Death without Knowledge – Cremation without Consent

 

I never expected to be carrying my big brother, his ashes in my arms to his grave. Not this early, not this soon. If at all in my 70s, but not mid-life. I never imagined not knowing for 5 weeks that he was dead! I never dreamed that they would not make enough effort to find us, my mum who lives just 70km away from my brother’s city, living at the same address for 30 years with a German ID system in place!

I still speak with the police and hear the same excuses.

I still am numb to know how to cope or survive.

It’s still a nightmare I want to wake up from.

My pain is 95% anger and I can’t recover.

 

I found video on YouTube where this happened to a family in the U.S.

 

 

It happened to a family in the U.S. similar as it happened to us in Germany. Different circumstances, but two same things: someone died and was cremated without finding the family first!I wonder how the family is now? What they managed to find out or reach.

Germany is known for its efficiency and thoroughness has shocked and devastated me! Carelessness, indifference and sloppy police work know no boundaries! I have lost faith in this “efficient” system.

My brother died and was found in his flat, approximate date of death six days before he was found. Police didn’t do their work properly to find us, then cremated my brother without our consent. We didn’t know for five weeks that he was dead and gone… completely gone…

A year or so later I was told by a customer who used to be a police detective after I asked him for advice, that when the police doesn’t find anything suspicious they close the case fast to avoid paper work! Of course if one of their own was found dead, they would move mountains to find the cause and family!

When I speak to the German police now, either silence or pushing responsibility away. I don’t feel I can ever recover and remain on autopilot. There is no life. And I let my brother down.

 

 

 


 

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission are prohibited.

©2017 – Present poetrasblok.com unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

 

 

Heavy End

 

A thought not on a Happy End, but a thought in the middle of life to feel like it’s the end.

I wonder how much anyone can take at one given time.

I wonder if when ignorance is bliss, maybe trauma has a similar effect. I remember while I was going through bullying during already traumatic bereavement, I sensed in my gut that I was targeted, but because I was so clouded in shock, grief and switched into auto-pilot, it was like “bliss”. I was stumbling around a mess I can only now put together like a puzzle.

I used to feel ashamed for having let a multi-million pound company step all over my dignity. But I should be proud for having stood up against them from within, and now from the outside. I didn’t just do extremely well under the horrific circumstances, I can be and am proud that I stand in one piece, in some way having overcome things I never thought I would see the light at the end. I walked over bridges without jumping off. I am in one piece, even if mentally in a mess.

In 4 years I lost my brother, was bullied at Pret A Manger, lost my job, my father and now am going through a new, and maybe final loss. Because after this one, I shut the door. I can’t take anymore.

Shock, grief, anger, anxiety, hopelessness, pessimism, darkness… have been my closes companions these last 4 years. I don’t know anything else anymore. I am on constant alert. I forgot some things I used to love. I am just on alert until the heavy end. And you just have to go on…

 

CarRIP

 


 

I worked at Pret A Manger for almost 10 years and survived systemic workplace bullying during bereavement that involved HR, the top leadership, HQ and even the CEO Clive Schlee. For an overview of important blog entries of my experience with Pret, please visit “My Ordeal with Pret A Manger”. The little arrow to the right next to each heading will lead directly to the post.
I also tell my story for the first time verbally in this >>>
podcast interview based in California, and wrote a recent article in the Scottish Left Review.
Thank you for reading/listening.

Interview:

 

©2019 expret.org

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of expret.org, poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission is prohibited.

©2017 – Present: expret.org, poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

ACAS Guide to Bereavement at Work

 

A guide I have passed on to Pret A Manger since May 2015 when I first approached HR to make suggestions after my then line manager had me on prolonged 5 months late shifts and refused to rotate my shifts like it was before I became bereaved.

I approached HR, not to raise grievances or complain but to just bring ideas and suggestions. I never imagined that approaching HR would put a target on my back.

I speak extensively about my ordeal with Pret on my blog and podcast interview.

man-320273__340

 

 

I passed the ACAS Guide to Bereavement at the Workplace to HR and several different managers, area managers and anyone in a responsible position between 2015 and 2017. But of course apart from sweet-talk and the horrendous treatment that followed, lead from the very top, this guide was not taken into consideration. If this is now in Pret’s sight, than certainly after I left Pret.

I will keep it short as people who are really interested in this can read the guide and download the PDF file that ACAS has posted in partnership with Cruse Bereavement Care, the largest bereavement short-term support charity in the UK that I visited early on in my bereavement as well.

I just want to point out some things concerning bullying during bereavement and how my situation became 10 times worse than I could have ever anticipated even could happen to people who go through grief and trauma.

This will always be on Pret’s resume as well as how they dealt, or rather how they did NOT deal with TWO customer deaths, and why in this profit driven Western society there is such a strong resistance and refusal to supporting people in grief and tragedy. Once tragedy hits an employee they frankly become an inconvenience as companies want “robots” that function non-stop for the millions the top is gaining.

That’s why I have come to start disliking the term “workforce” as this sounds like an army, a factory of robots having to function in a modern-day slavery setting, under the pretense of “productivity” and “buzz” and “fun”.

 

Excerpts from the ACAS Guide on Bullying during Bereavement
on pages 11 & 12

~~~~~~~~~~

ACAS:

»Avoiding discrimination and addressing bullying

Employers should ensure their employees who are likely to be affected by the disability are able to recognise it, especially when performance or absence of a bereaved employee becomes unacceptable over the longer term for no other apparent reason.«

~~~~~~~~~~

This versus my experience of being targeted and penalized for not smiling during customer service even when I asked, almost begged to work in the kitchen for a while when I started to tear up on the shop floor. More on the Emotional Labour in this blog entry and the “brutality” of what Pret expects, no matter what.

 

09 Brutal Nightmare

Only one of >>> several comments on YouTube

 

~~~~~~~~~~

ACAS:

»Addressing Bullying

Bullying is defined as unwanted behaviour or conduct which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual. If the bullying is related to a protected characteristic then it is harassment.

Managing bereavement in the workplace

Employers should be alert to inappropriate behaviour following bereavement. Absence through bereavement can place burdens on co-workers and line managers alike who may pressurise (inadvertently or otherwise) or bully a bereaved employee into returning to work or performing their duties to the same level as they did before the death. The intentions of the bully do not matter – what is important is the impact that the behaviour has on the employee who is being bullied.

For example:
Rouji works on a telephone helpline and recently lost her mother. On her return from bereavement leave she is finding it hard to cope at work: she is struggling to reach her targets for calls answered and sometimes leaves the room visibly upset. Brandon, the manager, notices that the staff are unhappy at what they see as “carrying Rouji”, an attitude reinforced by the vocal views of her supervisor who has been overheard saying “she should get a grip, when my mother died, I found work a relief, look at the problems she is causing us.”Rouji has noticed the shaking heads of colleagues and their “tuts” when she leaves the room and this is adding to her distress. Although Brandon recognises the burden on the team, the company has a policy of not tolerating bullying and harassment. Brandon tells the supervisor to stop this behaviour and let it be known that staff may face disciplinary action if this unwanted behaviour continues. At the same time he sees if a temporary worker can be deployed until Rouji is able to reach her performance targets.«

~~~~~~~~~~

The guide goes on to cover a variety of issues regarding paid leave, long-term or reoccurring effects of grief etc. I just concentrate mainly on the subject of bullying here as this involved even Pret’s HR, Head Quarters, Clive Schlee CEO as this is systemic and no surprise anymore, why I went from management to management that had no policy in place to protect me or bereaved employees in general.

A People Business Partner (PBP) from HR in a grievance appeal’s hearing that I raised even admitted that there was another employee, an assistant manager who was bereaved and also mistreated at work, but that she was “bitter”. He foolishly compared me with her as if we were bitter because we raised grievances of wrongdoing. I emailed this PBP later that day in anger saying that this AM is not bitter, but in a lot of pain, as I related to her nightmare.

A few months after this hearing and what the PBP told me in that hearing, I learned that an AM died by suicide. I cannot proof that this is the same person, but I do not believe in coincidences anymore with Pret, especially after they involved a Development Manager from HQ who supposedly also had a brother who died in his flat, like my brother died in his flat… But I don’t believe this anymore. Weeks later after our contact I learned that she is also a Hypnotherapist and NLP practitioner, and the more hidnsight I have and keep talking about this, the more I don’t believe that she had a brother, even while I see some posts on her facebook page regarding her brother in 2016 before I knew her.

I tell my story verbally for the first time on a podcast here below in the audio player. I also collected many staff reviews from outside pages like Glassdoor, Indeed, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook etc. and combined them unto one page as Pret Staff Complaints.

I am so loud because I almost lost my life and if I alsmost ended my life, an assistant manager did, how many more are there. If Pret can hide two customer deaths under the carpet, how many work-related staff suicides or attempted suicides are there?

 

“Penalized for calling out for a funeral”

2018-11-01 Funeral

Former Barista, New York

 

Avoid AM

Former Assistant Manager, London

 

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Slideshow can be paused

 

I can only urge any company, large or small to please have a look at this guide from ACAS. It is only a guide to which companies can draft their own policy from this blueprint that ACAS provides in partnership with Cruse. I survived systemic workplace bullying in a company that is very efficient in marketing and PR portraying themselves to be an ethical and caring company.

I have a different story…

 


 

I worked at Pret A Manger for almost 10 years and survived workplace bullying that involved the top leadership and HQ. For an overview of important blog entries of my experience with Pret, please visit “My Ordeal with Pret A Manger”. The little arrow to the right next to each heading will lead directly to the post. Thank you for reading.

 

©2019 expret.org

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of expret.org, poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission is prohibited.

©2017 – Present: poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org, LateNightGirl.page.tl unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

 

DeadDotCommunication

 

12.01.2015

Dear Ms. Sister,
unfortunately I have to bring you sad news.
Mr. Thomas Brother was found dead in his apartment in X-City on 15.12.2014.
From his paper work no next of kin could be determined so that I was appointed as curator for your deceased brother’s estate. …
Your brother has been cremated under order of the city council. Copy of order attached.
His urn has not been buried yet and you can decide where to bury the urn.
Unfortunately I have to also inform you that his estate is in debt and have to therefore advise you to reject the inheritance.
Please inform me of any other family and addresses.
The contact details of the morgue are…
With kind regards,
Mrs. Ice Cold Curator
….

