Tuesday, 31 December 2013
Review of 2013 (part 2)
So it was time for our trip to Belgium and France.
I don't really know what happened, but the trip didn't really 'gel' as well as previous trips, and didn't really work out as well as planned. It's hard to put a finger on what happened – over expectation, the format getting stale, us all wanting different things from it? Looking back, some days we did too much riding, it was very hot which didn't suit riders or bikes, and one of the hotels was very poor, all of which didn't put us in a very good frame of mind.
However, I had a new job to start when I got back. I was working for a small company repairing and maintaining electrical equipment, and although it was only 3 days a week, it would be better than not working at all. The idea was that I would do a two week 'trial' whilst their existing engineer was on holiday, and they were happy with me, I would get the job as he was planning on leaving.
I enjoyed the work, the employers said they were very happy with what I'd done, and they would get back to me to arrange a starting date. However, after them phoning me a couple of times saying that they were just about to get things organised, they never got back to me with a starting date.
Meanwhile I'd arranged another lunch date and we both had a lot to talk about having both been on holiday. Unfortunately it didn't quite work out that way. Although I had thought we had been getting on well and had become good friends, the meeting was a bit cold and I felt a distance growing between us. After that she declined to meet me again and wouldn't even discuss it. I was really perplexed by this as it wasn't as if we were having a relationship that had gone stale, we were friends who met for lunch so it all coming to an end without explanation left me baffled. If I learned one thing from it, I understand women even less than I did 20 odd years ago!
So that was it – a disappointing holiday, no job, and a friendship inexplicably coming to an end. I don't really know what happened at this point but I kind of retreated into myself and became a bit reclusive. I rarely went out (sometimes for days at a time), hardly spoke to anyone, and stopped doing any worthwhile work on my bikes. All I seemed to do was scour the Internet searching for jobs, sending off applications, and getting no replies. By the time the anniversary of the end of my last full time job had come in August, I had applied for around 700 jobs but had only had 5 or 6 interviews.
I did manage a bit of work on my CL 350, and it is now a rolling chassis.
In October I managed to get a job as a Telecom Installer, and had to go for a two week training course in Coventry. It was a very intense course, and I was trained in installing telephone and broadband systems for domestic customers. The work would be hard and you were paid on a job basis rather than a salary, but we were told that there was plenty of money to be made.
I completed the course and started at the local depot. I seemed to spend a lot of time hanging around or working as a glorified labourer/driver, before eventually being sent out with another installer to 'learn the job'. During this time I was paid a very low 'training rate', but was always being told that once I was out by myself I would be earning a good wage.
Eventually I was sent out on jobs by myself, but rather than base me locally, I was sent to Manchester for a week. This meant having to leave on the Sunday evening, work long, hard hours (12 – 14 a day), in an unfamiliar city, with no local contacts or assistance. I eventually got home on Friday night at about 22:00, totally worn out by the experience. The follow weeks I was based more locally so could go home each night, and the workload was more realistic (8 hours a day). Eventually, I got first 'proper' wage, and it was pitiful! No-one would give me any explanation of how my wages were calculated, but said that 'things would be worked out later'. The next two weeks' wages were barely better, so as nobody would give me an explanation, I left. Although I was supposed to be paid a 'job rate', if you calculated it on an hourly rate I was being paid about half the Minimum Wage, so could earn twice as much stacking supermarket shelves or mopping floors!
So I end this year like I ended last year – unemployed, on my own, and not knowing what the coming year will bring!
A quick round up of what state my bikes are in:
Silver Traveller – Much as before. Will probably fit the higher bars this winter (didn't I say that last year?), give it a service in the Spring, and it's ready to go.
White Traveller – Same as this point last year. I haven't needed it in the last year, so haven't taxed or MOTed it. Bodywork is stored in the loft to prevent it getting scratched in the garage. If I get a job that I need a 'commuting bike' for, then it'll only take a weekend to put it back on the road. I start the engine every 2 weeks or so just to keep oil circulating.
Honda CL 350 – Getting forward slowly. Have nearly finished paining, cleaning up, etc, so can start reassembling it. Once I get a job I can get the more expensive jobs done (respray, rear shocks, etc), then get it registered for the road.
Yamaha SZR 660 – Not really done anything on it other than buy a few bits and turn the engine over now and again. Probably won't start proper work on it until the Honda is finished.