Monthly Archives: February 2013

Speed Dating

So, last week was Valentine’s Day. Don’t worry, I’m not about to bore you with a spiel on red paper hearts and roses and chocolates and how all of that cheap tat from China has ‘nothing to do with real love’. Neither will I write an embittered post about loved-up couples and how annoying they are. Nor will I write an impassioned post demanding that singles also receive a day in which they can celebrate their singledom, because, really, what’s so special about being a couple anyway, people can live their lives in whatever way they chose and families can take whatever form and surely we should all be past this heteornormative, middle-class 1950s view of the world with everyone living in loved-up pairs in colourful boxes in leafy, green suburbs by now.

I won’t do this, because on Valentine’s Day I demonstrated how obviously and pathetically I would like to be a loved-up, annoying couple, living in a colourful suburban box surrounded by irritatingly shaped boxes of candy. I demonstrated this by doing one of the more humiliating rituals of modern-day romantic life: speed-dating. Not satisfied by being rejected by one lousy person in one single evening? Now you can get rejected by 25 separate people in the space of two and a half hours! Its so much more time-effective! And confidence-crushing! But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

A week ago, a very good friend of mine asked me whether or not I’d be interested in going speed dating on Valentine’s Day. It was something I had always secretly thought might be quite amusing and fun. My attempts at internet dating had generally been quite disappointing, due to the fact that I had a tendency to choose men who were utterly charming on paper (or email) and then turned out to have absolutely no social skills. But, then again, I’m hopeless at hook-ups in clubs and pubs and things because the whole predatory nature of it kind of makes me generally want to hyperventilate in a corner and, specifically, the fact that you can’t actually talk to people, you just kind of grind your various pointy bits against each other until one of you finally gets up the courage to ask the other one to go home with you makes me feel like I’m breaking out in hives. Well, it would do, if I actually knew what hives were. Look, its just not good, ok?

SO, anyway, the point is that speed-dating seemed to be the perfect scenario for a person like me to meet new people. This particular speed-dating night was for charity, so it was also for a good cause. My very good friend was also going, so even if it was awful, I would at least have someone to laugh about it afterwards.  Plus, it amused me to tell people I had 25 dates on Valentine’s Day. And, as Jessa might say to me if I was also a character on ‘Girls’, ‘Do it for the stories, Jenny’. So, I did it for the stories, and also for the fun, and maybe for the charity (I want to say bowel cancer?) and, yes, ok, also probably just a little bit for the potential romance and the loved-upness and the irritatingly shaped candy boxes. Just a little bit.

After some ‘dutch courage’ cocktails, myself, my friend, and her friends, all headed off to the bar the event was being held in. The combination of nerves, excitement and, well, alcohol, made us fairly merry by the time we got there. After some free shots, the girls were settled into their seats and the guys found their first date. Each date lasted 3 minutes, with 15 seconds for the guys to get in between each table. On our sheet of paper, we wrote down the numbers of anyone we fancied and we were emailed at a later date to let us know if anyone that we had fancied, fancied us. All fairly standard for a speed-dating night.

The evening itself was quite enjoyable. 3 minutes was enough time to have a fun little chat without things getting too awkward. I found most of the men pretty lovely, even if they were mainly in finance and banking and accounting (most of them worked with the guy who organised it). That being said, there wasn’t anyone that I actually felt majorly excited about. They were just all nice boys, all of whom I would have been happy to chat with some more. And, for that reason, I ended up putting down quite a few numbers. More than I expected to, quite frankly.

My friend and I headed home, taking a strange walking detour through bits of slightly-scary looking East London (‘nothing bad has ever happened to anyone ever in East London’ my friend assured me), where we found dragon statues and Chaucer’s house. I was in a strangely ebullient mood – I think it was a combination of meeting new people (I do like talking to people), getting dressed up, going out with friends and doing something out of the ordinary. I didn’t particularly care if any of the men got back in contact with me, I thought, I’d just enjoyed meeting them.

