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Lisa O`Brien

My first night at work tonight since 1996.

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I start a job tonight, working nights ( not exactly sure how many each week) from 11 pm until 7.30 am at the 4 star Canal Court Hotel in Newry. I applied for the position of Night Porter, but was offered Receptionist, even though I have never done anything like this before. Haven't worked since I stopped work when I became  heavily pregnant with Sean in 1996 ( I was doing care work, manually lifting an elderly lady throughout the night on my own).  I don't HAVE to work. My mental health problems, of which there are a few, means I am exempt, although I am permitted to work if I wish to. I want to as I am bored stupid, but I also need to. My 21 year old son Sean is working PT at a supermarket. He really, really wants to at least try to become a Primary School teacher. His BTEC in Health and Social Care, which he finished in June 2015 is now more or less obsolete, as BTEC radically changed the following year. He could send off his transcript to see if it still maps over, but he would rather study something up to date and more relevant. ( Due to a mix up in his HND he and three others failed it). He is going to study an Adult Access course, covering History, Maths, English Literature, Psychology. It's worth 5 GCSEs and 3 A Levels. But unlike BTEC they will be proper A Levels . Because he has already studied one Level 3 qualification he will get no funding. The PT version of the Adult Access course costs over £500, studied over two years. The FT is one year and is completely free for everyone, regardless of any previous study you have done. The only criteria is that you are over the age of 19 and have been out of FT education for a year or more. This FT version is three and a half days a week. No placements or anything. He will need money to get to college each day, and for his toiletries or whatever he needs. He doesn't know yet the exact days and times of the course, but he thinks he will have to either reduce his already only 16 hours a week or quit the supermarket job altogether. Sean doesn't want to do this, as he really enjoys working there. However, this course is probably now his last chance to go to university and try and become a teacher one day. He has to just go for it, even if it means quitting work and me funding him for the year at college. So big changes are afoot. I feel both excited and terrified. I hope my Tinnitus isn't too bad or else I won't be able to hear people speaking if they phone the hotel. ( Although I don't know why anyone would be phoning in the middle of the night. I might have to answer "Room Service" calls from guests though I suppose). Our 2 year old cat Pumpkin died last Thursday. She was hit by a car and we found her dead by the side of a road the following day. That's 3 cats we've buried in the front garden. Midnight and Pumpkin's mum, Biscuit, our last remaining cat, will be our last. Can't keep going through the heartache. So anyway, just wanted to give people on here who "know" me an update. If you think of it, wish me luck for the coming days and weeks, that I am able to succeed at this job. Cheers.

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Lisa, I don't know you personally, but I have read many of your posts. You are always very welcoming to new members so I think you will do very well in your new job. Good luck and I wish you much success. I hope Sean is able to fulfill his dream one day as well xx 

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All good wishes Lisa and to your son in his studies.  I was very sorry to read about Pumpkin and hope you and Biscuit are settling.

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Best of luck to you and Sean, Lisa.  Getting any sort of paid work isn't easy these days, especially where you live, and will stand you both in good stead whatever you move on to. Your new employers must have seen "ideal receptionist" in you to offer that job when you had applied for another.  And RIP Pumpkin. (A word of caution though: be careful how much information you make public. I'm thinking here of your working hours and location.)

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Good luck Lisa, hope you find contentment, success, and satisfaction in your new job. I reckon you deserve it, for being who you are.🤙

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Wishing you and Sean all the very best, Lisa! (Could he perhaps apply for the night porter post by the way? Obviously it would depend on the number of shifts and his Access course days and hours) xx

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Best wishes Lisa in your new job. Hope it all works out for your son too.

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On 30/07/2018 at 18:58, Vonrothbart said:

Good luck Lisa, hope you find contentment, success, and satisfaction in your new job. I reckon you deserve it, for being who you are.🤙

