A few months ago I had an epiphany. It wasn’t a particularly spectacular one like the ones you get when you’re pissed and you have a sudden realisation that it’s absolutely acceptable to text the person you once had a thing with ten years ago to ask them what type of pants they’re wearing. It was more a comforting revelation that despite everything that’s currently going on with my personal life, my professional life seemed to be ticking along so inoffensively well that it struck me I was perfectly happy in my current employment. This was revelatory indeed.
Granted, it’s not the most taxing of jobs – I work for the local council as assistant to the assistant in charge of licking envelopes – nor is it a position that’s going to make me a millionaire (only drug-dealing, benefit fraud or faking my own death and selling my identity multiple times over can do that), but the working environment I currently find myself in is one that is actually conducive to good working relationships, work ethic, common sense, and high productivity.
This is because the department and group of people I work with are, for the most part, fully compos mentis therefore they understand that good working relationships, a half-decent work ethic, and common sense generally equate to high productivity. So things tend to work well. Which is why I’m in a glass case of emotion knowing that in precisely one week’s time I’ll be abandoning this steadiest of steady ships in order to pursue my lifelong dream of working in another department for the same company. You read that right – I’m simply transferring to another part of the council because, unfortunately, my current position is temporary, and the new role is permanent and has offered me free shoulder massages and bacon sandwiches whenever I want them. (Disclaimer: they haven’t).
But in all sincerity, there’s every chance that I’m genuinely heartbroken about having to leave a team I consider to be the loveliest I’ve ever worked with. And as someone who also considers himself a vicious cynic towards literally every conceivable thing in the history of planet Earth – my offspring, Peter Rabbit, and Brad Pitt’s topless physique aside – this is quite the statement to be making. I hate to be going all pie-eyed and mushy here – which is ironic as I love pie and mushy peas – but leaving my current job will be quite the upsetting moment given the flexibility, help and support they’ve all given me throughout the most difficult period of my entire existence. I won’t elaborate on that because this isn’t Oprah and I’m not Lance Armstrong but suffice to say that over the past eight months my team-mates have endured and put up with my incessant daily belly-aching, listless pontificating, and an almost constant facial expression that resembled a combination of a heavily smacked arse and a chewed orange. Cash prizes and/or Nobel Prizes should be awarded to each and every member of my team simply for their ability to go about their daily work and interact with a vacant, blithering idiot who must have been utterly excruciating to be around. It’s no wonder they always talked about wanting to organise a night out on the piss after having a conversation with me.
I must confess, however, to having quite the topsy-turvy ‘career’ over the years, mainly because of my indifference to working hard, generalised hatred of anyone in authority, and my indifference to working hard. I spent many years being ritualistically shit on by the powers that be beginning with the first full-time job I took after leaving school which paid me £1.61 an hour, and involved being called a ‘c***’ on a daily basis by a Tory-voting racist named Edward ‘I Brush My Teeth With Dogshit’ Trollope. He was quite the c***.
My next position was with the mindless oblivion that is the Inland Revenue. How I’d managed to find myself in a position comparable to that of a lab rat was through a restrospectively stupid piece of nepotism: my mother got me the job. She’d worked there since the late-Cretaceous period (sorry, Mam), and had advised me that positions were being created in the Lobotomy Department for Lazy Bastards and that I should apply. I duly did, and after mountains of applicatory paperwork involving pre-school maths quizzes, three-letter word spelling tests, and how to say ‘hello’ when answering the phone, I was offered the position of Dogsbody which involved placing one piece of paper from Pile A on to a brightly coloured piece of paper on Pile B and repeating for eight hours a day. Supervising this monotony was a conveyor belt of pocket Hitlers who’d combine verbal abuse, timing my visits to the toilet, and eventual physical assault by way of launching a stapler off the side of my head.
After escaping this bowel of infected hell in a co-ordinated Inland Revolution with other members of my team, I took a role at Newcastle College which was quite wonderful initially – I spent the days playing football in the sports hall, stealing Lucozade from the vending machines and sleeping in the back office along with my two work colleagues, one of whom is still my bestest bud, and the other of whom my bestest bud and I wish bad things upon daily. Of course, after a period of coasting along with not a care in the world, a new boss came along – with no hair and a massive Humpty Dumpty head ego at that – and began spoiling our daily laziness by way of telling on us to upper management. This culminated in me being exiled to a small office secreted away in the basements of the college where I was left with a computer with no internet access and the door locked, trapping me in a kind of Guantanamo College but without the garish orange jumpsuit. Jail time is usually given for managerial behaviour like that these days.
Anyway, a sprightly collage of various job roles followed this incarceration including zero-hour contract jobs (of which the total hours worked amounted to precisely that), positions where I worked roughly fifteen minutes before breezing out of the front door never to be seen again, and Jobseeker’s Allowance roles whereby I literally only had to sign my name on a piece of paper twice a month in order to be paid. One vacancy I accepted included being threatened by the odious little manager with a lawsuit for rolling into work one morning precisely one minute after my contracted time. A lawsuit. His words. Heady days.
So you can imagine my surprise and hesitant glee when I took the job at the council and discovered that the people I was working with were actually, well, fucking normal. That is to say, not sadistic. Or pathological. Or psychotic. And I’m absolutely certain not one of them have ever timed my trips to the lavatory. And this, of course, is incredibly ironic given how much I’ve taken the piss over the last eight months. In what’s been an incredibly turbulent year, every last one of the team have approached me with good humour, sympathy and empathy, allowed me to get on with being a miserable sod who no-one in their right mind would want to spend any more than a couple of minutes with, and STILL invited me out for a pint, or wanted to have a bit crack with me about this, that or the other. I have a feeling that literally every company, team or boss I’ve previously worked for when confronted with my situation would have had me either sacked, ostracised or murdered.
Given that my entire work history has usually culminated in me walking out with two fingers raised in the general direction of my ex-boss’s fat fucking heads, this week is going to be an entirely new experience altogether in which I’ll probably bawl my eyes out after saying so long and farewell to the loveliest group of buggers I’ve ever worked with during the most upsetting of personal circumstances. So many, many pats on the back and tips of the hat go to the Direct Payments team of Durham County Council. Good folk with good souls.
Anyway, I hate to end this gushing wank-fest but I promise I’ll go back to being a stony-faced, miserable bastard in next week’s post when I’ll most likely be talking about the return of the Premier League football season and all the unadulterated shit-misery that Premier League football entails.