And, if that were the end of the story, all would be well. But, of course, the whole point of the evening was to find out whether or not the men wanted to get back in contact with me. On Sunday, my friend (who is probably going to be grumpy with me including her in this post, but she’s kind of integral to the story) called me at work to let me know that the ‘results were out’! (To be fair, she called for a variety of reasons, but they are not important to this story, so I’m not mentioning them. But, let it be known that she – and I – were not so preoccupied with finding out the results that she had to call me at work the minute they were available. I mean, it wasn’t the HSC and my UAI. Not that I was preoccupied about that… Well, ok, maybe a little, but, it was high school and it seemed important at the time and…  GETTING OFF TRACK). My friend had 2 matches, which she was a bit disappointed by, but she then said that the guy organising the event had let her know that 15 people had fancied her, so that made her feel better. 15, I thought, that’s a decent number. I probably got something similar. After all, the conversations I had were nice and interesting and surely that means that there was something there on both sides. Surely that meant that the men involved in these conversations were at least a little bit interested. Surely they weren’t all just being polite and waiting for the bell to ring. I put down something like 12 guys, so hopefully there would be a good match rate. Though, if I was completely honest with myself, I was more interested in seeing how many guys were interested in me than I was in finding out who I had actually been matched with. I know, I know, I’m a terrible human being, but at least I’m honest. Go ahead and hate me.

So, I rushed home, eager to open my email. Well, all I can say is, pride cometh before the fall. After all my effort in getting dressed that day, doing my make-up, fixing my hair, making myself feel good, blah, blah, blah… I had one match and only four guys fancied me. Four! You have to admit that is a kick in the guts. Thank you very much, modern dating world. Though, I suppose it does explain a few things about my appalling romantic life over the past two years. If a friend of mine goes into a room of 25 men and 15 of them fancy her, and I go into the same room of 25 men and only 4 fancy me, well, can we be surprised that she is constantly getting into romantic entanglements whilst I just get to comment icily from the sidelines? Its all about the numbers people. That’s what the modern world has given us: Numbers. Statistics. Cold, hard facts that scientifically prove I am not attractive to a large majority of the population (a good 85% if my calculations are correct).  Its like being back in high school again and worrying about how popular you are – well, that is, if high schools regularly ran popularity contests and then emailed you the results (actually… they DO do that in America, don’t they? That’s essentially what Homecoming Queen is, isn’t it? I mean, that’s what my reading of terrible ’90s American teen movies suggests. That is screwed up, man).

Why don't they like me? *cry*Found at: http://memegenerator.net/90s-Problems/caption/5317243

Why don’t they like me? *cry*
Found at: http://memegenerator.net/90s-Problems/caption/5317243

Now don’t all start trying to make me feel better by pointing out that I didn’t actually really like any of those men (to which I reply: neither did my friend! In fact, she liked many less than I did!) or that I did get one match and I should probably forget the other number and contact him (to which I reply: I’m almost certain I wasn’t interested in that guy – I think I wrote his number down by accident) or that there are ‘plenty of other fish in the sea!’ (to which I reply: in my case, at least, the statistics suggest otherwise) or that its not important about how many other people like me, its just about finding that one special person that I like and who likes me back (to which I reply: *vomit*). No, no. I am quite happy existing in my late-90s teenage nightmare; imagining myself as a Jennifer Love Hewitt/Katie Holmes-esque ingenue dressed in a matchy-matchy lycra midriff top and mini-skirt, chunky shoes and choker necklace, bawling my eyes out on the edge of my Dawson’s Party of Five bed after the ‘Made for Each Other’ themed school dance. I refuse to be cheered out of this foul mood. I’m off to get myself a cat. Except that my house already has a cat and I can’t actually afford to feed one.

God, I can’t even get that right.

What a fanta-bulous Valentine’s Day.

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Reception (or, Feeling Stoo-pid)

New job, new insecurities.

So, I’m not sure how many of you know this, but in the past few weeks, I’ve been getting trained up to work on reception of the hotel I’ve been waitressing at. I was oh-so-proud about this new job when they offered it to me. It’s a reasonable amount of responsibility, large payments, working independently, making sure balance sheets add up etc. And, its not like I was completely unqualified for the position. I’ve done several years in customer service in educational institutions. I’ve worked with databases, I know how to answer phones, I can type at a speed that sounds impressively and satisfyingly quick in a quiet, empty room (you know the clickety-clack sound I’m talking about – it comes with however many years in administration, countless hours wasted on social media and pages and pages of writing of various types: essays, plays, stories, blog posts etc.)