Oh my goodness, Vonrothbart. What a lovely thing to say. Thank you. xx

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I enjoyed last night. Sort of !!  The hotel is lovely; lots of wood panelling and wooden real fireplaces inside. Bliss. However, the job was really technical. Don't know why I thought it wouldn't be, as I suppose everything is done on computers nowadays. We have to use this ( is it software ?) called Hotsoft. On the desk in front of us are all manner of gadgets, other than computers. Different telephones, walkie talkies, a switchboard of some description that has a telephone receiver attached to it, but the receiver isn't placed on anything and is just resting all the time on the desk. Weird. I had to wear a pager, to let the chef in at 5am. He needed to know exactly the number of guests when he arrived, and to even find this out on their system you have to go through a whole lot of steps on the computer to find it out. The front and back doors and gates are all "gagetised" too. I really struggled to hear what the others were saying to me. They needed to repeat themselves over and over again throughout the night. It was embarrassing. As we are on Reception, the three of us were sitting alongside each other. A few American guests are in the hotel, and they came down asking about something. Because they were facing me I could hear them well. But I have Tinnitus which is really severe and slight hearing loss too. My GP is referring me to an Audiologist but the appointment will probably be months away. The manager at the interview asked me if I have any disabilities and I said no. I didn't want to say about my hearing in case I didn't get the job. I am due in tonight at 11pm and Wednesday night as well, so hopefully as the days go on I will get the hang of the gadgets and computers, and somehow, be able to hear what people are saying. ( Although I doubt that; I can't  hear my son Sean sometimes when we are in different rooms and he has to shout several times before I hear him.)  Feel a bit like c  rap, to be honest. I noticed today the hotel are advertising for a laundry person to wash dry and iron bed sheets. I like ironing. Find it quite therapeutic.  I would be working upstairs on the different floors and would imagine a lot of the time it doesn't involve having to do much communicating with other people. I know most of the laundry ladies are Eastern Europeans. One came in at 7am and I had to hand her her work sheet for the day. I'm going to see how it goes and if I feel the same way i'm going to speak to the manager and ask him if I could do the Laundry job instead. OK, it doesn't sound as fancy as Receptionist, and the pay will probably be minimum wage. This job is only a couple of pence an hour over that anyway. All the shifts are during the day so I wouldn't have to stay awake all night either. Don't think i'm quitting already, because i'm not. But i'm not stupid, and not only because of the technicalities, which I suppose eventually i'd get used to , but because of my hearing loss, I can't see me doing this job successfully. Will see how tonight and tomorrow night goes. Then if I feel I need to speak to the manager I will. Many thanks for all your support and good wishes.xx

Edited by Lisa O`Brien
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I believe Specsavers in Newry have a hearing centre.  Your GP could refer you to them for NHS hearing tests and the wait is unlikely to be more than a couple of weeks.  Or if you could consider  "going private"  you can simply make an appointment with them direct.  Just a thought ...

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I spent years hiding the fact that I have a hearing loss, continued hiding it until I started wearing hearing aids. I now find it is an awful lot easier to tell people especially when I have to make phone calls. Fully understand why you didn’t say anything but push to get an appointment. Once you know what you are dealing with I promise you it will make you feel so much better. 

Great news about your job. 

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I'm glad you intend to hang on in there a bit longer! No one should expect to be perfect on their first day, you need time to settle into a routine, and after a while you will get used to the sort of requests guests make of you, which will help with the hearing problem.

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Not only that, but Boots in England, at least, offer free hearing tests.  Do get yourself checked out and see if it's a problem you can get help with.  If so, it might help with other areas of your life too.

 

And, job-wise, hang on in there!  I think you're doing marvellously well considering you've been out of the job market for over 2 decades.  It will indeed take a while to settle.

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Thank you all. I hated the first night and knew it just wasn't for me. I looked on Job Centre Online and the hotel had advertised for another position called Laundry Assistant. Job description included washing, drying and ironing bedding, etc. I mentally made a note of it.  I decided to take the bull by the horns. The manager who hired me is away on annual leave so there was another manager on who I hadn't met before. He called me into his office to give me back my birth certificate and other documents. ( It is his responsibility as an employer to now check every person he hires is legally entitled to work in the UK or be fined £20,000 for each individual). I spoke to him about the issues I faced and the difficulties I envisaged in my doing this role and asked if it would be possible to do the Laundry Assistant job instead. He was lovely. He said he was so thankful that I had spoken to him about it at such an early stage. He said many people they hire simply never go back for their second night. He said it happens a lot. He said I could do the laundry job but first he would like to try me out with a different, Night Porter job. He said there was no time like the present and I may as well start with that job that night. Well what a difference !! Two blokes, one is going away to Uni in a few weeks unfortunately as he's really nice. The other older one is a bit grumpy and sarcastic. I polished the lovely wooden furniture in Reception, then went upstairs to join the two others. I had to vacuum the room where the breakfasts are served. Three Henry the Hoovers, and they all broke on me !!  But we had to go around all the floors quietly to see if people had left a breakfast request notice on their door. There was only one. He wanted it at 6am. That time is when it really picks up again, with having to deliver breakfast to any people who had requested to have it in their rooms. Most people choose to go to the beautiful Millers Suite for breakfast, which we lay out with fresh fruit, fresh juice, lovely napkins, etc. I enjoyed that. I liked making it look pretty. We had to go over the road at 6.30 to collect the daily newspapers which guests had requested. Nice to leave the hotel and have a walk outside for a bit of early morning fresh air. All in all, the night passed a lot quicker than the night before. My legs were sore ( the man with me said you walk about 6 or 7 miles every night in the job), and my back was killing me. I had to sweep the forecourt outside and had been given a brush with a very short handle. I was literally walking around bending right over for 25 minutes. Told him ( after I had done it all) how much pain I was in and he said I could switch to the longer handle brush from now on.) Around 4.30 I felt like quitting, as in giving in my notice when my shift ended, or phoning them when I got home to say I wasn't going back. I was in so much pain with my back from that bending over it was agony. But after a sleep it felt much better. My old body isn't used to all this physical activity. Must be quite a shock to the system !!

