I do not appreciate being screamed at and for this reason I always flick the channel whenever Melanie C is foolishly asked to perform live. Despite sounding like a wire brush on a blackboard you have to admire her hunger for exposure. Not since Madonna have I seen such blatant greed for fame and fortune. Her ambition to succeed is all consuming; faced with the choice of pushing her grandmother into an industrial centrifuge or bowing out of the limelight for good, I know where my money would lie. But what is it that drives someone to succeed? Is it physical, monetary or do they just want to show off? I suppose career aspiration should be venerated, not so much for itself, but for the sheer physical exertion it commands.
Such flagrant ambition can only be compared to the pound signs glowing in the eyes of every recruitment consultant London has to offer, and there is nothing more mercenary than a recruitment adviser with a mission for commission. My initiation into the capital’s workforce came via Office Angels on Baker Street. To this day I can still remember Debbie Gold, Jewish princess extraordinaire. With a voice sweet enough to make you vomit, it is quite possible that she was the inspiration for the Philadelphia cream cheese adverts. If this were to be true however, the creator obviously didn’t stick around for long enough. Every time she slammed the phone down the sweetness and light evaporated to reveal a visage that looked more like it had just encountered an unflushed public lavatory.
The days of being asked if I’d had a great weekend followed by the inevitable “what’s your name?” are thankfully long gone. Permanent employment has now ripped a hole in my lifestyle and firmly imbedded itself. Strange that at the time it was the only thing in the world that I wanted, other than a pair of Birkenstocks (how 1998). Now every week day when I wake the first thought that goes through my head is “Oh my God, please not again.” The reality of work is enough to make you want to go to sleep and never wake up. I shouldn’t really have anything to complain about; I earn enough to go out, buy clothes, go on holiday and live in central London. But I will never be able to reconcile myself to the monotony of a day’s work. Remuneration can never compensate for the emotional cost of a career.
Of course the solution to this predicament is to get a new job. This is, in fact, what I’ve been trying to do for the last 18 months. However I always have Jason at the end of the line to dutifully remind me that sending out two curricula vitarum is hardly bombarding prospective employers. It’s got to the point where I roll my own eyes every time I proclaim to be searching for new employment. So I’ve decided to put everyone out of their misery and just stay put. At least for the time being I don’t have to worry about looking like a Spanish waiter every time I go for an interview. And besides, a recent promotion and pay rise is always a good way to keep your staff shackled to you for just that little bit longer.
After two years I can now call myself a manager. Although quite what I’m supposed to be a manager of I’m not particularly sure: the only thing I ever seem to manage is to just about cope. My job seems very much the same as it ever did except I have now acquired two new protégés to impart my knowledge of the business to. The first tester of their suitability for the positions was if they succeeded in not dying from boredom after the first month. They only just pulled through. But now they have the grey pallor that artificial lighting brings, signifying their true integration into the workforce. Enthusiastic, industrious, diligent and competent are not adjectives I would use to describe them, but how do you motivate people when banal is as interesting as it gets.
Do I care if they read the Evening Standard at their desk? No. Do I care if they get in late? No. Do I care if they spend half an hour on a personal call? I couldn’t care less. I just wish someone would do something reckless like defecating on a desk to break the monotony. Maybe I’m being unprofessional, but one thing I’ve learned is that no one ever is. Most of the people I have to deal with rarely know their tit from their teeth.
Confused secretaries, alcoholic managing directors, and posh eccentrics called Ciggie Tudor-Jones are just some of the characters that populate my working world. With enquiries ranging from “where do I find my A-drive” to “I don’t know what I’ve ordered”, it is hard to comprehend how most of these people could get past holding down a paper round.
The biggest perk of my job is that it does not require me to wear a suit. There are enough upstarts wandering the streets of the City in seriously misguided purchases from Burtons as it is. For me, not wearing the nine to five uniform is the last shred of freedom I can retain for myself. As a child in middle class suburbia I was securely shielded from the realities of working life. Even then I dreaded leaving the protective arms of education, which I managed to drag out to within an inch of my life. Sitting in a café at lunchtime is all you need hear about the horrors of office politics. As a nation we tend to regard working as a moral responsibility; anybody that opts out is lazy or a state scrounger. My advice to anybody is to dodge it if you can.