Retrenchment Recess: Episode 7

Retrenchment Recess:

Episode 7

Sitting in the UIF line online…

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Following my previous post, a few things have happened.

One of these was not the UIF fulfilling their pretty basic function and paying me the money I’m due. One would ordinarily start a sentence like that with “sadly” or “unforunately”, but I don’t even have the capacity to feel sad or unfortunate at the moment. I am enraged, in a strange calm and calculating kind of way. The UIF and its incompetence is an utter disgrace, and the people who work there should be ashamed of themselves and their superiors. And we should all be ashamed of the government, because they are letting us all down!

zapiro

Let’s be clear – this post is not essentially about me and the money I am owed by the UIF. It is about a matter in principle. It is about the fact that there are countless poor people out there who are shoved down and trodden on by the government when they’re at their most vulnerable.

So, despite the fact that I started every conversation at the UIF centre in Randburg with, “I’ve applied online, but…”, it took multiple sessions of wasting-of-my-life there before I was told that they can’t process online application queries there and rudely sent away with an email address scribbled on a torn-off corner of paper. This address was for Deon van Niekerk, Assistant Director, e-operations…

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Retrenchment Recess: Episode 6

Retrenchment Recess:

Episode 6

Sitting in the UIF line…

Sitting and waiting for an undefined period of time is certainly not one of my strong points.

I think that the day of The Voice auditions was proof enough. Wake up repeatedly, terrified of oversleeping. Unable to sleep since 04:00. Arrive 06:40. Audition 15:40. Me = NOT a happy camper (since about 08:30).

However, it seems that the South African Labour Department’s UIF (Unemployment Insurance Fund) wants to prove it to me repeatedly, just for the sake of it. I’ve spent about 10 hours queueing there and have not yet actually gotten to the counter. It’s amusing how there are SO many unemployed people and SO many people getting retrenched in the last 5 years but the process is still an absolute disaster, stunted in so many ways.

alfriendo asinghlife retrenchment uif

Despite the fact that you can apply online, things are halted halfway through with senseless reason codes stated, which delay everything further. You then have to launch a query simply to understand the reason stated for the unsuccessful online application. Then you get told the employer didn’t submit the right document. You know, I don’t know whether the tail’s wagging the dog here, but I think that with the frequency of retrenchment cycles in South Africa, the large companies know EXACTLY what to submit. I’m not sure who’s fooling who here!

So, here I am, it’s almost the end of November. I’ve been out of work since end of June. I applied for UIF online in July. And… nothing! Someone somewhat officially involved in the process told me it’s like hoping to win the lottery.

This would probably be funny if there weren’t UIF contributions going off my salary for years, like clockwork, only for it to be impossible to claim when I need it back… I hear that some of my ex-colleagues got their applications in and done within 5 minutes by using (quite possibly paying off) someone’s connection. This is where I truly get irritated. Everyone is against corruption and fraud until it makes life easier for themselves.

I feel like there are people in South Africa who go out of their way to make things complicated. It’s a personality thing. There are people who want things to work, and to make South Africa a better place. And then there are people who don’t understand or care how simple a process like UIF application could really be. If your thinking is angled one way or the other, I think it’s quite difficult to cope with the opposition.

alfriendo asinghlife retrenchment uif

I try really hard for my posts not to become bitching sessions, but I’m viciously struggling to see the ray of light regarding UIF at this point. I suppose it’s quite simple. I’m going to have to change my strategy, take some music with me, and go try again. Attempt 4…

So please, pray for me. Think of me. Send me good vibes. I will go back next week. I will go and stand in the Randburg CBD at 05:00 hoping not to get mugged. I will wait for the place to open at 07:30.

I will not be unnerved.

And

I WILL BE SERVED!

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caged growth

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Retrenchment Recess: Episode 5

Retrenchment Recess:

Episode 5

 

When denial lasts too long…

asinghlife alfriendo retrenchment

This past Friday I attended a get-together noting the last day of work for a WHOLE BUNCH of my old colleagues. The retrenchment machine’s wheels keep going ’round and ’round. Don’t fret – remember, there is life out there!

One of the guys there asked me about my writing. I hadn’t realised he even knew of my site’s existence. So I decided that today I need to get a post out. When I looked at the date of the last post, I had to roll my eyes at myself: 28 August!

