Wednesday, December 1, 2010


I actually wrote this post a couple of nights ago and wasn't entirely happy that I had captured all that I wanted to say so I withdrew it. Then I found out that some people had already read it due to rss feeds. I got asked tonight "Why did you take down the bathroom post?". To those who have already read it, I haven't changed anything except for the last paragraph. So here it is:

Yesterday I cleaned the bathroom. Yep, I'm announcing to the world that I scrubbed the tub and toilet, cleaned up the vanity and gave the floor a quick mop. Rather than an indication of just how exciting my life really is, this is really just the start of a post on how I get myself to do it.

I hate it. The bathroom. It's there. We spend a good deal of time in there and every week, it needs to be done again. Talk about a snorefest. Cleaning the bathroom just feels like one of those really ultimately futile activities that we seem to be destined to do for the rest of our lives (unless of course we pay someone else to do it or someone else in the house can take care of it).

So I find myself trying to fnd ways of making it less of chore and more of an occasion. It's a chance to completely metro-sexual it up. If you're cleaning a bathroom, is anyone going to see you with a mud mask on? And what about those really messy activities such as cutting your hair? (Yes. I cut my own hair). I can do that, then do the bathroom and it's a little less of a chore.

Basically, I find some sort of way of giving myself a reward for cleaning the bathroom.

What does this have to do with anything you ask? (I said to a friend that this blog was really just me talking to myself and occasionally, if I'm lucky, some of the strange names on the monitor comment - so if I'm asking questions on your behalf, it's because you're currently just a name on the screen). Here I am, involved with the Manaiakalani project. And OLPC. And AuckLUG and any other groups I happen to be involved with (can't forget Tangleball and the New Zealand Open Source Socety, and some activity with the Labour party in the form of offering an opinion on Clare Curren's blog, NZLUG etc.). I think I offer them all something valuable. My opinion, my skills and time etc.

Of course, I don't get paid for it. Is this a reason for me to stop? For me at least, money is a lousy motivator. The worst thing anyone can say to me to try and motivate me is "Just think of the money". Really? Just how bad is it if all I'm to think about is the money?

In my Lotto post I had said something about how I would much rather winning money meant that I didn't have to think about money again. Build a structure around it which distributes any responsibility, looks after those I care about and leaves me the hell alone. I can't think of anything worse than a life thinking about, distributing and accumulating money. Surely there's more to it than little paper tokens of value.

And if you think about it, very few people actually want the money. Instead it's about what the money can do for them. Support their family and keep meals coming to the table, buy them those things that advertising tells us that we want (I really hate malls these days - it's just so... in your face), maintain a "healthy" drug habit (come on - most people have an addiction to caffeine) etc.

Sure, a bit of money would be nice though I have to wonder: If I'm suddenly getting paid for something, does that make my contribution to whatever effort a little less special? Do I actually lose something from getting paid?

So what makes a job good or bad? I would say it has VERY little to do with the money.

So what is the money really? When does it really matter? In terms of mental health - when you don't have enough of it to do the things that are necessary (paying power bills, telephone bills, putting food on the table etc.) but more importantly, during your pay rise(s).

Why is money important then? Because pay rises are little more than an indication of appreciation. We get some indication of whether our employers value our contribution.

Of course, if there is no budget for pay rises, then that appreciation needs to come from elsewhere - and probably should regardless of the pay rise.

While I was at New Zealand Couriers, at times the phone queue would average around 80 - that's 80 calls on hold ("We value your call"). I was working through my breaks and trying to do two jobs at once to try and ease the pressure off everyone. And everyone was stressed. Majorly stressed. Odd to think that after being on hold for so long, customers would be just a tad grumpy.

We'd have these team meetings and it would end. We'd get talked at. "Here's what you need to know" sort of stuff. It annoyed me. Not because it took us away from the phones (that bit was good) but because despite the stress everyone was going through, no one thanked them for their work and keeping their cool during the difficult periods.

Sure, there was the occasional token of appreciation. They'd bring in savories. Carefully doled out so that you got a mini mince pie, half a sausage roll and a mini samosa. While they were doling these things out, you weren't allowed in the kitchen (meaning no coffee). This happened twice while I was there.

Add to that the fact that pay rises were pitiful (really only just meeting inflation) and you had some really disgruntled staff.

Soon the news paper was banned from the building as everyone spent their breaks looking for jobs. No one wanted to work there.

So now to a far off little fantasy world: What if they had, put on a bit of a lunch in for the staff rather than doling out a meal made for dolls? And actually thanked people? (This was another of those things that I got in a little bit of trouble for - at those meetings, I started thanking everyone for their hard work - it really wasn't my place. I was their peer, not their boss).

And really, aren't we really talking about love here? I mean, in a more abstract sort of way. We seem to spend a great deal of time seeking out validation, acknowledgement, appreciation etc. And it's really just the same thing. We seek those same things in work. Don't we? And really, if you love what you do, aren't you more likely to deliver a better result for your employer and, best of all, you'll be happier?

I guess, what I'm really saying is, although I wrote what was an analogy between my relationship to Manaiakalani and love, is it really that far from the truth? Or more importantly, would you settle yourself into a relationship that was based purely on money? Is a job all that different from a relationship?

In terms of the great "Scavenger hunt" for my real name, the third letter is a super model. If you haven't got the previous two... whoops.


  1. My company is great for making us feel appreciated.

    Regularly theres a lunch shout (which makes it hard for us cause we're on the midnight shift and get left overs which are stale, or the mess cause the previous shift hasnt cleaned away the debris). So our shift decided to treat ourselves. At night (3am) a delegate would head upto countdown and we'd get stuff the day shift dont have. Ice cream and desserts, stuff for sandwiches, muffins and cakes and general food stuffs. We dont have a stove, just a microwave, so we make do. And we're a really creative bunch when it comes to meals and desserts. We may not have the same madness on nightshift as the dayshift has, but cause theres less of us (3-4. its a good night if the 4 of us are there), we have to be more involved in all aspects of the job and not just one bit of the process as dayshift would have.

    Yes we still have our stress cause we have to do alot, but you're only human, and you can only do as much as you can. There have been really rare nights when we havent been able to accomplish things we're suppose to do, and making no excuse, sometimes its just cause the systems fallen over on us, and we've had to adapt and leave less essential things for the next shift.

    Its really nice that our boss has been on the floor, so he understands the pressure we can be under. Its not an easy job sometimes, it can be damn complicated at other times. But our management is very appreciative of us, and arent frugal in their thanking us process.

    One supervisor goes around and personally thanks every one of us before he leaves the building. Even the shift thats just shown up to start work.

    So i guess we are lucky to have a pretty good management team. Allows me to enjoy my job.

    Even when its boring.

  2. I did have a job in Hamilton where, at the time, I didn't quite appreciate just how much they did for us.

    Monthly drinks - it was a rotating shift (2 weeks nights, 2 weeks days) and if you were on nightshift, instead of the in office drinks, you'd go to a pub 2 weeks later.

    Yearly bonus - it was a small amount (I think the top tier was around $300?) but a good indication of how the company were feeling about you.

    Xmas bonus - an even smaller amount but just a little amount but it was still always a bit of a treat.

    Work do - fully paid for and partners were able to come at no cost as well.

    Automatic yearly inflation adjustment - so when you did get a pay rise, it actually was a pay rise.

    I don't know how things are looking there now. When I was leaving, the union were coming in. It irritated me that I was forced to join the union for 30 days when I didn't agree with what would happen as a result.

    So not all my experiences have been bad. I suppose, if we take it back to the relationships thing, I find myself quietly regretting how I took "her" for granted.