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The theatre I work at is currently closed because it’s summer and nobody wants to sit in a stuffy theatre all evening when they could be out having a nice barbecue. The sound and lighting technician is away and to keep me out of trouble I’ve been given the job of making sure both stages are sanded down and repainted.

This involves removing all 72 flip up seats from the tiny downstairs theatre & hauling them up the narrow stairs into the bar. As the seats are normal theatre flip up seats with stainless steel frames this job takes a considerable amount of time and foul language to accomplish.

Then we realised we needed the fridges in the bar for an outside catering booking. So all the chairs needed to go into the basement, which due to the strange geography of the place is higher than the theatre (and universally known as “the chicken shed” but that’s another story).

Then two days later we needed to use the basement for something else, so all the chairs had to be moved back to the bar.

Of course this meant that the people who were supposed to be sanding and painting were in fact hauling chairs back and forth and swearing, so after a week the painting still isn’t finished and the theatre is an empty shell with ladders across the stage.

We’ve got a week until the next show…

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…

 

The exams are over, certificates handed out, My new contract is signed and I am once more a commuter. For the next year at least.

I’m even sort of being paid, as this is a probationary year to get ‘proper’ accreditation so I’m only a ‘sort of’ Arbeitserzieher/Occupational Therapist. Of course the local transport authority doesn’t recognise this distinction so instead of having an ‘all zones’ student card I now have to pay more for a two zone commuter railcard. Still, it was good while it lasted.

I even have the luxury of two different routes to work -you’re excited, I can tell- but as one means going into the main railway station during rush hour (So… many… people…) I opted for the slightly slower way that trundles down the hill into the city to within a fifteen minute walk to work. There is a bus which in theory comes every eight minutes, but I soon discovered that bus timetables are a work of fiction when the drivers of Stuttgart all decide to go into the city at once. Besides the bus clearly likes to visit every corner of the suburbs before finally going to where I work, so there really isn’t much difference in time.

Of course, you will now be wondering why I don’t just cycle into the city, and it would be nice, as it is only about 12km one way, but Stuttgart is in a 200m deep valley, and in an effort to make sure everyone has lots of ‘choice’ about how to travel, the city has built several very wide fast roads which ensures that you can get there any way you want, as long as it is in a car.

Besides, most of what I’ve seen in my first month commuting has confirmed that the average driver in Stuttgart is not only unable to see a large yellow tram with three headlights from about ten metres away: they also have trouble noticing pedestrians, other cars, ‘no parking’ signs, mahoosive dayglo pink fire engines with flashing blue lights,  and the difference between a road and a pavement, so I don’t want to test if they will see a bicycle or not…

Well, week actually, but never let reality get in the way of a title.

This week was supposed to be one of being generally relaxed and pottering about, catching up on all the annoying jobs that get forgotten while revising. Of course it hasn’t worked out like that because of the demands of different offices that we fill in the correct form and/or turn up for an interview Right Now because my change of status to not-really-unemployed to not-really-employed had sent their systems into a hissy fit.

This is not very exciting to blog about.

Fortunately, once the forms were gone we could do all the things that were neglected in the last few months.

One of the most important of these as far as Beautiful daughter was concerned was going out for adventures on the Bakfiets, so we’ve been exploring.

We went to see some horses,

…and found out how useful dock leaves are after stumbling through some nettles on the edge of the forest.

Beautiful daughter found a warm space with some interesting shaped seeds and nice soft soil…

And of course we had to visit a river to throw Great Big Rocks into

While not finding interesting new places we had time being creative, and made a poster for Grandpa’s birthday.

Meanwhile a pile of revision notes has been sitting forlornly in the corner waiting for me to decide what to do with them…

 

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.

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