Saturday, 5 August 2017

It’s not you, it’s me

I don’t normally talk about work here, mostly because that’s between me and work colleagues. However, it’s now come to the point where I need to speculate out loud. And because my landlord/housemate downstairs is watching The Princess Bride, I guess I’ll be smiling while I do it.

I'm very comfortable where I am. And by that I mean I go to work, do 8 hours, then go home again. They even let me change my hours to make the day start and finish earlier. Doesn’t help much with the traffic, but it does help with my overall day. I’m free to get on with projects and things I think need doing to keep the day-to-day running of software and background stuff working and all in order. Things like system maintenance, organising upgrades, staying compliant, and also being the only person in the business who can run and deliver payroll to all employees of two companies - I do all this. I know that in the grand scheme of things, I’m just a Corporal Hicks (no offence, Corporal Hicks). I know that I’m not in the team of people who have to make things happen or guide the direction of the company, and I know I’m not important or in fact key to the business. I know all these things, and I thought I was ok with it.

Maybe I’m not. Maybe that’s why I unconsciously ‘push back’ as they call it when people ask my opinion on stuff that I believe is beyond my pay grade. I think this is what it comes down to.

Do you (a) help even though you know it’s not your place, and you don’t have access or knowledge because you’re not in the management team, so everything you say is stuff that they’re asking you to do even though it’s not your job and is way above you so they’re getting it for free, or (b) push back and say it’s not your place to say? If you do ‘a’, maybe you’re proving that you can handle the next pay grade so they can look at promoting or including you more - so if you do ‘b’ then you’re shooting yourself in the foot. But when you know there’s nowhere to go - there’s no position above you, no reason to invent one, and no promotion in sight, then why not do ‘b’?

A long time ago, I was the kind of person who would say that my job description has clear definitions, and I stay inside of those definitions. It wasn’t out of spite, or pay issues, or anything but doing what it says on the tin. If you want me to do more, then write it on the tin. Everyone knows where they stand, people know who to ask to do various tasks because they can look on the tins for guidance, and everyone’s happy.

Then I went through a long phase of ‘well if they ask for my help then I’ll help’ - because we’re all just people, and knowing why someone comes to you instead of picking up the other tin can make all the difference.

Now I’m passing that phase. Now I’m getting to the bitter, twisted phase of ‘why should I?’. Not because of a lack of money or power for me, but more a case of why do I always have to sort this out? It’s not even my fucking job and yet you always ask me to fix this or sort that, as if I get paid for this’. Lest we forget, the more time I’m doing other stuff not in my JD, the less time I have to do what I’m actually paid to do. It’s just math.

So I’m doing ‘b’ more than ‘a’. Will that hurt my chances of promotion? No, because there isn’t anywhere to go. Will that affect my chances of a pay rise? No, surprisingly - I do my JD and the general consensus is that I do it well, with no reason to give me less than 5 out of 5.

It looks like I have an answer, then. Except when I do push back, I get a certain look from my colleagues - you know the look. It’s the look that says ‘you’re not being helpful’. It’s the look that says ‘but I asked you to do it and you always do - why aren’t you doing it now?’. I don’t actually care too much. What is beginning to grate is the maturity of some of the people around me.

A few months ago, I would have said ‘maturity’ as in the stupid, me-me-me questions some people ask me about payroll because they’re actual 5 year olds and think the world revolves around them. Yes, we have a few of those. But in the next 6 - 12 months they’ll find that attitude untenable in the new work environment the CEO is bringing in, and they’ll either be gone or put right, so I don’t waste time thinking about them.

What I care about is the way someone who’s supposed to be my equal, and someone else who’s supposed to be my line manager, come across as immature. And I don’t mean they’re self-centred or selfish or childish or anything negative at all. They’re nice people, they’re normal people, they’re fine. We get on and have a laugh, or agree on why people are being dicks, etc. They really are ok.

What I'm talking about is their attitude to life in general. I don’t care if they go on about shoes they’ve bought or how much they hate their hair today or which ‘pretty’ shirt they pulled out of the wardrobe this morning. I can tune all that inane conversation out very easily. I don’t care about them talking about their boyfriends and what they did last night and what they said and how it was soooo funny because men don’t understand anything and it’s cute and they love them for it. As I said, inane shit = sorted.

It’s the lack of maturity as in lack of experience. They say they’re ‘stressed’ because they have to confront someone, or do something outside of their comfort zone, or think they have a lot to think about.

And it irritates me, I won’t lie. ‘Stress’ is knowing the mortgage or rent is due next week, and even after you’ve done everything you possibly can, you still can’t make it - and you haven’t even eaten yet. ‘Stress’ is looking at your long-term plan for life and knowing it’s all going to go wrong because of the government changing some loophole, or your lack of funds which you can’t do anything about. ‘Stress’ is not having a way to get to work due to money or a bad situation. It is not having a lot to do at work.

I think that’s it - I think I’ve hit the nail on the head: having to work with people less than two-thirds my age, who have very limited life experience and no capacity to think of the bigger picture. I know I’ve been more withdrawn at work lately - talking more to my unofficial other line manager - the one from another department, which my JD kind of makes me keep one foot in. He’s the same age as me, he doesn’t want to talk about shoes, he’s married to someone from another world (perspective speaking). He’s lived and worked overseas for a substantial amount of time, he’s got a small child and juggles that and a job that routinely has more work to do than time to do it. He has perspective and understands the difference between stress and just another day.

Since moving from abroad back to England, I’ve come up against a lot of limited people. Limited in their understanding, limited in their perspective, limited in their willingness to look beyond their own nose. It’s just taken me the last 12 months to realise that working under one of these people, with no idea of why I’m irritated most of the time, is starting to grate.

This is why when I write now it’s straight to the point; the ruthless, logical people survive and the fluffy ones are cannon fodder (gleefully so). Films like John Wick (1 and 2) appeal to me more than others, these days. I’m getting tired of everyone else’s slowness and fluffiness. I’m pretty sure that’s a sign of getting bitter and twisted, with the world in general, not people.

But then I see Star Trek Beyond for the seventh time I’m willing to try, to be a ‘normal’ person and give people a chance, to put up with annoying whiners and get on with it. It sticks for a few weeks. Then I need something else to give me a reason not to get angry with these limited people.

And the next Star Trek film is at least a year away.

I’ve been looking up working overseas again. And again it comes down to not having the right qualifications or certificates to enable a work visa - that old chestnut. It seems lack of university will again be my undoing. This world’s reliance on an out-dated and falsely-regarded education standard is still my nemesis.

And that’s where we leave it, friends. No degrees, no money to get degrees, and therefore no change in sight. Lovely. Just what I need to realise on a dreary Saturday afternoon.

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