Tag Archives: Job

Friday 6th July

It was a hot, sunny day.

“I thought you’d escaped” was what my gardening supervisor said when I turned up at the yard. Although I have officially left the company, I was doing an extra day to help cover someone on leave. I would have preferred a day off, but I was happy to see them.

I like spending time in the van with the kind, funny gardeners with their banter and hilarious stories.  We had a discussion about what if everyone drove hamster balls instead of cars, and got attacked by what my friend described as “super midges” in a garden on the banks of Loch Lomond.

All day I thought about Grandpa. He was asleep since Tuesday and a doctor suggested he may need to go to hospital. His colours were different from normal when I visited on Tuesday. He usually has a little eggshell blue around him. When I got home my mum told me that he seems fully recovered, sitting up this morning in his chair and eating breakfast! Maybe he just needed some extra sleep.

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Monday 19th May 2014

Over the past week or so, I have been struggling more with my job as a commercial gardener.
I really like everyone I work with, they’re great people. Friendly, outdoorsy types who have a great sense of humour. I love gardening and working outdoors. That’s not the problem. I’m tired. Really, really tired. I know that’s normal for someone who is new to a very physically demanding job, but I don’t think I can keep this up. I’m not sure that I want to either.

With my energy draining, my hearing has been a problem recently. Some days at work I’ve felt so exhausted, I’ve only heard about half of what my supervisor and colleagues say. In my life before Johansen therapy, a bad hearing day like this would have seemed like a good hearing day. Nowadays I’m used to hearing clearly, and I need consistently good hearing and processing for my work. Not least the social aspect of getting along with the people I spend hours with in the van.
This could be a real problem.

My imaginary worst-case scenario:
Supervisor (up ladder with chainsaw): “Jenny, my ladder is slipping!”
Me (hearing something completely different): “Ok, Cool!” (Leaves him to go do some lavender clipping)

Apart from the hearing issues, I’m tired and aching all the time. When I’m not at work, I barely do anything, trying to recover my energy.

Perhaps you are reading this thinking, “Welcome to my/adult life!” Fair enough. I really admire people who can work every day doing a manual labor job.
So far, working for the company has been a positive experience. I’ve made friends, gained a lot of experience, and am a faster, more competent gardener. I want to leave on a good note, not after my own injury, or someone else’s from a mistake I could make when I’m tired.
I could do without the heavy lifting and racing around a garden to a timescale. So far, I haven’t done as much of the more demanding machinery tasks as others, the staff have gone fairly easy on me compared to the bigger, stronger gardeners. I’m reasonably strong for a female of my size, but my size isn’t that big.

I thought hard about what to do.

I like earning wages, but I don’t have to keep working to support or pay rent. My only dependants are my stick insects and houseplants. I could leave and find a different way to make money.

In the end, I decided to talk to my boss about it.
When I talk to people in person, I can feel flustered and not have enough time to process and think things through. I make poor decisions to please others because I don’t like to disappoint people. Also, my hearing hasn’t been so good recently, affecting my speech slightly. The other day, on the way home in the van, my supervisor had to ask me to repeat what I said a few times because my voice was slurring slightly, like it used to before Johansen therapy. I struggle to state my case clearly when I’m tired and my APD comes to surface a bit.
So I wrote him an email.
I wrote to him about how I really liked everyone there. I like gardening, and working for him, but I was struggling too much with the physical side of the work, and wanted to leave. I also mentioned my concerns about my Auditory Processing Difficulties. My APD is noted in my employment application, so my boss already knew about it.

Ok, so I asked to quit. Give up. Wimp out. But without the help from MLC Scotland and Johansen IAS, I wouldn’t have been able to get a job in the first place. During my last years at school, my parents were concerned about how I would cope with adult life. I had barely any energy. I had poor health, poor hearing and almost non-existent social skills. Please bear in mind that although having a job and keeping it hasn’t gone as smoothly as I hoped, I have come a long way.

Thursday 15th May 2014- It’s raining fish heads, “Inaudible” cat-scaring devices, and Doctor Death.

We worked in lots of gardens today.
In the first garden, I heard the squawk of seagulls above us. A couple of minutes later, my supervisor called me round to the front, saying Look what fell onto the driveway! I expected a dead bird. What I saw was the entire head of a salmon. It had given my supervisor a surprise, landing beside where he was working. A fish head falling from the sky is a pretty random event.
I was really tired after yesterday, and my hearing was more acute than usual, a little reminder of my bad old Auditory Processing days when it was a full-blown Disorder, not just the few difficulties I experience nowadays. After the first busy day, the rest of my part-time week of gardening feels like a physical test. In the back garden weeding, I had a bit of a headache and a high-pitched noise in my head. I realised after a while that the noise and headache was caused by a little white box near the steps where I was weeding. Rentokil, it said on it. The sound was like a very thin white line piercing into my head. The little box in the border had a motion sensor and every time I passed, there were two tiny clicks and it would fire a line of sound at me. It’s probably supposed to be one of those sounds which “humans can’t hear”. Probably to deter cats. Unfortunately it works on gardeners with hearing issues too. It was very annoying.

