Good morning… not quite

I’ve come from -7 in Canada to the grey of London. The sort of grey that makes getting out of bed almost impossible. But I somehow managed the impossible this morning and even managed to find both bike lights before leaving the house. A major step forwards as I only managed to locate the front one yesterday. Don’t ask. Yes, I know not my finest moment and I am *that* person who regularly chastises those who are wanna be stealth cyclists. To add insult to injury, I’m back to a set of lights that are well past it, they don’t hold charge much but needs must for now as the last set got nicked from the bike when I was in the gym…but I digress.

So, I was on my bike, heading for London, the grey weather omnipresent. I have to say, this weather brings out the absolute worst in drivers. You can completely forget the use of wing mirrors, indicating… non existent. But this is not a story about my misadventurous commute.

Arriving to the office, which is based on a site with a large shared yard I began to lock up my wee steed and of course removed the less than perfect lights. It was then that I noticed one of our neighbours arrive from a unit on the yard head into our porch area and light up a cigarette. Now, not only is smoking forbidden on site, a few weeks ago we had a fire in a skip that sat not 3 meters from where he was pulling as much nicotine into his lungs as he could! Luckily, on the occasion of the fire, some of our team noticed and had to discharge two fire extinguishers to kill the flames. It was a Friday evening and I had to return with my dinner guest to chuck many buckets of water on the smouldering embers that were doing their best to get going again. I wasn’t popular. So, suffice to say we are very aware of the need for caution on site. Finally, our building is full of chemicals. The type that come with all sorts of warning labels.

Seeing my friend flicking his ash around I was immediately worried. Heading to our door I said, “sorry mate, unfortunately smoking is not allowed on site”. I continued and politely asked him to relocate outside the gates so he could continue toxifying himself. The answer, “no, it’s raining”. Which to be fair, it was but that was not my concern. Great.

I’ll be honest and say that to this point of the day I had only imbibed a thimble full of coffee and will also admit to still being a wee bit jet lagged, so this bozo was all I needed. A younger me would have gone nuclear at this point, but I’d like to think I’ve matured a wee bit. I decided on a negotation route. I mentioned the fire and the fact that we were lucky the buildings didn’t catch also. I was told to “chill the (rhymes with) duck out”. Fabulous.

Now I could feel that younger Ciara. “I do need you to smoke outside of the gates, the building behind you is full of chemicals and you risk blowing us all to kingdom come”. Begrudgingly and very slowly he started to move. I for some reason thanked him, I’ve no idea why but my relief was sort lived. I was told to “wind my (more ducks) neck in”, and a few puffs of his cigarette and then more abuse. I’m afraid if I print what was actually thrown my direction I would in fact be banned from this site. I’ll leave that to your imagination. But consider this, if I’m offended…

There have been some huge works on our site, the entire roof needed repair after years of neglect so we’ve had all sorts of contractors on site. In fact, this entire area was levelled during the war and the history of the building itself is intriguing, operating as production sites for leather goods, hats and even the London HQ for Etsy.

After receiving such horrible words from my new friend, I decided to query his employer and right to be on the site. I was pretty confident it was not one of the guys working on the roof as they have, to a person, all been lovely. My new friend refused to answer and more abuse followed. I decided enough was enough and took his picture (I told him I would do so and my role in the company and that I was well within my rights as he was now uncredited onsite) so that I at least had a record. I was slightly worried (for him) that he might try and take my phone but at that point he scurried back through the door he had arrived and slammed it very very loudly.

What a start to the day and I hadn’t even opened the office door. News came back quickly from the contractors that this was in fact not one of their team and then the real days work started.

I’m pretty thick skinned, but I found myself thinking of the team we have here on site and how they would react if they were gifted with the same experience. My first cup of coffee did little to stop the thinking processes and so I decided to raise the issue with the landlord, especially in light of the recent fire. The entire incident did not sit well and a younger Ciara would have stored over to the neighbours and demanded to speak to an adult.

I hit up my network and found the HR Director for the tenant. At 12.14 I sent a message outlining the situation along with the picture and my contact details. At 12.17 my phone rang and a lovely professional lady wanted to know what had happened and “yes, he is one of ours” she confirmed. Details taken, she promised to drop in for coffee the next time she was on site and in the meantime would investigate the matter and reiterate the fire regulations. She completely agreed that the behaviour of her team member was inappropriate!

Of course, perhaps our friend was having a bad day… but still no cause for that sort of language! So, just another issue sorted in the life of a HR/Operations professional. Bonus that the building didn’t burn down.

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