Monthly Archives: August 2012

character vortex

Yesterday was one of the most normal Saturdays I’ve had in a while.  I was able to meet a friend in the city and have a nice meal with the boyfriend, just like everyone else.  I know this makes me sound like a socially awkward person, but the difference between my life on the Night Shift and my life on the Day Shift is honestly striking.  No more feelings of jet-lag, no apathy or fatigue at the mere thought of ‘effort’, just this fresh and lively willingness to interact with people and have a great time while the summer’s still here.

general post office exterior (courtesy of geograph.ie)

general post office interior (courtesy of designergrp.com)

Actually, meeting up with my friend almost didn’t happen.  We were supposed to meet at 12pm outside the General Post Office (see above), an iconic building in the middle of O’Connell Street, and she didn’t turn up.  I sent her messages, tried to call, but there was no getting through to her.  I’ll wait till 1pm, I said, and wandered in a sulk along Henry Street, where my meanderings took me down a short thoroughfare next to Clarks which I’ve always passed, though never took an interest in.

Surprisingly, it has some modest cafés and gift shops and a hidden Filipino supermarket called “Yes Kabalang” (sp).  I went into a gift shop hawking incense sticks, tribal ornaments, dream-catchers, treasure chests, hand-made crafts, and other strange assortments in any shop selling incense sticks.  It smelt so nostalgic, like the shops I used to browse back in my youth, when I was slouching around in flares and wide-leg jeans, immersed in the dark, angsty world of heavy metal and indie.  It sure took my mind off my friend not turning up and also led to a clock I would love to buy someday:

dali clock, €15.00

On my way out was the Filipino supermarket I really wanted to enter.  Looking in, the store was well-lit, well-organised, and completely deserted, with a lone check-out assistant cringing a little at her obvious solitude and trying not to gaze imploringly at the crowds that quietly passed her by.  Next time I’ll enter this supermarket (I promise!), providing it hasn’t shut down by the time I get round to it.  They should really put a sign directing customers to them, or hire one of those people to stand with a pointing billboard, if they want to stay in business.  Deciding to call it a day (I really had nothing to do apart from meeting my friend), I headed for the bus stop that would take me home.

Lo and behold, I was stopped by a stranger brandishing a blue cassette and an openly pleasant smile.  “Excuse me,'” she said, “but I’m looking to take pictures of people wearing tights for a college project on street fashion and would like to take a photo of you.”  Points for assertive confidence: 10 out of 10.  I grinned sheepishly as she held up her iPhone slash blue cassette while she assured me it was not for a magazine, just a street fashion college project.  I continued on my way after that, with a frown of intrigue on my face, or rather, a smile-frown of “Did that just happen?” as I’ve never been asked to have my photo on the street before.  Wasn’t there a release form involved?  Should I even charge her for the privilege?  I’m not a professional model by any means, but strangers coming up to you on the street, taking your photo with a blue cassette, isn’t something that happens on a regular basis!  So I had to wonder.

As I joined the queue for the bus, still intrigued by that mystery photographer, my friend called about where I was and why I seemed upset that she hadn’t turned up.  Unknown to myself, a lot has been going on in her life and she texted me thinking she had asked to meet up at 2pm, the original time I suggested, only to send a message stating 12pm, which was no different to the time we had already agreed.  Needless to say, I was pretty annoyed at being stood up for an hour, even if the extent of my anger was merely to state “It’s a very hot day” (very British!), and confirm I’d still be here if she was definitely coming.  Twenty minutes later, she arrived, reeling off a list of three places we could go, depending on my hunger and what I wanted to eat – the sort of things I’d been worried about before coming into the city.

Gradually, my irritation subsided and we went to a ground-floor bistro named Brambles in Jervis Shopping Centre.  We talked about work to begin with, since we were both employed on the Night Shift and still in the throes of redundancy, and it was interesting to hear what she thought, as the two of us had argued on a professional basis some months ago and never had the chance to properly discuss things.  Strangely, one thing she told me to do (and I get the impression she wanted to say this from the start) is to act as if succeeding is accidental and effortless.  Achieving in my role has been going against me, it seems, and not because I’ve been shouting from the rooftops how awesome I am or kissing arse far harder than my colleagues (which I don’t, by the way); the mere appearance of working hard makes people jealous and/or resentful, and while it shouldn’t be like this, it simply just is, and that’s why my professional life on the Night Shift has been (oftentimes) a challenge.

