Like most people, Wednesday the 2nd of January dawned for me with the horrible realisation that it was time to head back into work. I’d had a great holiday with the kids and spent loads of time with friends and family. I’d kidded myself that this might just extend right into January and that everyone would think that I’d never had a job, allowing me to live 2013 in a manner similar to Prince Andrew.
I haven’t got a particularly stressful job. I don’t have to teach children, nurse sick people or dig holes in the roads during winter. I don’t have to spend months away from home, wondering if today might be the day that me, or one of my mates, step on something that changes our lives forever.
I work in that most magnolia of settings, the modern day office. I have access to a phone, the internet and hot beverages. I don’t have anyone timing my toilet breaks or cracking the whip over me. I have nothing to moan about.
But that wouldn’t be human would it?
Everything is relative and I moan just as much now as when I really had something to moan about. The cushiness of my current number, as compared to my life as a junior soldier, bears almost no comparison. This was a world where being messed about and having your life turned upside down at a moment’s notice was part of the job description. Any dissent or grumbling was always met with the sneeringly cutting response of,
“If you can’t take a joke, you shouldn’t have joined!”
Which was right, of course. If I think of the difference between my world then and my world now, I can’t believe I’ve found something to whine about. But I have and it’s the IT bloke who sits quite near to me.
He’s not in my team and I don’t even know his name, but he sits just close enough for me to hear his conversations, both on the phone and in person, with his other IT colleagues.
I know that the IT geezers in any office come in for a bit of ridicule. When they were at university they thought they were going to change the world. Five years later, they’re showing bell-ends how to turn computers on. It must be galling. No amount of Star Wars or Goth band t-shirts are going to put it right, so an airy disdain for their colleagues is all they have to distinguish themselves from the rest of us.
That’s not what does my head in about this guy, though. Yes, he has some of the stereotypical accoutrements you would expect to see on an IT bloke’s desk: phone with a Star Trek ringtone; slightly controversial poster; nine monitor screens; and a mouse that’s different to everyone elses. He also wears an earpiece arrangement that suggests he guards the President. He can have all that and go out at the weekends with his mates, dressed like this.
I’m not bothered. If he’d just stop speaking entirely in clichés, I wouldn’t know he was there. He uses all the expressions that I don’t like, the ones that people use to indicate that they’re a bit cool and wacky whilst proving the opposite.
Here is an abridged list from last week:
“I’m not three bad.”
“No shit, Sherlock.”
“Not a happy bunny.”
“He’s thrown his teddy in the corner.”
“Do I not like that?”
He also leans towards the use of military metaphor whilst talking about the most unmilitary things imaginable. On a recent conference call, he remarked that he and his colleagues needed to ‘go over the top’ and ‘dominate the high ground’ with regards to a software update. He added that they should, ‘watch his tracer’ and ‘get some boots on the ground.’
I’m well aware that I’m being intolerant and that he is probably doing a similar blog today, where he vents his spleen about having to sit next to an ex-squaddie with a Mancunian accent, straight from central casting, who spends a farcical amount of time drinking coffee or telling people jokes they’ve heard before.
In a funny way, we’re helping each other get through the week and avoiding the fact that we’re locked in this room till we’re 67.
Kevin Sampson's Extra Time
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