Thank you all for your lovely comments in reply to my last post. I have to admit learning of Ian's death knocked the stuffing out of me but it has also brought home to me the urgency of living life in the "now" rather than for one day in the future. Of course, all that has to be within reason, but if Ian hadn't taken the plunge and gone to Bulgaria in 2011 he might still have been waiting for "the day when" .... which of course, in his case, never came!
I remember years ago at college our shorthand teacher gave us all a round disk with the word "TUIT" on it. When someone asked what it was she said it was to be used on those occasions when you were putting things off until you got a "round tuit"! Clever huh! So with that in mind, I went ahead and booked my 60th birthday trip for September. I do not want to be at work for my 60th if only because I can't stand the fuss so had planned to book a holiday in Spain that week. Unfortunately, as I hadn't got a "round TUIT", when I came to booking it that particular trip was fully booked so I had to "settle" for Sicily, although going to Sicily doesn't actually involve "settling" at all does it. It is another one of my solos trips and does therefore mean having to fly back to the UK and then back out to Sicily but I don't mind spending the night before in London. Then for my next winter break I finally cracked and have booked a trip to Sri Lanka at the beginning of March. This trip is with the company I went to Costa Rica with and since I can book my own flights and do not have to go via London I managed to get a pretty good deal with Edelweiss Air from Zurich. Oh how I love my trips! That being said, I can't wait to have more time (i.e. retirement, God willing) so that I can spend more time rediscovering the UK and maybe more locally in France, but all in good time I guess.
And on the basis of "don't wait until you get a round tuit" I booked myself on another vegan cookery course for next Tuesday. Hopefully it will be better than the last one, but I reckon it should be as it is with an up-and-coming vegan restaurant here in Geneva. I am neither vegetarian nor vegan but am interested in both, so last night I thought I would try out a vegan recipe from Deliciously Ella. It wasn't bad but I certainly hope the whole vegan experience is worth all that washing up! Crikey, I don't think I have made such a mess in the kitchen in a long while! Anyway, while I was crashing around in the kitchen I missed a call from U, an old friend who retired back to England five years ago. When I had finished cleaning up Armaggedon (a.k.a. the kitchen) I called her back for a natter, as we hadn't had a good chinwag in ages!
I worked for HR for 20 years and many of those years overlapped with U being the Chief of Personnel's secretary and man did we have a laugh. I obviously can't go into too much detail here but some of things we saw had us in stitches. Such as:
- we had a Norwegian chappie who applied repeatedly but unsuccessfully for various vacancies. He was obviously a keen fisherman because every time he applied to us he attached a photo of himself, and in it he was holding a fish he had just caught! Only thing was, with every fresh application the fish got bigger and bigger! Sadly we never recruited him but we both liked his style!
- then there was the guy who attached a photo (which was pretty usual in those days) but obviously didn't have time to get a professional head shot done. When we looked at his photo he had obviously just taken an old photo of himself at a party or somewhere or other and had cropped the other people out of it - all, that is, except for the hand of whoever was standing next to him with his arm draped mysteriously over his shoulder like something out of the Addams family!
- in "the good old days" every single application got a reply - a "no, sorry", a "let's give this one some further thought" or a "let's take this one a step further". It was a tremendous amount of work and eventually we had to put a disclaimer on vacancy announcements just saying "if you don't hear from us .... sorry"! Anyway, one time U's boss was sifting through the mountains of applications and had put one guy on the "no, sorry" file. Now looking at his photo U decided that he was pretty cute, so she put his application back on the "maybe" file. After which the boss put it back on the "no" file. Rinse and repeat a few times and eventually the boss just had to tell her "nice try, but it's still a no"! Oh well, you can't say she didn't try! Sorry mate!
Now in our company we work in English (mainly), French and Spanish so applicants can apply in any of those three languages. Sometimes, though, you would get letters in purporting to be in English but which had obviously been run through some kind of "google translate" (had it existed at the time - it didn't) and which was completely undecipherable in any language, so U would put on her best "foreign" accent and read it out to us. Politically correct? Probably not but you have to laugh sometimes don't you! And then there was the guy who "desperately wanted to work for your organization because he had always wanted to work with mentally disabled people"!!!! Say what! I mean, if this were Doctors Without Borders or something just maybe but really!!! In the end, looking at some colleagues who were around at the time maybe that wasn't so far fetched. Another time we had a lady apply who had no relevant qualifications whatsoever - in fact she had a long-term career as a midwife. Very laudable career of course but not something that would have been particularly relevant to a United Nations-type organization (we're not the UN, but you get the idea).
I remember one time I took a call from a lady in France who worked for XXXX Mairie in France. She spoke so quickly that I didn't really get the gist of what she was saying, but assuming it was a staff member who needed some administrative paper for France I let her continue. Turns out she had a son who "wanted to go on mission". So I asked what kind of qualifications he had - "he just wants to go on mission"! "So is he an economist?" "No, he just wants to go on mission!" "Is he a lawyer specialized in X?" "No he just wants to go on mission!" "Well could he work as a translator?" "No he just wants to go on mission!" In the end, I had to tell her I didn't hold out much hope for her son but he should fill out an online application and we would see. Oh, and by the way lady, assuming your son is over 13 years old, it doesn't really look that good to have mommy phoning trying to get him a job (I didn't say that last bit but I was very tempted! Ever polite me!)!
And finally, at one point I shared an office with an Australian colleague who handled the main input for applications for various vacancies. We would always have a laugh and a joke but she would never tell me anything about who had applied for what - and for that I respect her. It was confidential after all! Buuuut one time she burst out laughing and said "oh the poor sod". When I asked her what she was on about she said that this same person had applied for two vacancies in our company - one as Chief Economist and the other as a delivery driver!!! You know, a bit like "can I apply for the position of Governor of the Bank of England, but failing that are there any openings in the mailing room?"
Happy days indeed. I didn't know until last night but U told me that she reads my blog so in case you're there "hallo matey, good to chat again"!