Friday, April 15, 2011

Stress Bunny

Don't you wish you had a PA that could handle all of the stress in your life? The last few days have been a huge test. Nothing spectacularly horrible has happened, but a lot of little things have added up and ended in tears more than once. I think it's a natural part of some sort of life cycle - that every now and then, no matter how big or small, everything will get to be a bit too much.
First of all, packing is a nightmare. I have a very full house and no room to put the piles of 'Packed', 'To Pack', 'To Sell' and 'To Throw Out'. The piles are well and truly merged and the disaster zone I now live in is well and truly impacting on my nerves. I need to live in an uncluttered environment to be able to think straight and function. I'm not over the top about it - I'll happily accept organised chaos. Days worth of dishes, spilt dinner left by anonymous beings on the stove for me to clean up when I get fed up enough and washing piles everywhere are not organised chaos. The sleeping bags we bought for Europe that won't go back in their damn bags and are unlikely to ever leave the country as a result are not organised chaos. I don't have money for anymore damn sleeping bags.

If I had a spare hour where I didn't have to do the groceries or the dishes or make lunch or do nails, and if that spare hour was prior to 10pm (when I may be awake but I am certainly not functioning) I'd be able to get on top of it so easily. I crave that spare hour. All of you parents, don't you dare say 'Wait until you have children'. I get it.

Next there was the Bike vs. Scooter incident. Like a fight in the playground, workers rallied around us in the lunchroom asking if it was really true and what happened. Letter openers and keys were offered by several staff members but of course not accepted, however tempting. I find it easier to be calm when Courtney isn't, because I know one of us has to be. I do love a challenge, and there's no way I'll succeed at keeping his head straight if I'm fueling the fury. This was a hard one though.

The most stressful part though, was after the Building Manager had emailed all of the businesses in our building and left a note on the scooter to contact him to no avail. We had started parking elsewhere - and so had the scooter. Guilty much? I just wanted to replace the mirrors and move on. My darling Long Haired Boy though had other ideas, hoping that a quiet word with the faceless scooter owner would produce a wad of cash. Outside the heat of the moment he apparently only wanted to use the promise of not-calling-the-police to coerce this payment but I can't help thinking that if they're nuts enough to snap a mirror off for no reason, they won't think twice about revenge if they don't like being confronted. I just want to buy some new mirrors and count our losses.
Besides all this drama, I was still dealing with work. We all know I love my job - generally speaking - but under all of the pressure of packing and bikes, taking a class on half way through their course was a test and a half. Every class has favourite students and challenging students. Every class has a new set of questions and learning styles. I just think the questions were amplified when so many were about things that should have already been covered. By many accounts they had been, but without the luxury of 'remember when I said...' it was harder than normal to answer them. I had to give full explanations instead, because I had no idea if they knew what I was talking about.

I ended up stopping class altogether. The room had been left a mess with chip packets and cups left from the previous week. I couldn't handle the mess at home and work so first things first, we cleaned. We then went through the entire course to date in the fastest way possible and identified knowledge gaps and a few parts that had been left till later but forgotten when the trainer changed. I felt better, we moved on, but it wasn't a highlight of my week.

When I'm in training, I don't really have time for breaks. I don't mind, the days go faster and I eat on the run. On Wednesday though, a break was unavoidable. The 'To Sell' pile at home decreased as a number of auctions closed. I have a notebook dedicated just to trying to keep track of purchases, delivery addresses and received payments in a poor attempt to stop them getting on top of me. On Wednesday a trip to the Post Office couldn't be put off any longer but it meant a super fast walk there to wait in the super long queue and then a super fast walk back to get into training before the trainees. I didn't have time to stop and the second I got back everyone had questions including non-trainees coming to see me all afternoon about another part of my job. Despite the aforementioned lack of children in my life I felt like I had several metaphorical offspring all tugging on my shirt saying 'Mum? Mum? Mum! Mum!'.

(As an aside, a big HELLO! to the man who bought my park bench and said to Courtney's sister 'Are you into blogging as well?'. It's nice to know that putting the web address in my email signature is paying off, thank you for joining us!)

I stay behind and work on the phones until Courtney finishes his shift and that same night I had a trainee sat at the desk next to me doing the same. He was the only one that elected to stay behind so I let him take calls solo and I helped him when I could. His last call turned sour when a customer wouldn't accept that another department was closed for the day and that she wouldn't have the service she wanted until the next day. I offered to take it from him after he made a wholehearted and commendable attempt to handle it himself but it didn't go down well.

I didn't handle it the absolute best could have but I certainly didn't do a bad job. I could have been more empathetic but I was tired and the customer was especially keen on venting her frustration. I gave her all the information I could. Had I said it more apologetically she may have been fine but she wouldn't listen. Eventually I told her she was talking to the wrong person and that I couldn't help her. Fullstop. She then proceeded to tell me I should be ashamed of myself, mortified with my 'behaviour', not dare to call myself 'customer service' and that I should get a clue and get a life! That was the last thing she said before hanging up in my ear. I didn't deserve it, I know I didn't deserve it. I am good at my job and good at dealing with angry customers. I just couldn't tell her what she wanted to hear. I'm sorry lady, and I promise I will remember you next time I'm tired and can't be bothered with undeserved empathy.

When I got home, there was a letter from our rental agency. It was a stock standard form letter telling me the grand list of things I need to do when we move if I ever want my bond payment to see the light of day. In theory this is all alright because we have looked after the house and it's in identical condition to when we moved in - actually it's cleaner. See the thing is, the people before us were evicted and the rental agency refused to clean it or pre-inspect it. This was two days before we were moving in and they were saying if we didn't like their rules we didn't have to move in. I didn't have a choice, where were me, my two flatmates and two pets supposed to go? There are pens drawings on the walls at toddler height, stickers on the walls of one bedroom, and a hole in the door of it too. There are stains on the carpet and rubbish in the garage. I just know I'm going to be held responsible and it's only now that I regret not sucking it up and telling them where to stick their shoddy contract.

The list included the stipulation 'Pay all outstanding Water Bills' and what do you know, there in the same delivery was the first water bill I've seen in six months. For $500. Erm, what? Yup, $500. I don't have $500. Where on earth did that water go? I'm going to have to ask everyone to chip in, because their set-rent doesn't cover the water, but holy-ball-of-stress, batman.

As this all went down, Courtney's Man-of-the-House instincts kicked in for the second time in as many days and 'If they don't give us our bond back I'll take them to court!' came bounding out. Fair call, because damned if the damage is our responsibility, but I was not in a mental state capable of dealing with the idea of court. I just wanted the whole thing to Go. Away. There's really nothing I can do other than a good cleaning job and a crossing of fingers.

I figured I'd go to sleep, have a cuddle, and when I woke up in the morning I would be in a better state of mind and ready to take on the world again. I woke up and the sleeping bags of doom were still on the floor, the dishes from last nights dinner were still on the bench and the Trade Me purchases hadn't sorted themselves overnight. The tears flowed. I'm about to make a list. When I sort everything out in my head, I'll be better able to tackle it all.

When was the last time you ended up curled up in a ball of quivering stress? What are your coping mechanisms?