If I had the balls, I’d work freelance. Three problems with that:
- Insecure income = constant fatigue and anxiety = no quality work done. Vicious circle.
- It’s tough out there unless you’ve sucked the right dicks.
- I don’t possess enough joie de vivre. If I was asked to edit a piece on ‘How to Taste Wine’, there is every danger I would reduce it to just one sentence: You pour it in your fucking mouth.
When it comes down to it, I write for pleasure and edit for money. In that effort, I am a passenger on the gravy train. Not in first class with the MPs and bank executives, but I have a reserved seat in the ‘quiet coach’ near the buffet car. Looking busy is my primary function.
In my ten weeks of employment, the desk next to mine has been unoccupied. My absent team mate has been off sick the whole time. The reason? A broken finger.
I designed a web banner for someone a couple of weeks ago. The person was a senior communications manager. He couldn’t tell me the pixel dimensions he needed, but he’d measured his computer screen with a tape measure and thought that would be enough.
In the subsequent exchange of emails, he revealed that he didn’t know the difference between width and height.
At least thirty thousand pounds a year of public money drops into the bank account of a man who does not know the difference between width and height. A happy thought to accompany your next tax bill. To quote one of the good guys I work with: ‘You have to think for them.’
Certain sectors of employment are like a kind of benefits system, except instead of dole they provide a taxed salary in return for shuffling paper around and talking about ‘providing an exemplary user experience with value for environmentally friendly money and equality while protecting the children with passion and integrity.’
On the train from London Bridge to Gatwick:
I was sitting in my seat chatting to my sister when I saw the ticket inspector coming. She was wearing a t-shirt with ‘I taught the devil everything he knows’ on it. Her arms were covered in prison tattoos. She had short, spiky hair and multiple facial piercings. She would have benefited from losing a kilo or two.
My only thought as I handed over my ticket was that it was good of the train company to employ people of such unconventional appearance in a public-facing role. As she moved into the next carriage, I could hear her singing ‘Crazy Train’ by Ozzy Osbourne, which is his one good song.
My sister and I fell back into conversation, which was broken a moment later when I saw another ticket inspector coming towards us. He looked a lot more conventional – navy blazer, navy trousers, polished back shoes. He had a credit card machine strapped to his chest.
I had an epiphany.
“Wait a second. That woman – she wasn’t a ticket inspector! She just rides the train all day checking people’s tickets! She plays at having a shit job!’
When the official ticket inspector reached us, my sister offered him her marked ticket. He said, with a wink, ‘Ah, you’ve already had your ticket ‘checked’, haven’t you, love?’