A Gag Order on Grief

 

I listened to a podcast on grief and how in this society death, dying and grief are taboo and people suffer in silence. In my own term I find that grief is silenced to death! It’s a blunt yet gentle podcast called Grief Out Loud.

In this particular episode “Inviting Grief Out Of The Whisper Corner – Megan Devine” the interviewee mentions that there’s such a “gag order on grief” in this culture, which I found a perfect description on how this society deals with grief and grieving people.

Full eposiode:

 

Another “loud” group, The Good Grief Project, was started by grieving couple Jane Harris and Jimmy Edmonds, who lost their 22 year old son Josh in a road accident on his trip in Vietnam. They interviewed other grieving parents and in making documentaries toured UK cinemas last year. In a London cinema they had a Q&A they do at the end of the screening, and Jimmy Edmonds said something striking after an audience member mentioned their struggle with loneliness in their grieving process. Jimmy said that in Victorian times it was common and completely normal to talk about death, dying and grief, but it was taboo to talk about sex, and how today it is the complete opposite.

I personally am tired of being swamped with sex images, sex talk, sex this, sex that… and THE inevitable that WILL come to ALL of us, Death, dying and grief is avoided like the pest! And when a loss finally hits us, we hang on a string fighting for life itself as we can’t cope with the onslaught of grief and shock! We were never taught about death and grief being PART of LIFE! We avoided it, we silence it to death, we treat it as if it is an evil to be shunned!

My own grief was very loud from the get go because of how my brother’s death was communicated, was unclear and was handled! Within weeks and after his funeral, flying back and forth, running errands, taking care of family, but still forced to work, I very quickly went to my doctor. I ask for help early on with referral to counseling, as I knew immediately this was too much to handle on my own or just with friends. It was too big for friends as well of course who soon withdrew. I had to hold it up for my family, remained strong until I broke. And we all went lost, each in our journey. And as I acquainted myself to loss and shock after shock, I buried my dad 3 years after my brother.

What I went through at work in Pret A Manger, I write about extensively on this blog and don’t want to go into, except to say for any new reader that I was bullied during bereavement, which I speak about in detail in the audio player at the bottom of this page and all over my website. But I don’t want to get into this too much in this blog entry here, and want to concentrate on the “gag order on grief” that Megan Devine so poignantly describes.

With everything that unfolded with my brother’s death and the added nightmare at work, my grief was 95% pure anger! I went into a mix of autopilot, functioning like a machine I was conditioned in for so long, the anger turned inward as I felt a huge burden of guilt to have let my brother down. And yet I was crying out for help in all the places from mental health institutions, friends, work, online bereavement groups … everywhere I went I mostly met a brick wall of silence or helplessness, and being passed on to another organization. The online bereavement groups frustrated me because all of them were widows who, many of them lost their partners 10, 20 years ago. But here I was having learned about my brother’s death weeks before and had to listen to widow’s experiences. With all the added stress at work, I went on an emailing-spree like a mad-man goes on a shooting-spree. No-one’s fault.

All the complications that grief and loss brings I went into head first, full force! I was like a headless chicken running around trying to make sense of what happened and all the added turmoil at work. A Twilight Zone opened up, like I was dropped in a land full of aliens and stumbled through a mental war zone, trying to figure out who my ally was. “Enemies” popped up at work. And in a fog I tried to navigate through a mine field where my presence became an inconvenience for my superiors. There was no friendly fire, no accidental shot, there was real ambush and the fight for survival in a toxic work environment.

Workplace bullying is already a hostile attack on ones dignity, but going through this during grief, I can only say that in the beginning ignorance was bliss! As I was in shock and turmoil, and even though I felt early on I was targeted, I kept going while mixing it up, blaming my turmoil on my grief.

My friends became overwhelmed and I don’t blame them. I worked in Pret surrounded by food with daily free food allowance, but lost 25kg in the first 6 months of bereavement. I was overweight but lost 35 – 40kg within a year, as I couldn’t eat and only forced myself half a baguette or one banana a day. I stood on my feet for 6 – 10 hours a day and went for walks hours after work. I couldn’t stop walking, like I was looking for my brother or trying to escape the mine field. I don’t know how I survived, but I felt “intoxicated” with adrenaline to get to the bottom of what happened and punished myself with questions of why I let my brother down!

Friends were at a loss, and all I always tried to say to people: You can’t and shan’t fix things! But please also don’t be scarce! You don’t know what to do, I don’t know what to do, so let’s do the unknown together… But neither of us could.

It’s just in other words how Megan Devine in above episode says:

»I feel like I’m more able to have no answers for things than I used to be. I like to believe that I’ve always been pretty good at holding space for whatever is going on for somebody, both as a friend and [professionally]. What’s different in my own grief [and others’] is, I’m okay to have no response at all other than my presence.«

In their own helplessness some blamed me, and I had to come up with my own empathy for my friends and understanding for a multi-million pound company! One thought always came to mind early on, when I tried to function as if nothing happened, I always thought in my utter loss and shock, “If in grief, comfort your friends”. But I still don’t know how to do that.

Death will come to all of us. Grief already has. And everyone grieves differently and in different times, length and depth, but whatever everyone’s coping mechanism or culture may be, grief cannot be silenced and my survival is to be loud.

 

»Unquiet Grief«

The wind does blow
today my bro

A few small drops
of rain

I’ll never have
such a brother again

In a cold grave
his ashes remain

I’d do as much
for my true blood
as any sibling may

I’ll sit and mourn
all at his thought
Forever and a day

The months and all these days
‘been rough
the dead began
to speak

Oh, who sits weeping
at the thought of me
and will not
let me sleep

It’s me my brother
who weeps at your fate
and will not let you sleep

I crave one hint
of what occurred to you
and that is all I seek

You crave one hint
of what occurred to me
the truth may be
hefty strong

If you’ve one hint from my
cold grave, sis
your time may not
be long

I ponder and wander to the
past so green
and go where we used to play

The finest mem’ry
that has ever been
is broken down to clay

My live has turned to dust
my kin
so will our hearts decay

So make yourself
content, little sis
till God calls you away

— poetrasblok.com

 

In memory of my big brother Thomas

Text: “Unquiet Grave” originated in the 1400s
Adapted “Unquiet Grief”: poetrasblok.com
Music: Kris Drever / LAU

 


 

Interview:

©2019 poetrasblok.com

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

My Brother

 

His name is Thomas, he isn’t with us anymore, but his name is still Thomas, that will never change.

 

When I started this website and blog I started it as poetrasblok.com, which still runs under this name as well as now also under LateNightGirl.org

Initially I only wrote about my brother as only poetrasblok with poems and videos I made for him and posted on this site. But after my ordeal with Pret A Manger, having also lost my father in March 2018 as well, I started to add the latenightgirl URL to write about my traumatic experience in Pret and show another side behind the PR[et] facade that almost ended my life.

Even while I dislike having my brother’s memory share one website with my Pret ordeal, I will eventually turn this site back to re-upload some of the poems and videos, and solely write about my brother as well as life in general. As this site has become quite large I periodically hide post entries that don’t seem important at a certain time, so that readers won’t be cluttered with too many blog entries to sieve through, and are lead to posts faster that I find important to share.

I currently don’t have the finances to start a second website for solely my Pret experience, and don’t have the strength to work on two website simultaneously at the moment. But in time I will separate the two sites, as my brother deserves his own space and website in his memory, and not share space with this toxic, greedy and dishonest company that is Pret A Manger.