 

 

2017-01-31 Th Kerzen3

 

 

Dear Thomas,

I’m sorry I didn’t reply to your last email, I don’t even know why I didn’t reply. Maybe I expected to see you, but then life just keeps happening and we always assume next time, next time… And maybe I was upset that you couldn’t come to the concert I invited you to. Apart from being busy you were also honest enough to say that this wasn’t your type of music. But I got us on the guest list, with backstage meeting the artist I worked with. I wanted you to be proud of me.

But I have no right to be cross. I didn’t pay much attention to your 20 page business plan you sent me, maybe you wanted me to be proud of you. And I was, but it didn’t cross my mind to say something. I just replied that your business plan looks impressive but reads like Chinese to me as I don’t understand business language. I’m sorry I never told you how impressed I was, how proud that you had the courage to start a business. I could never do that, I’m too cowardly to start something like that. It takes a lot of courage, strength and determination to start a business. I always played it safe, just being employed and do my real passions and hobbies in my private life. You went further and gave it a go. But being employed did me no good after all. And now I don’t even have the courage for regular employment.

Can you believe the email this woman sent? She didn’t try to find out my phone number or mum’s address she lived at for 30+ years, in a country with a high sophisticated ID system where everyone is registered under law. She didn’t email and ask me to phone her or give my phone number and warn or prepare me that I urgently need to get in contact as she had to inform me about you. She just wrote a few sentences in a typical German efficient and straightforward way. No-nonsense, not wasting time, tell it like it is, no mercy. And she made sure she covered everything in one email. I cannot describe the hell, I cannot describe it. A huge hand of a monster thrust inside my gut and ripped it out in one fast move.

Do you know that the next day when I flew over to tell mum that you were gone, I called this woman but she didn’t want to give any more info. She sounded nervous, was upset that I called her at 9pm and said that she had no further information and that her husband is getting impatient in the background.

Do you know why? Why was she so short-cut and angry that I called? I kept calling the police, but they had no answer either. I am still confused. Why did the police handle this so poorly, why could they not give me a clear cause of death and couldn’t answer my list of questions? The only explanation the police guy gave me of why they didn’t do an autopsy was that they ruled out fowl play and suicide, and once they ruled out especially murder, they hand the case back to the coroner and close it on their file. Just like that. They have many cases to work on. A former police detective who was a customer of mine confirmed that if they don’t find anything suspicious, they just close the case as it would otherwise involve too much paper work. He told me that deaths in flats happen more often than we think. I’m sure if one of their family members was found like this, they’d go to town to find the cause. But there weren’t able to tell me what you died of. And they frankly didn’t care.

Everyone since then keeps telling me to not pursue any legal action as this would just add to the turmoil and the police always covers themselves. I had to put puzzle pieces together, with bits and pieces of information from your neighbours, your ex-girl friend C. etc. If you could hear me, I wouldn’t tell you that they sent your urn from your city to mum’s village council via post! Via post, Thomas. I’m sorry, I didn’t know they’d do that in Germany. If I’d knew they send urns via post, I’d made arrangements with the funeral service who arranged the funeral later, to bring it over in a dignified way. No one told me they send urns via post. I didn’t know so many things they’d do. I’m sorry, everything was a mess. Everything. Your three cats survived and they were able to catch two, but the third slipped through the door. I don’t know which one, but your neighbour said that she sees the cat outside sometimes, but it won’t let anyone catch it. I’m sorry your cats went through the six days seeing you lie there.

The police said that they rampaged your apartment. I know how clean you liked it, we had to take our shoes off, like in my place as well. But after you died, the cats just rampaged. They must have been distressed, the mum and her two kitties. The mum-cat in this picture you sent me before she had kittens, I wish I knew where she is. I’m sorry.

 

DSC00221

 

I dislike this country of ours. And if it wasn’t for mum, I’d never return. I buried dad in March, near you.

I saw an amazing play yesterday, Bury the Dead in which six soldiers who fell in a war refused to be buried. They got up from the ground where soldiers were digging out graves, but they just stood up and refused to be buried because they died too young. They died under the lies of the leaders who brainwashed them to fight and die for “honour”.

But they were too young to die and haven’t seen the world yet, or haven’t had the chance to start a family, or couldn’t finish that university degree they started before getting drafted. I wept through half the play and imagined you to refuse to be cremated until we got the news that your corpse was in the cold chamber. But then I thought if they would have found us before cremating you, mum may have wanted to see you. But what does a six day old corpse look like? Once an image is ingrained in the mind, it will never leave.

I wanted her to keep you in memory of this last photo she took of you a year before you died.

 

18 TK ca 2012

 

You look annoyed as usual of her taking photos all the time. I had to forbid mum to go to the police station as they spoke about photos they took when they found you. The way they handled your death and case, I panicked they would show her the photos. Mum was extremely angry that you didn’t have her address and phone number in your flat. I had to explain to her that I don’t have that either as we live in the Internet age and we know her address and number by heart, as she lives there since over 30 years. She slowly accepted that.

I’ve written you many emails since until your account was shut for lack of you logging in and sending emails. I kept writing though and my emails bounced back as if you replied. But getting “Mailer-Daemon” responses wore me out.

Remember when you visited me in London and I showed you around? We took the tube to Tower Bridge and as we walked towards the bridge that was hidden behind the trees you asked me what “castle” this was. I said that this is the Tower Bridge. You asked, “Yes, but what castle is this?” It is the Tower Bridge I repeated. “Yeah, but what’s that castle?” Thomas, this is the Tower Bridge!!! And as we came closer where you could see the full bridge you laughed and looked at me embarrassed “Ah, yeah!”

It was one of the rare occasions that I knew something more than you did, as you were always too smart for me! I beat you on this one! Stupid, I know. I have to think of this every time I am at the Bridge.

 

tower_bridge_tower_garden_moat_view

 

And remember when we sat in the café by Piccadilly Circus and you called mum from your mobile pretending to be in your home? You chatted for a while with her and then just handed the phone over to me to say hi to mum! That surprise surely worked! I asked her several times since you’re gone if she can remember you calling her from London to prank her to think you were calling from your home, but she can’t remember. I don’t know if she blocked it out or if her dementia is getting worse. She’s more forgetful now, you know? But she’s doing okay. We went through rough waters these last four years. It’s normal they say.

All I know now is that I let you down.

And I don’t know how to forgive myself.

Knowing you, I know you’d forgive me, but I can’t forgive myself, Thomas.

I made this silly “video” for you, one of many, but this is the only one with a German artist. He sings about his best friend, Michael, who was like a brother to him. But his friend died. I mixed in another song of a Swiss artist and wrote my text to it. I’m not sure if these would be your taste of music, as our tastes was often very different. I am not into German much but I wanted to use German speaking artists. But you can’t see it, I know. I did it to cope. I messed up in so many ways, Thomas. I can’t forgive myself.

 

 

 

 

3 Months That Are Supposed to be Good

 

November, December, January have become months I’ve come to dislike.

I was moving around these past days and weeks extremely down and tried to figure out why several consecutive days I am just very low. It’s not the weather, I love October and November, and fog. My heart is tight and heavy as if something is suffocating the life out of it. On the verge of a panic attack, I seek quiet places. Anytime, in random places I tear up, just out of the blue.

I realized that on 19.10.2014 I received my brother’s last email. And I never replied.

He was supposed to meet me for a concert in November. But he couldn’t make it. He wished me to have fun, till later. I didn’t see the need to respond and assumed I’d seen him anyway while I was visiting Germany. But I got distracted and as he was busy anyway, didn’t even think to call him. Maybe I was disappointed that he couldn’t make it. I don’t know.

On 12. January 2015 I learned via an email that he was found dead in his apartment on 15. December 2015, approximate day of death 09.12.2014. No clear cause of death. No autopsy. They supposedly couldn’t find us and after a while just cremated him.

And I made the biggest mistake that I can see in hindsight. After flying back and forth for funeral, errand, family, investigating… I kept working as my savings dried out and without support couldn’t afford to take off. In hindsight I should have taken off at least six months to a year instead of flying back and forth and with the horrific experience in Pret on top.

I was in a fog, on autopilot, in a Twilight Zone, like a Zombie.

Three years of emotional horror while trying to pull myself together, but falling more and more apart. Guilt, regrets, self-doubt, everything kept crushing again and again into me like a building collapsing again and again.

After my ordeal in Pret, my father was submitted into intensive care, in a three week coma in November 2017. At the end of December 2017 with my dad just woken from his coma I was fired from Pret. Autopilot again, guilt, regret, existential fears … flying back and forth again to work and be by his side, back to London to look for work, back to my dad, back to London … back to Germany to bury him as he didn’t recover.

November, December, January, February my brother’s birthday, March, my father’s death. I want to cut some months out of the calendar. I shut everything down, most things and people that meant something to me, I shut down.

My heart is tight and heavy, and I feel any moment an anxiety attack is approaching. But I have learned to not fear them so they don’t come heavy. Just ride it out, the doctor said the heart is perfectly capable to handle it. It’s not physical. If it wouldn’t have been for my mum being alive, I don’t know if I would be here right now.

To anyone reading this who knows me personally, I have said it many times, but I want to apologize again for letting people down. It’s not you, you know that.

 

 

Unquiet Grief (re-written / music: LAU)

 

 

animated-candle-gif-29

 

 

 

©2018 poetrasblok.com

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission are prohibited.

©2017 – 2018 poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

Cry Me A River – Translating Crocodile Tears

 

drip by drip, drop by dot and blabber…

The performance worthy of an Oscar, that took two years of research and practice.

 

YT

 

So touching!

 

CryMeARiver

 

 

In 2015 Clive Schlee was CLUELESS what to do and patronizing as usual. Only ONE of several customer complaints and warnings before AND even after Natasha Ednan-Laperouse’s death: 

2018-09-28 Another OPEN LETTER_3

Link

 

In 2016 which no one in the UK media seemed to have noticed nor researched a man in New York sued Pret quote: “after he a went into anaphylactic shock. He alleges that the restaurant staff served him food containing sesame after assuring him the food was free of the allergen.

—> Pret a Manger hit with lawsuit

The Verdict  (he lost!)

