The hours went on as he walked to and fro, and the clocks struck the numbers he would never hear again. Nine gone for ever, ten gone for ever, eleven gone for ever, twelve coming on to pass away. After a hard contest with that eccentric action of thought which had last perplexed him, he had got the better of it. He walked up and down, softly repeating their names to himself. The worst of the strife was over. He could walk up and down, free from distracting fancies, praying for himself and for them.
—Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
I’m one day away from finishing my eight-year employment at a certain London borough council (over five of those years in children’s social services), but the only panic I’m really feeling is relates to my ability to pass on my various, Excel-heavy tasks to the people who aren’t leaving. No, I’m feeling less afraid than last month when I was about to go on holiday!
When it comes down to it, I don’t feel any great sadness at leaving the tasks I’ve had for such a long time; rather, I feel a tremendous exhaustion — I’m wishing it would hurry up and end, so I can get on with the next phase of my life (it’s bad enough I had to stay an extra month just to get a discretionary bonus added to my redundancy money). But don’t worry, I like at least some of the people I work with, and I’m doing my best to ensure they can carry on in my absence. After all, taking care of children is a worthy cause, and I don’t want to sabotage them by the simple act of leaving!
Trouble is, I’m such a damned genius (and apparently the only person on the planet who knows how to use Excel to do anything other than display a few manually-entered numbers) that passing on my jobs is no mean task. The ways I’ve come up with to simplify the creation of my various reports (like splicing together various raw reports into one that social workers actually find useful, using VLOOKUP) are very hard to teach to others, since they involve pasting values into sheets in a workbook and then deleting the stuff in the rows underneath (caused by this week’s raw report being smaller than last week’s, owing to case closures), but not deleting the whole rows because that’d reduce the size of the name range that’s used to grab the data for another sheet… bored yet? I do get annoyed when people who do their life’s work on computers do that “fwip!” over-the-head gesture to express their slack-jawed refusal to even begin to learn even the simplest concepts.
(But hey, that’s why I’m moving on to work in IT, right?)
I’ve only got one more day, eight hours (including lunch) to go, and I’m finally free… and joy of joys, the annoying woman is working from home tomorrow! Yes, I know I should thank her for making me so motivated to get on with my IT career and not just slum it in an admin job, and since I don’t mind interacting with her via e-mail (because she doesn’t slurp or cough in the middle of typed sentences), rest assured tomorrow I’ll see about getting IT to sort out a laptop for her so she can continue to use some USB hardware made by a company that apparently doesn’t believe in 64-bit drivers for Windows. Explaining this will be a bit of a job (especially considering someone from IT already explained it ages ago), but I think I have a solution, and it’s the least I can do to part on relatively good terms.
Once I have a “proper” IT job, I’m going to build a new PC — my current setup (aside from specific components like the graphics card) is the same as it was in 2011, that dreadful year, and it’s starting to get a bit restrictive. However, I’ll put paying the rent first, and once I know where I’m working, I’ll reluctantly look into moving house again. I’m not as eager to leave this place as I’ve been before — my drummer housemate is being a decent chap (perhaps the summer has improved his spirits), and with his support I even got our Internet connection fixed at last! — but if my first IT job is lower-paid than the job I’m in now (and consider that they bumped me back down to Scale 4 in July, so I’m around £400 down this month), I’ll have no alternative but to live somewhere cheaper.
“Best mate” wants us to live together, which is something of a no-brainer, but the question is where? Bexley has the cheapest housing in London, but it’s also got the most corrupt local government and the worst transport links (according to this famous blog), so only a fool would move there. Barnet may have an equally screwed-up Tory administration, but I feel like it’s my home now, in a way that Caledonian Road and Wood Green never did (or Worthing, come to that); plus, I’m used to travelling on the Northern Line, and don’t want to end up somewhere where it takes hours to get to anywhere interesting.
I especially want to stay within reach of the Castle, (a) so I can climb and (b) so I can continue being personally tortured, though obviously I’d rather not have to go back to relying on the Piccadilly Line, or to live anywhere on it, as all those places are ghastly (especially Finsbury Park). This is one aspect of my life I don’t want to change, at least not yet, because it’s an aspect I actually enjoy!
There’s one other aspect of my life that may need a change: yes, you guessed it, it’s my love life (or terminal lack thereof). On Saturday I went on a date that didn’t go particularly well, with a Japanese woman that was more concerned with her previous relationships and berating me for wearing a T-shirt on a sweltering day than, um, y’know, ENJOYING my company. (Whaddaya mean, you’d have been depressed too if you’d been on a date with me?) I wasn’t overly concerned, because I knew I had a date lined up on Monday with a Taiwanese girl I met at yoga the previous week; I met her on Monday and, I thought, we had a good time — but her failure to respond to my texts since then made me realise that she may not have really needed to leave early to let her housemate in at home, and I felt despair on Tuesday evening, which ruined yoga for me…
On that basis, I’m wondering if what I really need to do is stop chasing tail for a bit, and focus on the rather more important changes in my life, i.e. my career path and possible resulting move. It’s becoming clear that most women don’t want to start something with a bloke who’s about to become unemployed, no matter how brave and noble the reason (continuing a relationship through such a thing would obviously be another matter), and since I’m not rich enough to pretend to be a successful businessman with a yacht, I’m going to have to wait until I’ve got a stable job before I can go around seducing women again. Not to mention, if I’m trying to conserve my money, I may not be able to go out in the evenings so much anyway (and certainly no more pre-yoga dinners in Ed’s Diner at Euston station, no matter how nice their Nutella milkshake is!).
Of course, if this jump to IT all goes horribly wrong, I may have to go back and live with my folks in Worthing, which would at least give me the opportunity to learn to drive. But hopefully it won’t come to that; I’ve got next week “off”, as it were, with my mock interview (necessary before my agency can put me into a work placement) on Friday afternoon, and I intend to spend my time relaxing, perhaps studying a little, applying for IT jobs (in the hope that they won’t mind my current lack of actual experience), but mostly enjoying the weather if it’s still summer by then. Since I won’t be going out much, I won’t have much opportunity to ogle young women in skimpy outfits, and so hopefully I won’t feel bad about doing so.
(Perhaps I should go to a strip club, just to be around attractive women who are happy for me to look at them, instead of considering me an evil chauvinist — or who don’t mind me being an evil chauvinist? Hmm, then again, it’d hardly help me save money…)
One final note about my current job: I haven’t burned my bridges. My friends and I are going to lunch tomorrow, and I did hint that I might come back to work for them again if they really, really need me to stop the place falling apart… but at a substantially higher salary, of course. Hey, did you think I do this kind of work for fun?! However, it’s unlikely they’d be able to do it, and I’ll go into the reasons next week, when I’m free from my obligation not to name and shame the organisation in question…