At times my writings seem angry or bitter to the reader, that may be, but I am not apologizing for it. I almost lost my life in Pret after having worked with integrity, care and skill for almost 10 years. And all that happened to me was that my brother died, and I then became an inconvenience to Pret. My writing helps me overcome this trauma, and at the same time expose this company for what they really are.

 

Why I became a “late night girl”

 

In memory of my brother.

 

 

animated-candle-gif-29

 

Looking for a song for siblings loss. Tom Rosenthal’s for now is the best general grief song I can find.

»It’s OK«  Tom Rosenthal

 

14 TK crop

Thomas K. *25.02.1969 – 09.12.2014

 

 

 

 

©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 Perversion of a Toxic HR Department

 

… and how it poisoned me. What I have survived in a workplace that only cares for profit and the rest is just PR, has traumatized me so much on top of going through personal loss already. I have not dealt with this how I wished I would have, but I had no tools and am still learning how best to deal with this. I haven’t even started to come to terms about my brother and have lost myself in darkness and fear where I couldn’t see right from left.

Even with all the distance now to Pret and a lot of thoughts in hindsight, if I wouldn’t have all this in writing I would still shake my head in disbelief as if I just came out of a long and twisted Hollywood movie.

Regular readers know the story, so this will be a repeat, sorry for this, but I am still recovering and working through it all with the help of Therapy as well as sieving through the writings, emails etc. But I want to move away from writing in metaphors. I used metaphors a lot like the “Pret A Monkey Business” post to help me cope with the blunt memory of this “experience” that had me almost killed and try to make sense what happened and why.

 

head-1597565__340

 

I want to describe what to me was the greatest perversion I have experienced in Pret (or anywhere at that), twisted chain of events I have never experienced in my life anywhere. I lived and worked in three countries, traveled in more, lived and worked with countless people from all walks of life, from various countries, of different ages. I worked in several companies, mostly in the hospitality and service industry, had relationships, friendships, colleagues, bosses and had my share of betrayal and disappointments, like everyone. But I have never ever experienced the level of trauma, intrigue and viciousness that I experienced in Pret A Manger.

This is something I would expect in a law firm and certainly in politics, but a sandwich chain?? Maybe because I never experienced such dishonesty and trickery, I fell for it so easily. But I need to be kinder with myself and not keep blaming myself. Even if I would have experienced anything close to it, I was so traumatized already with the loss of my brother, which in itself was so out of this world, weird, unclear, with puzzle pieces I still have to put together.

Not having known for 5 weeks that he has died and was completely gone, already cremated without our consent in a country as efficient as Germany with its ID system. For us not being found still has me paralyzed how this could even happen. I recently found a video on YouTube where a family in the U.S. went through a similar event, losing a family member, not knowing that he died and was already cremated! I am not consoled that this happened to this family, but not feeling alone in a nightmare like this does help a little.

 

 

From the get go of my loss and all the terrible circumstances around it, I had not only no support in Pret apart from the basic stuff the company offers and then later when I contacted the CEO, but I was bullied in shop after shop as this is an issue with leadership which I also listed on one page from other current and former staff members. If a company does not have a clear policy for bereaved employees in place, like it has for pregnant women’s health and safety, a clear stand on homophobic and other discrimination issues, than managers are left to themselves. They have to figure out what to do, and most managers are overwhelmed, not trained, have no confidence which then manifests in leadership avoiding the bereaved at best and get angry at worst, or both. I went through it all.

Early on I approached HR informally to “help” them, where in reality I desperately needed help! I gave suggestions, even looked online for material and passed it on to HR, to managers and to area managers. But in my naive attempt to help them help me, I did not realize how uncomfortable the subject of death and grief is. A bereaved employee, especially if the loss is traumatic, quickly becomes an inconvenience.

Jimmy Edmonds from The Good Grief Project earlier this year shared in a Q&A in cinema where his film about grief was shown, that in Victorian times people frequently spoke about death, dying and grief. It was completely acceptable and normal to talk about death. But it was taboo to talk about sex. And today it’s the complete opposite. With the Good Grief Project they produce films, and travel to share and hear experiences of grief. They make the subject of death, dying and grief accessible in this day and age where we hide from this subject that will come to us all sooner or later. But they don’t do this in a gloomy way, I for one find it very relieving, and paradoxically lively the way they deal with this. It takes the sting out of this inevitable issue.

I wish I’d known their project early on in my own grief and in trying to find my way around the Pret maze where it felt like I was going through a war zone emotionally, and every step I took in a mine field could have been explosive, as it was many times.

I shared in several posts the different situations and bullying I went through. In a nutshell it was everything except physical and sexual violence. But I was shouted at repeatedly by different managers, as this is very common in Pret. I was avoided, not invited to leaders’ meetings, even a leader’s Christmas dinner days after my dad woke from his coma and I returned to London to earn money to visit him again, I wasn’t invited to the dinner. I wasn’t given information that I needed to do my job and when I made a mistake I was solely blamed. I was told off in front of my team as well as in group emails where the area manager was constantly copied in. It didn’t matter how I turned, it was always wrong and I felt with my back against the wall.

In all this I kept blaming myself mixed with the guilt of having let my brother down and silly things like not having replied to his last email to me five weeks before he died. The regret of not having emailed him back, and then five weeks after he died having received the news of his death via an email, all the group emails that my then line manager sent where he told me off several times or blamed me, and then later the emails I read between HR and managers about me. With all these email incidences I started to spiral into an ill emailing sprint that lasted many months.

It became so out of hand that I cried out to a line manager who just shrugged it off and even laughed with the leadership team. I brainstormed with therapist after therapist on how to stop this sickness, they couldn’t even diagnose what this is. Clive Schlee, CEO would later label me his “late night girl” to the Director of HR, due to late night emails to Pret (as well as my friends, therapists, anyone). He had a laugh two months before I was dismissed for emailing. I couldn’t stop, I went into a writing cramp again with my dad in a coma, coming to terms with another blow. I only started to come out of this writing cramp when I started this blog.

But the perversion I am speaking about really got to its peak when HR tasked a Development Manager from HQ to give me a disciplinary for the emailing. Up until then the Head of HR & Recruitment would deal a lot with my situation, after I contacted the CEO who then put the Head of HR on my case, as the bullying increased and no manager knew how to be normal, let alone empathetic. I approached HR and managers for almost a year, but was constantly sent away. One particular People Business Partner was heavily involved and already part from the beginning in my first approach to make suggestions to HR. I later raised a grievance against him after I read his emails and his involvement when I applied for my file. But of course it was a waste of time. I was just extremely out-of-sync.

I even apologized for a nervous breakdown I had two days before the first anniversary of my brother’s death, where the same line manager who would tell me off in the group emails and blame me constantly, rebuked me again in front of my team, and I just broke down.

But approaching HR and any leader didn’t help, I was sweet-talked and sent away … again. And I kept apologizing even though I had nothing to apologize for but needed an apology from those who targeted me for months under the guidance of HR. This was then when I finally contacted the CEO, something by the way one can see on Twitter keeps happening where employees contact Pret openly because they don’t get help from their managers or HR.

