Wednesday 19 September 2007

and all the nobody people, and all the somebody people...

I was sat at my desk yesterday afternoon when a gopher arrived with some post for my boss that needed to be signed for. As my boss was at his desk, I paid this no mind until he then turned to me and handed me the post. It was an envelope containing a card signed by the Managing Director and congratulating me on ten years of service.

Ten years.

Technically speaking, I suppose that I have only actually worked for this company for about half of that time - I formally left when I went to go and work for the joint venture that built the company website in 2000 for three pretty happy years at the height on the dot com boom, and then after my return, I was outsourced to a completely separate company for a couple of years in 2004...before being insourced back last August. My service, however, has legally been deemed to be continuous. As far as the company is concerned, I joined them on 15th September 1997 and have been working for them ever since.

Far from seeing this as cause for congratulation, I find the whole thing a little bit depressing, to be honest. There's no such thing as a job for life. I don't think anybody now seriously thinks that they will remain with one company throughout their working life. The concept of loyal service has been pretty comprehensively exploded, to the advantage of both the worker and the employer. So how come I'm now 33 and I'm sitting in front of a PC working for the same company I joined when I was 23? Shouldn't I be doing something else by now? Something better?

Of course, if I have to point fingers, then the icy finger of blame here points squarely at me: I could have left; I could have gone looking for another job somewhere else, perhaps somewhere that would pay me more or get me to the top faster. I haven't done these things, and at the end of the day that's the reason I'm still here. If I'd really wanted to move on, then I would have moved on.

Does this mean I love my job?


Does this mean that there are things keeping me here other than my job? Does this mean that my career isn't the most important thing in my life? Absolutely.

My office is a ten minute drive from my house on a bad day. I see my wife and I sleep in my own bed almost every night of the week. Hell, I met my wife here. I work long hours, but mainly because I choose to. The flip side of that is that I often stroll into the office after 9am and have a relatively slow start to the morning, and no one really bats an eyelid as I do my work and I more than do my hours and people know this. I am able to pop out at lunchtimes and go running alongside the river, or leave the office early because I have to pop into town. I can work at home if I want to. I've been here for while and I do a good job. People generally let me get on with it.

The bottom line is that although I could earn more money somewhere else, I get paid reasonably well and I get time to do the things that are more important to me than getting on at work. I don't love my job, it's true... but I don't hate it either and it keeps my mind engaged most of the time (and I increasingly find all of the machinations and office politics amusing more than anything else, which perhaps tells its own story about how involved I am).

If you could have said to the 23 year old me in 1997 who really thought that he wanted to be Managing Director that this is what I would have become, then I think he would have sneered at you.... but frankly, what the fuck does he know?

Incidentally, my congratulations card came with a £25 "bonus bond" voucher (that's about 1p per day here). A quick look at the leaflet that comes with this reveals that I can spend this at (amongst other places) Threshers. So perhaps it's not all bad news.

*blows tiny party horn*

The milky bars are on me!


  1. I think you captured the sentiment all in one statement: "I don't love my job, it's true... but I don't hate it either."

    I had a job I hated. So, I went back to school so I could get a better one.

    Its those people that truly hate their jobs, but continue to work there year after year I question.

    If I had your situation... I'd probably stick there too for 10+ years... I stayed at one I hated for 7+...

  2. Yesterday a colleague told me she's been with our organisation for 22 years - she turned 40 last month. As our company pension scheme's a good one, she now feels afraid to leave. I just about fell off my seat!

  3. Look on the bright side, at least they knew of your 10 years of working there. 6 years of working at my London company and not a word. Nothing.

    I both loathed and loved it, for very different reasons.

  4. I've spent the better part of that time paying to go to school, and I've still no idea what I want to do with my life.

    At least you were getting paid?