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to be getting a bit snippy with this woman?

47 replies

TandB · 24/05/2011 13:10

I started typing out the full story of this but it went on for about 10 pages and even I lost interest so very basic summary!

I have been railroaded by one of DS's nursery nurses into giving her son work-experience. She initially wanted me to give him a part-time job and was quite pushy about it but I made it very clear that we don't take unskilled, casual staff like that, so she then nagged me about giving him his school work-experience placement. She basically misrepresented to me what was required and when, and then misrepresented to him what I had and hadn't agreed to, so I finished up with a choice of letting down a very nice 17 year-old lad at quite short notice, or sucking it up and trying to sort something out. I chose the latter.

We are a very small firm and we don't do many work experience placements because the erratic nature of our work means that, all too often, we finish up with a bored teenager sitting in the office getting absolutely nothing out of the experience, while a very hacked-off admin assistant tries to make up things for them to do. We are quite happy to do short placements - 2 or 3 days, or a week with enough notice so that we can arrange it for a time when there is something interesting going on.

All this was explained to her but she still managed to tell her son i had agreed to a 2 week placement at his convenience. So I have finished up with less than 2 weeks notice to try to call in favours from friends at court and among counsel to make sure he has enough to do as I am out of the office for one of those weeks. I have barely been in the office over the last 2 weeks and when I have been, we have had ongoing server problems meaning that I can't print/email.

She has never stopped bloody nagging me about the letter he needs with a full itinerary, despite me explaining the problems I am having and offering to do a handwritten confirmation letter with itinerary to follow. Yesterday I was stuck at court all day and when I got to the nursery she immediately started on me about why I hadn't done the letter that day. I got quite snappy and pointed out that a client in custody does actually have to take priority over the arrangements for work experience, and that she couldn't realistically expect me to leave court to go back to the office and print out a letter for her son. She didn't appear to accept this but just kept going on, quite accusingly, about the school needing to know what was going on. I said I would do it for him today. She kept on about how later I had left it and I eventually pointed out that I would have had a bit more time to sort this out properly if I hadn't been misled about the nature and timing of the placement, or that I might not have agreed at all as the timing is so inconvenient.

She was clearly very cross about this but had to drop it as the nursery assistant manager was getting very interested in the conversation - from a previous comment from the assistant manager, I got the impression she was not at all happy about this staff member asking parents for favours and that I might not be the first person to be pressurised by her.

I feel a bit silly about it now - after all I agreed to do it. I could have been tough and said no, but he is a nice, bright lad and I know what it is like to be a teenager with a pushy relative (my gran in my case!) and I didn't want to let him down. So I know there is no point really saying "well I am not happy about they way you behaved over this" but I was really hacked off with her effectively behaving as though her son's work experience should take priority over my actual work, and as though I am somehow letting her down.

So was I unreasonable to have said something?

OP posts:

knittedbreast · 24/05/2011 13:13

no absolutly not. but me being me i would have stuck with no


LadyOfTheManor · 24/05/2011 13:14

I'd be furious for her even approaching me for something like it. Really furious. She's taking advantage of her situation and clearly cornering you into accepting him for work experience. Of course it isn't the young chap's fault; when I was in school (all of 9 years ago) the school arranged our WE placements-I ended up in a solicitors office bored out of my head for a fortnight.

I think she is rude and out of line and I'd speak to her superior if she continues to harass you in such a manner.


Tortoiseonthehalfshell · 24/05/2011 13:15

Are you asking if you were unreasonable to point out that she misled you about the nature of the w/e and it's inconvenient?

No, don't think you were, but really I'd be tempted to say look, this is what I can do and this is when. If that's not going to work out for your son, I can only suggest that he find a new placement. Either way, I don't expect to be harassed about it.

And I'd stay welllllll away from now on. What is it with you and these pushy women?


SilentSinger · 24/05/2011 13:15

Just imagine her in a car not reversing then ask yourself if you are being unreasonable Grin BTW YANBU


Pandemoniaa · 24/05/2011 13:26

No, YANBU. It's a real pain to get this sort of pressure and really unfair on her son too. I know it's easier in hindsight to have said "no" but life doesn't always work that neatly. I'm amazed that you've been this patient so far without snapping though!

I've also been pressurised into giving other people's teenagers work experience because they are "desperate to get into photography/design" and have had to explain that my work as a freelance is too erratic and too deadline driven for me to be able to guarantee anything meaningful in the way of work experience given the 9-5 expectations of the schools. Not that this stops the pushier parents asking why their offspring can't "do a wedding or something" despite the fact that everyone knows I don't DO weddings. Let alone "somethings".


TandB · 24/05/2011 13:29

I don't think she drives so no reversing possible!

LOTM - the problem is that her son is now likely to spend 2 weeks bored out of his head in a solicitor's office too. I won't be there for the first week so he is likely to finish up photocopying or transcribing unnecessary interview tapes.

If she had been honest from the start about the dates and the length of placement then I would have said absolutely not, but offered to call in a favour with a friend at a larger firm and find him something else. I know I should have said no but it wasn't the lad's fault and it was going to be difficult to re-arrange by that point.

Tortoise - that is exacty what I was asking. After I had said it I felt a bit childish, like I was saying "well I never wanted to do it anyway, so nyah!"

OP posts:

scurryfunge · 24/05/2011 13:37

Could you provide the timetable and copy and paste "filing and/or photocopying" throughout the time slots so that she gets the picture that it may not be a suitable work experience for him.