 

2018-09-13 #59 Staff Tweet2

 

2018-09-13 #59 Staff Tweet3

Link

 

 

2018-10-15 No pay for 4 weeks1

 

Link

 

And one just from yesterday:

 

2018-11-01 Homophobic Complaint1

Link

 

— & — Pret’s generic response because it’s public:

 

2018-11-02 Homophobic Complaint deleted2

 

I know, I know, I tweet a lot 😉 But the reason for this is that most people still don’t understand the turmoil and because I gave Pret the benefit of the doubt time and time again while they had a laugh and I almost killed myself! The tweeting will eventually cease.

 

But because my concerns and trauma with the managers where constantly ignored or I was sent away, I went into extensive emailing which increased when I drank as I couldn’t cope with the grief and what happened at work. Later I applied for my file as I tried to understand why this happened to me, and one email had me shocked, one of many emails that had me shocked, but this one was from an HR Advisor who was at first involved in trying to put me on performance targets that would lead to disciplinaries, and a disciplinary quickly leads to dismissal, even though I performed extremely well, especially under traumatic bereavement on autopilot. This among the other emails between HR and managers, the email bringing me the news of my brother’s death and the group emails from a line manager had me spiral into emailing, which I explain extensively in another blog entry.

In this email from the HR Advisor to the area manager, the HR person is trying to come up with a plan but wants to first liaise with the PBP who was involved from the beginning and was present in the first informal meeting where I approached HR with suggestions. The HR Advisor even writes that she thinks that my “case” is going to be “very complicated”, meaning because I am bereaved they cannot just get rid of me, at least cut me down from my leadership position, as this would be blunt discrimination and would not look good on the company.

Side note, this HR Advisor later changed direction when she heard MY side for the first time and raised my experience as a grievance against this area manager to whom she wrote that my case would be complicated. But in the grievance hearing she wasn’t present even though she said she would be, which started a whole host of confusion and deeper trauma. This email is a response from the HR person to the area manager who forwarded my email, where I asked for a meeting with my line manager and area manager as the bullying got worse. But not only were they never willing to sit down and speak openly to clear up any misunderstanding there may have been, but they were then even advised by HR to not have any meetings with me until further notice:

 

2015-08-24-complicated-case-with-plan.jpg

 

Quote for larger print: “Thanks for sending this (my email asking for a meeting) through. I have a few ideas of how to proceed but as I think this is going to be a very complicated case I’ll pick up with XXXX (the PBP involved since the beginning) tomorrow and will get back to you very soon. In the meantime, please can you and XXX (line manager) avoid having any formal/informal meeting with XXX (me) until I get back to you with a plan of how to proceed with this.”

 

This area manager who targeted me for months, using this line manager and other leaders from the area, would not meet with me, even before this HR person’s request to avoid any meeting with me. She only had one meeting where she held an “informal” meeting while taking notes that she emailed me after the meeting, and in the meeting gave me a list of things that she wasn’t happy with. But this list was completely banal and it looked very obvious that she was targeting me for the tiniest thing, whereas my colleagues made much bigger and more serious mistakes. It was ridiculous, but it traumatized me further because I felt like no matter how I turned, there was a trap laid out. And up until that time the HR Advisor only had the PBP and the area manager’s version of events, until she heard my side and then raised it as a grievance against these managers. But the grievance hearing, the first of many, was a joke, which I cover partly in other blog posts in a sarcastic way where Pret has all these “How To Cards” for every peep and poop micromanaging the staff. I just turned it around.

 

Fasting forward, after all my emailing and the continued bullying where I continued to be avoided, not given important info, not invited to meetings, my hours cut to minimum, even though I was desperate to work more as my finances were low since my brother died. I used all my savings for travel, bills etc. I became suicidal and had several close calls where I would leave work to go home but headed straight for the bridge.

HR then came up with the most perverse “plan” that I still have to get my head around. I scratched on this and wrote extensively, but more in metaphors to come to terms. Using a Development Manager to give me a disciplinary, she told me in the hearing that she also had a brother who died in his flat and was not discovered until days later. Just like my brother. Our stories are so similar that I broke and embraced the disciplinary assuming Pret now really supports me. I was so ill with the emailing and wanted to get away from this writing cramp, that I felt supported after all the pretense support since involving the CEO. I even improved and moved away from emailing for a while as I bought this trick thinking they supported me. But in reality they stepped on her and my dignity, using a bereaved employee against another bereaved employee, especially with such similar stories (if it’s true, I don’t even know anymore). Instead of getting us connected to support each other in our common grief which they could have easily done, they just used her against me. I still feel sick to my stomach even while writing this.

She gave me the disciplinary for my emailing but the next day entered into secret contact with me, even though HR of course knew as this was the plan, not to support me (and her) but to get rid of me as a disciplinary is the first step towards dismissal. And not only did she enter into private contact, she did solely via text message and email for which she sanctioned me in the first place! Hello??!! I don’t have to explain how confusing and distressing the following weeks and months became. To make it worse, she allowed Pret to use her personal loss and went further by manipulating me and what a Psychologist assessing me labeled as her “abusing” me. This Development Manager is a Hypnotherapist (registered under the National Hypnotherapy Society), an NLP practitioner (as several managers in Pret are) and in 2017 studied to become a Psychotherapist. Hypnotherapy and NLP can easily be used to manipulate people, and they did that well.

Early on in our secret contact, as she wasn’t allowed to be in private communication as the hearing manager (but Pret of course knew unofficially), she wanted to meet up and interview me for an Essay on anger that she wrote for her university studies. She thought it would be great to have my input as I was very angry because of how my brother died and all the mystery about it, and the added turmoil with Pret. Of course I was angry! But I declined being interviewed as I didn’t know her and didn’t want to be her guinea pig. And from the beginning all of this was confusing, but I was so traumatized, in dark grief, anxiety, confusion, I couldn’t put two and two together, like I can now in hindsight and distance.

I did file a tribunal claim but withdrew which I explain in this post. And that is one reason why Pret does not block me on Twitter, so they can use all my Tweets in court should I file a second time. I have declined four settlement offers in turn to be silent and never go to court, including going to court against the Development Manager who is protected in her job regardless what she has done and allowed them to do through her.

But most every leader, HR person, this Development Manager while not having a clear policy to protect bereaved employees against discrimination, most of them were picking and choosing what for them was “useful”. The Head of HR met with me after I contacted the CEO for help (before I realized the game they were all playing) and in the first meeting he asked me to score on a scale of 1 – 10 how it was meeting with him. Again, confused about a question like this I wasn’t impressed to meet with a “big gun” as I just wanted my line managers to be confident and normal with me, not bullying and avoiding me. I wasn’t interested in scratching his ego because he is wohooo a big gun meeting with a “plastic pistol”! And the first time he offered me a settlement, when he left he wanted a “cuddle”, and again I just thought what does he want? Does he want me to leave or does he want a cuddle?! He can’t have both!

Or an area manager who after she got to know me wanted to stay in contact even if I left Pret as she said I have so much insight into many things. And yet this area manager held a dodgy grievance hearing where I met her initially and later forwarded my emails to my line manager who also held me low.

Or the Development Manager wanting my input for her Psychotherapy studies.

Or a line manager who would not let me leave his shop because I worked so well and helped bring success to his shop, he would not let me leave even after I raised a grievance against him. I had to firmly beg to get a transfer as I couldn’t work under his manipulative ways anymore.

