Contract killer

Contract killer

Today was quite an interesting day for me: I found out what I’m actually doing at my new job. Or, well, what I’m supposed to be doing.

I’ve been here for almost a month, mind you, but they were vague on the details when they hired me. And I mean you can’t ask your boss what you’re supposed to be doing – how incompetent would you look then? So I’ve been spending the last three weeks sitting meekly at my desk, bleating shyly for work and doing the little that trickled through to my desk in the corner.

Samantha Steele
Oh sorry to bother, don't worry me, I'll just, you know, read my book... PHOTO: Martinette Louw

However – I just put pen to paper and signed my six-month contract. This means several things:

  1. I now know what I’m doing, in detail (and it sounds exciting!)
  2. I’m bound to my current job for at least six months (so maybe I can actually unpack my boxes and officially move into my flat – I hated moving with a wild passion last year and dreaded all the packing I’d have to do if I didn’t get a job in Cape Town, so decided to deal with the situation and the uncertainty this year passive aggressively by leaving the boxes to smoulder in my living room while I looked for work).
  3. I can have a flat warming party!
  4. Dylan Moran
    "What's your mother's maiden name? What's her first name!? I only knew her as 'Ma'!" Bernard Black filling in his tax form. PHOTO: icnetwork.co.uk
  5. I have to get a tax number (that sounds so complicated, bureaucratic and boring, I feel like Dylan Moran in Black Books – you know, that first episode where he tries to cut off his own hand?).
  6. I have signed away my intellectual property rights (but that doesn’t mean anything, does it? I figured intellectual property is like castles in the air, you know, property you imagine. So I’m fine, right?)
  7. There’s no room to negotiate a salary increase (I might be earning double my previous salary, but the fact is it’s still not enough for me to be independent).
  8. The contract called me ‘the Intern’ with a capital letter. I don’t know if that means anything, but I thought it was interesting. Great nickname, not at all derogatory.
  9. Samantha Steele
    The Intern is very wise. PHOTO: Annelie Mare

Lucky for me the contract was written in simple, easy to understand English. Like this succinct sentence: “The ownership of the copyright and all other Intellectual Property rights in the work made by the Doer (‘the Intern’) pursuant to the commission given by the Commissioner (‘the Company’) shall vest in the Company and no rights under the Intellectual Property in such work shall vest in the Intern save as may be specifically be granted by the Company to the Intern.”

Clearly, Plain Language is so yesterday. I’m pretty sure they write like that to make people grab their brains and say “Stop, stop, for the love of God stop and hand me a pen! I’ll sign ANYTHING!” I actually read the contract partly because I heard of a company in the States (details are fuzzy in my amper naweek brain) that put a clause in that signed away people’s souls. True story – seriously!

Yes. Samantha Steele, aka the Intern, is now contractually obliged to do stuff. It’s good, I know, but somehow I don’t feel all tingly inside. Maybe it’s because next week me and SARS are going to have a heart-to-heart. Yes, me and SARS, together at last – all because getting any money out of the monster they call Media24 requires a tax number. Never mind that I don’t earn enough to actually pay tax, oh no! Getting a tax number should be as much fun as going to the dentist (no offence Valentina). I need to get proof of residence (I rent a flat, I never even see the electricity bill!), proof from the bank that I have (some) money in my account, certified copies of my ID, and I have to fill in a form that is rather boringly named IT77. You’d think, considering all SARS has going against them – the boringness, the bureaucracy – they’d at least make the forms sound like fun. Like, instead of IT77 it could be the … um … the… Chocolate Form. Something like that.

But I guess finding out what I get paid for is enough excitement for one Friday. Aside from pub golf, obviously! Oh, and actually doing what I get paid to do. But hey, I accepted years ago that Friday’s are the least productive day of the week. If only my boss would accept it too…

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2 thoughts on “Contract killer

  1. I’ve been here for almost a month, mind you, but they were vague on the details when they hired me. And I mean you can’t ask your boss what you’re supposed to be doing – how incompetent would you look then? So I’ve been spending the last three weeks sitting meekly at my desk, bleating shyly for work and doing the little that trickled through to my desk in the corner.

    Ugh, nasty. That also reminds me of another ‘Black Books’ episode, one in which Fran manages to find a job through a friend of Manny. Thing is, nobody tells her what’s her position or responsabilites, so she just sits in her table faking tapping on the computer. 🙂

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