I wondered about the head on the driveway, whether the owners would think that we left it while they were out as a kind of dark, fishy, slightly splattered message to be nice to gardeners. A bit like that horse’s head in The Godfather, I suppose. In the end, while we were packing up, a seagull swooped down to reclaim it, and carried its treasure away over the suburban houses in it’s beak. Perhaps it had been flying around for a while, searching for the dinner it dropped earlier. It was quite a big fish head. One determined seagull.
Another garden, then we went to the house of a customer who has been nicknamed “Doctor Death”. Something in the trees creaks, there are dolls in the windows, and a sort of deserted, aged garage which I could easily imagine being haunted. That said, apparently our customer is a very pleasant person. They just have the unfortunate ability to silently appear beside my supervisor and scare the hell out of him.

After that we had one more garden.
Get home, Drum, eat, sleep. Where did my free time go? I’m experiencing the world of work, and feeling a lot more respect for the other people in it.

Thursday 25th April 2014

I spent another day working for the gardening company. Over the past few weeks I’ve been working a day or a few days a week for them.
Most of the today was clearing leaves in a community park into big dumping bags, then emptying the bags into the back of the tipper van, keeping track of the number I emptied so that the supervisor knew how much material was in the van. My bags only counted as half bags because I can’t lift a full one. For my size I’m reasonably strong, but a huge sack full of leaves can be surprisingly heavy. We weeded borders, forked over beds and edged the lawns.

At the end of the day, the boss came to check on us and took a minute to talk to me. He offered me a full-time job.

I couldn’t believe it. Last night I joined a band, today I was being offered a job.
What a great opportunity! But here was the dilemma…..How could I keep doing everything I do now, while working full-time?
I just joined a band, I run a small jewellery repair business, I’m writing a book about Auditory Processing Disorder, helping with a community garden project, I go to lip reading classes, a college night class and volunteer at a botanic garden.
A few years back, I could not have imagined myself doing any of this, or having enough energy to do more than one of these things. My life has improved so much since then.
What an amazing opportunity! And yet, I was so tired after the physically demanding work, and working full-time would mean giving up everything else I did during the week.
A few years ago I wouldn’t have had the clear thinking, presence of mind and confidence to thank my boss and then ask if I could have a day to think about it.

Thursday 3rd April- My first day at work

I arrived a little early at the yard. In the yard was an office portacabin, a shipping container full of tools and machines, compost and waste bins at the back, and the vans.
Something I learned early on is that the gardeners and boss are all really nice people. Not sure what to do with myself, I put my backpack in the container and helped with loading the vans.
The boss gave me a van to go in. It’s quite fun sitting in a van. Three seats in the front, and a ton of gardening equipment in the back. Me, and supervisor and a cheerful Italian gardener.
Our supervisor’s blackberry kept beeping. He said that if he opened a window, we should grab it so he couldn’t throw it out. He hates his phone.
We sorted out someone’s lawn in my town, then did another lawn up some stairs at the back of some flats. I got to use a leaf-blower backpack. One of those Ghostbuster things. It’s fun, but feels really strange because the turbine makes it buzz against your back.
The last, and longest job was at a huge house in the countryside. We worked to tidy up, divide perennials and replant a huge garden. Luckily this was something I’ve done before at work experience.
The woman living in the house was really kind. She left the door open so that tea and coffee was available, and I could use her toilet. While we were working, her two huge dogs played around us, sometimes pestering us and wanting to play fetch and be petted.
We were there for several hours. I liked working with them. My new Italian friend whistled and sometimes sang in Italian as he worked, and our supervisor was really friendly and funny, just stressed out by his phone.
The lady in the house came back and gave us some cakes and tea for us to eat, not taking no for an answer.
By the time we got back to the yard it was after six. I decided to walk home rather than get the bus, which was a silly idea. After getting used to cycling, walking a mile or two feels like it takes forever, and I was really tired after a day of gardening.
My first day at work was quite a good day.

Friday 1st November

Today I got a phone call from a friend, saying that she was cutting back her hours at a local Chinese Restaurant. Would I be interested in doing a training night tomorrow for a potential job?

A year ago, there’s no way I would have cheerfully said “Yes” to a job opportunity like this. I barely had the energy for school, let alone anything else. After MLC I was still getting used to the idea of not feeling nervous about life, the universe, and everything in it. My hearing was much improved, but I hadn’t learned the social skills to go with it yet.  Nowadays, however, it’s a different story entirely.

The only problem with the training night could be my hearing. Compared to how I used to be in my bad old Gibberish days, my hearing is amazing. But it’s still a weak area. In a noisy place and if I’m tired, my wonderful new hearing and lip reading will only get me so far. To help with this, and because I wasn’t sure what to expect for training, I downloaded the restaurant’s menu. I spent a while learning names (and googling how to pronounce them) so I know what I’ll be listening for. Apparently Sze Chuan sounds “Setch-Wan”.

Whatever happens tomorrow night, it will be a new experience. I’m a little nervous, but mostly I’m feeling excited.