I was like a supermarket for them where these “leaders” just helped themselves! My confidence was completely lost with the death of my brother and what happened in Pret. Anyone who has gone through loss, especially a traumatic loss will have the ground pulled from underneath their feet. You feel like you are on an emotional free-fall and never hit the ground. Everything is insecure, existential fears, even if irrational, are magnified ten times over. One of my line managers would laugh when I had a minor panic attack in the shop. He just laughed and said “Haha, I never saw you that scared” laughing further… Sure it was his insecurity, but what the f***!!!! They used my vulnerability well and trampled on my dignity repeatedly! I even would apologize where I had nothing to apologize for. I was just on constant electricity, hyper vigilant and in a panic mode.

This is why at times I have completely wiped out my Facebook and Twitter followers, because I fell into this paranoia of fear, thinking what the heck do people want from me. Of course it is stupid and irrational, but it’s my only explanation why I act like this at times, especially when I drank something. So, that’s another thing I’m working on, but it is much better. To all who have been “kicked out” from Twitter and / or Facebook, it’s not you, it’s me! Apologies again! Of course some people I have blocked consciously as they were either trolls or disrespectful.

This perversion of this toxic HR department using a Development Manager, who isn’t even an HR personnel, who lost her brother like I lost mine in such similar circumstances, has topped everything they have done. It is beyond me how educated, elitist people, from wealthy to middle class backgrounds with university degrees and even Therapists backgrounds, can stoop so low to use and be used in such undignified ways. It is amazing. The Development Manager could and should have declined doing the disciplinary and instead offered to support me outside the sanction. But she chose to play their game, maybe out of fear, maybe she got a promotion, a pay-rise, she certainly has gotten the protection of the Head of HR. But whatever her reason, she should have been woman enough to respectfully decline and asked to not be the hearing manager as she had personal conflict.

Pret will find a way to get back at me for making this public. So be it! I neither fear them, nor have anything to lose anymore, and any job reference they will do to my disadvantage, I am not in the slightest bothered anymore. And they will come with another trick in the future, @ Pret I wholeheartedly don’t care whatsoever.

People get hurt in such traumatic and dishonest ways. I have lived long enough to know that corrupt people and companies will get their fair share of exposure sooner or later. I am not worried about that at all. Even hiding two customers deaths under the carpet and not dealing with the allergen label promptly says it all!

 

 

You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”

― Anne Lamott

 

 

This is my story and I take the liberty to share it with the world after having given 10 years of my life to a company that was not worth my while. The last three year in Pret where so traumatic and surreal like living in Twilight Zone! I still don’t know how I survived this and am still recovering. Pret and any company or person forgets that when you don’t support the vulnerable, be it children, the elderly, sick people or traumatized and bereaved people, when you step on them while they are already on the ground, the time will come where children grow up and the vulnerable will become strong again if they survive. And then they will share their experience and/or retaliate through court or publication, standing up with other sufferers in unity. And with Pret I believe the time will come where more people will cut through the bull-crap and say enough is enough, and overcome the fear and intimidation of these giants, who in reality are dwarfs hiding behind their inflated shadow of fear management.

 

dwarf

 

Anyone who has come in contact with me has also been at the receiving end of my irrational fears and paranoia, especially when I drank something. I fall into this extreme fear of not knowing who to trust, as what Pret has done has so messed with my head, that I feel like a human going through an alien zone trying to figure out who’s the human and who’s the alien masquerading as a human. Sounds whacked up I know, but this is how I can describe it. Pret’s HR department especially are so skilled in being nice on the front, while behind this is another motive. Maybe I was this dwarf that became a deflated giant scaring people unnecessarily!

And many of you are very kind and patient, and I will always be indebted to you for this, and in time I will “repay” you for your kindness!

Thank you for reading and if I can give anyone any advise, join a Union and trust yourself, no matter how messed up you feel or indeed are!

 


 

Update 10.11.2018

A review from a former Pret staff from NYC who puts it in brief and better words than my long posts:

 

2018-11-01 Go back to UK

Link

 

Substantial list of staff complaints from other websites.

 


 

UPDATE March 2019 – The first time I share my story verbally in one go in this interview.

Interview:

 

 

Adam

 

Above interview is with Adam from The Adam Paradox podcast on my experience in Pret A Manger.

We spoke about gaslighting, “shadow banning” and censorship on social media, as well as bereavement, trauma and mental health in general. I further talked about the significant timing of Pret CEO’s announcement of the £1000 Tweet for all staff. I also talked about a regular day in Pret and how staff have to cut corners, in order to fulfill the immense workload under constant pressure.

It is hard to squeeze my traumatic experience into a podcast segment, but we covered enough to get a good picture of today’s systemic stress environment for profit driven global companies.

Please visit his Podcast and Twitter @1AdamParadox.

 

 

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

 

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.

 

Open Letter to the “Misery” Shopper

 

Dear Mystery Shopper,

I hope you forgive me for calling you the “Misery” Shopper. That is how I often experienced you: merciless, unrealistic, arrogant and plainly non-caring. You gave us often very good comments, recognizing my hard working teams and with it also my hard work with my teams. Thank you for that. But many times I suffered deeply under your unfair comments, especially while going through bereavement with equally merciless bosses who only cared about their bonuses and reputation.

I can forgive you as you didn’t know what I and colleagues were going through, but my bosses knew and had no consideration nor care. The Mystery Shopper results count for the biggest chunk of management and OPs Manager’s bonuses, so this was the greatest pressure as well as torture, and the rewards were just too little for us teams. One manager said to me once when I was new in his shop that he closes his eyes to anything but the Mystery Shopper. In other words, he was happy for any mistakes or shortcomings, be it in the finances, health & safety etc. but was not willing to accept poor MS results. I just came from a branch where I was bullied for tiny things, and I responded to him that he should not close his eyes to anything! Of course that did not make me favourable towards bosses like him, but I wasn’t concerned! I had the loss of my brother on my mind.

And yet, even if Pret would have canceled the Mystery Shopper scheme, I would have worked exactly the same, as I love quality and giving customers the best service they deserve, not just because they pay money, but because I love people. Full stop!

 

 

Face off man-845847__340

 

 

You can only be a Mystery Shopper if you have never worked in retail or the food industry, so you would not empathize with the staff, but judge as a “proper” customer not understanding the pressures of the business. You are being instructed to be fair but firm, whereas I often looked at it hoping you would be firm but fair. You often choose to be firm. I have had outstanding comments throughout the years, including twice being commented on as having the best team yous have ever experienced. That was very kind for you to write, it didn’t help with my bosses, though, as it was never good enough, what we as the teams achieved. But that aside, it is about you in this open letter.

 

2012-10-12 MS 1

2012-10-12 MS 2

I and my teams received many comments like this throughout the years, but they have not helped me against the harshness of my line managers. It was never good enough. Towards the end of my employment in Pret I would even submit 4 pages of ideas on how to improve the Mystery Shopper and passed it on to my OPs manager. I had another 4 pages of ideas, but never submitted those as that OPs manager promised me as the Team Leader extra incentives if the Mystery Shopper results would improve (as if we needed improvement with almost always perfect scores!), but she never lived up to her promise. I delivered, but as usual left empty handed with broken promises. Another typical Pret “behaviour”, suck everything out of your staff and leave them stranded.

As with any other job, every Mystery Shopper is different, there are those who really take it serious at the same time have an eye on fairness. Others of you don’t really care too much, you come in and out so fast to just finish that job and within minutes you decide for the team to not get the bonus for whatever wasn’t right for you. Never mind them working and toiling since 5am or earlier with an angry manager giving them a good telling off later, because their bonus got even a bigger dip down.

