Katherine Hayton | BLOG

11 Jun / Unsubscribe

Dear Retailers,

If, perchance, I’ve signed up to your email list in the past, please do not be offended if you receive an unsubscribe request from me this week.

I am trying to save money.

I have also discovered that the “willpower” others claim to possess is not on sale anywhere at the moment, so I don’t have any.

The reason that I signed up for your emails is because I like the things you have to sell. In the past this has meant that I wanted to see everything you had to offer.

Unfortunately, this now proves to be too much of a temptation and the self-denial I’ve recently indulged in doesn’t seem to be performing the task of making me feel smug and superior as was claimed on the box.

Therefore, please treat it as a compliment when I ask to unsubscribe from your emails this week.

If in the future I find myself sufficiently endowed, I promise to pay you a visit.

Yours sincerely,


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09 Jun / Shoelaces

Tonight, as part of my exercising in an endeavour not to die early, I walked home from work.

I’d done it yesterday as well, and if my willpower holds out I may just manage it tomorrow.

The walk home is a changeable distance. When I start out it seems easy, though relatively time-consuming. When I’m past the point of no return (the last bus-stop for forty minutes walk) it starts to get harder going. When I’m about twenty minutes from home it seems like I’ll never reach my destination. Then I make it inside, crawl to the couch, and pretend that it was a breeze.

It was at the point where it seemed impossible to finish the journey (alive) that a terrible incident overtook me this evening. One that demanded my complete and undivided attention. Immediately.

My shoelace came undone.

There was no way that I could keep walking with it flapping about and just pleading to be stepped on. When I was younger I’d have bent over and tied that up with no problems.

Being a middle aged woman who’s just started exercising again after a sabbatical and whose skeleton seems to belong to a woman twice her age there were a few considerations.

1) Did I think I could bend over to tie it up, or should I risk the knee bend?

2) Did I think I could maintain my balance whilst doing so, or should I risk tripping for another minute in order to make it to the bus stop where I could sit down?

3) Did I think that now I’d committed to bending over I’ll be able to stand back up, or should I just drop to the pavement and crawl the rest of the way home?

I wish I still had bendy joints that did things the way they’re meant to. If you catch me staring into space the next few days it’s me looking at my departing youth.

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08 Jun / The return

Today I turned up for work with my winter white arms, and my pale blue legs, both of them well hidden beneath layers of wool as befits a day that starts off with degrees counted in negatives.

I shivered through the first hour of work until the air conditioning kicked in. The positives of being dropped off to work in the morning are sometimes hard to weigh up against the misery of turning up to an environment that is hostile and ignores that you’re there.

Once the air conditioning started I went to get myself a coffee from the new coffee machine. That would warm my body up to body temperature and then I could hopefully keep myself in stasis until it was time to leave.

Our new coffee machine makes exceptionally strong coffee compared to our old machine. As well as that added benefit it also uses fresh milk from a little fridge next to the machine.

Once my cup was fully finished with a flourish of steam I took a grateful sip.

Do you like greek yoghurt? I prefer my yoghurt a bit sweeter and with a fruit or vanilla flavour. I really don’t enjoy greek yoghurt at all.

I especially don’t like it when my morning coffee treat appears to have a hefty dollop of greek yoghurt deposited in it.

On later investigation it turned out that the fresh milk in the little fridge to the side of the machine is only fresh when the little fridge door stays shut over the weekend.

I poured my treat coffee out and had an instant coffee instead. Black.

Settling myself back into my desk and grimly facing the thought of a week full of work ahead, my team leader breezed by with a cheerful ‘Good morning.’

She has just returned from four weeks in Thailand where temperatures have perched approximately thirty degrees above our own. Her skin tone has darkened at least eight shades, and she wore short sleeves and a short skirt in order to show her tan off.

My internal temperature dropped another degree and I started to shiver again.

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06 Jun / Private Jokes

I started a new book in bed last night.

No, not the Kama Sutra. I’m too old for all those bendy things. It was Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh, and I’m using the term “book” loosely.

What it really is, is a keen observation of the inside of my brain.

I don’t know when she had the occasion to peek inside there, or why she thought it necessary to graphically represent it so accurately, but it is so.

I know this because the secret internal thought processes that I keep to myself (and believe me I keep very little to myself) were written out in perfect detail within its pages.

And they were funny.

Funny, funny, funny, funny, funny, funny, funny.

I was trying to read quietly, because that’s what you do when you’re reading in bed next to someone who is also reading. You don’t want to be making a whole lot of extraneous sound effects unless you’re actively trying to annoy them for some light relief before going to sleep.

After a while though, I had to giggle. It was tickling my funnybone, and I could no more keep quiet than I could stop reading.

The bad thing about my giggle though, was that it opened something that is commonly referred to as a “floodgate” and a whole lot of other laughter that had been stored up behind it was suddenly released.

I thought each time that I’d got it under control, and then I would read another page, and another burst would – for want of a better word – burst out of me.

After the laughing came the snorting, then the soundless laughter where you’re laughing so hard that your muscles all lock up and no sound can emerge even though you desperately need it to.

