase of back-to-back telephone calls each and every day. The calls are to establish requirements and hopefully the client will actually decide not only what they want but also when they want it too.

"Now," I hear you ask "why would one be interested in attending these calls?" Initially I had the same thoughts; Why would I want and sit with a phone glued to my ear listening to material that had no real importance to me? Especially after the delightful prospect of Garden Leave lay shattered like a crystal glass impacting on a cold stone floor. These are all very good and valid points but the way I see it is as follows ...

... If I MUST continue to work on this deal then spending all day on a conference call is the least worst option. All I do is dial in, announce my name and say absolutely nothing for the remainder of the call. I leave the windbags at Dante's to fill each sixty minute slot with noise that I pay no heed.This leaves me time to have Instant Messenger conversations with friends and colleagues and explore and progress the activities I need to complete as part of my exit plan.*

After all, if I have spent seven hours of the day on a series of conference calls it would be churlish in the extreme to expect a significant output of work products in the same time frame.**

So that is how I propose to fill the remaining fourteen working days at Dante's. Actually this number has now been reduced to twelve and one half working days as my complete and utter bell-end of a manger has finally deigned to respond to my Exit Plan e-mail and it is fair to say that a couple of his responses have annoyed me somewhat but he did grudgingly confirm that my leave had been pro rated and that I had an extra day and a half to book.

First I had better explain that, after giving notice on Monday, I was advised that he needed forty eight hours to get things in motion. I felt that this period expired around midday on Wednesday and so was somewhat disappointed to hear nothing at all. After all, I am only going to resign from Dante's once while he, as a manager, should be expected to experience it on a number of occasions. *** I didn't know what processes should be taking place and was looking to him for guidance. Actually a formal acknowledgement of my resignation would have been polite and professional too.

In this information vacuum I started to work my way through my perceived set of exit actions and fired off a few e-mails to my manager with pertinent questions. All I got back was a holding reply which told me nothing. I then picked up on a conference call**** an utterance that suggested that my manager was off work next week. I therefore sent him an e-mail asking for a formal response to my questions and nomination of a managerial deputy during his absence.

In response I got a snotty email that carried the absolute bare minimum of information and there was one answers that infuriated me ...

... I asked if I would be allowed to port my work mobile 'phone number when I left Dante's. I also asked if my 'phone bought by me through a company scheme could be unlocked thereby allowing me a wider choice of service providers after departure. I should say at this point that both of these requests are documented as permissible in the Leaving Dante's Checklist.

I was therefore somewhat taken aback when he replied advising that in the circumstances he was not prepared to authorise. Now I can grudgingly accept that he might decline porting my 'phone number as there could be a conflict of interest due to the relationship between Dante's Nine Circles of Hell and The Neat & Tidy Piano Movers but I can see absolutely no reason for him not authorising the unlocking of my handset. The phone is my personal property and is restricted to a particular Service Provider because it was bought through a company scheme. There is no conflict of interest in allowing me a wider choice of mobile 'phone services in the future.

Basically he is either taking a dog in a manger attitude or just doesn't have the intellect to have understood what I am actually asking for.

Still, as they say, there are several ways to skin a cat and I am now in possession of the IMEI number that will allow me to choose any provider I like.

It is annoying about the number porting though.
* There is probably a goodly chunk of cyberloafing too. That is a lovely turn of phrase
** Pot calling the Kettle Black? ... possibly
*** actually, the way things are looking, he could be doing it a lot more in the next few months
**** amazing that I was actually listening!

Thursday, 1 August 2013

A Bleak Outlook for Some?

It is fair to say that my plans for a long Summer off work have come to naught and a managerial decision has been made that I will continue in my current role for the next two weeks; working alongside the chaps who will take over. I still don't get to escape then as I am required to hang around like some moth eaten chimp* in a supporting role until I finally emerge from the Circles of Hell on 22nd August.

Apparently a certain Idiot Manager has decided that my departure bears no significant risk** to the Engagement hence I am to stay in post. What this really means is that Dante's is critically short of people following their recent cull of personnel and basically they haven't got a pot to piss in when it comes to resourcing. It is a very strange place to be working at present and it is not only the cull that is impacting staffing. A number of key managers are moving on and then there are the occasional voluntary departures like mine.

Now the news that I am leaving is out in the open a number of colleagues have commented that I am doing the right thing and have intimated, some more openly than others, that they, or people they know, are thinking about doing the same. A discussion with a manager revealed that he had lost over 22 people in the cull. Each and everyone of them had gone on to find a new role with an increased salary. One of them achieved a 100% pay rise. I asked him if he had managed to retain a critical mass to allow him to continue delivering his function. He looked me in the eye and simply said "I am fucked".

So what of the future at the Nine Circles of Hell? I don't know but I do know that they are in for some interesting times over the next few months. The current climate and environment is doing a fantastic job in increasing my certainty that changing my job was the right thing to do. People are leaving, the Sales Pipeline has reduced to a trickle of stagnant waste, the Industry is changing and there is no clear direction from the Senior Daemons on how The Nine Circles of Hell will respond.

So, I suppose the question is how am I going to fill my last three weeks at Dante's? I am attempting to limit my rock pushing activities to the traditional nine 'til five and ensure that my Exit Plan activities take precedence. I managed to take up almost all of a working day yesterday with the setting up of my replacement lap top ...

... I have fifteen working days to go and still have one and a half days of holiday to build in to that.
* and that is exactly what I propose to do. I will sit there with a look of disdain on my face, picking things both real and imaginary from my pelt, examining each one in detail before either eating it or flicking it across the cage.
** so the fact that I have no sense of investment in, or ownership of, the engagement combined with the fact that it is very difficult to fill a leadership role when you won't actually be available to lead a force out on to the battlefield aren't seen as risks ... Hmmm ?