Your job is to judge, no matter how long or short your visit. I hope you forgive me when I re-name you as the Misery Shopper as many times when the scores weren’t so good, even when we still had the bonus, the manager would give us a harsh telling off, because the managers and OPs rely on the scores to increase their bonus and competition in the areas. The Misery Shopper contributes most to their bonus and the ranking, that is why the teams get the most pressure from it.

It was particularly hard when I served you and your feedback was that I didn’t smile or that team members should not work while sick because I coughed during service. I am sure you are under the impression that the teams get paid when they are sick at home. But they aren’t paid sick-leave for the first 2 -3 days depending on age regardless if they have a sick note. Thus forcing them to go to work, cough, receive negative ratings for it and the manager gives them a hard time.

It’s a complete 100% lose-lose situation. If you stay at home because you are sick, you won’t get paid after your “well-being days” are used at the sole discretion of your manager. Also, your manager doesn’t like you being off sick, especially if you are a leader, like I was. They doubt your illness, I had that even while depressed and with a panic attack on sick leave, my manager didn’t believe me, but that’s another blog entry in itself.

If you do go to work because you need to pay your bills, the danger of serving you and receiving a bad report, and with it a telling off from your boss in the office, nothing is ever in your favour, no matter what you do.

 

2014-12-01 MS cough

Quote: “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.”

I didn’t feel cheerful to smile as well after the telling off from my line manager afterwards. You got told off in the office because you didn’t smile, and while the boss is telling you off (who by the way does not smile themselves, just as a side-note!) and then the non-smiling boss orders you to smile! You go out extremely humiliated, discouraged, with low motivation, and yet forced to smile if you don’t want to find yourself penalized or losing your job.

Another example of a Team Leader who complained on Twitter about being sick:

 

2018-09-13-59-staff-tweet-e1536844434384.jpg

 

 

In detail:

 

2018-09-13 #59 Staff Tweet2

Link to tweet plus, I responded to Pret’s saying sorry, but my tweet has been deleted or is hidden somehow. But it is still on my Twitter as well as a screenshot in one of the “Quotes of the Day“. Pret of course keeps any of my tweets they may use later against me. That’s fine with me.

 

 

But I can more than relate to this Team Leader’s “review”. You are made to feel guilty when you call sick, because when you are off sick as a leader, the manager has to pull up their sleeves and work instead of just sitting in the office!

So, dear Misery Shopper, what exactly would be a cheerful occasion to smile? And you probably think that this is an exception and that surely if a team member goes through bereavement there would be empathy and understanding. Wrong again. Having to smile NON-STOP especially for 8 – 10 or more hours a day, in an intensely, excruciating and brutal work environment, and on top of that just having buried a loved one…

 

This is nothing short of developing either superhuman abilities or mental illness!

 

 

Pret Uniform2

 

I wrote it to the real Pret customers already, that I wished sometimes I would have been able to wear a badge like a pregnant woman does with the “Baby on Board” badge, or a disabled person with a “Please offer me a seat” badge. I would have needed a “Please bear with my grief” badge, as my manager was merciless when I didn’t smile, even during bereavement. When I did smile and this feedback was given in your report, my manager never acknowledged it either. Never a word of, “I know you are going through a terrible time with the loss of your brother, and you still come to work and even smiled, well done, I don’t know how you do it, but you are doing good, if you need anything, a little break to take a breath, just let me know.” … Nothing of the like. Just a telling off and you go home later wanting to end your life.

I would do this with my team members once I was aware of problems in their lives. I’d encourage them, offer them some extra break or if they need to disappear for a few minutes when I saw them in tears. But for some reason I did not receive this common human kindness from my line managers, except from only one I worked only for a few weeks when she then went on maternity leave.

I wonder, dear Mystery Shopper, if you would also be so harsh with a team member if you knew they had a loss in their life preventing them from smiling. Would you be as merciless as the managers?

I survived the bullying and harshness, I became ill and at times suicidal when I couldn’t take this brutal treatment anymore. And I know of others who became depressed, ill, suicidal. But I survived and live to tell my story, and I tell it so bluntly because the thought that I may be dead now, jumping of a bridge because of the turmoil I went through, my body still freezes when I think of the close call I’ve had!

 

Bullying can kill

 

You will continue to do your job trying to be fair but firm, I would just want to ask you to rather be firm but fair, or better even, kind and fair. The people in HQ who come up with these rules and penalties don’t care about the stress on the shop floor and in the kitchens. They know very well how difficult and cold it is, but it is not of their concern.

Your job is to feed back if the team smiled amongst other things you check on, no matter what hell they are going through. I hope you won’t be judged so hard when you go through tragedies.

Thank you for reading.

Kind regards,

Ex-Employee of Pret, or as I call us “Ex-Prets” 🙂 ( <<< now that’s a real smile!)

Late Night Girl2

 

A compiled list of staff complaints from various review sites, YouTube and Twitter. Selected reviews as Quotes of the Day.

 

©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.

 

Quote of the Day #59 – Pret A Anger

 

2018-09-13 #59 Staff Tweet2

 

 

2018-09-13 #59 Staff Tweet3

 

2nd July 2018 Leader Tweet NOTE: This tweet is visible but not the initial Tweet from Pret’s CEO, except when I am logged in to my Twitter as many of my tweets are “shadow banned” (Please google shadow banning – secret censorship).

 

Quote of the day:

 

“!!!! … !!!!! … !!!!!!!! … !!!”

 

— and —

 

“…go work with fever 40 degree because nobody can cover me as leader made me undervalued I was very depressed !!!!the management give to me a lot pressure complaints about because I was calling sick I asked help but nobody help me out to change shop… I have infection of my livers because expired dates food is not been checked properly dates nobody following standards… I’m surrendered because I chose health and my mental well-being…”

 

Translating this very common problem in Pret:

She is overworked, not appreciated, over pressured and can’t even take off sick because there is no leader to cover her. Management is either swamped themselves or don’t care as both situations I have experienced time and time again and many others complain about in what I compiled onto one page from different Employment Review websites and YouTube.

There is no time to do one of the most important things, which is to check for any items that went out of date. I have experienced this countless times, I did the date checks, then my boss came to work and started having a go at me for why I haven’t done anther job… If you do the other job, the boss has a go at you for why you didn’t do the date check! So, after a long time of bullshit like this, I prioritized with what the most important health and safety issue is and this was my argument when I was rebuked again.I said this many times, even while working in Pret when my colleagues were frustrated about the harsh leadership, I likened what Pret is doing with the metaphor of binding the feet of the employees and then demand for them to run! No matter which direction you stumbled, it was always wrong!

There is no proper training, no proper leadership, standards are low and this Team Leader is trying her utmost best to keep up standards and try to work as best under the circumstances. She finally decided to “surrender” (give up, quit) by tweeting this, maybe leaving Pret, maybe she was placed in a better shop so she won’t openly complain anymore.

One hint of this trend throughout the company is in this staff review, of cutting staff to maximize profits, but then the health and safety of staff and customers are compromised. Quote, “Either stop cutting hours or stop giving teams a ridiculous amount of tasks to complete.”

