Sunday, December 26, 2004

Being Yourself

Life at work wouldn't be so bad if it were possible to do things your own way. What if you actually have some aesthetic sense and hate fluorescent lighting, formica desks and nylon carpet? What if you hate vending machine coffee? What if your flimsy typing chair makes your legs go numb after a couple of hours? What if you despise the fluffy toys that the woman at the next desk sticks on top of her computer, or the tinny music that you can hear coming from her headphones all day? You spend most of your waking hours in that environment, and you hate it! Of course you could work at home, but it isn't always practical for some jobs, and working with others can be stimulating and fun.

There was a TV drama series in the 1980s called "A Very Peculiar Practice". It was set in a provincial university which was expanding and moving with the times, adopting the methods and ethics of big business, and which was now housed on a campus of ugly concrete architecture (but still more interesting than the average building on an industrial estate in 2004). The bit I remember best was the office of "Jock" the gruff old GP. It was filled with all the old furniture, pictures, books and detritus presumably from his office in a previous building, and entering it was like stepping back into the past. I could be comfortable in a room like that.

If only we could all do that: make our working environment exactly as we want it. You want a comfortable chair to sit in and a real coffee machine? Why not? You want wood panelling on the walls and a gramophone that plays 78s? If it makes you happy. The point is that some of us have never achieved the internal, self-imposed virtual lobotomy that you need in order to switch off at work. For me, every day is like one of those perfect summer days when you were a kid, stuck in the classroom and dying to go out and play. I'm happy to do the work much of the time, but I resent the loss of part of my life to what amounts to a prison sentence.

5 Comments:

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