SASSY TOWN FOLLIES by Felicity Appleton, no. 30 September 2

How To Spot Sooking When It Occurs

How many times can one person be sick? Two or three times a year, maybe. My dad used to describe being sick as “sooking” whenever he was talking about people being absent from his architectural firm. He was a partner (at Unwin Diaz Appleton Partners) and he took it as a personal insult if anyone was ever away from work, unless they could bring in a certificate from a doctor which proved they had been in an emergency room with blood everywhere and some extremely delicate sewing up going on. Dad preferred “microsurgery” to be on the certificate, as it sounded better than just plain surgery, and if a staff member of his was going to be operated on he wanted to think it was the most cutting-edge type of operation. Dad also preferred it if the doctor had gone to Sydney University (he never has trusted the University of New South Wales) and he would only really accept the situation if the certificate was signed  by a fellow Frencham Old Boy. Dad would recommend doctors he had gone to school with to all the employees at UDAP and he felt a bit hurt whenever he found that a worker in his office had continued to see their original GP.

But dad was sensible about everything else. He just got carried away with making sure his workers worked hard. Time was money, he said. Literally. In fact he used to say, “Time is money, literally” all the time. Whenever Arabella, my sister, and I got sick he was sweet about it though. He would bring soup Esmerelda the housekeeper had made up to us and read to us and bring home those lollies which you only ever find at the chemist. He called them medicine but they were a lovely treat. We especially loved those black jellybeans. Loved them! And those lollies which came in a tin. They were hard and fruit flavoured and you sucked them and they were covered in icing sugar. What were they called?

Dad never said Arabella and I were sooks, even though we probably were sometimes. I thought about sooking quite a bit over the last couple of weeks when Jonesy put me in charge of rostering and payroll at Sparky People. Some people are really away a lot. Some people who are in the office aren’t really around much – lots of long lunches – and that’s worse, because you organise workflow for the group based on who is in that day, and you assume that if they made it through the front door then they will be able to get some bloody work done. It’s frustrating and annoying and you want to call people sooks all the time, but you can’t. You have to be calm and understanding.

People don’t seem to get that being calm and understanding with them doesn’t mean you aren’t discussing them behind their backs with Cheryl and Kikki and even Jonesy, and that Jonesy knows everything, and he even keeps a personal tally of how many times you’ve had the flu this year and how many times you’ve woken up with “a stomach bug” on a Monday morning.

In one way I hate it, because you have to watch people and monitor them and be judgemental and all you can do is gossip about them. And in another way I love it, because you get to judge people and gossip about them! But I was a bit uncomfortable about it at first and Jonesy reassured me. This is what management is, he said. It’s us and them and you soon feel more comfortable about being uncomfortable.

Published in: on September 2, 2013 at 8:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

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