Anywho,  I was very much up for the new challenge that reception would provide. At least, I thought I was. But, my first training shift was, to say the least, intimidating. In between my first and second training shifts, I realised that whilst I could remember various useful things I needed to do (‘At the start of the day I print off reports!’), I couldn’t remember other, vital parts of that information (‘But where are those reports kept…. And what are they called again?’) So, on my second training shift, I started taking notes. This made me feel much more comfortable. On my third training shift, I put my notes into action and felt much happier. Until I realised that I wasn’t going to be able to encounter (and note down the correct procedure) of absolutely everything that could possibly happen to me on a reception shift. There was, inevitably, going to be things that I wouldn’t know how to deal with.

My first shift on my own on reception was on Monday and I was lucky in that only two people were checking out. It meant I could spend most of my time slowly working through everything else that needed to be done. Or, in some cases, slowly working through things that I had done earlier in the day and then realised I had done wrong. But, still, by the end of the shift, pretty much everything was done correctly and I only had one situation I needed to have help with from my manager when she took over from me. I left work feeling pretty ok about myself and how the shift had gone.

Today was my second shift on my own. You’d think that after having done one shift on my own, things would start to get better. I’d start to get into a groove, start to understand more things. I’d be building on the good start I’d made on Monday and that no days would ever be that hard again. It would be onwards and upwards from here. Constant progress. Like a progressive utopian view of history, where the perfect reception employee version of myself would eventually be reached at an, as yet undetermined, point in the (hopefully) not too distant future. (If you get me. I don’t blame you if you don’t. I’m not sure I get me). Anyway, that is, of course what I expected of today. A small improvement on Monday. Nothing too fancy you understand, possibly not even noticeable to the naked eye. But, something at least to make me feel like I was getting somewhere.

But, unfortunately I spent most of the day feeling like the little Dutch boy who stuck his finger in the leaking dike to stop his Dutch town from being swallowed by the sea (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_Brinker,_or_The_Silver_Skates#Popular_culture:_the_legend_of_the_boy_and_the_dike). Except that, unlike that Dutch boy, there wasn’t just one hole. Every time the phone rang, or an email came in, there was a new problem, a new hole burst in the dike. Some of them were smaller, more easily dealt with. But, still, by the time my manager came in at the end of my shift, it didn’t feel like there was just one tiny hole that could be stopped with just one tiny finger (like that lucky little Dutch boy), but that I was literally holding together the entire dike with my bare hands and attempting to fight back the full force of a storm-racked North Sea with my puny little girls’ arms. It seemed like the more I learnt about the job, the more I realised how much I didn’t know about the job. And that was kind of scary.

To be fair to myself, things that were confusing and scary a week ago are now easy. They’re now the things that I’m looking forward to, because they’re the things that I know how to do. It’s the unexpected things, the one-offs, the things that I knew I was never going to be able to write down the steps of on my little notepad, that are the problems. And, I know from experience of these sorts of jobs that for most of these one-off problems it won’t be a matter of learning the solution to every problem, it’ll be a matter or learning how to respond and learning how to find the information that I need to work out a solution. It’s just that I don’t deal so well with a state of conscious incompetence. And that’s a shame, because it pretty much always feels like I’m always living in a state of conscious incompetence (I do like that phrase). Some people seem to effortlessly exist in states of conscious (or even unconscious) competence. And still others are quite happy in their state of unconscious incompetence (it must be nice to like yourself so much that you don’t need to worry or care at all about whether or not you’re doing things right or wrong). But, even when I’m doing something I know I know how to do, I get anxious, feeling like there might be something I’m doing wrong that I don’t even know about. Which is why I always get nervous around policemen. Just in case I just happen to be doing something illegal accidentally when they walk past and I don’t even know about it.

Not a particularly upbeat post. And I know I’m probably taking things way too seriously (particularly for a job that is, for me, just about making ends meet). But, if there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s feeling stupid. And, feeling like other people think I’m stupid. And, today was just one long day of feeling stoo-pid.

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