After the soundless laughter came the convulsions where I almost dropped the book because my whole body was now trying to expel laughter and the muscle groups that normally deal with that detail were unequal to the task at hand.

Then I got to the end of the story, turned off my book, and closed my eyes.

‘What was so funny?’

‘You wouldn’t understand.’

Is there anything better and worse than experiencing a private joke?

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04 Jun / The rules

Today we spent a good ten minutes updating the “rules” for the new staff who will soon be joining our ranks on the floor.

Years ago, we realised that when staff went off the rails it was usually in the same direction. Although we force new staff members to read through a long list of terms and conditions of employment on their very first day in the office, they usually treat it the same as I treat the T&Cs from Google. Yeah, sure, accept, accept, accept.

So we streamlined the main culprits, the inter-office email chats, the unusually high internet activity, and boiled it down into a current hits list of don’ts.

Whichever team leader loses the draw gets to deliver it to the eager faces down in the training room.

They get to watch as those hopeful grins turn doubtful, and then change into a rictus of fear.

It’s when you get to that point you know that you’ve made your message clear.

As an added bonus this year we updated things along the lines of various discoveries we’ve made over the years.

1) If you make people phone their team leader when they’re calling in sick, they have less sick days.

An interesting discovery, and one which we’ve updated in the DON’T document today.

2) If people have earphones in they ignore their team members and don’t answer the phone and all unit spirit dissipates into the ether and we’re left with a load of people who suddenly realise they’re being seriously underpaid.

NO EARPHONES ALLOWED. (We can’t afford to pay you more, talk to each other)

3) If you don’t let your staff charge their cellphones at work when you have an earthquake you can’t fulfill your team leaderly duties by phoning them because they’re batteries are all flat.

Go on. Use the company’s electricity. It’s free. We may want to call you and make sure you’re not dead one day.

There’s probably more stuff we could be tweaking, but that was ten minutes worth and we do have day jobs to be getting on with, you know.

For more tips on how to scare and disempower YOUR workforce tune in tomorrow.

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02 Jun / New peeps

Today my little work team of four FTE and five staff expanded massively to six FTE and seven staff. Luckily three of them were away or I would’ve been completely overwhelmed.

For weeks leading up to this day I’ve been thinking, gosh won’t it be great when the new peeps start because they could do THIS instead of me having to.

Come to the actual day, and all of the THIS disappeared, and left me with not much to show the newbies at all.

All of the grunt work I was swearing under my breath about, gone.

All of the new projects that I was swearing aloud but quietly about, started.

All of the documents that I was swearing at volume about, updated.

Gosh darnit, but I’m efficient and then some.

It’s left me trawling back through my to-do lists for the past couple of months, where all the items that I really wanted to be getting on with but couldn’t because I was only one woman damnit, have been storing up their workload of goodness.

Once I have that compiled then I just have to deal with the next problem.

In order to teach someone how to do something it’s necessary to show them how to do something which requires the same amount of time, if not more, than doing the something required in the first place. Then there’s the preparation of the training materials for things I didn’t need training materials for previously because I was the only one interested in doing them.

If I didn’t have time before when I only had five staff to look after, how am I meant to do it with seven?

Oh the pressure.

Luckily there’s only two and a half months to go and then I’ll be winging my way overseas on a holiday to recuperate. Phew. I feel like I’ve earned it already.

Bring on day two.

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01 Jun / Impounded

Yesterday I was sitting peacefully at my computer looking at things I shouldn’t be, when there was a strangled yell from outside, and my darling bounded through the front door.

As he slammed it behind him and continued to run around the corner I began to form a vague idea of what had just happened.

Sure enough, the dog from next door was in our section again.

I’ve emailed the council about this dog previously, and was reassured by the dog pound people that they’d paid a visit and ensured that there was a sufficiently well fenced area that the dog could be contained within. They’d even suggested that the neighbours drop their phone number in to all of their neighbours so that we could call if the dog got loose again.

The phone number in the letterbox never eventuated, and the dog continued to roam through the neighbourhood freely whenever it felt like it.

Apart from occasionally yelling at it out of the windows it hasn’t been too much trouble since. We can yell. We can yell very scarily when we’re safely inside.

But yesterday the dog was under the tree, and the sun was in my darling’s eyes, and the dog tried to exit the property by running directly at him.

And girly screams and running.

Well, this time I was talking a stand. There was to be no email this time. No.

I picked up the phone and I called the council directly.

Ben was having a bit of trouble with his computer but I managed to stress the words large and dog several times, along with tossing the colour scheme of brindle in there because no one likes a brindle dog (except for brindle dog owners I presume).

Not too much time passed and a dog van pulled up across the street from our neighbours. A few minutes more and a second van turned up.

We’ve heard that oftentimes the police only have one van out patrolling the streets of Christchurch, but if you’re a dog on the loose watch out.

They sat for a while and surveyed the scene. Then they pulled into the driveway and the action started.

There was chasing and yelping and ‘whose a good dog, you’re a good dog’-ing, and then a whole lot of hammering.

