…..'A sense of humour lends you poise, it gives you balance and it helps you to bend without breaking'…..

(HH Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda)

Menory Lane; Out of the fire...

The job which came up at just the right time for my departure from Playbill was back in mainstream computing, with Siemens Nixdorf. It was also back with materials management in the field of sales and maintenance of ATMs. Not that my experience (and peculiarly sharp memory for numbers) was necessarily a benefit, as quite naturally, all the parts at SN were numbered entirely differently. The names of the parts were all pretty much the same, but I don't have the same sort of retention for names. Not to worry though. Have always been 'quick study' and I was up to speed pretty much within six weeks.

Interestingly, there were two other females on the small logistics team and we were all darned good with the numbers. They both were strictly about the ordering of parts and issuing according to job orders from the engineers. I did some of that, but worked more directly with the 2IC, checking the actual stock systems, working on improving the computer programs for ensuring no empty orders.

Image result for nixdorf computer
In case you forgot what a mainframe unit looked like...
actually, by the time of this size (as opposed to entire room)
they were being referred to as 'mini computers'...!!!
This was utilising my systems analysis skills rather than my actual coding; that was left up to the blokes the floor below. However, every now and then I was invited to fill in on the programming side too (mainly in BASIC, C and a smattering of Hexidecimal thrown in), which was great and offered me a chance to learn the Nixdorf mainframe. (For those unfamiliar, these founded the basis of many banking and financial systems the world over.) This was notable because Siemens had bought over Nixdorf with no intention of keeping their machines but, rather, obtaining the customer base (Nixdorf were ranked 4th in the world for IT before takeover in 1990) and then placing their own equipment (known as UNIX) - yet they were running the Australian operation from a Nixdorf machine!!! This was to prove important for me as you will read at a later point.

My strength in numbers and ability to see errors in systems got noticed. I was also a very fast worker. One of the Aussie colleagues actually said to me one day that I was getting everyone else a bad name and that I ought to slow down. I didn't. They were all doing the work expected of them. I was just doing more.

I was in the process of learning another lesson though. When the 2IC resigned it was decided not to replace him. The work was 'redistributed'...mainly to me! This meant working directly with the boss of stores management. A Chilean bloke we shall call Numbskull.

If I thought the Bearozahl at Playbill was a two year old in adult costume and nothing could be more drama-based than him, I was about to learn about the Latino Machismo System.

LMS is as easy as BASIC to learn, as long as you are switched on.

  • Charm is the main tool
  • attempts at seduction are likely
  • he says, woman does
  • you do the work, he takes the credit
  • any sign that you may be finding him out results in retribution

This was the time, albeit coming to a close, when greed was considered good, the more you bragged the higher up the ladder you got, whether or not you could handle the work.... you know the sort of thing. Numbskull was a bragger and a blagger and loved nothing better than to have his five co-workers bow and scrape to him. The three women and two men which were the team when I arrived became five women by the end of six months and it was becoming apparent that Numbskull thought this made his position safe. One of the newer 'gals' became quite blatantly his 'bit of stuff'.  When he got the promotion he was angling for, he ensured that only males got called for interview to fill his spot. By the end of our association he was making it clear that he considered me a threat and that 'women had a place' - which was not managerial. The 60-hour weeks and lunch at the desk was the norm and, despite all the holes I found in the data, I could go no further.

Don't get me wrong. I really enjoyed my time at SN. Despite its frustrations and high stress - and there was plenty of both - nothing could be as bad as the previous situation. I absolutely adored working with stores and numbers and my co-workers were all nice folk... Numbskull may have been a complete idiot, but the environment was nowhere near as toxic as Playbill. The corporate setup was not strong though... SN never really got it together and there were constant restructurings and shifts in policy, 'reassignments' and all that jazz... it was always going to be a matter of time; in my case it was nine months. Departure, though, was of my own volition as it turned out.

During this time, you see, something else had been happening. I have mentioned previously about the Rheumatoid arthritis. It was an old friend, but was under control with herbal preparations, exercise and, to some extent, dietary adjustment.

Whilst at SN, though, there began to be symptoms which, at first, I ignored and put down to being RA related. I had learned early to ignore my body and put up with such ridiculous amounts of pain, that doctors were often aghast (if not entirely sceptical). However, when a morning came that I had to call in sick - something this gal is allergic to doing! - I knew I had to get things checked out. I wasn't actually sick, I just couldn't get out of bed. When looking back over the previous few months, it could be seen that there was a bit of a pattern and my own critical analysis said 'you may be in trouble kiddo'.  The doctor I saw did a variety of tests and nothing showed up, so offered me tranquillisers. What?! 

"Well, it seems that you may be having the effects of stress which is known as 'yuppy flu'." 

Oh right. Thank you very much you can keep your pills. I had not heard of the thing, but apparently it was a phenomenon which was starting to show up almost exclusively among corporate types who were working stupid hours, not taking appropriate breaks and, in short, never switching off. The 'high alert' adrenalin push of the body was wearing it out.

What happened next was a major 'fork' in life's road.


  1. Wow, it does not pay to work too hard. Your body was telling you to slow down. Strong message is the job is not worth the pain.

  2. I admit I'm finding these posts about the history of your working life utterly fascinating. Not such an obvious subject for blogging about, but those of us who have worked in difficult environments (and many of us will have done at some stages) find much here to relate to!
    PS The worst boss I ever had once said something I have never forgotten because it was so true. We were in a meeting, and the discussion was about why technical work on planning a well was falling behind schedule. He, and engineer, pronounced: "Technical problems are always solvable.People problems sometimes are not"!

    1. Hari OM

      Glad it's not boring the pants off everyone - or at least this one! Yxx

  3. OH the Pressure of Working..... guess that is why Our Mom... BeTIRED EARLY....

  4. I'm luffing this, its really interesting getting to nose about your working life Aunty Yam, you had worked fur some very strange peeps!
    Loves and licky kisses
    Princess Leah xxx

  5. Job pressure really can be hard on your body. I have clear physical reactions to stress. Will be interested to read about what you did at your fork:)

  6. Not bored, fixated. We all have the same life experiences, only the lives differ. Waiting for the next installment.

    1. Hari Om
      heheheh - you hit it on the thumbnail Joanne; we do all have similar experiences - the differences come in our timing and our individual natures = physical, mental and spiritual responses. This is, ultimately, what makes others' lives so interesting; how did they deal with this or that, what would I/did I do in similar times.... and so on... Glad to have you along for this particular ride! Yxx

  7. Yes, our mom was on the crazy wheel with a high stress job and long hours. The bad thing is even when we know it's bad we don't realize how bad until we get away!

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley

  8. Mum reckons Doctors ALWAYS prescribe tranquillisers when they can't work out what's wrong. You were very wise not to take them. I'll be interested to hear where the fork took you.

  9. Oh gosh, that boss sounds like the horror of horrors! And that doctor should have taken the tranquilizers himself and done a bit more research!


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