Sunday, September 02, 2007

Hard Corps

When Joni Mitchell said "you don't know what you've got till it's gone", she was spot on. But then again she also said "They paved paradise and put up a parking lot" . And as Partridge put it: "that's a measure that would have alleviated congestion on the outskirts of paradise - something which Joni singularly fails to point out".

It's a year since I've graced an office and I was actually quite looking forward to returning to the environment . Banter and witty repartee, maybe, challenges and solutions, a chance to test myself. But actually I have found myself in a corporate environment so antiseptic, so dead, so numbing that it makes me realise how vibrant the Drum office was.

At Drum, the decibles never dropped. Whether it was our attacks on Dave's fuchsia jumper or jeering at my love of Subway sandwiches, verbal sparring matches between myself and Ivan on the subject of The Libertines vs Muse, or attempts to establish whether SJ was posh enough to be in line to the throne, the office was always buzzing with activity; rapid fire phone calls, agitated photocopying and blustery meetings - all against the against a backdrop of a chattering digital radio.

Here is different. The office is not only big enough to swing a cat in, but also big enough to swing a barge round in. This means everyone is sat about 10 feet apart and silence reigns supreme. The funereal hush is punctuated only by the barely audible, ever-present hum of the aircon and odd clatter of the odd keyboard.

It's easy to cross-reference it against pop-culture fallout. It's Gervais's The Office. It's Orwell's 1984. It's Gilliam's Brazil. It's hell with neon lighting.

The office seems populated mostly by middle aged men between the ages of 35-55. 2/3rds of whom have spiffing moustaches and salt & pepper hair. They sit hunched over keyboards, staring intently at the screen, not looking left or right, not speaking to anyone. Occasionally, one breaks protocol and ventures into somebody else's booth to mumble something like: "Have you got the status report for the EKR project?" or "Bob says he needs it to fill in the Progress Matrix spreadsheet, and I shan't be here Tuesday morning because I'm going to the chiropodist" and then, realising he could have sent that on email, mumbles something else and saunters away.

So far I have spent my time here in a state of confusion. Though everyone has been perfectly pleasant and amenable, they speak only in acronyms and abbreviations and seem to keep forgetting that I don't know what a DCMS Recombination Datagasm is, nor an Integrated Berk Spanner Network either.

And do you know what? As I've said before the maths are not stacking up. Roughly, as a general rule you should budget about 1000 pounds a month for travelling. And because I am not an idiot with the booze (as most travellers are) I am coming in at just under that, at around 850-900 pounds.

This job pays $20 an hour which at 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, 4 weeks a month MINUS TAX means I will be earning around $2400 or 960 pounds. In other words for a month's work will have made 60 quid profit. Thus in order to neutralise, lets say 2000 pounds of debt, I would have to work for about 30 months. That's nearly 3 years.

In short this job only allows me to subsist, but not to save.

However my new frugal lifestyle has begun. And if I make more of a significant saving than I anticipated, I will continue to temp until I have enough money to move on. If however, by the end of the month I have gained nothing, I am going to damn it all to hell and just bugger off and do the rest of the country and maybe a few others. I hear Singapore is very good at this time of year.

Bloody hell, I love this travelling lark. I've been to a gig in the Opera House, across the Harbour Bridge, met some people who I would dearly love to stay in touch with (except Mr Tumnus, Ava Almighty and Granny Poop), earned the nickname The Oracle, got caught on the hostel's CCTV being mucky with a girl, got drunk in The Hunter Valley whilst sampling peppermint fudge, climbed up through the Blue Mountains at dusk and generally had a blast.

I wish I could do it forever but, alas, it costs something called "money" and you can't earn any "money" updating a Product Interface Fudge Toboggan Development Protocol Spreadsheet.

Donations are welcome.

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