We received a phonecall later to say that the dog had been lying in the sun on the front porch, but due to our dobbing him in they’d discovered the gate was broken and had taken the opportunity to secure the dog on the property by fixing it up with a bit of DIY.

Here’s hoping that’s the last time either of us run screaming across the driveway certain that jaws of death are about to fasten on our backsides.

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When I was on holiday (ah sweet holiday where did you go?) I started a mammoth task in the front room. Over the past year it’s steadily become a giant wardrobe for my ever-burgeoning selection of clothing in multiple sizes due to weight changes.

From being a giant wardrobe it then started to resemble a teenager’s bedroom.

I had clothing spread across the sofa. I had clothing in piles on the floor. I even had a few items of clothing in my spare wardrobe, but it was outnumbered there by food and electronic equipment, because what else is a wardrobe for?

I’ve tried to keep pretending that it’s all fine, it’s not out of control, but this lie has become harder and harder to tell myself.

Finally, I gave in and confronted the fact that I needed to organise the front room. And since most of the stuff was mine, this was going to be a solo journey.

I created more mess, briefly, as I sorted out all of my belongings into groups. Tops, bottoms, dresses/jumpsuits, undergarments, overgarments.

Once everything was in piles I took a little break, because that was a major effort, and then started on the next part of the experiment, which was seeing how I could store everything in its separate piles inside of the wardrobe.

I got most of the way through this new journey of discovery, when I discovered something rather unhappily against my plans.

The wardrobe I’m referring to is a mobile wardrobe. Or, to give it another name, a cheap piece of crap.

It’s basically an assembly of thin metal pipes that slot into (or hammer into if you want to be closer to the truth) little plastic joiny bits that hold it all together in a framework that resembles shelves and hanger space.

At one point there was also a cloth cover which zipped up along the front so I didn’t need to see the mess that was forming inside.

Perhaps I should have put the word cloth in “” because cloth doesn’t usually disintegrate in sunlight so that you can vacuum it up as powder. Powder with a couple of long zips in it.

The naked bones of the wardrobe looked cooler in a bohemian dream type of way, so I never bothered to try to find something else to take its place.

However, it’s possible that the “cloth” served another purpose in that it lent stability to the overall structure. Without it the entire wardrobe started to lean in different directions. After a time the plastic jointy bits started to crack where the pressure was now applied unevenly.

So, getting back to the major cleanup, I started to pile my piles into the shelf space that remained around the shelf space already reserved for electronic bits that may come in handy one day. I was down to my last two piles when there was a loud crack and the wardrobe started to lean to one side.

Well, it had been leaning to that same side for a while now, but it had some serious intent behind the lean now. It was leaning in a pay attention to me type of way.

I paid it attention by stopping what I was doing and announcing that I couldn’t complete the clean-up until I had purchased a new wardrobe.

There was no real incentive for me to buy a new wardrobe. I’m trying to save money at the moment, and the room looked a little bit cleaner and easier to navigate as it was. There was no hurry.

Monday night there was a large cracking sound and a thump. My darling jumped off the couch to investigate. I followed more slowly as I had a good idea of what we were going to find.

The purchase of a new wardrobe moved up my to-do list.

So after scanning the pages of Trade Me for hours, I now have a new wardrobe. It’s made of a lot of cubes that I assembled this morning, then disassembled when I was halfway through, then assembled once more in a structure that made a bit more sense.

I’ve tried to pour the entire room into this little collection of cubes, and I’m now most of the way there.

I’m ignoring for the time being the fact that the wires and plastic joiny bits remind me very strongly of the start of another piece of furniture that I once owned.

I’m sure it will all be fine.

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It’s been a while since I performed the two core duties that the majority of our unit performs.

When I was performing these duties, I kicked arse. Or, if you’re a citizen of the United States of America, I kicked ass. Now I only have the memory of kicking arse (ass).

When asked specific questions, about a specific situation, I can usually stall for long enough by typing in numbers on a computer screen to bring up views that I probably don’t need in order to internally trawl my memory for the few cells that contain information relevant to the problem at hand.

There is nothing that a few brain cells with a tad of memory can’t fake to reliably impress upon someone that the situation they’re striking is nothing new, we’ve been down this track before, and don’t worry we can solve it.

Sometimes these things are even coincidentally true.

However, when new young minds are entrusted to my care and long hours are to be filled with the knowledge of how to do their job…

I’m not sure I can show my face again tomorrow.

A brief memory filtered through to my subconscious about three minutes into the training session that there was a reason I’d run full tilt screaming away from training as a career.

It wasn’t the humans, although they’re a definite drawback.

It wasn’t the hours of preparation, because lets face it who can be bothered with preparation when winging it will do.

No, it was the intense sensation of loneliness you can feel when all eyes in the room are on you and you’re somehow expected to know stuff.

Hey, I know stuff. I don’t need to be cross examined about it every day by some wannabes, okay?

Thank goodness that tomorrow I’m going back to my good old ‘Oh yes dear, don’t worry, we’ve all had THAT error message before.’

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