“Work Is The Refuge of People Who Have Nothing Better to Do”—Another Oscar, I’m Afraid

30 Jul

As my father used to say, “If work was supposed to be fun, it’d be called fun. Work is work, that’s why it’s called work.” Gertrude Stein he wasn’t, but he does make a valid point. So many people today think that success in their careers will lead to happiness. I’m afraid that kind of attitude is going to lead to nothing but disappointment (and premature damage to the respiratory and cardiovascular systems). Very few people can truly say that their work makes them happy. Luckily, I am one of those few. But the rest of the world goes to work, not out of love for their job or compassion for their colleagues or customers, but rather simply for the money. Even Hugh Hefner has admitted, “Bribing young women with dreams of stardom to have sex with my Viagra-fuelled body is not how I prefer to spend an afternoon, but I’ve got to do it to keep up the mortgage on the mansion.”

Ultimately the problem lies in the nature of employer-employee relations. I don’t have the time or energy here to rehash what was so thoughtfully explained by our dear friend Pierre-Joseph Proudhon. The gist of it is this: if you’re the employee, you’re nothing. You will never satisfy your boss; he will never think you give enough. You might have the highest sales figures or land the biggest contract or reach the top of the bestsellers list (for each of your last eleven publications), but he is never going to stop pushing you, pulling you, sucking you dry. He’s The Man and that’s how the Man rolls. You’re fooling yourself if you think you’ll ever be able to overcome this power dynamic. So just stop that silliness right now.

The only thing you can control in a work environment is your approach to your job. So keep two things in mind at all times. First, remember that work is never enjoyable. Everyday you will wake to your alarm, leave your home and head into a fucking nightmare. It might be your line manager blaming you for his mistake, the woman in the next cubicle who smacks her gum, the customer who wants his money back because he didn’t lose the twenty pounds in twenty minutes as your advertising guaranteed he would—whatever it is, it’s going to be horrible. If someone is kind to you, assume it’s a trick. You’re better off expecting the worst and being pleasantly surprised that you’re not emotionally and physically destroyed by home time.

Secondly, maintain a cool distance between you and your job at all times. Don’t give out personal information to anyone at work, not even the mailroom boy you had a fumble with at the last Christmas do. Never call your boss by her first name. Do not sign birthday cards or contribute to going away gifts. When the receptionist goes into anaphylactic shock after accidentally swallowing a peanut, just walk away. Showing you care about any task, person or responsibility associated with work is as good as admitting you’re beat. You might as well bend over, drop trou and let the Man stick it to you.

Keeping these two things in mind will make the experience of work tolerable enough to make it to just one more payday or until you finally hit it big at Foxy Bingo.

When that day finally comes and you are able to bid a fond farewell to your beloved bastard of an employer, remember not to let your guard down. Often we find ourselves feeling a bit more sentimental about our time with a certain company once we know we are leaving. This is a mistake. Remember, you were nothing to those people when you worked there, and you’re even more nothing now that you’re going. A dear friend who is moving on to bigger and better things recently asked me for some advice on writing his resignation letter. He showed me a few drafts he had spent half the night working on, trying to strike the right balance between expressing his appreciation and saying his piece over various grievances. I tore these drafts up in front of his stupid face and sat down to pen this for him (names have been changed to protect the weasels):

Dear Sir,

It is with much regret that I am writing to inform you of my resignation.

When I say “much regret,” of course, I mean “with slight trepidation,” as I am hoping this letter will not lead to any kind of interaction between you and me, beyond the usual meaningless drivel we already share. In fact, this letter need not be acknowledged or discussed in any way. On my final day of work, I will be happy to delete the pornography from my computer, empty my desk and walk away from your life forever. I prefer this company think of me and my time here as if it were a dream–not the best of dreams, not a nightmare, but something in between–a strange but intriguing time where things didn’t really make sense but, in the end, they didn’t really have to.

If you do, however, feel compelled to discuss this issue further, please be aware that I do not intend to bite my tongue about my experiences here. For example, do you remember the woman who invented “The Alastair,” the solar powered vibrator you were convinced she had named after you? The morning after I shagged her, I told her you thought that and she laughed so hard I had to shag her again to stop her from becoming hysterical. Also, if you force me to, I will confess that Phil is the one who’s been pissing in the sinks (I bet you thought it was Tom or John, what with their interest in “watersports”) and that the missing supplies from the stationery cupboard can all be located in Daniel’s lower intestine as he suffers from an inexplicable urge to eat cello-tape. Matt did not earn a degree from Bournemouth; his flatmate (a hobo) is good at both designing fake certificates and writing recommendation letters. Finally, it was James who bought you the inappropriate Secret Santa gift last year; you think he admires you for your stick+it+to+the+mandesign skills but it’s really your arse he is coveting.

I am quite sure neither one of us really wants me to have to share this information. Therefore, why don’t we considered this matter closed?

Sincerely,

The One You Insist on Calling Roger, Even Though My Name is Robert

I’ve no doubt that when he handed in this letter, Robert’s boss was secretly impressed with his coolness towards a company that had employed him for over twenty five years. In fact, I am convinced the suit against him will be dismissed before ever making it to court. He stood firm, calm and collected, and that’s to be admired.

We’ve all got to work (and by we I mean you), so accept it for what it is: a means to an end. Every morning you go, you do what needs to be done, you cash your cheque and that’s all there is to it. It’s not fun, it’s not fulfilling. It’s a job. That’s it.

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