Despite our initial misgivings, I am truly thankful for my friend’s honesty and the fact she had the integrity to say this in the first place, as people like her are tragically hard to come by in the city of Dublin.  And I’m not just saying this out of sour grapes or some nonsense like that.  It really seems hard to meet a decent person here.  It’s like all the decent people have left the country, not only creating a brain-drain but also a character vortex for those who are left behind.  I’ll be honest: I’m not everyone’s cup of tea and I’ve known this since entering the world of full-time employment.  Upon debut, my eccentricities and idiosyncrasies were embraced with fondness then abruptly rejected as a bitter reminder of what once was, and now sadly isn’t, in a select group of people.  I accept this misfortune, I really do, even if it drives me insane from time to time, assuming everyone’s too busy to be resentful or jealous or some other emotion that has nothing to really do with me.

courtesy of totallydublin

After meeting up with my friend and reaffirming our friendship (aww!), I went to meet my boyfriend for dinner.  Due to good things I heard about Neon, and because I can be quite bossy when it comes to where we eat, we tried this restaurant on Camden Street which had wow-ed the Dublin locals.  According to the trainer and a colleague who had gone there recently, we had to order our food then sit down and use the unexplained wafer cones for a free Mr Whippy.

“Too easy”, as the Australians say, so we chose the following to start our adventure:

  • vegetable spring rolls with sweet chili dipping sauce;
  • Jungle Thai Curry with chicken and rice;
  • Mekong duck and rice;
  • apple juice and Tiger.

Firstly, we were confused by the presentation.  I know it’s in the name “Neon: Asian Street Food”, but it came so quickly in laminated cartons that we barely had time to register what the waiter was saying.  Seems that giving your name when you order is the only way that staff can identify customers, so good job we recognised this system when the right waiter turned up, wondering if we were the ones.  As for the cartons of food: clean and efficient way of packaging food, though slightly underwhelming when you’ve paid €34.00 for the pleasure.

courtesy of dubhliving

Even before we had broken open the chopsticks, we were already doubtful of replicating the loyalty so evident in previous customers, and we carried on feeling this way as we finally tasted the food.  The starter was bland, and without the sweet chili dipping sauce, would have been a disaster.  Admittedly the spring rolls were hand-wrapped to perfection, and the filling was moist and appropriately bulging with glass noodles and veg, but no flavours set us alight when we nibbled them plain or made us feel they were worthy to be part of the banquet.

And the Jungle Thai Curry was exactly what it says on the menu: four chilies.  Normally I’d be grateful for that extra kick since Thai dishes are watered down so much for Western clientele; however, the authenticity here was too careless.  Way too many chilies in this version of the dish.  Couldn’t taste the broth – or anything else, for that matter – once the insensitive lava struck your front teeth!  Poor boyfriend had to take refuge by helping me finish the Mekong duck, the one saving factor in this over-confident meal.  The duck was tender and tasty and worth every cent, and so was Mr Whippy straight after – fun to do and fun to watch!

Overall, I would class the food 8 out of 10, thanks to the Jungle Thai Curry, and probably return if they lowered the price by a Euro or two.  Service is quick, the atmosphere is great, but the walls need a new skin of plaster (don’t let that photo deceive you!) and guidance when you come in should be given at the door or in the form of a visual poster as a lot of those who came in for the very first time were uncertain of what to do and lingered near the door for longer than necessary.

But still, a great weekend, methinks!

courtesy of dublin.ratemyarea.com

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swings and roundabouts

courtesy of astronerdboy’s anime & manga blog

Day 3 in my new job so far, and surprisingly, my transition from working the Night Shift to working the Day Shift is much harder than I thought.  The jetlag I expected, given the 12-hour difference between Ireland and Australia, but making new friends is another kettle of fish – it’s really frustrating when you’re bang out of practice! Won’t get into that, though; a bit dark and boring for a blog about the Night Shift.

Instead, you know that email I wrote about flower-shaped biscuits? The blighters went and wrote back to me, explaining the reason why we can’t have the original biscuits:

Dear Xxxxxx,

Thank you for your email and your comments, we outsource the manufacture of our biscuits, unfortunately the original company we used to make our biscuits were forced to close due to economic reasons, so we were challenged with the task of finding an alternate manufacturer for the product.  This process took a considerable period of time and we even considered taking the product off the market until we located a company that was prepared to produce our biscuits.  
 
The current biscuit is made using a different mould and utilises low gluten flour which is more suited to this type of product, for technical reasons it is unlikely that we will be able to revert to the large biscuit in the near future. 
 