My experience with the bullying during my loss and trauma in 2015 came to its peak, which I describe extensively in another blog entry about how I was bullied and gaslighted which I named Pret A Manipulate. I was one of those Team Leaders as well, like this Leader in the Tweet here, who took my job very serious. In the shop where my ordeal was the most painful and scariest, there were no morning date checks done, only evening checks. So, when an item was found out of date, the evening Leader was penalized even though the standard was to do a morning date check, but that standard was not followed. I always stressed this to my Leader colleagues to do the morning date checks, and not just tick off the box in the daily date check list lying that the checks were done. They always said that there was no time, and I stressed again that we need to find the time as this is one of the most crucial tasks for health and safety reasons.

One evening I did miss to take out 1 (ONE!) Lemon Cheese Cake that would expire by the end of that day. I saw it in my evening checks that I did hours before closing time. I even circled it on the date check sheet for me to remember to later take it off the fridge and waste it, so it won’t be on the shelf the next day out of date. I even remembered that I checked again when we closed the shop at closing time, but I didn’t see it anymore. I assumed we sold it and I was delighted not to have to waste food and money, as this is a more expensive item to waste.

But the area manager who targeted me for months for little things did one of her checks the next day, which was my day off (interesting she did the check on my day off!) and she found that ONE Lemon Cheese Cake. Long story short, she tried to penalize me, wanting to put me on targets etc. while in reality a colleague of mine left multiple items out of date in the fridges and was known for his poor working conduct by all colleagues. At one point he left about 40 – 50 items that were out of date in the fridges in ONE night, which I then found on my next morning shift and during the checks couldn’t believe how many items I had to pull off the shelves! Also, as there were no morning date checks, which is standard, but in that shop no-one except me was doing the morning double check, I was still the one she wanted to put on performance targets! I realized very quickly that she was targeting me.

But it backfired on her when I found the 40 – 50 items a few days later, communicating this to her and asking her for a meeting to speak about why I am being treated so harsh for little mistakes while I worked my butt off DURING the darkest time of my life having lost my brother. From then on she tried to get rid of me, shifting me around shops and using other managers to target me further. I realized very quickly that ANYTHING, the smallest thing can be used against a person if someone is out to target them. From this time onward the rota was adjusted to include the standard morning date checks!

 

Anger.jpg

 

This among the many other mistreatment I share on my blog, made me so paranoid, mentally ill, and I still now suffer from panic attacks. For a regular person who isn’t going through trauma or bereavement this would be already a nightmare to deal with, but I was in the middle of dark grief and had to also be dealing with poor, terrible management like this. I felt like I was stumbling through a war zone in a mine field, being shot at from different sides trying to desperately get out this mess!

I almost ended my life and this is why I write so passionately about my Pret experience, because people become mentally and/or physically unwell at best and suicidal at worst.

In a drunken stupor I write my anger in Tweets and on my blog at times, trying to still come to terms, and I am not proud of it, but I will never ever be silent about what I have been through in the middle of grief and trauma, which was then added by repeated mistreatment, manipulation, gaslighting in Pret A Manger.

 

 

 

©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.

 

pexels-photo-278303

 

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

 

 

animated-candle-gif-29

 

©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

 

©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.

On the 10th Nov. 2017

 

I received a Whatsapp from my aunt informing me that my dad was admitted into hospital. She said that he is conscious and in stable condition, but no other info.

I answered and the first thing I told her was to not give me any bad news, especially a death message via text. Please.

Call me.

She and her husband found my dad in his flat on the floor. He was conscious, but struggling to breathe and not able to respond or talk. He was lying on his stomach which saved him from suffocating, because he had vomited.

On the 11th of November I flew over. When I arrived in hospital, he was already in a coma.

The doctors only knew at this point that his sugar levels were too high. Nothing else.

For three weeks I stood by his side, extended my holiday, while they tried to get him out of the coma again. After three weeks he finally woke up. I was there when he woke up. I was there when he spoke again. I was there when they put him in a chair.

Only when he was awake again was it possible for the computer scan to properly read the brain cells, as the scan cannot read well when the brain is “shut down” sleeping. Only while awake could it be seen that he had a stroke. He survived for approx. 1 to 2 days in his flat. We only estimated from the time a neighbour saw him last on a Wednesday afternoon and to the time he was found on late Friday morning. He was only found because he didn’t turn up to the weekly lunch with my aunt on Thursdays 1pm. He didn’t pick up his phone when they called and just thought he forgot and is out and about as he was really active, visiting people and places with the train. He must have at least laid on his floor 21-24 hours minimum.

It was devastating to see his corrosive wounds in hospital, where parts on his body, the skin was black from the acid body fluids. His ring and small finger on his right hand was almost completely black like a coal in a fire, as his stomach was laying on his right hand when he landed on the floor, stopping oxygen to get through to his arm and hand. I worried if it would need to be amputated and was about to beg the doctors to please not haste with any decision. But the doctors calmed my hysteria and said, “Let’s see first how it heals”. I always thought that doctors are quick to cut and snip snap chop away anything that seems to be irreversibly “kaputt”. And indeed, fortunately after a few months it mostly healed and only fainted shades on the skin were visible. His small finger was the last visible wound in the end that only needed a tiny plaster on the fingertip. It is amazing how the human body is capable to heal with time.

But It was the first time ever that my father was in hospital. He never had to be operated on or needed to be in hospital. Just the usual GP visits. A very strong person. I expected him to throw fits, as he was so independent all of his life and had a very strong will and opinions. But to my surprise I saw a side of him I never knew existed. He cooperated in everything so unbelievably well unlike my mum, who was in hospital just 3 months before, having had a scary operation on the spine. I was already on a roll of flying back and forth between London and German hospitals and rehabs. My dad of course was complaining at times, but he also was joking around with the nurses and doctors. He surprised me. But it made the whole ordeal more bearable and I regained strength during really dark periods of downward fear and renewed anger, as I was in the process of losing my job in the midst of this nightmare.

I flew back and forth to work and in-between I lost my job as I got fired because of my mentally ill emailing. I was already informed while I was at my father’s bedside, that there is an ongoing investigation because my emailing increased, which I explain in another post why it increased. I received a disciplinary from a develop manager who supposedly lost her brother similarly to mine. She then entered into secret, solely electronic communication for which she disciplined me in the first place, making the disciplinary not valid. Pret tricked me again with this. But this crossed a line that lead me to speak openly now.

The HR department got me fired three days after Christmas and shortly after my father woke up from the coma. I used all the money they paid me out, to fly back and forth to look after my dad and his affairs as well as for a job back in London. It was like a repeat with my brother, but this time I had the chance to see my father alive. It was also a repeat from months before when my mum was in hospital. She had an OP in September a day after her birthday. I saw my dad only once then for lunch at my aunt’s house, because I spent every day in hospital and in rehab with my mum, and running errands for her. So, I was on a roll and here again I flew back and forth to be with him and run errands for him and also take care of some things for my mother. It was hard on her seeing me like this, and she didn’t know what to do. She was hard with me after her OP in September, she was so tough that I wanted to withdraw from her. I learned later that some people, especially when they are older, become rude and angry after a major operation.

My mother who is usually meek and helpful in her own way became angry, while my father who is usually strong willed and angry became softer after his stroke and coma. You just never know how people react after a major event in their lives with all the trauma and also the chemicals in the brain affecting their conduct. Makes me feel sorry for all the folk who had to deal with my trauma after my brother died and the bullying at work on top of it. It also makes me worry for any persons when I am of age in hospital or a care home. I’m trying to plan ahead to not give people a hard time. But this unfortunately cannot be predicted.

