A few months after I got my favourite pen, my Dad packed it and the rest of my life into the car and drove me down to University. As The Dixie Chicks blasted out of the speakers and through the open windows, I was as excited as I’d ever been up to that point in my life. Scared shitless, but excited.
Pretty much ever since then, I’ve employed Personal Assistants to help me do any of the stuff that can be done while I still have bed-head. And then they help me tame the bed-head.
I’ve never had a fundamental problem with paying people to help me do things; it is a fact of my life. And it helps me live it. Some of my PAs have ended up friends after we stopped working together. I wouldn’t have met these wonderful people if I hadn’t had to hire them first.
I do have an issue with the fact with every house-move I’ve made my hours/funding has been cut. I will still have bed-head, whether I wake up in Glasgow or Edinburgh. No matter where I am, I will always need help in the shower, will always poke myself in the eye while putting mascara on. And really, who wants to do that? My mascara would last a lot longer if Social Work Departments/Councils would let me keep all my hours.
While I wait to be re-assessed after every move I have to rely on assistance from the Council which I have no control over. Any number of people can come into my house, do what they want and leave when they want.
A few years ago, while waiting for my Direct Payments to be re-instated after a move, Council help would come in at 6.45am in order to ensure that I’d be ready for work. At 10.00. It doesn’t take me that long to get ready, even with the bed-head. But that was the time people were ‘available’ to do’ me. I had to take it.
I will never forget this exchange, at 6.45 on a rainy morning:
Stranger Who Had To See Me Naked: What’s wrong with you?
Me: What? Oh, I haven’t had my coffee yet. I’m not a morning person.
SWHTSMN: I meant the scars. Were you shot?
Me: What? No. If you’re looking for my medical diagnosis, which isn’t any of your damn business, I have CP. Those are surgery scars.
SWHTSMN: I know someone who has that. He’s worse than you. You can do more.
Me: Shall I stand on my head and spit nickels as well?
I could write several very long books about working with a varied range of people over the years. I won’t, because I have other books to write. If I did I’d call it Shit My PA Says. Stuff like: Look UP, don’t blink! Is that how your hair is supposed to look? And the famous catch-all phrase: Uh-oh. ‘Uh-oh’ can mean so many things. I broke your favourite mug. You’ve run out of coffee. I accidently vacuumed the cat.
A few weeks ago I heard that ever-interesting ‘Uh-oh!’ I braced myself and followed the trail of mumblings. I went into the kitchen, and there was my PA (a lovely lady from an agency I’m using until next week when two lovely new people start. Employed directly by me.)
Back to the kitchen, and Lovely Lady is holding up one of the sweaters my Mom made for me. It was decidedly smaller than I’d known it to be.
Lovely Lady: It shrunk!
Me: I put it in the hand-wash pile. It wasn’t supposed to go in the machine.
LL: It must have escaped! Maybe it’ll stretch!
Me: It won’t.
LL: You can wear it as a belly-top!
Me: You’ve seen my belly. That ain’t gonna happen. And I’m nearly 30 years old. Even when I wore belly-tops, I never wore belly-tops.
That sweater is the latest of 3 hand-washers that have ‘escaped’ into the washing machine in recent times.
I consider myself a fair boss. Fairer than most. New people I work with should know a few things about me:
I am monosyllabic until I have my coffee.
I don’t carry on conversations while I’m brushing my teeth.
I know my hand-wash-only sweaters don’t put themselves in the washing machine.
If we cover those points early on, we’ll get along just fine. And the new people are starting just in time; I’m running out of sweaters.