Hello. As some of you may be aware, my long and often fractious association with my employer United Amalgamated Consolidated reached its natural conclusion some months ago. It was an amicable split; we had just grown apart really. Well that, and one of us was several billion quid in the red and needed to shed as many overpaid IT drones as they could licketty split.
This means that for the last four months I have been enjoying a rather splendid summer holiday. My first break lasting longer than two weeks in almost twenty years. And let me tell you it’s been bloody brilliant. Getting up when I want, making the day up as I go along, holidaying all over the British Isles and beyond, and generally bimbling around. I’ve written stuff, drawn things, made jewellery and done some gardening. I even very nearly did some decorating. It’s got to the stage that I’ve actually started to lose the ability to tell the difference between weekends and weekdays. Not unlike being a school teacher in the summer holidays.
About ten days ago that all changed when I got a serious job offer. Now I wake up every morning around 5am, my stomach churning and my pulse racing. I live in fear of checking my email or answering my mobile, in case it’s the recruitment agency with another contract for me to sign. Or an identity vetting form to fill in. Or an employment scheme to opt out of. Or in. I lose track.
The point being I haven’t even started the job yet, and my body’s telling me in no uncertain terms that I hate it. I hate the idea of getting up early again, driving fifty miles and across two counties to another characterless office block full of several thousand suits. I hate meeting new people and trying to remember their names, having to try and make friends with people, not knowing where the toilets are or how the drinks machine works or which bits are self-service in the cafeteria. I hate the prospect of finding myself once more completely out of my depth technically (my CV, whilst truthful in my length of experience and breadth of skills, fails to fully explain that as a programmer I’m very much of the ‘pinch some old code that already works or ask a clever person for help’ school) and embarrassing myself in front of a whole new set of work colleagues.
In short, I’m terrified and sickened by the thought of starting another techie job in a big company. Hate it. Feel ill and wobbly. Not sleeping properly and counting every last day of freedom like a Death Row inmate. I want my summer holiday back. Don’t want to go back to school.
I’ve always been like this; the fear of institutional routines, of new things. I distinctly remember being almost physically sick on the last Sunday evening of every school holiday. Couldn’t bear to think about getting up on the Monday morning, putting on the hated uniform and pretending to enjoy the company of several hundred children and adults, maybe two of whom I would actually speak to during the day. For the same reason I never got a Saturday job or a paper round, never joined a youth group, never went on the school exchange trips abroad, dropped out of the scouts, cravenly turned my friend Bobby down when he asked me to help at the PHAB club, and only did one dance production and only then because Amanda asked me really nicely.
I’m a terror for dropping out of things, or better yet not joining in the first place. It must be a sort of peoplophobia thing, I suppose. My secret strategy down the years has been to gradually assemble a handful of friends who I really get on with and basically hope that they drag me along to stuff so I won’t be going on my own. This has to a large extent worked socially, although sadly job hunting for me remains a terrifying solo gig with nary a wingman in sight.
OK, clearly this is not the worst thing in the world – there are gazillions of people worse off than me and I have no goddam right bemoaning the fact that in these straitened times I have a well-paying job. I understand that. But being that this is a blog, the spiritual home of the self-indulgent wallow, hear me out.
I took the job because a) it’s the only one I’ve been offered in four months of unemployment, and it’s kinda nice to think that somebody wants to employ me (even if they’re about to take on a distinctly average code monkey, skillswise), b) I felt pretty much obliged to socially (who turns down a job these days? You’d have to be nuts or a millionaire and at best I’m only one of those) and c) once the process of the job application had passed the offer/acceptance phase (which I barely noticed at the time) it now seems somehow rude of me to back out at the eleventh hour. So, much like the ‘Mark gets married to Sophie’ plotline from Peep Show, I’m basically taking a long term contract because it would be too embarrassing to say no. See my Englishness ooze from every pore.
This leaves me in the odd position of praying that I somehow fail the company’s vetting process – the only way I’m going to avoid taking the job now without me having to do anything (which is out of the question, obviously). Given my exotic back history, failing the vetting is not wholly unlikely, though I’m considering quickly logging on to LinkedIn and giving myself some appalling references. Hey, you never know, this very blog might do the trick if I get it posted up in time. Fingers crossed eh?