It was difficult to have left Ireland towards the end of summer and to come back and find it in the throes of winter. All the more so when our last destination was bright and sunny, and the new one dark and gloomy. Between the lingering jet lag and the difficulty of adjusting to spending so much of our waking hours with darkness outside, the feeling of jaded tiredness dragged on for far too long. Unfortunately daily life doesn’t stop for that and it was straight back into work on Monday morning for me. Back to the day job. This was actually a bit of a surprise as the odds had never been high that there would be a company still waiting for me when I got back. But to everyone’s shock there was, even if the number of staff had begun to dwindle in my absence.
I was fairly well prepared for what to expect on my return. Buried among all the bank statements and junk mail that had arrived while I was away was a short letter from the VHI informing me that my cover was in jeopardy due to subscriptions going unpaid for months. VHI were regretfully suspending cover until the company paid up. This wasn’t good news. Especially after having paid an extra premium to cover our time abroad which was invalid if the basic cover wasn’t in effect. Considering that my payslips had dutifully been recording deductions for healthcare payments and adding the associated tax, I needed more information from the VHI about what debts had been racking up. Which of course took a couple of days. For a company that wants to get paid, you’d think they’d be a bit quicker getting the figures for you.
In the meantime I was struggling to focus on being back in front of a computer with expectations that I would immediately be producing code. The task of concentrating on pieces of rather boring code wasn’t made any easier when the bellows started emanating from the meeting room beside me. Ordinarily you might hear a mumble from the occasionally raised voice. Apparently though, it was actually possible to hear someone clearly from outside the room with the doors shut. My boss was apparently NOT in a good mood. Today was the day of reckoning for a colleague who had been driven to protest the continually late payment of salaries by not showing up on the days where the salary was late. Two hours back to work and world war three was breaking out. Even I hadn’t been expecting that. There was a tense period of expectation as people watched the door for any signs of attempted escape. With the torrent of abuse raining down inside it was difficult to see anyone wanting to stick around in there with the tirade on an even louder volume. A subdued staff quietly made their way out of the office for lunch…
Characteristically, the boss suddenly left the country on Tuesday morning and wasn’t seen for the rest of the week. Tuesday afternoon brought the expected resignation from my colleague as a result of the public bout. Wednesday was when the VHI confirmed the amount of arrears covering eight months to date. Ouch. No hope of getting new health cover without getting the debt cleared. After a stern email to the boss regarding the matter, many promises were made over the phone on Friday morning that the VHI would be paid as a priority. The cost of getting those assurances was listening and making sympathetic noises about the difficulties of life in charge of a company. However talk is cheap around here… it’s the money that matters. Harsh, but a way of life if you want to survive in the current gloomy economic climate.
The Friday afternoon review meeting was decidedly unenthusiastic. The boredom broken only when our office Wally burst in the door thirty minutes late, laden down with tea cup in one hand, biscuit in mouth, and entire biscuit box under the other arm. When the sniggering had finished, the last of the work reviews were concluded to sound of rustling biscuit wrappers. Only a week back at work? Thailand seemed a long time ago and far away. After some melancholy drinks at the local pub on Friday night it was time to put work things to one side for the weekend. Surely things could only improve going forward? Well, probably not – at least it was a week closer to the Christmas break though.