The death of Jango, our office manager and chief solar tracking expert, at the beginning of May left me stunned and heartbroken. I took some days off work to manage his funeral, and of course to focus on Henderson whilst he was very poorly as an inpatient at the vets.
I dreaded going back into the “office” and being without Jango. His steady, snoozing presence had made the transition to home working and lockdown manageable. I didn’t know how I could bear to work without him. Just going back and sitting at the desk and feeling his absence was sooo painful. All his “reasonable adjustments” to manage his disability due to arthritis were still in place – the graduated steps created by what had been an underbed storage box … now covered in a fleece, which enabled him to step up onto the ottoman, thence onto a chair by my desk chair … and thence onto my lap. The barricade of cushions and cardboard still in place on the floor to stop him chewing the cables to the laptop and charging cables for phone and headphones. I wept yet again when I realised I no longer needed to protect the cable to the mouse.
Who knows what the other cats know and understand about this situation? Moreover, who would believe they give a flying f@ck about any of it even if they do? Nevertheless on my first morning back I was flanked by Honey and Flipper. They’d obviously popped into the office before when Jango was in charge, had a look round and a nap and left again. This time though they stayed all day, and all day the days after too.
It felt strange, working with them, but I was so very grateful to them. Whilst I set about catching up with my admin, they started the process of advertising and interviewing for new office posts.
If I’d thought about it, I think I’d have assumed that Honey would have taken on the office manager role. She’s generally in charge around the house, and it seemed a natural progression to take charge of the office too. However, having taken some time to reflect on it she felt that she had to address her work /life balance … washing everyone’s heads and generally keeping up standards was sufficient and she wanted time to relax in the garden.
In the end she accepted an extremely senior supervisory role, though only on a very part time basis, and to my
horrror amazement … Flipper was appointed as office manager!
She was a strong candidate in some respects, showing great enthusiasm to investigate all aspects of the work – and that hole in the desk just had to be checked out.
She may have bigged up her solar tracking skills on her CV though.
Then she and Honey decided, rather foolishly in my opinion, that we should take on an apprentice.
Honey interviewed Kevin and was disappointed to find that he was unable to stay awake beyond her 47th question. Flipper made the first big mistake of her career by appointing Rowan.
I think she was seduced by his desire to imitate her, and didn’t think it through properly. He alternated swinging on the curtains, over-enthusiastic shuffling of papers and batting pens onto the floor with simply sleeping on the job.
By lunchtime we decided we’d have to ‘let him go’ and he returned to digging up the garden with the other teenagers.
It can be tricky adjusting to new management styles … and this has been no exception. Jango had a very laid back, mostly unconscious, style …. so apart from the odd wire chewing incident was very hands (teeth) off. Flipper on the other hand, younger, enthusiastic, keen to make a name for herself (and we have indeed made a few names for her … none of them permitted by Word Press) has been a bit of a micro manager. She’s on the desk early each morning, going through my diary, checking the keyboard is working, shuffling my paperwork.
She’s a keen participant in Microsoft Teams meetings too. I think everyone in our in Team is now familiar with the sight of her bottom. The week we decided to use virtual backgrounds she chose to sit in that liminal space which allowed her to appear and disppear like the flippin Cheshire cat, randomly waving a disembodied tail in my face.
It’s one thing having her participate in meetings with colleagues. We all have our own crosses to bear with pets or kids showing us up. The more tricky part has been phone conversations with clients. She has an opinion on everything that’s discussed …. from care provision at the other side of the county to employment law overseas … and is determined to put in her two penneth. At times it can be an amusing, levelling experience … at others it’s deeply embarassing. It’s not easy to remain professional with one hand clamped around her muzzle. Late afternoon appointments are often interupted by her shouting loudly into the microphone … “I wont my T now!”. In over 25 years experience I thought I’d encountered just about everything this job could throw at me. However a hungry and very vocal cat is something I never bargained for.