Well, here we are. I’m in a coffee shop, yet again. You folks must be getting tired of that. It’s OK; you can pretend I’m sitting on the floor in an art gallery, pondering gloriously intellectual thoughts about paintings I can’t comprehend.

asinghlife alfriendo retrenchment

I think I’m in denial. I mean, I’ve done a tiny bit of part-time work since I left my job, but that has come and gone, and, despite numerous interviews (and meeting some more truly great people), nothing seems to be cooking in the kitchen of my employment. I suppose I’ve always had a slight spoilt brat attitude w.r.t. becoming employed – I never had to attend a set of interviews at more than one company to find a job. Maybe now I’m having difficulty because I’m actually looking for a more focused something in a more focused manner. Maybe the South African job market is torn to shreds – that’s what everyone around me has been saying. It’s not like my Awesomeness Index has deteriorated or anything!

<Going off-topic>

Bah! The really perplexing question is whether you would know you’re in denial? Am I, therefore, not in denial, about being in denial? Hmmm.

<End of off-topic-ness>

Indeed, like I’ve said many a time before, there is life out there. So I’ve been trying to throw off my self-sabotaging chains and follow my dreams as a creative. I attended auditions for The Voice SA this past weekend. After 8 hours queueing in the sun, I’m not sure what I sounded like; but the true point is that went, I did it, and I proved to myself that it isn’t nearly as scary as imagined. All the while, a new melody has been frolicking around in my head for a while now, and it’s time that it gets developed. I’ll be in a trance, drooling on the piano for a few days… Keep your ears open!

I’ve also been following (most of the time, anyway!) my dreams and goals in terms of Not Getting Fat(ter) Again. We went away for 2 weeks in September. The trip was amazing, with great company, but nutritionally, it became a huge binge.

It’s taken me up to last week to get my head right again regarding my eating habits. Luckily, with this overflow of free time, I have generally been exercising at least 5 times a week. Go look at my Strava.

Retrenchment has been WONDERFUL for my exercise schedule!

And…

If nothing else, I will get healthier day by day,

always ready to kick butt whenever required!

asinghlife alfriendo retrenchment exercise

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Inspector Clouseau … He is sleeping

Shadow Artist

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Retrenchment Recess: Episode 4

Retrenchment Recess:

Episode 4

 5 Things being retrenched makes you wonder about

1) Was my job really that pointless and fickle in the eyes of the company?

asinghlife retrenchment recess

As one sits for the umpteenth day at home, or at a coffice (yes, that is a real word!) doing something that seems important at the time, this question is bound to pop up, possibly even a few times a day. When being retrenched, one is naturally geared to go through the cycle of accepting change; and somewhere between denial, anger, and acceptance, it sinks in that the company probably had no real idea of what each person was doing or what it meant i.t.o. of the bigger picture. It often just comes down to the technicalities of headcount and companies doing marathon swims in that murky pool labelled cutting costs.

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Retrenchment Recess: Episode 2

Retrenchment Recess:

Episode 2

A few months ago, I started singing lessons. I’d been coached for a while a few years ago, but the coach and I had some differences relating to genre focus, and the non-operatic capability of my vocal range, and as such, we parted ways eventually. I am really enjoying my singing lessons now, and I get along really well with my new vocal coach. Happiness.

So, it’s been quite handy with all this free time (when I’m not swanning from coffee shop to coffee shop) that I can go to class and then come home and spend the rest of the good and creative mood thrashing out some ideas on the piano while the music is still rushing through my veins, much like the waters in a raging river heading towards a waterfall.

asinghlife retrenchment recesss

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Retrenchment Recess: Episode 1

Retrenchment Recess:

Episode 1

And so, at some point in your life, you will wake up and find that your employer no longer loves you.

*sad face*

*teary eye*

OK, they never actually did. And that is completely normal. But for some unknown reason, nobody tells you that upfront. A very strange picture is painted about how a company cares for its employees. But that is not its purpose.

The whole HR-arena is a completely misrepresented area of business, but I won’t even get into that.

In the last few days of employment leading up to my impending freedo(o)m, I found myself in uber-project-manager-mode, planning my intricate and strategic chess moves to sort my life out post-retrenchment.

And I actioned them.

