You can’t sing the blues in an air-conditioned room



A while ago I wrote about how I’d finally left a place of work that I no longer fitted, for so many reasons. I wrote about how enthusiastic I was to be starting something new. Well it’s been two months at my new job. Result?

Pretty fucking happy, to be honest.

When I bring things up that need changing, instead of the old ‘Do not change that. Do not change anything. We’ve done it like this for thousands of years because the first person who did fucked it up and now it can never be changed’ that I got at my old job, I now get ‘Do you think it’ll work better this new way? We’ll try it and see. Let me know how you get on. But it should be fine.

It’s a lot to get used to. The freedom to actually effect change and make things better is something you always dream of, but once you get it… It feels weird. And then the secondary consequence kicks in: Am I right? What if I’m full of shit and this idea crashes and burns? What if it’s worse than what we had before? How do I know I’m right?

Over time you get used to the uncertainty, you get used to the risk and you realise that, as the great Baz Luhrmann once said, ‘your choices are half chance. So are everybody else’s.’ That line, that one collection of words from a track that came on my iPhone halfway to work, changed my entire outlook one morning. The incredible idea that it’s not me that isn’t sure, it’s everyone, all humans in general, made me a lot happier about the uncertainty of ideas I came up with to help me transition into my new job.

And then I got paid. I had more money left over than I thought once I’d paid all my bills and also for some unforeseen work done to my car (which is now running like a fucking F1 car, thanks for asking). It was weird - I could save some money. So I did. And when I got paid again, I saved more. And then, one day at the supermarket, I bought something not because I needed it, but because I’d always wanted to know what it tasted like but it had always been too expensive.

That was epic, for me. I found I could have more than one pair of trousers for work. I bought new work shoes, because quite frankly the others were rough as a bear’s arse and should have been thrown out a long time ago. I did my food shop and had provisions left over at the end of the fortnight - I actually have tinned and packaged food stored, that I don’t have to stretch out till the next big shop. I changed my credit card to one of them zero percent balance transfer things - which means I can actually pay it off in my life time. I paid a garage to do work on my car, instead of trying to half-arse it myself.

It’s all new, it’s all strange, but it’s slowly making me slip into this idea that I can do things other than ignore everything I can’t afford. I can take my blinkers off and look at ideas.

I was just getting used to this, and thinking how easy it was to hire a car to go off to another city for a long weekend to attend a convention (in the same country!), when someone needed my help with their payslip. I am payroll after all, and it was me that produced it. We talked over the meanings of all the addings and subtractings thereon, and they went away happy.

But I wasn’t. It suddenly dawned on me what had happened. I wasn’t one of them any more. I was now one of those people who Had, one of those people who wasn’t living hand to mouth, dependent on their pay cheque, because they were not a Had Not.


Progress, for me. But now I felt bad for having managed to lift myself out of the mud and make something a little better for myself. I’m still on literally half the salary of people close to me, but I don’t care. This salary is more than I’ve ever had, and for a while I was proud of it. Now I’m not sure if I deserve it - what makes me more deserving than that person with with payslip?

The answer, the Dax part of me says, is experience. Theirs lies somewhere useful, but not rare. Mine, luckily, lies in a field that normally attracts more responsibility and therefore risk - and reward. Which Rule of Acquisition is it that states ‘the riskier the road, the greater the profit’? Whichever one it is, it’s not wrong.

So why do I feel like Major Kira, having to confront a man who is exactly the person she was before she herself was lifted up from the mud into a better position, due to her experience?

Why do I feel guilty as I walk past people, on two-thirds my salary for a harder physical job than mine, to my car and then drive home with an iPhone 5S connected to the stereo, offering me Siri to help choose music and text people hands-free as I get there?

Underdog. It’s an underdog thing. Kira was always the underdog - until she was given a commission in the new military and a fancy new job. I always thought I was the underdog - not qualified, not properly trained, just getting by through teaching myself and working long hours. I’m not that person any more. Now I ask for training, and they provide it. Now I leave on time and enjoy my drive home. My writing has picked up again, and now it’s happier, more whimsical, more fun than it has been in about two years. Everything seems to be easier, the wheels more greased, more doors open to me.

It’s true what they say. You can’t sing the blues in an air-conditioned room. Maybe I should just suck it up and get over it. What price serenity?



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