I obtained this job through Doyen, a recruitment agency. After an interview, I started work at LSTC's office in Little Driffield, East Riding of Yorkshire, on 12 September 2005.
LSTC work for the power and rail industries. Much of their work therefore involves surveying power lines. The surveyors record the coordinates of various points on the towers and lines, plus those of nearby features. The coordinates denote the chainage (distance along the line, ≡x), offset (distance to the left of the centre of the line, ≡y) and level (height above sea level, ≡z) of each point; a new file therefore had to be started whenever the line changed direction. One of my tasks was to use sheets of these coordinates to calculate the mean chainage of each tower and the mean level of various types of tower feature. The averages then had to be inserted into the coordinate sheets.
My use of Computer Aided Design on this job was limited. This was probably for the best: LSTC use Microstation, which I found harder to use than AutoCAD. I used CAD mainly to draw tie-ins - sketched plans of the area around a tower. Other people then incorporated these sketches into profiles - simplified elevations of the line.
In addition to the above, I undertook various administrative duties. One of them was to ensure that, for each job, all the incoming and outgoing documents were listed. Another was to archive old jobs and to set up lists of archived jobs.
At my interview, I was asked whether I would be prepared to work late. I replied that I would do so if necessary. However, LSTC use overtime not as a mechanism for clearing urgent work that just happens to run late, but as a tool for squeezing extra hours out of the workers. This happened frequently whenever it was my turn to do the washing up. My boss was not satisfied with me allowing enough time for the last round of drinks to be drunk: he told me to wait until it was nearly time to leave. Because of this, I started leaving it until the following (working) morning. One such morning, I found the cleaner had already done it, and my boss said I therefore owed her a favour. That evening, he said, "In the morning, do the washing up to make up for Friday" (I was working until 17:00 that day, instead of the usual finishing time of 16:30, and it was already close to 17:00).
One afternoon, the same director asked me to print and fold some drawings. However, due to the border settings, the drawings were not printing as they should, and I had to ask around for help. When I told my boss I was struggling, all he said was, "It needs doing before you leave: let's put it this way". I eventually got the help I needed, but still finished over an hour late. Had the printing been given to someone who knew what they were doing - I could still have folded the drawings - the work would have been finished before it was time to leave.
On another occasion, another director gave me some work 10 minutes before I was due to leave and made me stay until it was finished. I left work well over an hour late. Then the director said, mockingly, "Late, isn't it?". He even (falsely) accused me of having been given the work earlier and returning it unfinished.
One day, when I had been given the afternoon off, the latter director gave me some work at 12:00 (when it was time to leave). When I mentioned that I had been given the afternoon off, he said, "Oh, you'd better do it now, then". It did not matter that there were plenty of people who were working that afternoon anyway.
After one of my colleagues left, I was asked to fill in the roll call book weekly. This showed the location of the field staff, plus selected office staff. Normally, I did this on Monday mornings; but just before taking a week's holiday, then again on my last day, my boss made me work late on the Friday to do it rather than give it to someone else to do on the Monday.
If the answer to an interview question is not going to make any difference to anything, why ask it?
There were minor rules that, for some reason, appeared to apply only to me. One of the directors banned me from eating while I worked. One afternoon, some time earlier, he even accused me of taking another break, an accusation he maintained long after I had corrected him (I had a meeting in Driffield that evening, and would have had little time to eat at home beforehand). Another director told me not to use my mobile phone at work, saying he had received complaints from colleagues (He was not the director who, one evening after work, telephoned my mobile with a question that could have waited until I returned to the office).
The directors allocate work independently of each other, which means an employee can have two urgent tasks at the same time; then the employee is in trouble no matter what he does. Once, when I was doing some work for my boss, another director gave me some more work, which of course had to wait. Later, while I was still doing the first task, a colleague told me the other director wanted to see me to discuss the other task. I was about to go to that other director's office to explain the situation, when my boss stopped me and threatened to sack me.
There were complaints from my boss about me regularly arriving late (No more than 5 minutes). That was my fault, but had the directors not already decided fixed working times do not apply? There were two reasons. First, for approximately a year from Summer 2006, LSTC blocked access to Internet-based E-mail providers, which meant there was nothing for me to do there before starting work. And second, because of that, and because I walked to work instead of using public transport, I began to think it did not matter if I left home a few minutes later, believing that at worst I would arrive just in time to start work. Unfortunately, this meant I was held up at a level crossing and arrived late. Worse, I found that having let my departure time slip, I had a problem regaining the lost time. I therefore changed my route, but still struggled to regain the lost time before I moved house in Spring 2007.
On 24 August 2007, I was told I was unsuitable for the company, and therefore would no longer be working there. Two reasons were given. The first was that I was not doing one task as quickly as was hoped. But that task was continuous and not urgent; the reason for the apparently slow progress was therefore that I had other work to do as well. The other reason concerned a task I had failed to do. However, that had not happened recently, so I could not remember what happened. What I do remember is that I had other work to do at the time, then before I could do the task in question the colleague who had given it to me decided to do it himself. It may therefore be that either I forgot about that task or my colleague decided I was taking too long to do the other work.
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