So, I’m immersed in the small scale mania of my first day back at work after a week off with the wife and kids. I won’t belabour the point but I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to be picking up the phone, picking up the contracts, picking up the complaints, picking up the tab, picking up exactly where I left off and running in that big wide circle of dull employment that positions me back in this exact same position this time next Monday.
But I am and I will. The bills need paying. The kids need feeding. The wolves at the door need sating. This is life, right?
But there is one consolation. One undeniable fact that makes this reintroduction to the corporate grindstone a little more bearable this morning. Hell, it even makes me review my career path and makes me think that maybe I didn’t bum out after all.
And I have ASDA to thank for this joyous epiphany.
A quick walk to their store yesterday afternoon to pick up a packet of Bourbons and draw out money that I haven’t got from their ATM brought me into contact with a member of their staff who surely must have the most demeaning and soul destroying job on the planet.
Maybe this position has been around a while and I have merely missed it due to my infrequent visits to ASDA’s superstore? Maybe it’s not big news but it was certainly a new experience for me.
I’d grabbed my Bourbons. A double economy pack if you must know. I was heading down the aisle towards the checkout booths and that’s when I saw him. Or rather I saw it first.
It. The big green cardboard pointy hand held up on a big stick. The big green pointy hand with the words “space here” printed across the palm in ASDA’s jolly shopper script.
ASDA are employing someone to stand in front of the checkout area, moving along its length backwards and forwards like a crab in a force 10 gale, indicating which of the checkout booths has space on their conveyor belt of plenty to accept a new customer.
You poor sod.
Those were the exact words – pure and unadulterated – that entered my head when I saw him. He wasn’t even a young YTS-wannabe. Not a Hoodie serving community service. It was some poor middle aged fellow. Geez. Someone my age. He looked as fed up as such a job could make anyone. I could feel his depression emanating from him like the BO from his upheld arm. Space here. How he didn’t just dip that sign down so it was pointing to his own skull, I don’t know.
And then I thought: well, my job isn’t all that bad. I have a desk. I have a computer and a telephone. I have an In-try and an out-tray. Paperwork and emails. Budgets. And most important of all. I have a need to fill. My job is required. It is needed and, dare I say it, essential to the smooth running of the building. It’s important.
But then again it also has stress. And responsibility. And fall-out. And consequence. And complaints. And accountability. And capacity for foul-ups. And boredom and tediousness. And a sheer lack of personal engagement which quite frankly stultifies my brain for 5 days a week.
The only difference between me and that guy in ASDA is the stick.
And the BO.
Space here. If anybody wants it.