I thought the schools normally sorted these placements out anyway.


hollygolightlyandcat · 24/05/2011 13:40

No YWNBU in telling her your work takes priority over her sons work experience place (I cant believe she thought it would).
If the lad is 17, he is old enough to arrange everything himself, just communicate direct with him and the school in future. If the mother tries to get involved, just say that you are dealing with her son direct as its easier and change the subject by asking loads of questions about your DC's day (which is her job..).


mistlethrush · 24/05/2011 13:43

I did my work experience in a music publishers. What that actually involved much of the time, apart from taking the odd phone call and doing a bit of photocopying, was stuffing envelopes with music to go out - and sticking addresss labels on. They normally paid piece work rates to people in the village, but with me there they got a lot done free. The most enjoyable 'work' and with signifciantly more responsibility, was taking the boss's dog out for a walk at lunchtime Grin

A bit of boring is not a bad thing to be fair - not all work is interesting all the time.


Tortoiseonthehalfshell · 24/05/2011 13:44

TBH, two weeks bored out of his mind in a solicitor's office is probably not a bad introduction to being a solicitor.

I once spent two full days, in my third year out, sorting print-outs of emails into chronological order. Much better to teach him that the job will involve that sort of thing than to convince him that it's all delivering staggeringly-well-scripted opening addresses to open-mouthed juries, surely.


Callisto · 24/05/2011 13:46

She sounds like a nightmare - I wouldn't have had any qualms about telling her to feck right off if she had been talking like that to me. Terrible behaviour, especially at her work place.


MadamDeathstare · 24/05/2011 13:51

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SenoritaViva · 24/05/2011 13:52

KungfuP you are not being unreasonable. She misled you and frankly is now being utterly unprofessional by harassing you.

I would apologise to her son and explain that it will not be interesting. If she continues to harass you I would again say 'You misled me by not stating what you really needed, misrepresented me to your son and now you are complaining every time I come to the nursery. If you are not happy find him another work placement. If you continue to be unprofessional and harass me then I will make a complaint of my own to the nursery'.

You are being taken advantage of (and sound lovely to boot).


TandB · 24/05/2011 13:53

scurryfunge - I like your idea! Might add "thumb twiddling" to the timetable as well....

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MadamDeathstare · 24/05/2011 13:56

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

breatheslowly · 24/05/2011 13:58

YANBU about the way she has acted. But I don't think it would have been inappropriate to ask pleasantly and accept your first answer of "no". Otherwise work experience for professionall jobs just goes to middle class children whose parents have work/university contacts.


WeirdAcronymNotKnown · 24/05/2011 14:05


What a twat. This mother, not you. He's 17 FFS why is she doing this for him? Reminds me of threads I've seen about PARENTS applying for jobs on their DCs' behalf... Spoonfed much? Hmm

I wonder if HE even wants to be a solicitor though...


TandB · 24/05/2011 14:30

He doesn't want to be a solicitor, he wants to be a barrister. I told his mum I was a solicitor and she told him I was a barrister.

Fortunately for him I have rights of audience in the crown court too so I can actually take him there or talk to him about what it entails, but I am still going to have to find a barrister to lug him around for a day!

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cookcleanerchaufferetc · 24/05/2011 14:41

Call the school and speak to the placement officer/tutor about what is required.


breatheslowly · 24/05/2011 14:59

You sound like you are being really accommodating - I bet he is mortified by his mother's pushy behaviour on a regular basis. Aren't courts open to the public anyway? Couldn't he go and observe during his school holidays? I appreciate that there is a lot more to a barrister's role than appearing in court and he still needs to fill his work experience time, but he might find it useful to see anyway and would look good on his university applications as it shows a certain amount of initiative.


mistlethrush · 24/05/2011 15:01

panda you don't have to find a barrister to trail him around for the day. His mother misled you and him - that's not your fault. You were asked to give him work experience - that doesn't mean that you've got to sort a field trip out for him. Remember the driving - keep your nerve, look her in the eye and wait for her to back down. If one of the weeks is not convenient for you, say that. This woman is trampelling all over your good will - not exactly a good example to her son.

Alternatively, try to find a planning barrister to farm him out to - get him embroiled in picking apart waste figures or some similar issue Grin


TandB · 24/05/2011 15:34

Mistlethrush - I know, I know! But it is so close to starting now that it would be unfair on him to dig my heels in.

I have now managed to arrange for him to toddle around after a couple of the pupils at one of the barristers' sets we use regularly. It won't be terribly exciting but will give him a chance to hear about some of the practicalities of training, getting by on not much money and finding a tenancy. I have also asked the clerks at their chambers to let us know if any of their other instructing solicitors firms need someone to sit behind Counsel and take notes of trials - we don't get paid for sending clerks to court anymore so someone might be glad of free help!

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TandB · 24/05/2011 15:37

I have also been a bit pointed in the letter for the school - nothing that will scupper the placement, but it has been written in the assumption that pushy mum will insist on reading it.

I have put in that we don't usually offer 2 week placements, and why, and that I cannot give an exact itinerary as we will be needing to fit in with third parties who are willing to provide relevant mini-placements within the 2 week period.

Hopefully she will read it and take the point!

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SummerRain · 24/05/2011 15:45

I spent a work experience placement in a clean room counting mini stents.

You don't know boredom until you've been in a CSI costume, with your piercings taped up, all gloved up and scrubbed up in a giant clean room on your own counting tiny little bits of white plastic which come in bags of 1000.

On the plus side i got a distinction on my work experience as I wrote it up comedy style and the teacher liked it Grin


TandB · 24/05/2011 16:04

My DP got lumbered with a very know-it-all work experience guy recently. He gave him a power point presentation of figures relating to insurance risk for the geographical area surrounding a power station, made him change it into a spreadsheet and then research and calculate the equivalent information for surrounding areas.

And he gave him the wrong co-ordinates so he was trying to find data for a random field vaguely near the power station.

Apparently it took him all week!

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