March 21, 2007

Sam Goes To Work

So I got a job this week. I called up my employment agency to ask if they had anything for four weks over easter and they said they’d do their best. They came up with data entry.

Data entry. Necessary, certainly, but hardly the most stimulating chore in the world. At seven and a half pounds an hour, though, I’m prepared to let my reservations slide and get on with the boredom. it’s only for a month. I’ve had worse jobs: like calling up several hundred Glasgow residents on Dell’s behalf to tell them they weren’t getting their christmas presents.

It’s fine for now. But there are some things about temporary employment that always get to me. Firstly, the boredom. I’m invariably bored, as though tedium is trying to strangle me with sreadsheets, photocopier toner and the top buttons of shirts. What do you DO? I can’t stand it. And I can’t understand the people who can – my second thing: I’m working with two people who’ve been typing stuff into the computer in a small room on the eight floor of Fountain House, Reading, overlooking the Broad Street Mall car park for SEVEN YEARS. A third of those seven years have been spent in the same room, not living, so they could afford to stay alive.

How did the world come to this? A global labyrinth of office blocks pushing paperwork from one desktop to another? A sea of white-collared wasted potential queueing for lifts and waiting on station platforms, drinking from water coolers and heating up readymeals in the office microwave so they don’t have to take a lunch hour? What is wrong with us?

I noticed something the other day when asking people what kind of jobs they’d had in the past. There seemed to be two paths. My path, the office-bound, photocopier and phonecall orintated one, or the other one – the “real work” one, where you wait tables, pick strawberries, or sell clothes. I’m not saying the second group is more interesting, but at least it feels like you actually accomplish something. You don’t feel like you’re just selling your life by the hour.

Gordon Brown cut income tax today by 2%. Good for him. I know, as does ever other cynic in the world, that it’s for the election campaign, but I don’t care. It’s money. I wish it didn’t matter so much, but it does. Money doesn’t buy happiness, but not having it certainly leads to unhappiness. Top-up fees are rising to 9000 a year, and our generation is the first who will be unable to afford our own homes. We no longer have grants: we have loans. And to pay for it all we have to shut ourselves in a cubicle and watch the days go by.

I hope, then, that in the forthcoming two years of unchained university life, that I’ll be able to construct my masterpiece. That way I might just be able to buy back my life from Deloitte, or Apple, or, for now, KeyData Solutions.

Please, for the love of god, let whatever I write be marketable.


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