Step 1, 2, 3. Mails bombarded my contacts, researching rates, routes, and other realities.

Plan, schedule, execute.

But nothing really came of it. Most people out there are too busy hustling to make ends meet for themselves, and they don’t have the capacity to worry about the potential non-meeting of your ends… and you can’t blame them either. Times are tough in South Africa.

And then,

I planned a bunch of small DIY projects at home that I hadn’t had the time or energy to complete previously.

And then,

I couldn’t find the raw materials or supplies I needed.

At various suppliers.

On various days.

Nothing.

And then I stopped.

FULL stop.

Sometimes the Universe just wants you to slow down and re-evaluate things, one day at a time. (You know that thing about living in the moment or being mindful? Yeah, that.)

It’s not like it’s news to me, but I do know that I’m generally a really bad student and I often, stupidly, ignore the glaring neon billboards that The Universe puts up next to the Highway of Life.

So here I find myself swanning from coffee shop to coffee shop to find inspiration for my writing or songwriting; to avoid the feeling that I’m staying in bed all day; or any other unemployed person cliché.

 

 

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#ASinghLife creativity
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Misconceptions About Creativity

Misconceptions About Creativity

It’s not something that just comes in a dream. You’ve got to work at it.

-Sean Lennon

There seems to be this truly unfortunate misconception about the arts.

I think many of the creative streams are viewed as hobbies or pastimes rather than Real Work. (I saw you smirking right there!)

It’s quite saddening, really, knowing that, and thinking of all the talent, skill, emotion, time and energy that go into creative activities.

Fair enough, I’m probably not an objective participant in this discussion.

However, even things I probably also view more as a pastime (e.g. mosaic) take an immense amount of preparation, thought, energy and dedication.

And money.

And disturbed fingertips.

#ASinghLife creativity

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How not to write a song #ASinghLife
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Songwriting 101A

Songwriting 101A: How Not To Write A Song

All is Fair in Love and Songwriting

The above quotation (Norah Jones) just made me smile. I’ve recently started sculpting a song, along with my new singing teacher. The chorus melody as well as some of the words popped into my head while driving one day. Paranoid Me was quick to belt it out and record it on my mobile before it disppeared into the night, never to be heard again, or even be dreamt of.

I’ve tried to write songs before. I would write lyrics but get stuck without a decent melody.

Here are some tried and tested ways that will not help you to write a melody:

1) Bashing Your Head Against A Table.

Try it. Have you? Did you write a melody? That’s what I thought.

Ouch.

how not to write a song #ASinghLife

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Deranged Piano

Deranged Piano

It’s nights like these that I wish I’d bothered with music theory so that I could frantically play out all my frustration on the piano until 4am.

Play until my head is pounding,
hands are shaking and my neighbours’ ears
reverberate with the buried afterthoughts of their childhoods. ‪#‎deranged‬

 

My Dear Humans,
Please put down your phone, pay attention, and read this carefully:
Never, ever let the opportunity to learn music, music theory, or anything to do with music, pass you by. I’ve learnt <snort!> the hard way. It’s not pretty, realising at the age of 30 that my true passion lies in something that was presented to me my entire childhood, but I really just didn’t put enough work in, and snubbed it as boring or too difficult. Obviously, that is absolute nonsense. I have a real talent with no polish. Hard days and nights ahead!
 
Don’t let that happen to you.
Please.
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If you are a Mouse, be MIGHTY!

If you are a Mouse, be MIGHTY!

 

I believe that each person has infinite capacity.

While speaking with a colleague recently, we discussed some experiences we’d had with companies delivering rather poorly on customer expectations. We mentioned pretty standard activities that companies were simply failing to complete properly, one way or another.

Occurrences like those tend to irritate me quite a lot. I’ve always been highly passionate about customer service, and I believe many businesses simply aren’t focusing in the best place or simply don’t give a damn because they already have your money. Before this turns into a post about customer service, let me finish that thought with this idea: Dear Business, imagine your customer spends their money elsewhere. Imagine it. Now feel it. It’s happening, to you… because of you!

So, our conversation became a little negative and we shared some thoughts around whether people are competent and whether all people are capable of growing into a challenging work position given the opportunity.

It crossed my mind that I don’t tend to give humans enough credit, and it’s been viciously milling around in my mind ever since.

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