As of last Monday, I have a line manager! On phased return for two weeks and only sorting out emails and PDR's, but nevertheless she is back, which should mean those few loose ends will finally get sorted (like a key for my pedestal so I can bring my two carrier bags of crap back to work).
I'm actually really enjoying this new job, despite the initial month or so of glitches and frustration and IT failure. I'd forgotten how much I actually enjoyed CP work when I was doing it before - Sandra-gate and all that aside - possibly because the final few months at Legal kicked any and all job satisfaction out of me. But yeah. I'm not waking up in the mornings with that sense of cold dread, having to drag myself out of bed and over to Woodcock Street for another seven-point-three hours of awful soul-destroying job-hating horribleness.
Don't get me wrong: I still hate mornings (all the more so as I'm actually getting up early, imagine that!) and would still much rather be in bed than on the bus (in the NEVERENDING FRIGGING RAIN) but it's definitely refreshing to not hate every single second of what I'm doing.
There is one vaguely work-related thing that I wish I could moan about, but despite my not even being involved in it I'm still sworn to secrecy until some point later in the year. Which sucks in itself because I really need to rant about it, and I can't. It has nothing to do with this job or even the Council, per se, but yeah. Cryptic sidenote is cryptic.
Also: the people here are awesome. As part of the Professional Support Services restructure we all had to state our preferences on which "hub" we wanted to work out of, so obviously we all put Lifford as first choice. Last week the confirmation came through of where we'd be based, using the phrasing, "You have been assimilated to Lifford House hub," and within five minutes people were making Borg jokes. In the Legal support pool that reference would have gone completely over their heads and my pointing out that "Resistance is Futile" would have dropped like a lead balloon.
On Friday I also received two (verbal) compliments on my minutes from two separate Chairs, one of whom subsequently emailed my line manager. They were both saying how nice it was that they barely had to make any amendments and one of them said my Legal background was obvious because of my language use. So that was nice. (I should also point out at this point that all of the Chairs so far seem like genuinely lovely people and are all that particular breed of insane that emerges from child protection-related work.)
So, right at the point where I'm settled and getting on with the people and thinking I could really do well in this job? That's the point where Legal Services decide to advertise the frelling Legal Assistant post on Internal Recruitment.
Back in mid-April I actually emailed South Team because it had been two months since I started in CP and I wanted to update them. Several responses came through, including offers of meeting for lunch next time I have to traipse to New Aston House (as the bus stops near Woodcock on the way back into town), an invitation to Keith's leaving do at some point when it gets organised (which knowing Legal will be never), and a response from Sukhwinder asking me to apply for the Legal Assistant job and saying she'd let me know when they came through. (I sent her back a very honest and candid response about why I'd left Legal in the first place, but said I might apply anyway.)
It should be noted that nobody did actually tell me they'd come through, I just habitually check Internal Recruitment whether I'm job-hunting or not - either to look for things Paul might have missed (rare) or for the lulz of them trying to find, say, qualified Education Psychologists amongst their current staff. (Seriously.)
Anyway. Closing date is this Friday (7th June), which is better timescales than last time at least. I promised Sukhwinder and Ian and David and countless other people that I would apply if the post came up, but wanted to give the new job a chance.
Part of me wanted to apply just for closure on the issue - to see if I would have been successful. I'm entirely convinced that success would be dependent on who conducted the interviews, but I'd be curious to see if my one-day-a-week Legal Assistant experience from December onwards would actually have paid off - as indeed the entire point of doing it was to give me the requisite job experience in the event of applying for a Legal Assistant post. In that respect I feel I ought to apply just because they went to all the effort to accommodate me. I did say in my goodbye card to South how grateful I was to David, Ian and Sukhwinder for all the opportunities they'd afforded me during my time there - not least because it gave me some much-needed experience of Grade 3 work before I started this job.
The thing is, I did actually enjoy the Legal Assistant stuff when I was doing it - it was knackering, but now I've been here for a couple of months I'm getting more into the swing of Using My Brain and it's entirely possible that Legal Assistant work wouldn't destroy me like it was before. I really miss South Team and all the people I liked, and I think that in an ideal world I'd love to do both jobs (assuming I was successful) - half a week either way. Except that messes two Directorates about, only one of which would be (more) willing to accommodate my demands. :P
But then, of course, there's the reason I left in the first place: the unresolved colleague issues. Even though I would not be working directly with the WPO pool - and indeed, I wouldn't trust them with my typing after having worked with them for six years :P - they would nonetheless be in the same building. My actually getting out of Legal into a better paid job was so insanely satisfying, just to be able to prove that I was better than them and that I wasn't willing to sit around and get bullied / stagnate in my stupid job / accept the obvious and inherent faults that were manifesting day on day. If I were to return it would be a ridiculous about-face and probably very embarrassing, and even though I'm certain fee-earning types would be very happy to see me, I'm pretty sure half the WPO pool would not.
