January 4, 2013 1 Comment
The new year has seen me envisioning re-entering conventional workplaces again, in fact much like the old year did. Perhaps it’s a symptom of panic as my cash resources begin to dwindle and I’m still not sure what’s going to happen over the next few months; how I’m going to make money. Will I somehow miraculously fumble on as freelance? Will I manage to get a job? Will I have to compromise and get an awful low-paid job I truly hate?
(Thinking about the worst case scenario of eventually running out of money, failing to win any employment and moving home to my parents still makes me shudder, although I should be grateful for having that option. Many don’t.)
Either way, it’s brought me to thinking about conventional office workplaces again, and all that involves. The less than savoury element was highlighted in my recent conversation with a bloke.
Our acquaintance was renewed around eighteen months ago after a break of around a decade. We had studied together and been part of the same short-lived friendship group (at least for me) at university. He’s now working for a public sector organisation in an office where I worked around 8 years ago. It was a place where I endured a couple of the most frustrating stints of my working life (although there have been many) and was quite open about the fact I did literally nothing most days, frequently appealing for things to do. I once rose from my desk, walked to a train station and went for a job interview in a neighbouring town. Nobody really noticed or cared. The same people, moaning and not doing very much, are still there, my renewed acquaintance tells me. He’s now embarking on a career change.
When you’re staring down a scary barrel and there are millions of unemployed across the land, it’s extremely difficult not to be at all bitter at this slightly older generation who are coasting in management roles, particularly in the largely unsackable public sector. Roles usually befallen upon them thanks to little more than fortunate circumstance, rather than engineered through canny nous. A public sector organisation grew at just the right time for their careers, thanks mainly to public coffers. Here, have a team to hide behind. Often these people are dozy, oafish, charisma vacuums who are impossible to respect because it is impossible to tell exactly what they do.
Sure, I’m generalising a little, but not too much. These are certainly not fictional characters and there are plenty of them. Contemplating it too much isn’t healthy because you can easily tangle yourself up into a ball of seething spitting bitterness. I haven’t even touched on gender pay differences: another very real, very unfair fact of the current career climate.
Yet you feel if they can continue to manipulate a system and do so well doing so discernibly little, sometimes without even trying, why can’t I? Why shouldn’t I be able to re-enter this game, maybe not take the piss to their level, but not do too much, not take it home with me? Why can’t I still do what I want to do and enjoy doing outside of this “work” time? Read, write, photograph, watch, walk, listen, drink good coffee and fine wine, live.