Five years ago today I lost my job. I was made redundant I was told after almost 9 years of work that my services were no longer required. Of course I was told that it was just the luck of the draw and it was due to the economic recession. Whether I believed that or for that matter ever will believe it is another matter entirely.
So why am I the mood to celebrate rather than mourn? Why do I smile on this day rather than weep tears of anger, or at very least sorrow ? Well I have always believed that everything happens for a reason, and in this case my redundancy was no different. In a way I believe it needed to happen to allow me to move on to the next stage of my life.
Looking back on what was my final day, I arrived early and I was given time to make phone calls to colleagues from partner organisations with whom I had built up a close working relationship. Trust me some of those phone calls were not easy to make and some got quite emotional especially with those colleagues I had known for a number of years.
After the phone calls were made I got on with the mundanities of what had been my daily grind such as data input and analysis and preparing packs for training courses I wouldn’t be delivering. This later activity, was especially difficult as delivering training courses had been my bread and butter and what put food on my table for the greater part of my time in the job I was now preparing to leave.
At lunchtime my bosses made the usual presentation you do when people move on and the gifts of gifts of a watches, handbags and jewellery were gratefully received. My manager gave me the opportunity to leave as soon as the presentation was over but I think he was glad when I stayed for the rest of the afternoon and finish what jobs I needed to complete before making my final exit at the end of the day.
So how do I look back my 9 years in what was an enjoyable but also stressful job? Well like any job it had it’s share of up’s and downs but I would like to think I was a good team player who did what needed done to assist my colleagues whenever I could.
Of course like all workplaces there were the odd clashes of personality over the years however I always managed to resolve any differences in a professional manner. Like everyone else it is safe to say I got on better with some people than I did with others, and it is only natural to say that there were colleagues I liked and others I couldn’t stand. Though to be fair, the vast majority of those I worked with were decent people I would always help if I was in the position to do so.
As my boss said on my first day in post, working as a trainer is a thankless task as many people who attend courses particularly if those are mandatory do not want to be there and it’s your job to deal with that hostility. Overall I was reasonably successful in this and had a 96-98 percent approval rate when my feedback forms were evaluated. So it’s safe to say this was my favourite part of the job. Well as a spoken word poet who has occasionally dabbled in stand up I have always had good communication skills and made good connections with many participants on the courses I delivered. Indeed there were more than a few over the years who have gone on to become valued friends on a personal level and three of them attend or have attended the same church as me.
Of course training wasn’t without its challenges and I had to do a lot of reading to keep up to speed with the latest developments on all forms of equalities. I also faced more than the occasional challenge to my authority in the training room usually from egocentric males who had far too high an opinion of themselves. Believe me this tested my diplomatic skills to the limit but gradually as I learned the job I would find techniques I could use to isolate them from the rest of the group. Also as I got better known in the field participants who enjoyed the day would often warn me if someone from their work had any previous for trying to annoy or undermine the trainer. Believe me I had more informal informers than her majesty’s secret service and there was always someone in every training room who was ready to cover my back as and when required.
It was during my time as a trainer that I started gender transition. It has to be said that transitioning at work was a rewarding if challenging experience and I believe, though they would try to claim otherwise, some of my colleagues just didn’t get it and there were a few who complained about my dress sense even though I was smart and professional at all times.
This made me angry beyond all measure especially when you consider the fact that they received training on the issues around transition from the Scottish Transgender Alliance. However what disappointed me more than anything was that on receiving feedback from the trainer who delivered the sessions some of those who should have got it in terms of the equality agenda were actually amongst the least cooperative and least enthusiastic members of their groups. Like I said I have my spies.
That said however annoying as it was, this wasn’t the most annoying issue I had to deal with during my time with this employer that was but a minor detail when compared to the relentless quest for perfection. Being good at your job was never good enough for an organisation where everything had to be excellent.
This to me was madness especially for an organisation whose profile is nowhere near as high as they seem to think. It was this constant striving for perfection which caused me more stress than any member of the awkward squad ever did. I believe it was unrealistic to place such targets on the staff and I know I wasn’t the only one who thought so. Don’t get me wrong , there is nothing wrong with ambition but you have to set that ambition in context. No matter what your mammy might say to sooth your ego you’ll never play for Barcelona if you can’t get a game for Berwick Rangers, and you’ll never be part of the new Spice Girls if the only place you ever sing is with your pals in front of the bedroom mirror with hairbrushes for mics.
It is this attitude of having to be best and be on top form every day which makes me glad I am no longer working in this environment. There is nothing wrong with being good at your job in fact for most people that would be more than enough but the idea of striving for relentless excellence is enough to put people under so much pressure it could have a serious detrimental impact on the person’s mental well being. It is for this reason I’m glad to be out of my former place of employment.
It is ironic that my redundancy came just 15 days after my 50th birthday and hard as it was to take at the time I bear no malice to my former colleagues or the excellent organisation I was lucky enough to work for.
Of course being made redundant meant a few financial issues and at least until I got used to living with more cuts than your average Tory budget. Now I’m not going to lie and say I don’t miss the money of course I do but believe me I don’t miss the stress and when you get to your mid fifties it’s good to be a lady of leisure. Well being able to have woman time has meant I have been able to become more involved in my local community. It means I have been able to devote more time to my poetry and to my political activities be they in the SNP, Women For Independence, or the many other campaigns and causes with which I’m involved. Most of all of course being a lady of leisure has enabled me to start this blog. Yes it’s true being made redundant from my job as a trainer meant I had to look for new ways to occupy my time and that was how 9 months on from redundancy tartantights was born and believe me I’m glad it was.
Indeed it’s true to say there have been times particularly during the independence referendum when having this blog saved my sanity. Well you see I’m a gabby wee madam with opinions on everything and none of my opinions were being represented in the print or visual versions of the mainstream media and me being me I thought to myself if they won’t represent me then I’ll damn well represent myself so that is exactly what I decided to do and I have done ever since.
Now to those of you who may not be aware, I have to inform you that blogging is a very time consuming activity. At least it is if you want to do it to the standard I do and believe me I will never give it anything less than my best. It is therefore safe to say that had I still been working as a trainer this blog which has now become my passion would never have seen the light of day.
Believe me when I say that this has been a difficult post to write, However I would say that for me at least losing my job as a trainer opened other doors in the most unexpected of ways. I discovered that life began at 50 and as I started on the next stage of my journey I realised the real difference between men and women and it’s this. It has been said that a man who loses his job loses part of his identity and given the chance he will complain to the world that he hasn’t much to do.
This is in complete contrast to what happens when a woman who loses her employment you see no woman I know has ever been redundant we have far too much to do for that to happen.
Don’t get me wrong losing our job may impact on a woman in the economic sense and it will impose some financial limitations on her until she adjusts her budget but if there is one thing she will never be or allow herself to be it is bored. Even a lady of leisure will say she hasn’t the time to get bored in fact she may be busier than ever and complain that there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything that needs doing done to her satisfaction. Being a trans woman I can speak with authority on this as I’m more active now than I was when I was working and a lot more active than I was before transitioning and you know I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Love And Best Wishes