My other niggling thought was that if I applied and got an interview, that would at least give me an excuse to wander around and catch up with people - and if I walked back into Woodcock Street and immediately wanted to walk back out again, I would take that as a sign.
I'm a little scared of what Forgetful might have spread in my absence. Out of sight does not necessarily mean out of mind, and she'd already gotten to a formerly-friendly colleague before I left. I wouldn't want to go back there and discover she's turned the entire black community of Legal Services against me somehow by virtue of unfounded rumours - even when the evidence to the contrary speaks for itself.
Last week I was leaning towards applying, but in light of the lovely comments on Friday and the return of my line manager, this week I'm leaning the other way again. Applying in itself would not take much effort, as I still have the "expression of interest" lying around from last time and would only have to update it with my new experience (both this job and my Legal Assistant work) - and I'm fairly sure they'd give me an interview on faith alone even if the eventual outcome was not predetermined. :P
Also, given the closing date and the fact that my new manager is still on phased return, I kind of don't want to drop this big stressful bombshell on her right away. I was hoping to have had a couple of supervisions by now at which I could have "offloaded" (for want of a better word) and explained the circumstances of my leaving and the possibility of applying for the post if it emerged... but as she's not been here, that hasn't been possible.
I am really annoyed by the timing. I was told / half-promised the posts would be appearing at the end of March; it's now the end of May. I simply could not have held on at Legal for that long, because I would have ended up actually killing someone or going on long-term sick with stress - plus I still wasn't enjoying my secretarial stint either, which would only have complicated things further.
If I had more time I'd try and speak to someone at Legal about it, but I was busy last week (due to short-staffing here), and everyone in Legal is always so hard to tie down. A couple of people on Facebook were telling me to apply, but I think I'd reached the point, when I left, where the people I enjoyed working with were not outweighed by those I couldn't stand to work with a second longer. I'm pissed off that once AGAIN I was effectively forced to leave a job I formerly enjoyed (under my own will-power admittedly) because of unresolved colleague issues at my own level, even when what I did was so obviously valued by my higher-ups.
I consider my time at Legal to have been really important in a lot of ways - I met some truly amazing, inspiring people whom I think would be more than willing to help me with references in the future even if I haven't worked there for years; I grew in confidence and stopped being afraid to voice my opinions and problems (even if they were ignored); more than anything else I learned to value my own contribution and how to make myself known; but the last few months there were awful. I recognise that now even more than I did at the time; if the fandom splurge on LJ was not evidence enough, then the fact that I am no longer suffering chronic migraines, no longer spending my every waking moment being angry/frustrated/exhausted and no longer wanting to kill most of my colleagues, should be more than adequate.
As ever, with everything at Legal Services, it's all about timing. If these Legal Assistant posts had turned up two months ago then I would have reapplied without a second thought. But now I've had the time to step back, breathe deep and re-evaluate my life, I think it's just too late. I just wish I could explain all of this to them rather than being pertinent through my silence. :(
In other news: I've been writing JC fic again after a brief dry patch (resulting mostly out of the new job making me exhausted and/or ambivalent for the first few weeks) - another episode tag done ("Time Waits for Norman") and its corresponding "X Times" version, plus another two stories currently on the go which are refusing to cooperate - a post-Easter Special angstfic and another post-ALTAF story (fluff/angst/all the good stuff). My JC/POTO crossover is also brewing away and I'm hoping when we get to series 3 the opening for it will become clearer; I know vaguely what I want to do but am waiting for inspiration to strike!
The Doomfic also has a title now, thanks to Snow Patrol's "Make This Go on Forever"- namely "The Final Word", which sums it up quite scarily well. As ever, I need to stop avoiding that story and start giving it more attention; at some point I am actually going to run out of episodes to tag and then I can no longer put it off. :P
Anyway, over and out for now. Hopefully I will not revert to form and change my mind about the Legal Assistant stuff at the very last second (heh) but I will update whatever happens!