I was on a course today delivered in partnership with the Suzy Lamplugh Trust which looked at some of the principles and methods you can use to be mindful of your personal safety when working on your own. It was nothing to do with self defence, but was aimed at provoking thought and preparation in processes, awareness, and communication within an organisation and between colleagues.
I found it useful, and in parts challenging. Some of that challenge was to my perception and assumptions, and some of it came from the memories it evoked of past events. What was, to my mind, more interesting though was the defensiveness that some of my co-attendees exhibited around personal responsibility.
There was anger at the way some information had been hurriedly rolled out about changes in procedures – but it felt misdirected at the person delivering the course who was from a third party – and I had to bite my tongue a few times as I recalled working in the first years after my degree in a very rough estate on my own, including carrying cash to the bank on foot and regularly ejecting armed youths from the premises.
I have had to remind myself that everyone has different stressors and thresholds, and that I can’t measure their fears against my experiences and outlook.
I may still have rolled my eyes mentally a few times, but I am determined to be as positive and constructive manager of people through it all as I can.
I shall no doubt continue to work on my response to people not taking responsibility for their own safety in therapy.
The following anecdote is relayed with all the love in my heart, and has been giggled over at length – so I’m sharing here and hope it amused or sparks recognition:
So, I may have mentioned before some of the trials of attempting to read in bed while Lady M settles to sleep. The mutters and frowns in her sleep are a cause of many an eye-roll, but I have to admit I came close to annoyance this week.
On Wednesday, Lady M went up to London for a team meeting with drinks after, which gave me a quiet evening with Netflix and junk food. Once she was home, moderately tipsy, we went to bed and I read for a while.
The snoring began shortly after, gentle at first and then getting louder – mad more raucous by the gin consumed earlier. Soon it was so loud that Lady M startled herself semi-awake, and then peered in angry confusion at me before collapsing straight back to sleep with an indistinct mutter.
With a grin, I put my book down, switch off the light and snuggled down, though settling took a while as Lady M soon started snoring again. Eventually I was able to drift off…
…and then some time later woke up with someone’s fingers tapping my beard and lips. My brain woke more quickly than my body which is largely why there wasn’t a flailing response on my side to Lady M checking to see if I was snoring. I remember opening my mouth to protest only to have it firmly closed by my jaw being pushed back up.
Had she woken herself again and assumed it was me doing the snoring? Or had I been snoring? Neither of us knows, as I confirmed amid fits of Lady M’s horrified giggling the next day…
It’s a good job I love her…
I manage a number of people in a variety of ways and configurations in the day job. While a lot of people can get hung up on managing rotas and directing efforts to make things happen – to firefight when staffing or circumstances require; and to try and forward plan when needed – there’s another side to the job that doesn’t perhaps get the attention or recognition. That is what we call the more pastoral side of management.
This is the side that sees me talking to people about what’s going on in their lives, and almost inevitably about their health. It also brings about what I see as the more grimly amusing element when I think about my own journey: that of making people take time to be sick.
I’m dreadful at permitting myself to take time to be ill – or let people take care of me. Perhaps that’s part of why I’m so militant about ensuring that if people are unwell that we give them the time and permission they are reluctant to give themselves to recover.
I would rather people have time to be ill and recover than make themselves worse or even make their recovery longer by forcing them to work. The slightly less altruistic side of this is that it also gets sick people away from the rest of the staff so they don’t get infected.
By giving people permission to be ill, even when staffing rotas are tight, it gives a reassurance that they are valued – perhaps something that in previous times and places I might wish I had received myself. This is not lost on me.
I love writing, but it’s been difficult to keep the discipline or momentum of it to any degree. Partly it’s been the demands of working, partly the distraction of games and artwork, but mostly it’s been the roiling storm of rabid brain weasels that scamper and claw round and round the inside of my brainpan when I try to pin down stories on the page.
But even so, I’m persevering in the attempt. I’ve been using an online plain text editor with cloud storage: typwrittr.com to tease out fragments without the need to install software or keep saving drafts all over the place, and slowly today I found the beginnings of a short story start to cohere.
The brain weasels are still scrabbling behind my eyes, but I’m determined to wrestle the stories back off them.