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Work has been a bit busy over the last week or so and although there’s been plenty of blogging interest happening it soaked up the energy for the actual blogging, so as a bit of a cop out this week, here’s an entirely normal occurrence at work:

One day last week the kitchen/restaurant had a had a a big catering contract, so very unusually the chef turned up at 0800, while I was having a quiet cuppa with the business manager (who deals with paperwork). The Chef saw the manager, grabbed an invoice that had just come with an early delivery, and wordlessly attempted to wrap it in a bow around the managers hand. This didn’t work so he proceeded to stuff it down the back of the managers shirt.

The manager had remained silent for this operation, but as the chef tried to walk away as if nothing had happened, he retrieved the crumpled paperwork and calmly observed: “You really aren’t a morning person are you Stefan?”

Holidays this week, so hopefully I’ll find something interesting to blog about…

As I mentioned last week, we had the big summer concert at work recently. Like lots of social organisations we occasionally do something like this, even though it means that for a couple of days we have to drop the treehuggy therapy side of our work and just put on a show. As an Arbeitserzieher/Occupational Therapist is essentially there to do the treehuggy therapy thing, this renders me pretty useless but fortunately there is still a need for someone to be a vaguely reliable gopher.

Being generally useless was an advantage as the rain came pounding down at eight in the morning and kept going until early afternoon. I ended up being the designated Holder-up Of The Other Tent Pole so I managed to stay mostly dry, while all the people who knew what they were doing ended up getting soaked doing the complex techy stuff outside.

The rain got bored and went home before the artists turned up, and when the audience arrived I was the Ironic Stage Door Bouncer and spent most of the evening persuading merry people that no, the entrance to the building is that way and there really isn’t anything interesting behind this door, and if they genuinely had an important message for someone I could take it to them et c. The rain held off until just before midnight when the band played its final encore: we have a strict 1200 finish, mainly because one of the largest police stations in Stuttgart is three doors down the road and the boys in blue apparently get really grumpy if their midnight doughnut round is disturbed.

The tidying up part of the operation was simple enough even for an OT: It doesn’t matter where the cables are plugged in, you just tug at it until it comes loose and then dump the whole soggy mess onto our indoor stage to dry out by Monday. We were finished in two hours much to the disappointment of two very well lubricated festival goers who thought they’d finish off the evening listening to a band. After briefly considering turning into rowdily aggressive festival goers they decided that trying to annoy a dozen tired stage shifters was probably a bad idea and wandered off into the night.

Stuttgart’s transport system goes to bed at about eleven, so the organisation laid on taxis for us, which sounds like a quick way to get back, except that our driver was afflicted with the problem of taxi drivers all over the world, of being unable to drive anywhere in a straight line. so I finally arrived in our village at 3am on Sunday after a very informative tour of the surrounding towns…

This week the theatre/social enterprise I work for was part of a big summer festival in our part of the city, which meant Saturday was full of loud music, crowds, lights, more loud music, and more crowds. Pretty much the standard town festival formula really. Oh, and it ran to midnight and after that we had to tidy everything up. And someone decided it would be a great idea to put the 5’3″ (168cm) Brit on the rota for the stage door bouncer.

Still, there are worse ways to spend a Saturday night than trying to keep people on the public side of the stage door by sheer force of personality and a step. Besides, I got to hang out with some of our clients and hear their stories and as soon as enough time has passed that I can tell them without the people involved being identified you’ll read them here.

Alas you won’t ever get the full experience of the Tale of the Announcers Dentures, to name but one, because that requires the announcer themselves to be recreating the situation and audiences reaction, but I’ll do my best.

In the meantime, I’m going to stop writing before I lose the ability to use sentences and fall aslpffrrrrzzzzzzz….

Still settling in at work, so there’s not a lot of energy left for blogging, but I’m determined to keep posting more often. To this end here’s another list. This time it’s the good and not-so-good things about where I work:

Good things:

  • Working with a great team of people who love their work and have a shed load of experience.
  • Therefore, I’m learning a lot about social work and Theatre.
  • Most of the clients are great to work with. And the more awkward clients usually get fed up and leave after a few hours.
  • The other staff all dislike meetings, so they survive them by taking the mickey out of each other between business.
  • I’m close enough to my old college to continue the training as a therapy dog trainer.
  • I’m working in a theatre again, and not just any theatre: it’s in a re-purposed art-deco power station.
  • Standing up and moving about all day is good for a waistline that expanded in two years of sitting at a desk.
  • Because I’m the first Occupational Therapist in the organisation, I’ve got a fair bit of freedom to work out how I fit into the team.

Not so good stuff

  • It’s in the middle of the city, and I really don’t do cities.
  • The commute into the city is shared with approximately 3749 children going to school, with high pitched voices.
  • I’m still getting used to this business of standing up and moving about at work…
  • It’s really in the middle of the city…
  • There isn’t a workshop to play do projects in.
  • It can be stressful when I have several clients who need something to do, and I can’t give them a job because of lack of experience and technical understanding on my part (But we’ve figured a possible solution for that…)
  • I’m essentially an intern, which means ‘cheap’, but it’s only for a year until I get my state recognition.

Overall the good outweighs the stuff I’m less than thrilled about. At least for the next 12 11 months.