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It seems very hard Lisa, but you know what they say, it's a lot easier to get a job when you have a job. Keep talking and listening to people and before you know it, another opportunity that suits you more, might well turn up. 

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Hang on in there.  If they have people being overwhelmed by their first shift, it would seem to me that the hotel needs to put in place some proper training.

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Lisa, even longer ago than 1996(!), I took a Christmas job in WH Smiths.  It was afternoons only, but I was on my feet for 5 hours - with a tea break somewhere in the middle - and the next day when I woke up I could barely move!  (And this was back in the days when I was rather fitter than I am now).  But my body got used to it after a few days, and I didn't have much of a problem after that.  It is, literally, a shock to the system, especially if you're not usually that active, but you will adapt.  Hang in there!

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I know someone who lost 2 dress sizes within a month of getting a job in retail where she was mostly stacking shelves. She suffered for the first couple of weeks but her body got used to the activity.

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I've started a new thread on Silver Swans and moved some posts into it:

 

 

A couple of posts relevant to both threads are copied here:

 

Fiz said:

 

Lisa, after my first ballet class in I don’t know how many years, I was sore and stiff for four days. It passed and the next time it was fine. I also lost weight! I’m not dancing now as I’m not well enough to go every week and am hoping that Lincoln will soon get a Silver Swan class like some other areas in Lincolnshire have as I think it would suit me better. Hang in there! x

 

 

Meadowblythe said:

 

Lisa

 

Sounds like a good employer,  who took you seriously after one shift and obviously wants to keep you.  That's really not to be sniffed at.  Hang in there, sounds like night porter might be your niche.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Well they changed me from Night Porter to something else. The laundry room. It was brutal. Hot, exhausting; having to shove 30, 40 wet bath sized towels at a time into a dryer. Really shove them in. I crammed in what I thought was plenty, only to be told  it could fit at least another 10 towels in there. Physically tough on your arms, trying to push in as many as possible into a small space. Then out and into the dryers , which were just as bad. The worst part though was the iron. I thought i'd be ironing, which I quite like to do. This big machine they had, you have to "feed" the bed sheet or whatever through it and it comes out the other end about as flatly ironed as is possible to be. You catch it as it comes out slowly and can then fold it. The problem is, ( I know I sound like such a delicate soul), the temperature on the machine was set to over 100 degrees, for maximum , first time round ironing. I found it extremely painful to touch the ironed product afterwards. There is no time to wait for it to cool down. My fingertips were covered in burn marks after the first day. I've never had what you might call "tough" hands anyway. My mum could have her hands in extremely hot water for hours on end, and i've never been able to. So the pushing in of the laundry, which ached my arms and shoulders, and the pulling out of the ironing, which burned my fingertips. I hated it. After the second day in the laundry I quit. Got a job cleaning in a pub/restaurant. I was given the elbow after just 15 minutes on the second day. The manager told me he needed someone who could hit the ground running, and that I just wasn't fast enough. I tried my best. But I had to pull out really large, heavy leather armchairs to Hoover underneath and then put them back in place. There were about 20 chairs and I could hardly move them they were so heavy. The manager said I had done a good, meticulous job polishing, mopping, Hoovering etc. I enjoyed it. I told the manager I hadn't worked for a long time and it might just take me a while to get fully up to speed, but that I would once I build up my strength and stamina which will happen after a couple of weeks working there. He was very nice but said the guests arrive at noon every day for their lunches and it had just taken me too long. He said they expected a really high standard of cleanliness and I had done well, but had taken far too long about it. As I said he stopped me from working just 15 minutes into my shift and said this wasn't working out, and that this job wasn't for me. They didn't even give me any money for the day I had worked there before. Never mind. Third time lucky. Had an interview, and got the job in a Nursing Home for people suffering from Dementia. My AccessNI police checks have gone through, and they are just waiting for my two referees to contact them. The shifts will be 12 hours long, from 7am until 7pm , for 39 hours a week. ( I'll have to get a taxi as it's miles away and there are no buses that early). But even though the shifts are long, i'll only be working 3 days and a few hours on another day, then have the rest of the week off. I really hope this job works out. Yes, I know care work is a physical job too. But I would imagine it's very different to the last time I did it, where I was alone and had to get residents in and out of bed and dressed on my own with no help from anyone else. The only time we called the carer on call was if one of them had fallen out of bed. Other that that, we had to get on with it on our own. I know it won't be like that anymore, so i'm really, really hoping that i'm physically able for this one and can manage it. Although the thought of working a straight through 12 hour shift terrifies me, to be honest. I was hoping to have heard from them by now and been given my start date, so hopefully I won't have to wait too much longer. It's a lovely Home.

