Since the break up I’ve been working hard to get my life back to some kind of normal. There was so much change and upheaval all in one go, I was glad to at least have my job to provide a sense of stability. Of course, that only lasted for about 18 months before I found out that I was getting made redundant.
Still, at least I got plenty of warning so I could look for something new. I decided it was time to make a change in my career too, so I moved from corporate industry into the charity sector. I was hoping to use my skills to do some more meaningful work. I was initially thrilled with the new job – I even managed to make a work friend for the first time ever! The only downside was a bully of a micromanager, but I’ve never backed down to bullies and didn’t intend to start now. We had a few clashes but I kept a record of her nastiness, so I would have all the evidence I needed to take it to management if necessary.
Unfortunately, I likely won’t get the chance now. I was put on furlough after only 3 months in the job, and after 12 weeks of furlough I was informed (surprise, surprise) that I’m being made redundant again.
So, perhaps this is the universe’s way of telling me that it’s time for a change?
Last month, the boyfriend took me out for an experience day at Coda Falconry in Essex. It was originally a Christmas present, but thanks for covid we ended up not booking it until July. We had an awesome day with perfect weather, so maybe the delay worked in our favour.
I’ve been stuck at home for far too long by this point, so I decided to start volunteering one day a week. The experience day reminded me how much I love birds of prey, so I’m now volunteering with my local bird of prey centre. They do flying shows for visitors, but also rescue and rehabilitate wild birds of prey that get injured in road traffic accidents or glue traps. They also have a small animal centre where they support a local hedgehog rescue.
I haven’t been there long, but it’s definitely enough to make me wish I’d pursued a different career path. One of the other volunteers I’ve been working with is a 20 year old girl halfway through a conservation degree. I have to admire her early dedication to something she’s passionate about, and I can’t help but wish I’d done the same. Forestry, conservation, wildlife; there are so many areas that I could have gone into.
On the one hand, I could have spent the last ten years doing much more meaningful work. On the other hand, I wouldn’t have got to write my dissertation on pornography and teach a class in Amsterdam. So maybe everything happens for a reason.
For now, I’m still looking for jobs in my current industry. It’s hard going, because a lot of people are losing their jobs at the moment. I was feeling pretty positive about a particular job application. It’s just up the road, so the commute will be short; the work is very much the same as my last corporate job so I feel confident I could succeed; the pay is only a little less than I was on (still two pay cuts in a row which is not ideal but oh, well).
I had a telephone interview, then got invited to a video call interview. Then I got invited to the office to meet the leadership team. It was going well and I was feeling positive. Then I hit a snag.
While two senior female staff asked about my experience, the job role and various potential situations, the older male business owner just… watched. He stared at me the whole way through the interview, no talking, no smiling, not remotely friendly. At the end of the interview, he chimed in with two pieces of information:
1) Their Christian values are central to their business. (No, he didn’t explain what this actually means.)
2) Management request that female staff wear skirts or dresses to the office, but avoid trousers.
No trousers. Seriously. In 2020. Somehow, I don’t think that this queer, tattooed, liberal feminist is going to fit in.
The office is in a warehouse and even there the ladies are supposed to wear skirts. Surely that’s not appropriate clothing?
I didn’t say anything at the time, but honestly I wish I had. I wish I’d said no, there and then. They can’t legally enforce a sexist dress code in the UK, it can only be an informal policy and even then it would be open to challenge.
Theoretically I could take the job and try to challenge the culture from within. Help the leadership team ease their business into the 21st century. Or else I could just diarise everything and take it to an employment tribunal when I inevitably fail my probation period for being “awkward” and “not fitting in”. But honestly, although my inner feminist is gutted to admit it, that sounds like a hell of a lot of work and I’m not sure that I have the energy for it.
I haven’t been offered the job yet, but I know I’m in the final two. Honestly, I actually hope they offer it to the other applicant. That way I won’t have to have the awkward conversation where I turn it down. I don’t have the patience at this point in my life to deal with that kind of blatant sexism.
So it’s back to the job hunt. Back to square one. Somehow I need to find something that pays well enough, in the right geographical area, with the right skill set, and maybe even a chance to do something different with my life. Too much to ask? Maybe.