The pack size is exactly the same 150 g, although as you indicate the size of the biscuit is reduced, the feed back from a majority of our customers indicate they prefer the smaller biscuit. Although I do appreciate that if you using our product with cheese the size may not be optimal.
 
We shall continue to monitor feed back from our customers and thank you for your comments.
 
Kind regards
Xxxxxxx Xxxxxx

food letters

We evolved to consume the edibles around us, and sometimes, as a consumer of edibles, we have to write letters about what we’ve consumed.  For your reading pleasure are two letters I’ve written to Grassington’s and Bragg’s regarding my thoughts.  (In case you think I’m paid to write these letters or receive free food for my trouble, I’m not and I don’t; I just like writing letters!)

My email to Bragg’s about their charcoal biscuits:

To Whom It May Concern,

I write in relation to your Charcoal Biscuits, which I have recently discovered and enjoy quite a lot.

The first batch I tried were perfect.  I don’t have the batch number available but they were the kind you made in the shape of large discs, not the flower-shaped ones you’ve started manufacturing.  The disc ones have a nice crunch when bitten and this crisp, clean taste as well.  Batch No 08512, however, seem too soft – no crunch at all! – and the portions are too small for my liking.  You are probably making them smaller so we eat more biscuits and thus buy more biscuits, but the large disc size is easier to consume as it matched the size of cheese slices, especially if you tend to cut them into rectangles, not into squares.

Please revert to the original disc-shaped biscuits.  I don’t enjoy flower-shaped biscuits, and I’m sure your male clientele don’t enjoy them much either (not that I’ve seen many men buying charcoal biscuits, but this might be the reason why I haven’t?)

Thank you for your consideration.

Yours Faithfully,

XXXX X XXX

My email to Grassington’s about their bean burgers:

Dear Grassington’s,

I write on this rare occasion to compliment the excellence of your bean burgers.  I am not a vegetarian by any means, but I do know a good burger when I taste one and this bean burger made by you is by far the best I have ever tasted.I won’t go on about the details too much as I am sure you are well aware of what is in them and why the bean burger achieves the excellence that it does.  However, I will say that eating these bean burgers makes me think I will actually survive Lent next year, should I decide to give up meat and have to subsist on vegetables, etc.

Anyway, just one thing about the bean burger which isn’t 100%: they are still a bit “floppy”, despite the recommended cooking times, and the red and green peppers aren’t as “crunchy” as you say they are (that was really two things, wasn’t it?)

All the best to your chefs and may you never change the recipe!

Yours Faithfully,

XXXX X XXXX

And Grassington’s email back:

Good afternoon,

Thank you for taking the time to contact us with your feedback on our products.  We appreciate all the customer feedback, as it helps us to understand how our products are performing, and it is always nice to hear that our products have been enjoyed.

Your comments have been circulated to our production team, as it is always nice for them to know their efforts are appreciated.  In addition, our process development team are currently working on improvements to the recipe of this product, in order to rectify the problems which you noted, and your comments have been passed onto them to help with their work.

I hope you continue to enjoy our products for many years to come.

Regards,

XXXX XXXXX


jet lagged

courtesy of september scanlations

It has been more than a week since I last worked the Night Shift, and still, I feel really tired in the afternoons and suddenly wide awake just before midnight.  This is normal, I suppose, when you’re trying to resume a daytime routine, but I wish it wouldn’t take so long to overcome this jet lag…

The boyfriend (bless him) has been incredibly patient, putting up with moments where I snap at him for no reason then loll around like a zombie who has had its fill of brains.  Although I don’t often say this, my boyfriend has helped me out so much, keeping the apartment spic and span whilst doing all the shopping and taking care of chores.  Without his support, working the Night Shift would have been hard, really hard, and I’m grateful to have a boyfriend I can trust and rely on.  I make this arrangement seem easy, but it honestly isn’t.  Like many in my generation, I grew up expecting that men would have the jobs and women would struggle…

Anyway, here’s a Hello Kitty I found in my local Schuh:

they’re off the wall, alright!


garden leave

The severance terms have been signed and they won’t need me back now until the end of August.  It didn’t matter that they made me wait all day to get through the frigging alphabet (my name begins with R), and it certainly didn’t matter how the figures were slightly off for my June and July commissions.  I just wanted to get out and enjoy my free time.

And becoming redundant isn’t really that bad.  If you’ve been with the company at least 2 years, you’re entitled to a redundancy payout in addition to annual leave, performance bonuses, and the notice on your contract.  Even if you aren’t, explaining your situation will be easier in an interview, and people will generally treat you with sympathy in the process.