I also have to write reports in German which isn’t easy. On the other hand someone has pointed out that I can see that as a kind of revenge on the Job Centre who have occasionally made life miserable in the last five years: some pen pusher in an office over there has to decipher what I’ve written…

Mwahahaaa…

 

On the tram approaching the stop for my finals, I found a some notes I’d mislaid for the ‘Learning and Development’ exam lurking in the depths of my bag. The title said “The four main factors essential to learning” and although they were definitely in my handwriting I couldn’t remember ever having set eyes on them before.

This isn’t the first time this happened: in my written exams I was floored by a question which I couldn’t begin to answer having mislaid the index card early on in my revision. In that case I’d had about 25 other questions and four hours to answer them in so I wasn’t too worried, but this time the education ministry had decreed that the entire two years of learning would be examined in four fifteen minute interviews. I’d have a total of three questions in ‘learning and development’ so if the ‘four factors essential to learning’ came up and I didn’t know the list by heart I’d lose a third of my grade. I slipped the notes into my shirt pocket, and kept checking them while I recited the ‘four factors’ all the way into college.

I was directed to a ‘waiting room’ in one of the classrooms. We were told that we’d be picked up by our examiners, taken to our interview room, and brought back to wait for the next one. I was duly picked up by the first examiner and we went to the interview room where I had to take three random cards off a pile, read the questions on the other side, and answer them. This set the pattern for the next hour: go to interview room, take random questions, try to answer questions without brain freezing, back to waiting room.

In ‘Learning and development’ the first randomly selected question was inevitably: “Name the most important factors for learning.”

After the fourth interview I was legally obliged to push off and not come back for a couple of hours, so I duly pushed. Two hours later I found my colleagues in a very good mood, mainly because we’d all finished a rather long examination process, and in several cases because they’d spent the intervening time in the bar down the road. We gathered in our now former classroom, which already looked a bit forlorn with tables pushed to the walls and old projectors and flip chart frames dumped in the corners.

When my name was called out I went to the front, took my certificate, shook hands with the tutors, and rushed back to sit down and look at the grades.

To my absolute astonishment I’d passed with a ‘1.5’, a comfortable margin as a pass is anything up to a three or four.

Suddenly two years of training ended, with a sense of anticlimax. Most people went to celebrate, but I exited via a back door and headed back to the tram. As I got on I felt something crackly in my shirt pocket and retrieved a piece of paper.

I’d been carrying the answer to “The four learning principles” all the way through my exams.

The long silence has been due to the continuing inconvenience of exams intruding on life. The week long practical exam of the last post was followed by a couple of written exams a week or so later, and finally today I have to go and do four fifteen minute interviews. This, I strongly suspect is because the education ministry has realised it’s cheaper to grade us with oral exams than pay for someone to mark written papers.

It is a strange feeling that to have exactly one hour left of a two year course.

On the other hand, it means by this evening we’ll all know our grades and whatever has happened everyone can generally relax: I’ll have two weeks off before I start work, and I won’t have to spend them looking at index cards…

Exams are kicking in at the moment, hence the lack of posts here. The coming week is a practical exam, where I go off to a workshop for people with disabilities and train someone to do something, which is more fun but unfortunately less photographically interesting than my last exam.

I’ve been allocated somewhere way over yonder on the north side of the city (while people living there have to commute to a workshop just down the road from here, which seems a bit silly) It is also on a greenfield site and I’m not sure how many buses run past the door so I’ve borrowed a folding bike for the week just in case.

This of course involved a logistical exercise because the tram stop is in the next village, which meant a slightly complicated multimodal journey involving the Bakfiets, folding bike, and tram, but I made it in the end.

Tomorrow we’ll see if I need it.

So, when you make it a new years resolution to write a weekly post, don’t then contract a rather nasty strain of ‘flu the week before the exams start.

I’d been feeling a bit rough last week for a couple of days with a cough and runny nose, then I was on my way to the privvy one evening and realised that if I didn’t lie down right away then my body would take matters into its own hands. After about 20 minutes I was still on the floor albeit feeling rather better so we called the overnight doctor. They came, checked a couple of things and called for a (non-emergency) ambulance to take me to hospital.

Of course, my Asthma, which has been pretty much under control for the last two years, took this opportunity to have a party as well. I did point out that with four tests on the next four weeks and exams after that, this was a very inconvenient time, but it didn’t make any difference.

I’m much better now but any remaining brain capacity will have to be used for revising over the next weeks.

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible…

One of my resolutions for this year was to get back to writing a new entry here every Saturday.

I’m not sure how well that’s going to work to be honest. Apart from my non-existent work ethic I’ve realised that the final exams for my Occupational Therapist course, which up until now had been far far away, are suddenly looming with a couple of months to go.

From tomorrow I have about four more weeks of normal lectures (including at least two tests, whoopee…) and then a month or so of exam preparation, then in early March I’ll be given the address of a randomly selected workshop for people with disabilities where I’ll get a client and have a week to prepare a 30 minute training session, write a report, and then and do the training session with an examiner watching.

Then it goes quiet until late March when I have two written exams, and then on April the 19th it’s the the last push: six fifteen minute interviews one after the other. I’ll get my grades on the same day.

In theory I should start work the week after. I’m working on that minor detail.

All this is to say I may be posting entries even less regularly than I managed last year. I just thought I’d better get my excuses in early.

Happy Christmas and New Year, and thanks for reading along for the last twelve months…

Now I’m off to do something more festive. See you later…

 

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