Things are looking up. Sarah's been given a rundown of the reasons she's been picked for the redundancy list at LBO and they're decidedly unconvincing. As far as we can make out amidst all the business babble, there are three main strikes against her:
- She hasn't done the training course for the customer data analysis tools. This is true but, then again, she helped specify the system in the first place and has been using it daily for nearly seven years. The only reason she didn't go on the course was because it was a fortnight before she went on maternity leave with Fraser and her manager at the time couldn't see the point.
- Aiding and abetting the competition. This one's just nonsense. Sarah led a project designed to reduce customer turn-over. She spent months analysing the data, identifying the customers most likely to leave LBO and formulating ways to get them to stay. It was fantastic. The only problem was, she had to go on maternity leave with Lewis before the mailshot was finalised. Someone who had been on the training course pressed the wrong button and sent the letters to exactly the wrong people - hundreds of thousands of loyal customers received offers of sweet deals and all the customers who were already thinking of leaving got nothing.
This was, of course, disastrous, but definitely not Sarah's fault.
- The annelid debacle. On returning from maternity leave with Marie, Sarah was put in charge of implementing a marketing campaign that was already in the final stages of development. She had had nothing to do with the planning, however, and was dubious about the whole scheme. It was an attempt to persuade financial advisers that, although the products of other companies might look attractive initially, they had various legal complications and long-term costs. The campaign involved sending each of these financial advisers an unsolicited can of worms.
And, of course, like fools, they opened them.
Believe me, the complaints department received some irate calls that day. Still, not really Sarah's fault. Crucially, when she pointed out the madness of the scheme, she was threatened with dismissal if she didn't implement it. You can't sack someone for doing something they would have got sacked for not doing. (Well, not unless you use the kind of logic that can take you from the statement, 'All chocolate digestives are brown,' to the conclusion, 'All brown things are chocolate digestives.' And the people who do use that kind of logic don't last long - they have a tendency to choke to death on their own shoes at biscuit time).
Obviously, all the uncertainty has made life somewhat subdued round here but we're coping. We've had plenty of commiserations from friends and family, so we don't feel alone, but there's been some fairly dreadful advice as well, ranging from platitudes along the lines of 'It will all work out for the best' to idiotic suggestions that we use the opportunity to go traveling the world.
Hello! Three small children, people! We're entitled to be a little apprehensive of the future and to be reluctant to go backpacking in Borneo. (Everything else aside, I can't imagined the buggy would cope well with the rainforest terrain. And where would we plug in the Game Boys to recharge them? Not going to happen).
Oddly, however, nearly everyone Sarah has discussed her imminent redundancy with has, at some point, laughed and said, 'You could always send Ed back to work.'
On the one hand, they're half joking. As if they're sure she won't be able to persuade me to leave the house after eight years of, as they see it, sitting around eating cake and playing the Xbox. Which is, on reflection, a little insulting.
On the other hand, they're half serious. Getting me a job solves the problem of not having any money coming in, after all.
It doesn't solve the actual problem of getting a job but I guess that's just a minor detail. I mean, there's no reason I couldn't get a job. What people don't seem to realise, though, is that I can't compete with Sarah. When I stopped work in advance of Fraser's arrival, Sarah and I were earning similar amounts. Money wasn't an issue when deciding who stayed home to be dribbled on. That was eight years ago, however. Sarah now has eight years more experience than me. She has new and up-to-the-minute skills. She has smart clothes that fit and that aren't all wrinkly from dribble.
She has much more chance of quickly getting a decent job than I do.
I wouldn't go as far as to say that we're now financially trapped in our role-reversal situation but we'd definitely take a big hit in the bank account if we tried to swap back. It's strange how people just don't seem to get that.
Sadly, I suspect they would get it if I were female. It would probably be taken for granted rather than come as a surprise.
And, now I come to think of it, that would be far worse. I'll stop whinging.
Yours in a woman's world,
PS Marie's favourite song at the moment goes:
Everybody, everybody, everybody, everybody, everybody... everybody likes being a person.
Nobody, nobody, nobody, nobody, nobody... nobody likes being a pie.
It's quite sonorous but does tend to attract some odd looks on the bus...