Edited by Lisa O`Brien
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Well today i'm thoroughly fed up, cheesed off, the works. One of my references went through no problem. Was told they were still waiting for the second one, even though she told me she had sent it to them the next day after they asked for it. Didn't hear any more. Until last week, when I was sent to Portadown to one of Four Seasons Healthcare's other homes, for a day of training. It was mainly Moving and Handling and health and safety, but lasted 7 hours. Finally I thought, things are moving on. The manager I spoke to on the phone who told me I had to go for the training said once the training is done they can start to sort out my hours and shifts. The 7 or 8 other people on the course with me, who were all due to start at other Four Seasons homes not in Newry, had all already been allocated their hours and were all due to start their shifts the following week. They had been given their uniforms, ID badges and everything. So once the training was over I was half expecting a phone call any time after that. Nothing. So on Monday I phoned the nursing home. The manager was away on holiday until Thursday ( yesterday). The other person I was speaking to didn't know the reason for the hold up. I wanted to know if it was because they hadn't maybe received that second reference yet. If that was the case I could contact my referee and ask her to kindly re-send it. But if the home didn't contact me and tell me what the problem/delay was, then how am I supposed to know? So, I patiently waited until yesterday. I telephoned the woman who was back from her holiday, which is the same woman who interviewed me and offered me the job, FIVE WEEKS AGO !!  She sounded different on the phone this time; not as friendly or cheery. She said she didn't know either why there had been a delay; perhaps they were still waiting for that second reference. She said she would phone me back later on today ( yesterday), once their secretary came into work and find out what the issue is. She never phoned me back. No-one has phoned me today either. I'm starting to lose my patience with them. Sick of phoning and no-one seems to know anything. Do they want me to work for them or don't they? I'm wondering if they have changed their minds. On the training day, one of the things we had to do was kneel down briefly beside a patient's bed. Can't even remember what for now. I couldn't . Not even for a second. My knees have been bad for years, since I was about 19 and the pain was unbearable. The woman training us told me I must tell my employers that in no way must I ever be expected to kneel down as I am unable to. ( Four Seasons had hired a local training agency to train us all). I'm wondering if this woman told the care home I physically couldn't kneel down and they now think i'll not be fit for the job? But if that's the case, you would think someone from either the home itself or the company would have the decency to tell me. To say, "sorry Lisa, but we don't think you'll be physically suitable for this work, because of your knees", instead of just keeping me waiting. I keep looking on Job Centre Online at other different jobs I could be applying for. So I've decided to give them 10 days. Between today and a week on Monday. If I don't hear from anyone by then i've seen another job in a warehouse I can apply for. I'm not even going to ring them anymore. If they can't be bothered to contact me, and don't even have the decency to tell me what the problem/delay is, they can shove their job. ( Rant over) !!!

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Sounds awful Lisa and I would follow Janet’s advice to start looking elsewhere. I worked for a few months in a nursing home and I have to say I did spend a lot of time kneeling,  to do foot care and putting socks/slippers on. 

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