I tweeted about this HERE and mention that from the witness account in the verdict document the supplier of the wrap that contains sesame did NOT need to include sesame in the ingredient as in the U.S. it isn’t law, but in Canada it has to be included. So, the supplier acted responsibly and added it anyway even though by law he did NOT need to, but he included it in case the product was purchased from outside the USA, like Canada for example. Yet, Pret could not be bothered and after this lawsuit and then even after Natasha’s death still did NOTHING!

Witness statement from the supplier from the verdict document, Page 5 (FDA = Food and Drugs Administration):
“We list and perhaps by FDA regulations, we are asked to list or call out any of the ingredients that could be classified as an allergin [sic]. Wheat and soy are classified as allergins in the U.S. In Canada sesame would be included as we really don’t know wh~re stores are, so we put what might be outside this country or at least the border country.”

So, the supplier has sesame included, even though by U.S. law he didn’t need to. And Pret did not list, even though they had the info from the supplier ingredient list on the product.

Sweet-talk of the decade:

*IRONY ON*

PretDoingRightThingHaHa

*IRONY OFF*

 

The Translation
Of the CEO’s Oscar-worthy performance

 

Clive Schlee: “I went to the Inquest…”

As if he had a choice!

 

CS: “and I saw the impact that Natasha’s death had on the family.”

He went, saw and came to the conclusion after two years since Natasha died, that her premature death, which happened on his watch, destroyed a family!

 

CS: “And it’s absolutely heartbreaking.”

 

CryMeARiver

 

And the Pret Academy Award in a leading role, for the performance that took two years to perfect goes to…

 

CS: “So, on a personal level I’m devastated.”

Is he, now? After two years ignoring repeated warnings before and even after Natasha’s death.

 

CS: “But”

But

 

CS: “… the coroner”

Oh, the coroner, huh?!

 

CS: “the coroner asked for a change in the law…”

The coroner blames the law, now? Didn’t the coroner say that Pret’s labelling was inadequate? And further in this “REPORT TO PREVENT FUTURE DEATHS”, quote:
»Regulation 5 allows for food outlets to avoid full food labelling requirements whether they prepare a small number of items in local shops or in the case of Pret, over 200 million items for sale by preparing these items in “local kitchens”. These items prepared in “local kitchens” are in fact “assembled” in large parts from items made in factory style outlets to Pret specifications. I was left with the impression that the “local kitchens” were in fact a device to evade the spirit of the regulation.«

Yes, that about sounds like the Pret I know! And I’m glad someone finally sees that Pret products are not freshly “made” but “assembled” from ready products out of factories into many tiny “factories” sold as “lovingly made in Pret kitchens” bla.

 

 

CS: … “the family asked for a change in the law.”

Wow! Dragging the family on his side while Nadim and Tanya Ednan-Laperouse said this in response: …He’s not acting fast enough. (Well, he’s ‘acting’ alright) “I would say to anyone with serious allergies or is concerned about allergies … don’t buy a sandwich or go to Pret A Manger, because they’re still holding your life at risk right now!” — Nadim Ednan-Laperouse

 

So much about “preventing future deaths”!

 

CS: “And I’m now making changes in PRET that will make that change in the law happen more quickly.”

I must say Clive Schlee has got some balls or deeply lacks the sense of responsibility, to still be in the blaming game Pret-ending to be a “leader” who brings the change after being clueless on what to do!

 

2018-09-28 Another OPEN LETTER_3

Link

 

 

CS: … “Probably – probably better.”

Yes, I would stutter, too if I was him!

 

 

 

PretDoingRightThingHaHa

 

 

A Chink in the Armour of a Firm

 

or as I call it a crack in the PR(et) facade!

 

With plenty of press on Pret now this one I’d like to put my salt on in-between some sentences of this article:

“It’s difficult to say when, but at some point over the last ten years Pret A Manger became ubiquitous.”

It’s very easy to say when, it was indeed 10 years ago when Bridgepoint bought Pret and set the target of opening shops at 15% per year. I can still feel it in my bones and mental health how we were driven while staff were cut to increase profit and a 7 times return for Bridgepoint’s investment and £30 million for CEO Clive Schlee.

 

“Pret’s coffee is organic, its sandwiches are handmade, its marketing is self-aware and it wants you to know that doing the right thing is “what makes Pret, Pret”.”

Handmade by human machines while “doing the right thing” ignoring numerous warnings from customers regarding allergen and labelling, bullying staff to the point of suicide including bereaved staff. It what makes Pret, Pret.

 

“There’s never a shortage of “avo” at Pret.”

And never a shortage of complaints how hard the avos are. I only copied this complaint as an example how Pret is kissing butt while a customer offends shop staff with the C-word. But there were many complaints on hard avo. Amazing also how some people’s days are “ruined” while others lose a child and a mother to Pret products. Poor pepo!

 

PretBehaviour01a

 

 

“The people at Pret are always happy, so happy that they might give you a free sandwich if they like you”

So happy. 🙂

 

“In fact, the staff at Pret are so happy that in 2013, the chain was accused of using “emotional labour” tactics – monitoring staff to ensure they retain a cheerful demeanour – on its own workforce.”

Correct. Staff are being bullied, ordered into the office when the Mystery Shopper, or as I call them the Misery Shopper, commented that the server didn’t smile. A good telling off in the office with plenty of fear management and fear for job security. Then the staff is send out and ordered to smile! Even during illness having a cold and during bereavement!

 

2014-12-01 MS cough

Mystery Shopper comment: “Team members should smile at customers and may not work when ill, as team member was coughing whilst serving me and was therefore not feeling cheerful to smile that day.”

 

The worst telling off I experienced was when a line manager, who himself never smiled, held a sermon in the kitchen with us team and said that smiling is part of the uniform! He then finished his speech and said that if anyone wants to say anything to say it ‘now’, then and there, or otherwise we shouldn’t come to him later. I lifted my hand and mentioned that I rather want to tell him something in private as I didn’t want to confront him in front of my team as I was their team leader wanting to lead by example not embarrassing the boss in front of them. But he maintained to speak up now and that later would be no opportunity.

So, I did. I said, “So-and-so, you never smile! (when serving customers)” … At least he changed a bit, but I certainly did not make friends saying this. Neither did I care.

 

“…the list of “behaviours” staff must exhibit reportedly contains over 50 items.”

Correct. A list of brainwashing that some staff threw into the bin.

 

“Pret ran into trouble earlier this year, when the Advertising Standards Authority took issue with two ads the company had run in 2016. Pret was found to have been “misleading” in its claims that products were “good natural food”. Whilst this didn’t grab headlines, it was a chink in the armour of a firm that’s clean and ethical image has been a source of its success.”

I appreciate the writer pointing out this being the “image”. It used to be quite dirty in Pret with pest problems that turned Pret into Pret A Mice until an EHO closed a shop and Pret only RE-acted, whereas before ignored staff’s and internal pest control people’s concerns.

 

“It was an early caution, perhaps, to the crisis that has engulfed the firm in the last two weeks where two of its customers were believed to have died after allergic reactions to is products.”

Plus one assistant manager who died by suicide last year that is known of within Pret and my repeated approach to confront Pret internally on this when I still worked in Pret, and now publicly, as I almost ended my life as well during my ordeal in Pret.

 

“It follows the death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who passed away in 2016 after eating a Pret baguette that did not have any allergen labelling on its packaging.”

Not only on the packaging, but the fatal Sesame Natasha died of was missing on the fridge label of the “lovingly made” PR(et) baguette that Natasha and her dad read …

 

No Sesame on Label

(Sesame info missing)

 

… while each product that is given to charities for the homeless and people in need is being labeled with allergen info since years:

 

2018-10-20 Pret charity labels2

(Products with allergen labels for charity)

 

 

“Her father accused the chain of a “complete dereliction of duty””

… as well as being a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”, and rightly so.

 

All in all you just got another crack in the wall

 

crack-695010_960_720

 

“Pret CEO Schlee said that the chain would “ensure meaningful change”, and will start “trialling full ingredient labelling, including allergens, on product packaging” from November.”

Trialling from November. Starbucks closed 8000 stores in the U.S. After their incidence with racial issues, training their staff. ACTION is the best PR! But Pret is going full steam ahead doing business as usual, trialling…….! A death, let alone TWO the public knows about doesn’t mean anything to this sweet-talking company. If that doesn’t tell people something of the reality behind the “doing the right thing ” with even the arrogant slogan that Pret’s HR has of “doing the right thing naturally”, then I rest my case!

 

Right Thing Naturally

 

“’We cannot begin to comprehend the pain the family have felt, and the grief they will continue to feel,’ said Schlee.”

He certainly took two years to “begin” to realize that he can’t begin to imagine and finally wrote to Natasha’s family!

 

“Was Pret too late to act? It is not legally required for stores to put allergy labels on food made on site, but the warning signs were there. According to the Times, Pret “ignored” nine cases of allergic incidents related to sesame, including six related to its “artisan baguettes”.”

More than nine!

 

“The lawyer for the Ednan-Laperouse family told a West London court that there was a “clear concern being repeatedly raised that artisan baguettes were causing sesame seed allergy problems, which were not properly responded to by Pret”. Pret’s compliance director said the firm responded appropriately to each individual complaint at the time.”

The Director of Risk-taking and Complacency did not respond properly.

 

“Schlee, who is reportedly set to pocket a £30m windfall when the JAB sale goes through, didn’t write to the bereaved relatives personally until this August, the family claims. Not a good look for a brand that trades on an image of wholesomeness and honesty.”

Anyone in business who claims honesty should always get a closer look!

 

“Despite being undoubtedly the biggest crisis in its history, no one expects the burgundy star to vanish from the high streets anytime soon. Its ruthless expansion under private investment is widely expected to continue stateside thanks to JAB’s experience in the American market (JAB also own Douwe Egberts coffee and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts).”

Yes, that’s true, they will not vanish and I appreciate it being coined as “ruthless” expansion. They will just go through a year of a little nose-dive in profits and will re-emerge with more bull-crap PR. But I lived long enough to know that when people are lucky enough to be on their death-bed and able to look back on their lives and “achievements”, I don’t want to be in their skin.

 

“If the chain loses its avocado-driven charm, no number of free coffees will pep it up.”

That’s true, but also the time is coming when even Pret workers will start standing up with Unions and demand respectful treatment, apart from the poor wages and the brainwash they’re subjected under.

 

©2018 LateNightGirl.org

 

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission are prohibited.

©2017 – 2018 poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

Pret A Manger – Lessons not Learned

 

2018-10-12 Wrong Label

Link

 

A Smoked Salmon Artisan Baguette that contains Sesame from which Natasha Ednan-Laperouse died of with the wrong label of a VEGGIE Avo & Herb Wrap…

 

One of the responses to this I made:

 

2018-10-12 Wrong Label2

 

When profit counts over lives, seen repeatedly in the Pret Staff Complaints collected from various Employment Review sites, YouTube, Twitter etc. as well as my experience as a Team Leader …

A collection of Allergen & Label Warnings.

 

©2018 LateNightGirl.org

 

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission are prohibited.

©2017 – 2018 poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

 

Pret Allergen Deaths & Customers Repeated & Ignored Warnings

 

seeds pexels-photo-1296262

 

 

Apart from the 9 warnings, Pret under the Director of Risk and Compliance (or more appropriate “Risk-Taking and Complacency”) has ignored, with one also almost fatal, I have started to collect customers’ responses of allergen warnings to Pret regarding the lack of labelling before AND after Natasha Ednan-Laperouse died. Only this having become public now is there some slow reaction happening. But again, only a RE-action to public pressure.

Not only should Natasha’s family pursue Pret in court, but those who have had to go to hospital and those who had allergic reactions from Pret products should file a combined lawsuit against Pret. If Natasha’s death two years ago has just come to light now in 2018, how many more are there?

People asked on Twitter and other social media who should be prosecuted for “murder”, for starters I think it is for sure Jonathan Perkins who walked along the pavement after the inquest with his hands in his pockets as if taking a stroll in the park. And certainly Clive Schlee has to face the music away from his usual sweet-talk and wanting to pay people out for silence. His patronizing response in 2015 to a concerned customer has me at a loss, even though I should not be surprised at his patronizing way.

 

Clive Schlee in his typical patronizing and self-assured way labelled me his “late night girl” after my ordeal with Pret while he can’t label products to save a life!

Welcome to Pret A Manger, feel free to take a peek behind the scenes and the reality of a company and CEO who mainly cares for the PR(et) machine.

 

The start of a list of customer concerns, warnings and complaints even before Natasha died, as well as noting that the issue has still not been taken seriously after the public inquest and outrage:

 

And another-one (CEO’s patronizing response not knowing what to do)

A list of customer warnings before and after the two customer deaths:
Allergen Deaths and Customer Warnings to Pret

Ongoing issues into 2019: Hospitalization, Mislabelling, Cockroach etc.

 

A tutorial for Pret A Manger:

Labelling for Dummies

 

2014-07-21 Contains Nuts RFH

Photo taken in London’s Royal Festival Hall cafe 2014.

 

 


 

UPDATE

07. Oct. 2018

Second allergy death in Pret and my question to Pret on 30. Sep. 2018!

 

 

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission are prohibited.

©2017 – 2018 poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

 

And Another-Nine

 

2018-10-04 PineNuts IceQueen2912

 

Link

 

Other customer complaints and concerns regarding labelling issues in Pret.

 

 

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission are prohibited.

©2017 – 2018 poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

IMMEDIATE PR[et] vs Labelling DELAY

 

hourglass-620397_960_720

 

At 1:29 Natasha’s mum is absolutely right, change can come IMMEDIATELY! I worked in Pret for 10 yrs and have my own story of survival on a different matter!

On the subject of “immediately”, here are 3 “IMMEDIATES” that I have witnessed Pret implementing:

 

1.

The week when Brexit was voted for, within THAT week Pret implemented Brexit champions in each area to assist employees regarding how to stay in the UK, because Pret got scared to be losing many employees who mainly come from Europe, in particular Eastern European nations and are known for their hard work under immense pressure. The hardest working colleagues I have ever worked with come from Romania, Ukraine, Czech Republic etc. These people waste no time, often they don’t speak English well, so they won’t know where to complain to when they encounter problems with managers and they certainly won’t know their rights. Hence, Brexit Champions were very quickly trained to help non-British workers stay in the country and therefore in Pret to continue like “machines” to increase profits.
Andrej Stopa, the first person to PUBLICLY challenge mistreatment by managers paid with his job for it. He was dismissed under the “Pret”ense of allegedly having made homophobic remarks TEN MONTHS before getting fired! But in reality he got fired for having started a Trade Union. He confronted Pret on the reason for dismissal.

 


 

2.

Within a DAY of the Grenfell Tower fire, Clive Schlee, CEO announced (or rather bragged, typical PR) that Pret is giving £100,000 to the Evening Standard Trust for Grenfell, that was decided within a 24 hour period of the tragedy when the tower was still smoking and parts burning! A typical emotional RE-action and decision Pret’s CEO makes because he had a visual and was overwhelmed for a minute. Super-fast IMMEDIATELY.

 


 

3.

And the most amusing IMMEDIATE was when Pret became aware of my blog on the night from 28th to 29th of May 2018 and Clive Schlee making a £1000 announcement for all staff where it would take 10 years of service to receive £1K, this carrot is now thrown at everyone as Brexit is advancing fast and Pret has already lost staff.  Only he knows if this £1000 idea was born on that night out of becoming aware of my blog, but I am certain knowing how he RE-acts to confrontation, that the timing of the announcement in the night to 29th May was due to their discovery of my blog in that night!

So, I am delighted of having been part in staff getting a financial boost, even though this only serves as a carrot. And interesting enough, an immediate RE-action to my blog that lead to this announcement did not bring an immediate action, as employees are still waiting for the £1000 to “moneyfest” (sorry, I couldn’t resist this wordplay!) and the CEO’s premature announcement adds now to the pressure.

 

I could go on an on with 4. and 5. … of RE-actions to being caught like when an EHO closed down a Pret shop due to pest, whereas before this close-down Pret ignored our complaints to please solve the pest problems. Internal pest control people worked hard but could not fix the issue until an EHO closed a shop after a routine visit finding evidence of pest. ONLY THEN was an outside pest control company commissioned to tackle this.

I asked for a transferal to another shop as the mice issue in my then shop was unbearable. One person shot this video in the U.S. of mice activity and it brings back memories! It’s the night shift working in Pret A Mice! High activity when the shops were closed and quiet, but in the shop I worked in the mice were so bold, they strolled along under the barista cupboards during the busy coffee rush in broad daylight! But I couldn’t take it anymore and asked for a transferal. That was before the EHO closed a shop, and then Pret went into panic-mode sacking people, disciplining managers, reverting managers back to assistant managers even thought GMs weren’t trained properly… all that changed with a shop closure when only then a proper pest control company entered the scene!

Bottom-line why I speak out so openly whereas before I used to be very discreet and professional: it ALWAYS takes a dramatic happening before Pret responds! And with these deaths, there is ABSOLUTELY NO EXCUSE that people had to die! Absolutely unnecessary! Unacceptable! Complete negligence on Pret’s part!

 

 

12K vs 20K

(Suddenly they “matter”, hey?)

 

Staff are still waiting, getting confused and impatient, while Clive Schlee does the usual thing: “blaming downwards”. He makes the announcement but then refers to the shops… as usual. And the team members get more and more confused. So, I help a bit by pushing on the rusty PR(et) machine!

 

 

1000 announcement still waiting 2018-08-29

 

 

… and still waiting …

 

 

2018-09-16 my response to £1000 29May announcement

 

 

… and still hoping …..

 

 

1000 announcement still waiting 2018-09-24

 

 

… and still (yawn) waiting …

 

2018-09-30 1000

Link to £1000 Tweet

 

 

And still waiting on 02. Oct. 2018 while staff are prohibited to Tweet:

1000 announcement still waiting 2018-10-02b

Link

 

while Pret customers were also still waiting for full labelling of EVERY product to safe lives! ……..

 

Of course by now all the staff have been briefed to please not tweet anymore as I haven’t been silent! But as soon as the £1000 is paid to all staff this will be big news! Forget labelling and customers dying, as long as the PR(et) machine keeps working, everyone’s happy!

 

Back to the IMMEDIATE:

Not having labels with FULL ingredients and allergen info after repeated warnings and complaints shows of the carelessness and complacency. I know Pret, they do NOT care until caught at worst, or until something is to their benefit and PR at best!

Ten months after Ms Marsh’s death, Pret makes a public statement and sues CO YO. Just after the carpet got lifted and the public is made aware of two deaths. I asked Pret on 30. Sep. 2018 after Natasha’s death became public, how many more people have died, not in my worst nightmares expecting that a second death would be revealed shortly after, and yet sadly I am not surprised at the negligence of Pret A Manger:

 

2018-09-30 My Tweet on death suicide

Link to Tweet

 

I still have the emails regarding Brexit and Grenfell etc. Whatever helps Pret and Clive Schlee’s PR and bragging about good deeds that are obvious and visible and self-serving, that is what Pret acts on IMMEDIATELY.

 

To the BBC News, PLEASE don’t let your reporters say “In the wake of Natasha’s death”… This is in the wake of Natasha’s death becoming PUBLIC! She died TWO YEARS ago and Pret didn’t care, but everyone treats this as from yesterday.

To Natasha’s parent’s her death IS as if it happened yesterday, and will be like this forever. But Pret, Clive Schlee and particularly Jonathan Perkins knew of Natasha’s death for two years, as well as all the warnings before and after, but did not do anything to change!

Absolutely nothing and even ignored repeated warnings!

The hypocrisy of the CEO on his Twitter calling this a “promise” and saying that “nothing is more important to Pret right now”.

 

2018-10 1st death Pret Labbelling Statement

Link to the pinned Tweet having replaced the £1000 Tweet

 

While all the time hanging on to anti-Plastic Bottles and Straws schemes as if for dear life!

 

Clive Schlee Plastic Bottle concern

 

 

So, nothing is more important right now! After two years! What a terrible attempt to keep up the facade! Pret got caught now, and this reshuffles their priority. NOT the deaths, NOT the numerous warnings, but the public exposure.

Pret A Shame on you!

 

Natasha’s mum saying that “action can be immediate” @ 1:29

She further says, “You don’t have to wait for a law change to start putting stickers, listing the allergens on the food that you sell. You can just do it because it’s the right thing to do.

 

 

versus the PR(et) blaa blaaa machine:

 

 

PretDoingRightThingHaHa

 

Right Thing Naturally

 

 

 

©2018 LateNightGirl.org

 

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission are prohibited.

©2017 – 2018 poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

The Question if I filed a Court Claim against Pret A Manger

 

judge-1587300__340

 

 

The more people learn about my story with Pret the more the question comes up if I went to court against Pret.

Yes I did. But I withdrew.

 

If you are a new reader to my ordeal with Pret A Manger, you will be confused and overwhelmed as my story is very complex and long. Those who have been following since the beginning when I started to publish on my blog in May 2018 have a good picture on what I went through.

This will eventually turn into a chronological book of events.

 

But to briefly answer the repeated and valid question if I sued Pret or if not, then why not, which I was just asked today again on Facebook, I decided to write this in a blog and just link to it.

 

When I was dismissed after being bullied, manipulated, gaslighted, held low, lied to by Pret’s toxic HR department, and continuously patronized by Pret’s CEO, Clive Schlee, who is not willing to label products for allergen information but was willing to label me his “late night girl” after the ordeal I went through… when I was dismissed three days after Christmas 2017 with my dad in intensive care just woken out of a coma, I filed a Tribunal claim as soon as I was able to in February 2018 as you have 3 months minus 1 day to file a claim.

In the meantime I was flying back and forth again between London and Germany to be with my dad (who was in hospital since 10.11.2017) as best I could on his bed side and then later in rehab. In the middle of all this I started to prepare for the Tribunal claim which would have happened in September 2018 with the first preliminary hearing in April 2018.

But I had no legal aid as I cannot afford lawyer fees. I scrapped all legal information together as best as I could, going from Citizen Advise Bureau to other free legal advisors to online researching back and forth, while also flying back and forth between London and my father’s bed side.

 

For people in the USA to understand, the legal system in the UK or in Europe in general is very different to the USA. Since 2015 on and off I contacted various law firms including pro-Bono, no-win no-fee firms, I even had a lawyer for a while who advised me for free. But I had to find out later again that he only wanted to make a quick buck by settling with Pret and get his 30%+ fee from the settlement. He didn’t really advise me properly anyway and even gave me some false advise at times which I later found out when I continued to do my “homework” researching online. I rejected four settlement offers from Pret, three while still working in Pret, and the fourth one via negotiating with the ACAS conciliator while withdrawing the Tribunal claim I raised and then closed. I dropped the “charitable” lawyer as soon as I found he was just looking for fast money himself.

In the USA lawyers would line up like vultures wanting to sue Pret on my behalf as the compensation can be ridiculously huge. In the UK the compensation would have maybe be maximum £10.000, maybe even more and mostly around £8000.

One former assistant manager who became homeless after being unfairly dismissed from Pret has gotten under £10K.

 

Pret A Marley shot the Sheriff

Link

 

But 33% for the lawyer is peanuts for them to go all the way through with days and days of preliminary and then the main hearings. The free lawyer I had for a while also kept saying to me that it takes months before the hearings take place. In the UK they don’t bother for this “little” amount, while the Millions that can be won in the USA has lawyers drooling for cases like mine.

 

My father then died in March this year, and again I found myself crumbled under the weight of what life has thrown at me since I learned of my brother’s death in January 2015 (but he died in December 2014) and all I went through in Pret. Autopilot kicked in again, but I couldn’t cope anymore. Enough is enough. I want to die, but I want to live. I need a break.

 

1971-07-14 WK PK2 crop

WK 1939 – 2018

 

I withdrew my claim against Pret as my father died in the middle of preparing for the court case with scraps of legal advise I stumbled through, and my mental health taking another nose dive beyond basement level. But I did my homework and asked the Tribunal for the right to file a second claim later should I decide to file again. And I was granted this request.

If I will raise a second claim or if the time limit will be over, I don’t want to talk about.

But this is the reason why I withdrew my case, as it is so complex which involved the heart of Pret, the CEO, HQ, Head of HR, a Development Manager who was used to gaslight me etc. etc. etc. Unwillingly and unprecedented I poked into the heart of Pret, and for me to go all the way through to court without a lawyer going all the way with me would be suicide, as I cannot handle even small stress mentally at this time.

So, lucky for Pret I withdrew, but lucky for me I didn’t sign my rights away for peanuts. And even if Pret had offered me a huge amount, I don’t prostitute my values nor sign my rights away for life. So, I published now.

 

What happened to Natasha Ednan-Laperouse and her family has utterly devastated and shaken me. I wrote it before I have learned of her death, that having worked in Pret is my biggest regret in life. And now having learned of her tragedy, I am deeply ashamed to have ever given my time, effort and skill to this company, and having tried to improve work conditions from within while extremely traumatized myself. A company’s facade that does not care for people’s lives and health will get more and more cracks in time, with a glimpse behind the scenes of their carelessness.

 

Ednan-Laperouse

 

 

My heart and prayers go out to Natasha’s family and friends; her brother Alex, her mum and dad Tanya and Nadim Ednan-Laperouse.

 

 

I hope in time more people will come forward, especially on the issue of suicide in Pret as well as work conditions, bullying and customer injuries. On work conditions this former employee was the first to go public, I am the second and in time I hope more will follow. And I hope Natasha’s family pursue Pret in court as they have the finances for legal aid and the public behind them now with many warnings Pret ignored.

 

Thank you for reading and please open your eyes to Pret and take a closer look behind the facade, as indeed take a closer look at ANY company or organization that looks too good to be true in this profit driven society today.

If you don’t take anything away from my publications, ask yourself if anyone can really smile and be “happy” for 8+ hours DAILY in an intensely high stressed work environment out of true “happiness” or if there is anything else behind this!

 

And my question to Pret A Manger remains: If an assistant manager died by suicide in 2017, I almost did as well after my turmoil at work, and now Natasha’s death in 2016 is revealed, HOW MANY MORE people died and/or suffered hospitalization, depression, mental health issues, physical and mental injuries in relation to Pret.

 

2018-09-16 Re Emily to Pret

Link to Tweet

 

The only way I cope is to write, and to write creatively of my ordeal. I said it to Pret while I still worked there that it is a mistake to mistreat someone who suffered loss and is a writer, as that person has nothing to lose anymore. And as Madeleine Peyroux wrote so poignantly in her song “Don’t Pick A Fight With A Poet”, Pret in their arrogance and feeling invincible, #toobigtofail, again did not heed yet another warning.

 

 

Some blog entries that give a good glance behind the shiny PR(et) facade:

 

Selected “Quotes of the Day” from substantial, but not exhaustive list of Pret Staff Complaints.

 

How I became a late night girl as “labelled” by Pret’s CEO Clive Schlee.

 

Pret A Mask

 

An important Open Letter to the Director HR.

 

And finally, I take the sentence back at the end of this “video” that Pret has a good heart. I take that back. The good heart in Pret is the hard-working teams I had the privilege to look after. But I leave this “video” as a reminder and a sore in Pret’s sight of my passion, care and love for people, having tried to improve work conditions while myself being traumatized and mistreated by the top leadership of Pret, leaders in HR and HQ!

 

 

 


 

As my blog has grown into a maze of writings, I created a “Mind Map”, an overview to the most important blog entries for the reader not to get cluttered with posts. To understand the main issues that I have survived, please visit My Ordeal with Pret A Manger overview, click on the arrow next to each heading that you choose which will lead directly to posts back onto this blog. Thank you for reading.

 

©2018 LateNightGirl.org

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org, LateNightGirl.page.tl and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission is prohibited.

©2017 – Present: poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org, LateNightGirl.page.tl unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

2nd Quote of the Day “It is INEXCUSABLE that a food company of this magnitude…”

 

with this much money cannot realize the responsibility it has to people who are making a life or death decision every time they go into that shop, because these allergies can take your life, and it can take them in a couple of hours or in minutes.”

— Susanna Reid, Good Morning Britain 01.10.2018

Also Piers Morgan has some much needed words for Clive Schlee at the end of the interview.

 

 

Putting this again into “perspective” how Clive Schlee’s patronizing and self-assured response was to an open letter regarding allergen and labeling in 2015.

Not only resignation, but prosecution needs to happen here:

 

2018-09-28 Another OPEN LETTER_2

Link to Tweet

 

Quote for larger print:

“Dear Alicia

I am sitting in Gatwick Airport waiting to board my flight and I have been reading your discursive open letter to Pret. I must say you do have a charming, self deprecating writing style and it was very gracious of you to mention so many good things about Pret. I am Pret’s CEO.

You also make your point about allergen information. To be honest, I am not exactly sure how to respond. I think you are telling us to train our staff better. I can’t argue with that. I think you are suggesting we treat allergens more seriously. Again, fair point. Is there anything else that you would specifically like [u]s to do?

Wish best wishes

Clive Schlee”

 

The more I read this response the more my head doesn’t stop shaking!

Is it just arrogance, feeling invincible, carelessness, what is this??! His response to me even looks stupid and foolish, like an apprentice who is trying to figure out an assignment…

The patronizing and self-assured tone of: “I must say you do have a charming, self deprecating writing style and it was very gracious of you to mention so many good things about Pret. I am Pret’s CEO.”

Alicia is supposed to get excited that THE CEO responded?

I could pick apart the whole response, but this sentence could be the end for him: “To be honest, I am not exactly sure how to respond.”

 

Hence, this second “Quote of the Day”:

It is INEXCUSABLE that a food company of this magnitude with this much money cannot realize the responsibility it has to people who are making a life or death decision every time they go into that shop, because these allergies can take your life, and it can take them in a couple of hours or in minutes.”

 

The arrogance and cowardliness of Jonathan Perkins, Pret’s Director of Risk-Taking and Complacency!

 

 

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission are prohibited.

©2017 – 2018 poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

Quote of the Day: “She died on Pret’s watch”

 

Devastated! Speechless! Bless the family!

Natasha “died on Pret’s watch“.

 

 

 

 

Before they mute my response to Pret’s CEO regarding Death…

 

Not good enough, Pret!! Not good enough!

Some of my tweets have been muted lately since the news broke of the girl who died (in 2016 already) from a Pret baguette due to allergy.

Before my response is deleted or muted again, here it is again.

Pret has absolutely NO excuse for this!

What I wrote in the tweet regarding “going the extra mile”, “striving for perfection”, “doing the right thing naturally”….

These are slogans, suggestions, requests and demands Pret has in place for staff. These always bothered me because Pret is not living up to their own demands.

Shortly after my brother’s death and mistreatment in the middle of grief, my suggestions since May 2015 to Pret’s HR department regarding staff treatment, especially of the bereaved have not only been ignored, but I have been bullied on top of it. Only when I involved Clive Schlee, CEO (who later labeled me his “late night girl”) did some support start, but a lot of it was to cover Pret’s own back. A lot was “Pret-entious”!

The bullying which became more subtle later on in the middle of my already traumatic bereavement have made me mentally ill with my emailing, which I extensively explain in other blog entries and how my ordeal started.

I still may be too naïve to have hopes that Pret TRULY can change direction if they put their priorities right. But I firmly believe Pret’s toxic and corrupt HR department needs a serious re-vamping in new leadership, as well as a new CEO who doesn’t just sweet-talk their way out of a disaster or tragedy when Pret gets caught “doing the wrong thing naturally”!

My response to Pret’s CEO as it may be deleted or muted like it was done with some of the other tweets:

 

2018-09-28 MY Response 2 Clive BBC2

 

Link to Tweet

 

Dear Clive Schlee and Pret,

I still have hopes that you change direction regarding work conditions, true customer care, quality of training staff to assist customers… away from your well oiled PR(et) machine and truly live up to your slogans. Not just for customers, but also  for staff, as we all are human beings, sir, not staff as work-machines and robots or customers as piggy banks for your millions.

For the sake of many who suffered to the point of even becoming suicidal, as well as for the public, that is becoming aware of the negligence in Pret which is not an isolated incidence.

Selected Quotes from staff complaints.

Sincerely,

Your Late Night Girl

 

©2018 LateNightGirl.org

 

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission are prohibited.

©2017 – 2018 poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

How I became a Late Night Girl

 

Clive Schlee, CEO of Pret A Manger stepped on my dignity, patronizing me by calling me his “late night girl” two months before Pret fired me while my dad was in intensive care, just out of a coma. Why he labeled me this I explain on my blog here in detail. I adopted this “label” to be a sore in Pret’s sight, in hopes they will never do to employees again what they’ve done to me.

 

18-tk-ca-2012.jpg

 

On 12. January 2015 I woke up and checked my email while still in bed blurry-eyed. Bed, the most vulnerable and safe place to be in. I had late shift that week and thought I quickly check my mail before turning around to sleep some more and later go to work.

I found myself making the fastest jump out of bed I’ve ever made, but that jump felt like slow motion, as if I got stuck in mid air and my room was moving by me in an eerie pace. The light painted wall became fogged up like someone just poured a dust-like grey powder over it. When I landed on my feet, I felt like a deformed cartoon character out of a Tom & Jerry fighting scene, who got whacked over the head and entered into another world. But it was more like a shotgun hole in my gut, something ripped life out of my system and left a huge crater behind.

My bedroom wasn’t my bedroom anymore, my apartment wasn’t my apartment anymore, my mind wasn’t my mind anymore. It was just like it feels when you return from a two or three week trip to a different country and culture, returning home and your place has a different feel to it, a stale atmosphere because you’ve gotten used to a different place, food, impressions, language.

Of course your apartment or house is still the same, it’s just you who has to readjust to the familiar and safe place you know so well and fill it with life again. But for me it was like I’ve come “home” to hell. It was the beginning of a very long and dark time in that world, which I am still standing in with one foot, while the other foot is trying to venture out to find green pastures.

In a 6 or 7 sentence email the sender went down a quick and short route to inform me that my brother has been found dead in his flat on the 15. December 2014. Next of kin could not be found in time (in a country as efficient as Germany!). Cause of death not clear, no autopsy, he lay dead for an estimated 6 days plus/minus before he was found, and then they just cremated him before finding us!

[After I flew over the next day to personally – not over the phone! – bring my mum the death of her son she gave life to, we arranged for his urn to be brought over from the city where he lived in. To our utter disbelief they sent his urn via post to the city’s council where my mum lives, so we can bury whatever was left of my brother close to my mum. Another German procedure I didn’t know was even done like this, sending an urn via post?!]

Furthermore I was advised to reject the inheritance as his estate was highly in debt, which also meant I learned later that I could not retrieve any of his belongings and was informed later that any belongings with no financial value has been destroyed…

The email ended with some other instructions. Kind regards.

My phone became like a curse in my hand that I could not understand that this was a phone I was holding, just starring at it, reading an electronic mail giving me a message of death.

I died that day.

 

 

 

07 TP crop

 

When Machines Bring You Death

 

A Plea!

©2018 LateNightGirl.org

 

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission are prohibited.

©2017 – 2019 poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

I am Tired

 

Tired to convince even close friends

who hide under a protective blanket

of indifference to suffering

that some things are just

plainly wrong and unacceptable

Since January 2015

my life is nothing but loss

The last 3+ years my life

is like sand running through my fingers

I have become like an outcast

I am not a desired guest at

Christmas dinners

or birthday parties

or walks in the park

On 12. January 2015 I learned

via a cold email

that my brother was found dead

in his flat

on 15. December 2014

I learned in one email

that they couldn’t find next of kin

that they cremated him

that his flat has been emptied

that he had debt

that his belongings that had no value

were destroyed

We received a box with paperwork

photos, ID cards, letters…

memories

A Box

An Urn

A Hell

Everything else,

every fibre of my brother

Gone

I went to work

to the funeral

to my family

on my shock

on my anger

on my loss

on trying to understand

how an efficient German system

can mess up like this?

I worked hard to find answers

I went to work in Pret A Manger

that worked hard in return

to get rid of me

tricking and trapping me

from beginning to end

I became an inconvenience

that needed to be discarded

like a broken machine

Since January 2015

I lost my brother in December

I lost friends

I lost my mind

I lost my job

I buried my dad

I am losing my mum to dementia

I have lost my mental health

I have lost trust in systems

any system

I have lost faith in workplaces

with their slick slogans and PR

mistreating their workers

for gain

fooling the public

for gain

again

I have lost faith in words

that are not backed with deeds

I have lost confidence in leadership

that should not be called “leadership”

but mis-leadership!

“leaders” who don’t understand what

it means to lead,

but who follow their own

selfish gain

Leaders who are captains

of ships but jump ship

first when it sinks

leaving a multitude

of passengers to

fend for themselves

I have lost confidence in the police

who don’t care to investigate properly

I have lost hope in “charity”

that is just big business

using poor people

and little children

to raise money

And politicians?

Don’t get me started!

I am tired of people

being overwhelmed with

my story

I am tired of those

blaming me for not

copying well

I am tired of excuses

that this society

can’t handle grief

and loss

I am tired that professionals

can’t deal with ONE person

right in front of them

I lost the sun

but I know it shines

I lost my taste for life

but I know I live

I lost the fear of my

friends’ anger

whose silent appeal,

that I lost my way

my person,

deafens me

I may be mentally out-of-sync

but I have a voice

that needs to be heard

I may have postponed

my ability to quickly

forgive

but I have a message

that is still not known

And if no one else speaks out

I still have a beating heart

willing to volunteer

I have lost fear

of bullying

by a company who prides

itself in smiles and

customer service

on the backs of hardworking

people of integrity

I am not paralyzed anymore

under fear management

I am not intimidated

by powerful people

whose only “courage” it is

to step on those

who are already broken

on the ground

I am tired

but I will never be silent again

nor give up

nor believe the voices of

indifference and complacency

that this is just the norm

This is NOT the norm

this is WRONG!

 

— Late Night Girl

 

In memory of my brother, Thomas whose death I was robbed to grieve in peace and timely manner.

 

Hand Sunflowers pexels-photo-1287103

 

©2018 LateNightGirl.org

 

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission are prohibited.

©2017 – 2019 poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

The Cost of Systemic Workplace Bullying – 2

 

As I tend to not want to waste time as life is short and no-one is guaranteed another second on this earth, I went straight into the ultimate cost of systemic workplace bullying in my first post, the cost of life. Death by suicide.

In this second post I want to highlight a precursor to suicide: mental health, mental illness in all its forms.

What bullying does to mental health and how I am experiencing it in my struggle to recover is very simple.

 

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Systemic bullying sends a distorted and twisted message to the mind.

In a nutshell, if you are in a room with 10 people and 1 person is treating you disrespectfully or attacks you, while 9 people treat you kindly and respectfully, you think to yourself ‘What’s wrong with that person?’

If you are in a room with ten people and 1 person is treating you respectfully and kind, while 9 people treat you with contempt, disrespectfully, attack or exclude you, you think to yourself ‘What’s wrong with me?’

That is what systemic bullying does to the mind and mental health.

Systemic bullying from a group is like democracy gone wrong!

It is not always the majority that is right! It is the majority that is set up of individuals who have their own set of “values”. They have little to no values and principles that are universal and that robs them of courage, blinding them to opportunities to make a positive, and sometimes even life-saving difference.

 

pexels-photo-568021

 

One of my favourite poems by Emily Dickinson, which I interpret in my own way and a favourite poem in general, always reminds me to chose my crowd carefully:

 

The Soul selects her own Society —
Then — shuts the Door —
To her divine Majority —
Present no more —

Unmoved — she notes the Chariots — pausing —
At her low Gate —
Unmoved — an Emperor be kneeling
Upon her Mat —

I’ve known her — from an ample nation —
Choose One —
Then — close the Valves of her attention —
Like Stone — 

 --- Emily Dickinson

 

I choose my society based on the values that I have. And if a majority chooses to bully an individual or a certain people group, then there is something wrong at the foundation of the values and principles of that majority.

If a company does not have a clear zero tolerance on workplace bullying, than I question the foundation on which this company builds their “values” on.

Mental illness is the cost of systemic bullying and is the precursor to suicide.

Is this really the legacy and the cost a company is willing to have on their record, as I believe things will always come to light sooner or later, unless it is dealt with from the root at top levels.

 

Bullying at work

 

©2018 LateNightGirl.org

 

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission are prohibited.

©2017 – 2019 poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

Closure

 

When you lose someone to death, especially if it is a significant or premature, untimely death, and a death with unclear causes not investigated thoroughly, you will never get closure. You will have to learn to live with this loss and go through a hell you never imagined existed. You cannot speak to the person who died and say one last time Good-bye – or – I love you – or – Sorry I didn’t answer your last email, check your mail please, I sent you my response now – or – What happened to you that you just died like that? – or – Could I have done something? Did I miss something? – or – Will I see you again? – or – I’ll be fine, just look after yourself ………..

There is no closure. The door of grief will remain open for the rest of your life, it will cease in intensity with time, but it will never close. The shock and trauma that hits you out of no-where like a wrecking ball, and the can of worms it opens where existential fears, unanswered questions, foundational doubts of life and purpose, and every nightmare scenario crawl out and haunt you. Or as a German saying describes it better that when unforeseen events or tragedy hits you, a “rat’s tail” of events and complications will be attached to it, that you cannot get rid of.

 

Rat shutterstock_490066927_rat

 

It’s not just grief you’re dealing with, it becomes much more complicated as the floor underneath you is ripped away, the friends you thought you have disappear, the beliefs you built your life upon become like sand running through your fingers, your mind turns into a mine field where every thought becomes an explosive danger of anger, fear, self-doubt, and the desire to explode out of this life and join the one(s) you lost.

You just have to live through it, as someone I can’t remember who, once said that, “If you’re going through hell, keep going” the light at the end of the tunnel will appear eventually, just keep going through it, keep walking, don’t stop, don’t give up…

But this kind of closure of loss of life and the dark grief it brings is not what I am talking about. The kind of closure I sought since my ordeal started, was to get closure for having additional “heat” being poured on me while I was already in hell! The heat of systemic workplace bullying and the aim to get rid of me early in my trauma, even though I worked extremely well and even during the scorching heat of grief. I gave my sweat, blood and tears to a company who returned my labour with scorn, distance, coldness, scheming, blaming, excuses, additional burdens that almost crushed me beyond repair.

I was just a number, a dirty paper cup that needed to get discarded when it started to “leak” its grief and pain, while still working flawlessly in many areas, helping to bring results to shop after shop after shop. I had no value, was of no use, an inconvenience, a burden, a nuisance, a piece of trash that needed to get thrown on a pile of other useless cups that served their purpose.

 

Rubbish Paper Cups2

 

It became even further complicated as the tactics were very clever to avoid responsibility. In my fog of grief I even apologized for many things that I didn’t need to apologize for! But this served them well where they often turned the situation around making me feel like I was the problem, like I was the one who created the problem, while it was ridiculously the opposite! When you are in shock and trauma, you cannot see as clear and cannot see the hand in front of you, like if you were crawling with your car through the thickest fog in winter, expecting to hit a car in front of you or being hit from behind just trying desperately to get out of this mess.

The closure I would have wished for, but know it is wishful thinking, is the closure where Pret A Manger would have the backbone to apologize, not just for their “insensitivity” as the CEO put it, because he did apologize AFTER I apologized first for my traumatic rants that I started after repeatedly approaching HR for months, to make suggestions in how to support me and people like me who are bereaved. His apology that was sandwiched into patronizing sentences. A typical Pret sandwich of belittling and patronizing.

I would have wished for an apology for repeatedly being put under suppressive management to get me under control, so I become quiet again like I was before, obedient and following a toxic leadership style that silences people through fear management.

 

Rat pexels-photo-617440

 

An apology for the systemic bullying and suppressive culture in shop after shop, no matter if the staff is already suffering from personal loss or any tragedy.

An apology for the refusal to be open to all the suggestions and resources available that I made the effort to seek out and bring forward, to no avail. Pret A Manger = Ready to Eat! It was all there, right in front of them, presented like on a Pret silver platter, suggestion after suggestion, link after link after resources after ideas… a waste of time and energy.

An apology for offending me, not only by offering settlement agreements if I resign and be silent about my ordeal, but having a laugh by offering peanuts while I lost all my savings after my brother died, and trying to take advantage of my financial strain. Offering peanuts as if I was a person who can be bribed with, what for Pret are pennies. No, thank you! I am not for sale nor do I prostitute my values to anyone, no matter what amount is offered.

An apology for the greatest perverted act in all of this, the sick audacity of having tasked a Development Manger who lost her brother similar to how I lost mine to sanction me. Not to put us into contact to support each other in our common grief, which would have been a massive help and step forward; but instead using her to give me a disciplinary for my electronic messaging and her allowing her dignity to be stepped upon like that!

And if this wasn’t enough, an apology for her then entering into secret electronic messaging, traumatizing me more as this “support” was fake and the hopes of someone understanding my bereavement was taken away again. How toxic, disrespectful and perverse can it get?! What else is Pret capable of?!

An apology for then dismissing me in my trauma and ill behaviour that was further fueled by the Development Manager’s secret conduct with the blessing of HR and her being excused and protected in her conduct.

An apology for the scheming and plannings of the HR department with certain key people involved since my informal approach of HR in May 2015.

An apology for stepping on my dignity, having become ill and the hopelessness and anxieties if I ever get my mental health back.

An apology for the CEO belittling me calling me his “late night girl” to the Director of HR, minimizing my ill emailing for which I got dismissed two months later!

An apology for dismissing me while my father was in intensive care just woken from a coma, thrusting me into a new hell I am going through.

An apology for the silence at my outcry in the hopes that the brilliant PR will make this go away.

I want an apology for having been robbed of the time to grieve my brother.

I want Pret A Manger to apologize for robbing me of time to come to terms.

I want the CEO to not skip out silently, but take responsibility!

There is no closure until dealt with in true integrity and a hard look at the core and foundation of Pret A Manger. If true values are not lived and visible, if slogans only serve as phrases to lull in the public and staff to present a shiny facade, the foundation will crumble eventually.

With loss to death there is no closure, but with events that happen while alive, there can be closure.

Until then, there will be no closure.

 

Late Night Girl2

 

©2018 LateNightGirl.org

 

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission are prohibited.

©2017 – 2019 poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

Dying to a Common Veil

 

Since my brother died there is now a “before” and “after” his death. Before his death, apart from having had a normal life (whatever “normal” means, probably anything that is known and accepted by a majority as well as being familiar to us), I had a job, friends, projects, beliefs, dreams, flaws, hopes, bills, problems, ideas, family, a sense of security and belonging … I also had this subconscious assumption that things that are out of my league, be it emotional or physical, only happen to other people.

 

05 Thomas CouchBett Urlaub CROP

Yes, Thomas, make your faces. You beat me on this one!

 

Whatever we dread, that may be out of our league is different for everyone, and yet certain things are very common. I could not handle what others are able to handle, and others may not be able to cope with what I have to cope with. But whatever that monster for everyone is, we subconsciously assume that this would not, cannot, and will not happen to us. Not in our wildest dreams.

I have been to many funerals in my life, my first funeral was when I was about 10 or 11 when my paternal grandmother died. It was surreal to me of course, because I cannot remember my parents having explained to us kids why she died. But I remember having had this strong logical acceptance that this was normal, that when “people” get old, they die. That was that. No questions asked.

Apart from that, I didn’t grow up with my grandparents, neither the parents of my mother nor the parents of my father, as we lived in another state from relatives and both sets of grandparents did not approve of my parents getting married as both families had different religious denominations. At the post-war times, and certainly before that, in the 1950s / 60s and further there was this strong division and identity in the two major Christian denominations of Catholics and Protestants. And even though I was raised in the Atheist “belief” that there is no God, my grandparents on both sides just went through the religious notion, without really living any values of faith, as long as they had some kind of belonging to an institutionalized organization that brought structure, tradition and routine into everyone’s lives. It was still a no-go then for a Catholic to marry a Protestant and vice versa. So, I had no close relationship to my grandparents and their passing was “just” what happens to old people.

But my parents were true rebels ahead of their time, which when growing up frustrated me, but in hindsight I am proud of them defying stale traditions and daring to take a different route. But as a kid I felt left out because all my school friends went through their communion or confirmation, which only meant they got lots of money and presents! On our birth-certificates and passports in the section where it states our religion / denomination, it simply says: None. So, we kids hardly had contact with both our sets of grandparents, except for that last “point of contact” at funerals. Sad, but true.

My paternal grandfather died a few years later when I was around 13. Again logical. He was old, he lived his life, he died. And then when I was 15 a friend from school died when he was hit by a car while riding his bicycle. That was my first shock encounter of premature death, but again, he wasn’t that close of a friend, even though we hung out with a group of friends on the day he lost his life. He died shortly before midnight on the eve of his 15th birthday on the operating table in A&E.

I remember the next day when we heard the news from our teachers in every classroom, my brother and I later at home were wondering if our friend would still have the hairspray in his hair, as he always wore hairspray as the only boy we knew. It must have been our shock reaction that was pondering that once someone dies and his soul “disappears”, whatever they are wearing, hairspray, perfume… disappears, too. The scent and the glue of life on the body just disintegrating immediately when the soul and spirit leaves the body. It was our shock reaction because we were with him and other friends just hours before the accident and his death. The whole school, it seemed, came to the funeral, again very surreal, but I was able to keep his death at a distance again, hiding myself in the crowd of funeral guests and the group of friends.

And then another shock of an ex-boyfriend who died of suicide. I haven’t had contact with him for 10+ years, and apart from us having been teenagers in our clumsy way of being boyfriend / girlfriend as kids, I had a lot of distance to him by the time he died and the effect of his death and circumstances I was able to cope with.

In the years to follow several more deaths happened of acquaintances, maternal grandparents, an uncle I’ve never met, friends of friends, most of old age or cancer. Funerals that became part of life, a routine, a courtesy to attend. It was all a reality that was kept at a distance from my fenced-in security. I moved on and matured from the simple accepted reality that people die when they are old to a new reality and acceptance, that people die when they are young, too. Okay, but being the “realist” that I am, I had to come up with a new coping mechanism that was to reassure me, that this still does not apply to me personally. My reality, my illusion, my subconscious fear and desire was kept behind a veil that blinded me until the scales where ripped from my eyes.

And I know I am not the only person who is covered and blinded by that veil. In these last painful years I had to come to realize firsthand how cruel it is to have been falsely protected and plainly lied to in this society we live in, that holds the truth and reality away from us. The founders of The Good Grief Project Jimmy Edmonds and Jane Harris, parents of Joshua who died aged 22 while traveling in Vietnam, faced this brutal reality head on! They make beautiful and relevant films out of their grief, and in support of other bereaved parents. They recently toured with their documentary, “A Love That Never Dies” the UK cinemas in the summer of 2018. In the Q&A of the London screening I was privileged to be in the viewing audience in May 2018, Jimmy Edmonds commented that in Victorian times it was very normal in conversations to speak about death and dying, but it was absolute taboo to speak and mention anything about sex. And today it is the complete opposite!