 

My father has died now, five days after I visited him last and four days after I last spoke with him on the phone from London. When I was back home I’d call him every day, at times he was in therapy, and other times I was able to speak with him and hear about his progress. I saw his progress, but it was a constant up and down. After rehab he was taken to a dementia ward closer to the town where he lived, so that relatives would be able to be with him more often. But 2 days after I left him to fly back to London for my job-search even though I felt incapable to work, they admitted him back into hospital as his health suddenly took a nose dive. Confused about this, because he seemed to make progress again, I immediately booked a flight after just having arrived home 2 days before. But I sensed it was important to be with him for at least one week.

I had everything booked, flights, a hotel room that was really cheap on the hospital grounds they have for family members who live far away. I managed to get a whole week after first being told that everything is booked out. But I persisted and contacted other administrators and any number I could find on their website in connection with booking a room. And suddenly I got a room for the whole week. I planned to be with him, but this time without driving back and forth between hospital and his flat to organize and bring him things. I also planned to not see my mum, as I wanted to be with my father 24/7 so-to-speak. But it was not meant to be. He decided almost 2 days before I’d arrive to call it a day. He knew when I was coming if he hasn’t forgotten it, because I asked the nurse to always greet him, letting him know that I called and have an eye on him. And this time I asked to please tell him that I will be there on Wednesday. But from Sunday to Monday night he might have thought that it wasn’t a good idea for me to see him like this any longer.

I never ever let my dad know that I was fired while he was in intensive care, and that I was bullied during grief after my brother died. I cheered him up. We laughed at times and he told me a lot about his life and his dad, his train collection and his work as a student. He could not tell me anything regarding recent years, but he remembered things from decades ago. And he remembered correctly, because I knew these stories from childhood on. But recent events were hard to recollect for him. A typical thing with dementia. He kept telling me about his VW Beagle “downstairs”. I never knew he had a Beagle, must have been from his student days. I asked him surprised, “You had a Beagle?” as I love Beagles and drove one from a friend when I lived in the U.S. for a while. He insisted that he needs to get the keys for his Beagle downstairs. I stopped correcting him and just entered into his world and said, that we first need to make sure that he gets back up on his feet, and then we’ll go and travel. He loved to travel by train. He nodded and agreed. And then the Beagle story was done for a while until next time when he talked about his Beagle again.

1953-03 Oldtimer

After he died and I had to clear out his flat and took with me the most precious items like papers, photos etc. I found one picture which must have been the car from his father, my grandfather. I was never able to find out whose Beagle this was. And I wish this photo could be turned into its original colour as my father spoke about his “green” Beagle. Unless he mixed it up with the later cars we had in our family, they were always from Opel, or as it is known in the UK as Vauxhall. I grew up with only 3 cars we had, always from Opel. The last two cars were both green.

1972-06-03 WAT Opel

 

1979 Ravensburg

 

1983 Opel Daubr

After a minor accident to the right rear side, the repaired door still needed to be painted green.

As green happens to be my favourite colour, my father either just imagined his or his dad’s VW Beagle to have been green, or this choice of colour for a car really ran in the family with family cars all having been green. In hindsight, I never knew what my dad’s favourite colour was. I’ll make it a “mission” to ask my mum, and also what her favourite colour is and any little detail like that…

 

A week before he died he tried to walk again. He was at times so strangely lively, while at other times just nodding off all day. But physio therapy is hard work. I just entered into his world and adjusted to his version of happenings and agreed that I’ll keep an eye on his VW Beagle downstairs.

But his last week I was able to hold him up while he walked a few steps. He just suddenly had this urge to walk. He got up from his wheelchair in which he would drive himself around the ward. He would do something with his hands like he was holding something, but he could never explain what he was doing when I asked him what he is holding in his hands. One time when I asked him if he was holding a thread or cord, as it looked like he was organizing some shoe laces or a thread that gotten tangled up in knots. One time he answered that he was doing “Kleinkram” meaning “small stuff” or bits and pieces. Painfully perplexed at his delusional hand gestures, I noticed very quickly with the other dementia patients, that this seems a common thing that a person with dementia does. While my dad was still in rehab and I’d see him do this for the first time and I pointed it out to a nurse, who was equally perplexed, I got scared. But seeing this later with some of the other people with dementia, I quickly relaxed and just went along with it.

He just got up from his wheelchair holding himself up by the railing, with me supporting him to not fall over. He then gave me something, whatever imaginary item he was holding, he handed it to me to hold it for him as he tried to hold on with both hands to the railing. I just took this “thing” and said to him “Dad, I’m just gonna put this down on this chair here, so my hands are free to hold you up, so we can walk a little bit.” He said, “Ok”, and then we walked a few steps before he sat back into his wheelchair exhausted.

This time was the most traumatic and also most important time to be with him. To see him so weak and broken, and to speak with him, even though his dementia made it painful as well as funny sometimes, in-between the clear sentences. He had to laugh about his own words sometimes when he had clear moments and looked confused why he said something weird. But I was able to make my peace for difficult times when I grew up. I was able to say my silent goodbyes, while giving him whatever family he had left by his side. It was important. I was never able to say goodbye to my brother as the police just cremated him without finding us first. German efficiency, hey!

Some of the things my father would say, it was clear he felt he was near the end of his life, so I just spent a lot of time just letting him speak about the past as he couldn’t remember yesterday, but he remembered 50 years ago. At times he would gesture with his hand in front of his face, moving to the left and right and say, “I’ve become nuts.” And I’d say, “No dad, you had a stroke, you were in a coma and are receiving lots of medication. It is normal to be mixed up and forget things and in your age it is normal to be somewhat forgetful.” He seemed to relax and continued to talk about his youth. He had some dementia already before the stroke, but it really became worse after it.

So I wanting to spend more time with him when I booked everything after he was admitted again into hospital. I wanted to be there again, without leaving his side to run errands or visit my mum in another town. Maybe I sensed this would be my final visit.

I buried him close to my brother.

I still cannot work or function well after these three years.

I can only say that Pret A Manger is not a place to work for, I wasted 10 years of hard work and loyalty. They’ve hurt me. Pret is not concerned for their workforce. They are just interested in the money coming in, no matter about the cost in the health of their workforce. They don’t care if people are bereaved, ill or their family is in hospital. If they can get rid of any “inconvenient” employee, they will find a way.

The care that is in place is just to cover themselves. I was too loud, tried too hard and made too many mistakes. But I survived and aim to live to keep telling my story.

In memory of my father.

1957 WK 18 Jahre Alt

 

1971-07-14 WK PK2 crop

 

 

 

 

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.

 

You Went Gone (death came and got me)

For my big brother.

I miss ya….

 

(»You Went Gone« by LateNightGirl.org aka pk4tk / »Death Came and Got Me« by Rosie Thomas – text slightly amended by me.)

 

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 expret.org, poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved.

 

 

When Machines bring you Death

 

(continuation from “How I became a Late Night Girl“)

 

The poison in my hand, that looked like a phone, wouldn’t help me get out of a war-zone, a bombardment that started raging inside me. The messenger was a machine, the email was a gun, the letters were the bullets.

Another machine that looked like a laptop connected me with a voice that sounded like the police. More surreal messages made their way through the airwaves, cables and electronics.

