I had a dream last night that I showed up to work without my uniform. It got me thinking. I believe we manifest situations and people in our lives for ultimate growth and learning, especially if these situations and people really get under our skin. When this happens in my life, I take it as a sign that some part of me wants to leap out of a self-imposed box and have a breakthrough – almost as if to say: I’ve had enough of being bothered and want to move on from this ridiculousness.
Just so happens I’m in one of those situations now! (How fortunate!) I’ve taken a part-time job in an elementary school’s cafeteria as a kitchen assistant. I began to notice the flavor of the company during the hiring process: Turns out this company is obsessed with following rules and regulations – all the boxes must be ticked, and I know this because I heard it more than a few times from people in human resources.
I found the process very cumbersome and de-humanizing. There was little to no communication from HR staff and the process – from application to staring work – took well over a month. I was even delayed an extra day from starting because at the very last moment, they were questioning my settlement visa and US passport for my right to work here in the UK.
I thought, slapping my hand to my forehead, what the heck, they can’t be serious . . .
- They had copies of my passport and visa for at least a month and waited to the last minute to see if I could work legally?
- I’ve already worked for large companies in the UK and gave them those references
- I pay taxes and National Insurance here for which they have received a form from my last employer and the government . . .
- Albeit – it’s not written on my SETTLEMENT ID card that I have the right to work in the UK – common sense for Human Resource professionals I would have thought, given that I am now a resident of the UK and inherent in that is the right to work.
- I was told – “We have to tick all the boxes.” – which to me this means – we’re not paying attention to all the evidence you’ve given us that clearly states you have the right to work here – we have tunnel vision and are only focused on this box.
- I am not a human being – I am someone to be processed.
Just to show how ridiculous and far-reaching tunnel vision can get. Well, after running around to two different HR locations with all kinds of proof – they finally agreed – yes, it’s ok for you to work.
Health and Safety . . .
I started working mainly in the washing up area of the kitchen. No problems, great so far until Friday. The Area Manager (who isn’t always at our school) asked me if I’ve seen the Health and Safety Manual for the dishwasher or the manual for chemicals. No, I said, not yet. She explained that I needed to put salt into the dishwasher to help with limescale build up. I said: No problem, I’ve done this tons of times in other jobs.
She takes out the Health and Safety Manual and goes through a whole page of safety issues for putting salt into a dishwasher. There goes my hand to my forehead again – in disbelief – more rules and regulations. After going through the procedure with the Area Manager – I’m finding myself holding a pair of gloves and goggles? Are you serious? I have to wear gloves and goggles to put salt into a dishwasher?
By the way, my area manager is lovely and well-meaning, no disrespect at all intended. She is doing her job as she agreed to do when she signed on with this company. The other staff were laughing – and rightly so. It’s all a bit OTT . . . but why am I surprised given my hiring process experience? Human beings are regulated to death: killing creative thinking and initiative, slowly and steadily suppressing and dumbing down the human spirit.
The procedure felt de-humanizing and de-moralizing to say the least. Rules and regulations are disempowering societies in the name of health and safety. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad to be working for a well-meaning company that is at least looking out for potential hazards and is interested in the safety of their employees, but I’m also aware that Health and Safety has gotten out of hand.
The Bigger Picture and Personal Implications
So what are the implications, why is this bothering me? Well, it started with the de-humanization feeling I felt during the hiring process, and then feeling shame and embarrassment in the assumption that I’m incapable of keeping myself safe in a kitchen – almost like a child. It’s not pleasant, nor is it empowering.
These are deep feelings, ones that are mainly avoided and covered up with anger and possibly leading to depression. If I wasn’t aware of these feelings, I could potentially stay angry with my employer for treating me like a child – ultimately setting myself up for – you guessed it – an accident.
I realize that I am “bothered” by this company’s rules and regulations simply because it’s a mirror reflection of what’s within me. Yes it’s true, part of me is living in a box, with the sides firmly held up in place by my own rules and regulations:
- Say this, don’t say that
- Do this, not that
- Please others before pleasing yourself
- No you can’t do that, it’s not acceptable
- Good girls don’t express their anger
- Keep your head down and follow the rules – you’ll be fine
My dream about forgetting my uniform also adds one to the list – capable, able, dependable people don’t forget their uniform. People who live by and judge themselves and others by the rules they keep – don’t forget their uniform and risk being ridiculed. Obviously a part of me is beginning to feel demoralized and de-humanized by my self-imposed rules and regulations. I also can see how I judged the HR process, accusing them of “tunnel vision” – which means I too have tunnel vision when I am strictly adhering to my own rules and regulations ticking my own box.
For example, take the statement I made above:
Human beings are regulated to death: killing creative thinking and initiative, slowly and steadily suppressing and dumbing down the human spirit.
and turn it around to the self:
I am regulated to death: killing creative thinking and initiative, slowly and steadily suppressing and dumbing down the my spirit.
I’ve been working with anger and hatred lately. I’ve stuffed them years ago and became depressed in the process. (I have a post on it here.) I’ve given them permission to surface and be felt – and that’s why, I believe, I’ve found myself in the middle of “rules and regulations” city. I’ve used rules and regulations to keep me in a safe box, free from feeling ridicule and embarrassment as much as possible.
Interesting. My real job then, is to find freedom within my self-imposed box. I can do this by accepting “my box” without resistance. I actually have to choose this box (rules and regulation and all the feelings it avoids feeling), I choose to take responsibility for manifesting this situation – because this box lives within myself – and then, and only then, can I break out of my box into freedom . . . ultimately ticking that all important box! 🙂 healing pain.
I’d love to hear about your experiences out there! Thanks for reading!