No wonder we drift away like emotional corpses ourselves when a premature or any kind of death occurs in our lives. The death of my brother was not straight forward and has no clear answers, lots and lots of speculations, opinions and mostly questions which made it even more unbearable and traumatic. Not to mention HOW the news of his death was delivered.

But the reality that death IS part of life and that it happens to all of us, at any time and most brutally it happens to those we most hold dear. It happens for any and no reason, in gracious age and traumatic ways and unfair premature ages with little or no explanation. It happens to the best of people, and not “just” to those who we think deserve it. None of us is safe from any circumstances, time, expected, unexpected, acceptable and unacceptable forms of death.

 

14 TK crop

 

None of us is guaranteed that we will have an opportunity to say “Good bye”, to say for one last time, or even for the first time, “I love you” or “Thank you for having been my friend” or “Remember when we were kids and stole the cherries from the neighbours tree and ripped our pants on the fence running away when the neighbour chased us?” or “Yes, I promise I will take care of your kids” or “We will arrange the funeral and the music exactly how you wish”…

We are robbed of the reality and chance to deal with death in a normal way from an early age, which then catapults us deeper and much worse into trauma when death actual hits us out of nowhere, unprepared and incapable to deal with this reality. We are not prepared out of false comfort and political correctness to keep our lives thriving, young, healthy, successful, smiley. Just don’t bother us with this eternal reality. And then to face our own mortality is another ballgame altogether.

This is why it is so important and timely that people like Jimmy Edmonds and Jane Harris are courageously and openly presenting this reality in such a beautiful and creative way.

There is a way to take the veil off and die to a false “life” that doesn’t last. A veil that aims to blind and falsely protect us from the reality we all face, and look at death in a healthy and authentic way. Since we can’t avoid it, why postpone preparing for it and with it leave the bereaved person behind, traumatized and alone and in our grief drown in hopelessness and paralyzing fear?

This video by The Good Grief Project is a very personal and also beautiful portrayal of a family and friends in how they deal with the unexpected and premature death of their loved one, Joshua. They conducted and arranged the funeral by themselves and even built the coffin themselves. It is not a gloomy or depressing video documenting grief and saying good bye. It is a very personal and gracious way in how a funeral can also have a rightful place in celebrating a life while saying good bye.

I still have to find my own way to celebrate my brother, as his death, the learning of the news and the funeral was a chaos, with an indifferent police not having bothered to find the cause of death nor thoroughly look for next of kin, but being very efficient in cremating my brother before reaching us! No chance, no choice for us to decide what we want to do with his body. And the process of getting his urn and conducting his funeral was a fogged up occasion of autopilot and disorganization. I felt then and still feel that I did not give him the funeral he deserved. It was the first funeral of a “significant” death and the first I had to help organize. And no matter how many funerals I was part of before, I was utterly lost in how to do this while also trying to protect and hold up my mother. And not to mention after that the postponing and complication of my grief due to work-related bullying and mistreatment on top of my loss! I survived just about to now write about it.

At times I watch this video below and know that I can accept how it went for my brother, as I did the best I could under the circumstances and time frame. In Germany it is against the law to have and keep the ashes and urn of a loved one. Urns are kept by the council and only released to the funeral conductor, but at the funeral I just grabbed my brother’s urn out of the hands of the funeral director and carried whatever was left of him in my arms to his grave. I had to let go, not being allowed for health and safety reasons to lower his urn into the dug-out hole myself. That last part the funeral director had to do. And I have my own celebration for my big brother in my heart and have no choice to leave it like it is.

That’s why creative people like The Good Grief Project is such a breath of fresh air and a great inspiration to me and many others.

 

2017-01-31 Th Kerzen3

 

Please watch this video below and don’t be afraid of it. As painful as this is even to observe or witness, this is a very hopeful project Jimmy and Jane have started out of their own grief, helping countless others who are faced with a sudden or even expected death. As paradox as it sounds, but their project is a celebration of life.

Thank you for reading and thank you for watching the memory and celebration of a beautiful young man by his family.

 

Remembering Josh (Longer version of “Beyond Goodbye”)

 

In memory of my big brother, Thomas (1969 – 2014) – and – my Father (1939 – 2018).

 

Thomas+Frau_GoghsWorkshop1_SMUDGED

 

 

1971-07-14 WK PK2 crop

 

 

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©2018 LateNightGirl.org

 

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission are prohibited.

©2017 – 2019 poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

The Definition of Bullying

 

Bullying can kill

 

When my brother died I went into extreme darkness, shock and trauma, and at the same time straight into autopilot. Apart from all the errands I had to run and things I had to do, I kept working because I had no choice. I lost all my savings for all the bills that came up, flights, living costs etc. I was forced to keep working.

During that time the bullying in Pret did not stop, it even gotten worse where they tried to cut me out of my leadership position. One incidence I just came back from a two week holiday in warm Florida and Virginia having visited with friends, one of whom I share my birthday with, and our combined friends gave us a trip on a boat to watch dolphins further out on the ocean. I didn’t enjoy the holiday as I usually do, but I relaxed and enjoyed my friends. In hindsight this was the darkest time, the whole year and the following was, but this time even while the sun was beaming and my friends were so lovely, it was so dark for me.

My guard was somewhat down, just having returned from a warm climate, warm in weather and in people, to then returning to the cold early December weather in London. When I returned to work my then line manager was tense and as usual would tell me off in front of my team. As an employee to be told off repeatedly in front of your colleagues is already wrong and hard enough, but as a team leader being told off again in front of my team I couldn’t bear anymore.

After just starting work again, with my guard down and this having been two days before the first anniversary of my brother’s death, I couldn’t take the telling off anymore and I just broke down right then and their in front of everyone. I cried and shouted uncontrollably, tried to take my jacket and pushed a tall colleague a little to the side who was just standing behind me. Shocked at him standing there, because I didn’t realize someone was behind me, I just pushed him out of shock, crying, trying to grab my jacket to leave the shop.

The line manager kept telling me to get out on the shop floor to serve customers. I was extremely in shock, afraid I would lose my job if I take my jacket and leave. The guy I pushed (not purposely, but in shock) just said to me “Don’t push me!” When he said that I just wept and repeatedly said “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry…”

NO ONE tried to calm me down or console me, absolutely no one!

The line manager flung the office door to the shop floor open and with a delegating pointing finger towards the shop floor ordered me out. In tears and immense shock I served customers, and not even customers asked me what happened. My colleagues outside did, who didn’t witness what happened in the office. They asked what’s going on, but I couldn’t tell them.

I raised a grievance, which at first HR didn’t want to do. I then contacted the CEO and only then did they conduct a hearing. The hearing manager in a nutshell rejected everything, rejected that it was bullying and even flipped it around putting the blame on me for being aggressive (breakdown!!)! Shock after shock after shock after shock after shock….

I appealed the outcome and in a 4.5 hour appeal’s hearing the hearing manager and HR note taker played dumb and pretended (Pret-ended!) to not understand what my problem is. The hearing manager in fact than asked me another shocking question:

“What is your definition of bullying?”

I remember just starring at her… Did she really just asked me that??!

To make it short, the appeal was partially substantiated, but not that it was bullying, but only that the line manager after I broke down did not show “compassion”. I understand only in hindsight that they tried to avoid admitting that bullying of a bereaved employee not only happened, but kept continuing. In fact I was put into the role of the bully then because I became loud and in tears crying out irrationally.

In hindsight I would answer the question of what my definition of bullying is, with the question of what this OPs manager’s definition of bullshit is?!

As you read you would ask why on earth I didn’t go to Tribunal then. I cannot explain this, I cannot explain the irrational fear I was in, the intense trauma and fog. I entered into self-blame which was perfect for Pret, because I suffered from sibling survivor guilt. I felt, and still feel somewhat that I let my brother down. Why did I survive my big brother?! What have I done to deserve to live!?

In later grievance appeal’s hearing I raised against an HR People Business Partner who kept sending me away when I asked for support, I explained the background of my turmoil up until my communications with this PBP, when I came to the point about being rebuked again, breaking down and in my broken down state being send out to do customer service, the hearing manager asked me if my GP can verify that I had a breakdown! I cannot explain the Twilight Zone I was in with incident after incident of systemic bullying in a work environment.

So, the bullying felt more like I was just imagining wrong doing because I already am suffering on the inside, lost over 35kg (while having free food around me every day!), couldn’t eat, was in physical pain, tinnitus, a complete and utter mess inside. I gave everybody the benefit of a doubt, except myself. How sick I have become and how wrong I was to let them step all over me, but I was in a different world, traumatized and on autopilot.

I became suicidal and had several close calls and am moving on to tell my story, no matter what they’ll throw at me!

So, to the OPs manager who did the appeal’s hearing asking me my definition of bullying, and to Pret, I have a question: Would the below count as definition of bullying?

 

Quote of the Day Pret #4

(New York)

 

This one maybe?

Quote Pret #22 Racist

(NYC)

 

Or this one?

Quote Pret #23 Racism

 

How about this!

Quote Pret #21 Just Terrible

(Chicago)

 

This?

Quote Pret #09a Hellhole

Quote Pret #09b Hellhole

 

 

Quote Pret #15 Harsh

(London)

 

 

Quote Pret #19 Avoid

 

Quote Pret #20 Terrible Company

 

(NYC)

 

Quote Pret #11 Squandered Opportunities

 

Quote Pret #25 Brainwash

 

For the sake of my wrist trying to avoid carpal tunnel, a long but not exhaustive list can be found here:

Pret A Manger Staff Complaints

Would the above answer your question dear OPs manager? If you don’t think that bullying a bereaved employee and in their trauma send them out to do customer service, in a company that prides itself in customer service does not look like bullying to you, then I really feel for your lack of emotional intelligence and you conspiring with a toxic HR department like this!

 

The Cost of Systemic Workplace Bullying

The Cost of Systemic Workplace Bullying – 2

Workplace Bullying Costs Lives

Workplace Bullying Costs Lives – 2

Pret’s Modern Slavery Statement vs. Pret’s Modern Slavery Practices

Pret A Manger Staff Complaints ~~~ & ~~~ Selected Quotes

How I became a Late Night Girl

 

 

Late Night Girl2

 

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