Questions …
Cause of death?
Organ failure.  

 
Which organ?
Doesn’t say.

 

And the autopsy?
No autopsy.

No autopsy?!!

 

When did he die?
Approximately 6 days before he was found.

 



Why were we as his family not found?

Why am I learning this 5 weeks after he died?

Why is there no clear cause of death?

Why no autopsy??! ……

 

All questions fired out on autopilot while still not having registered the message.

 

My brother dead!

 

The machine informed me that from a police perspective, as soon as they can rule out fowl play and suicide, they are not concerned about the cause of death anymore and hand it back to the coroner.

Case closed.

The policeman further informed me that they had to push his estimated 6 day old corpse away from his door to enter the apartment and they were able to capture two of the three cats that survived while my brother lay dead. The third cat slipped out the door and as a neighbour told me it lives outside now and won’t let anyone capture it…

Thank you for all the details. Very efficient.

 

 

Could I get a copy of the police and doctor’s reports, please?

You need a lawyer to apply for it, only a lawyer can have a copy. It’s the law in Germany.

 

A conversation with a customer in my former work who was a police detective, having worked on many death cases, confirmed that if nothing suspicious is found the case is closed fast, too much paper work. Of course if the deceased was one of their relatives, friends or colleagues, they would go to town trying to find the cause and family.

 

My brother was just MY brother.

 

Where is he now?

He has been cremated.

 
??!!!??!!

 

I realized later that his cremation was already mentioned in the email that I just read minutes before, but the LOAD of this short and brutal email was so surreal and heavy, I didn’t take it in at the time. I just starred at my phone half in mid-air and half on the floor, stuck in Twilight Zone. The turmoil that was soon to start, added by my superiors at work and the anger I would be capable of, would unleash in writings like a never ending mass shooting, but with words and letters in emails… The traumatic angst and rage that was approaching fast, losing me almost everything and everyone I held dear… I could have never imagined then.

 

I learned later that they destroyed all his belongings that had no financial value, since we couldn’t pay his debt from his business and had to reject the inheritance and with it all belongings that were of sentimental value to us. By law we had 6 weeks from learning of his death to decide what to do. We only received a shoe box size of papers, ID cards, driver’s license, photos, letters … and later his ashes…

in the post.

 

I went inside another machine the next day to bring death to my mum who brought us life.

And then I carried my big brother into the earth.

And I buried my heart with him.

 

My life has been a big mess since.

Everyone keeps telling me since day one to be strong.

 

But I am not a machine anymore.

 

©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 – Present poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org, LateNightGirl.Page.tl unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved.

 

 

How I became 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. I was bullied during bereavement, manipulated and gaslighted under the watchful eye of Pret’s HR department. Why the CEO 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.

Yes, this is a handful for you, the reader to come across and read. But you are only reading this, I lived and am still living this! But thank you for your time.

 

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.

 

 

18-tk-ca-2012.jpg

 

 

07 TP crop

 

 

Continued > When Machines Bring You Death

 

A Plea!

 

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, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved.

 

‘Everyone looked at me like I was a ghost’

 

»The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us for an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing… not healing, not curing… that is a friend who cares.«

— Henri Nouwen

 

The “absence” of some of my friends had me in deeper despair crying out too much, too loud, too chaotic, rampantly voicing my pain all over the place, burdening those I never wanted to burden. Silence is brutal only when there is no-one visibly there as well. I felt like being emotionally deaf and blind and just hopelessly crying out uncontrollably.

 

In my pain and despair I reached out to a friend who was overwhelmed and withdrew early on. I said that I understand that they don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do either, so can we not do the unknown together?

 

A friend sent this  following article to me a few months ago, but I just finished reading it tonight.

 

I draw strength from strangers.

 

click: Sheryl Sandberg ‘Everyone looked at me like I was a ghost’

One quote from this Guardian article:

»In the early months after Goldberg’s death, Sandberg says she made the three classic mistakes – “the three ps – personalisation, pervasiveness and permanence”. She blamed herself for his death: “Especially because the early reports, which were false, said he died by falling off an exercise machine. So I absolutely thought that if I had looked for him sooner, he would be alive. A friend would say to me, ‘You didn’t leave a three-year-old alone in a gym.’ But I felt hugely guilty.” When the autopsy revealed undiagnosed coronary artery disease, “I spent months thinking I should have known that. I felt hugely guilty; you blame yourself endlessly. Then one day Adam [Grant] said, ‘If you do not recover, your kids cannot recover. That is it. You must.’ So that really snapped me out of it. I was like, OK, this isn’t my fault. I stopped taking it personally.«

 

Kids are a great motivator to keep going.

 

Another quote in the article:

»Another mistake she’d made before Goldberg died was to ask people in trouble, “Is there anything I can do?” She says, “I really meant it. But it kind of shifts the burden to the person who needs the help to tell you.” The classic inquiry, “How are you?” also turned out to be unhelpful. “Well, my husband just died on the floor of a gym. Like, how am I?” The more meaningful question, she learned, is “How are you today?

But the biggest – and remarkably common – mistake is to ask nothing at all. “I want to talk about Dave. Bringing up Dave to me is always a positive. It doesn’t make me sad. I know he’s gone.” I ask if anyone has said they didn’t like to mention him as they didn’t want to “remind” her of her loss, and she laughs. “Yes. It’s not possible to remind me.” She recommends something she calls the platinum rule of friendship, “not to treat people as you want to be treated, but treat people as they want to be treated. That’s a pretty big mind shift, and some people do that quite naturally and some people don’t.”«

 

Yep.

 

Quote:

»To anyone who saw The Social Network, the film about Facebook’s origins which portrayed Zuckerberg as a socially awkward computer geek, this may come as a surprise, but the emotionally astute stand-out star of Option B is Sandberg’s boss. “Mark is why I’m walking. Most of what [he and his wife Priscilla] did is not even in the book, because they did so much. When I felt so overwhelmed and so isolated and just needed to cry, I would drag him into his conference room and he would just sit there with me and be like, ‘We’re going to get through this and we want to get through it with you.’ He did it over and over.”«

 

Well, Facebook may be there for its employees in tragedy, especially the high-ranking ones. I live in a different world.

The following part of the article I struggle with:

Quote:

»Sandberg is a natural leader and problem solver – not merely Facebook’s COO but its living embodiment – who has dealt with her grief almost as if it were a failing business to be turned around; she studied the data, applied herself to its findings, and found the potential for growth.«

 

Beautiful writing, but appalling thought. I’m sure it wasn’t meant the way I read it.

 

Quote:

»Survivor guilt is a thief of joy. When people lose a loved one, they are not just racked with grief, but also with remorse. “I could have saved her.” “Why am I the one who is still alive?” Even after acute grief is gone, the guilt remains. “I didn’t spend enough time with him.”«

 

I like: “We take things back”

Quote:

»With Rob’s and Amy’s words ringing in my ears, I decided to try having fun for my children – and with my children. Dave had loved playing Catan with our kids. One afternoon, I asked them if they wanted to play. They did. In the past, I was always orange. My daughter was blue. My son was red. Dave was grey. When just the three of us sat down to play, my daughter pulled out the grey pieces. My son got upset and tried to take them away from her, insisting, “That was Daddy’s colour. You can’t be grey!” I held his hand and said, “She can be grey. We take things back.”«

 

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, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved.