I know I complain about people who tell depressed or anxious people off on the basis that “other people have it worse”: as so many Internet commentators have pointed out, you don’t tell people off for being happy on the grounds that other people have better lives than them! However, the stress I’m going through at work, while troubling, isn’t as bad as that endured by my best friend right now…
My main mission at work at the moment is something I won’t do to any computers owned by me or my family: upgrading PCs to Windows 10, the OS that’s only “free” for existing Windows owners until the end of July, and for as long as Microsoft don’t decide to charge subscription for it. I’ve got the process down to a fine art, but I’ve had to stay late a couple of times this week to perform the upgrade on behalf of that particular kind of selfish office worker who doesn’t have the decency to book any leave during June, meaning the only time I can perform the upgrade is after they go home.
On its own this wouldn’t be a problem, but combine it with my normal day job, which involves people calling out to me as I move around the building — either because they trust me to solve their problems (it’s a hard life being the “face” of the IT team), or because they’ve still got a problem that I’ve not successfully resolved before (like the boss lady whose Outlook keeps crashing, or the boss guy whose laptop keeps freezing). Add the near-constant phone calls from home workers using Citrix, or teams in the building trying to help (shudder) members of the public, and you may just have an inkling of why I need to go outside and get some fresh air at lunchtime, and can’t just relax at my desk reading Stephen King.
(Oh, and our choice of equipment is the main reason I urged my mother not to upgrade her tablet computer to a Microsoft Surface — no way I’m supporting one of those outside work, especially for free!)
It got to the stage today that I was dreading anyone speaking to me, as somehow I feared they’d be heaping yet another problem on my shoulders; I even found myself worrying that the bloke next to me would bark my name at me again (in a demanding rather than questioning manner, as is his wont), to chase up the problems he reported with delegating tasks in Outlook 2013 that I can’t resolve (one is a known bug Microsoft are “working on”, the other is just how it works), and I’d end up snapping at him. I just have to hope and pray that I don’t get warned about my attitude again, like earlier this year…
However, this is nothing, nothing, compared to what “best mate” has been going through, and is still going through today, in his own job — the reason he continually advises me to “never work in construction”. He works for one of his brothers, who, apparently never having heard the term “work-life balance”, is constantly sending him to far-flung places around the country (the UK as a whole, not just England in particular) for high-paid but long-hours work for obnoxious clients, often without any breaks, and it’s destroying his social life and leaving him increasingly tired and fed up.
For instance, he’d just finished working in Wales (at least the weather was nice out there this week), at 7pm on Tuesday, and got back to London just before midnight, exhausted and frustrated (and in dire need of a shower); he was required to go to a training course in Kent on Wednesday morning (a journey of about 50 miles), and from there proceed to Luton airport (a good 80 miles back again in the other direction, on the other side of the Home Counties) for a flight to his next days-long job all the way up in Scotland, for which he’d have to arrange his own accommodation.
All this is why he now wants to leave this country… not to return to Ireland, of course ($DEITY forbid!), but he’s certainly pondering staying in Japan when he goes there for a holiday later this year. Construction pays well, but it is, by its nature, a temporary job in each area (often to a tight schedule), as every building is eventually finished. I keep urging him to take a sabbatical (he’s got considerable savings and could still make rent for a fair while), and study or train for a career change, but he’s adamant that he couldn’t survive on admin wages, and he can’t think of anything else he could do instead that wouldn’t leave him destitute.
(Maybe he could work in railway maintenance? They could certainly do with someone competent and hard-working… as in, one actual person anywhere in the entire line-suspending train-cancelling delay-causing industry…)
So you see, as anxious and frustrated as I am at work, I appreciate that at least I can go home at 5pm (well, except today and yesterday), or head out to an evening event, and not have to worry — and not be guilt-tripped by a relative into giving up my life for an unrewarding career that makes me miserable and robs me of my life. I can also help out “best mate” by supporting him through this difficult time: he’s promised to buy me a Nando’s meal if I do some washing for him before he gets back tomorrow.
Ooh, that reminds me…!
At least my boss is on my side, and lets me go outside at lunchtimes; this means I’m able to visit the charity shops, and I think I’ve gained a metal fandom to rival my love of Gwar: Iron Maiden! Maybe I’ll buy more of their CDs from Amazon (though considering what happened to Prince when I collected his music, I hope Bruce Dickinson’s all right!), but in the meantime, I’ll leave you with an example of their awesomeness… much like the music of our favourite Scumdogs, I find it relaxing and stress-relieving!