Everyone knows the saying “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”.
Well, the last week or so has been all work and no play. The start of each month, I may have mentioned before (see, I am a dull boy), is an extremely busy time for GoldenEyes and I, as we have to have a series of reports prepared by the end of the 4th working day. There are about 56 pages in these reports by now, and to be honest I am doubtful that all of them get read, but my plan to test this theory by sticking a paragraph from a Harry Potter book at random into one of the pages has been vetoed by GoldenEyes.
Our 4th day target is taxing but doable, as long as we do a fair bit of overtime, which we’re allowed take time off for later in the month. Occasionally, especially if we get messed about by people not supplying us with info, we announce that the reports will not be on time. However, each quarter there is a staff briefing, held in a hotel near our office, and the reports we produce form an important part of the management’s presentation. In other words, in months where there is a briefing our reports simply cannot be late, as the thought of our MD standing in front of 200 people saying “well, I’ve got nuthin'”, and the thought of his likely mood in the ensuing days make sure that we get them done on time.
This quarter the hotel was booked out for last Thursday, so the HR director, without considering for one second whether it was possible or not, booked the meeting for Wednesday. This was the 4th working day, so now instead of having our stuff ready by the end of that day (and we count the end of that day as meaning any time before midnight) we had to have it ready that morning, so that the info could be put into those little powerpoint images full of arrows, or pie-charts, or manhattan-like column charts – all those things that management like to believe, despite all evidence to the contrary on the faces of the audience, make their briefing an enthralling, gripping event. In other words, we had to do it in three days.
Well, since the meeting had already been announced and couldn’t be changed, and since we do like the MD and knew it wasn’t his fault, we got it done, though believe me it’s never happening again. We got it done by working all day Saturday, and by getting home at ten every other night. We have a timesheet system and by the end of that 4th day my timesheet had seven days’ work on it.
But of course this all comes at a price. I spent the four days swearing violently at my computer and myself when ever I made a mistake, though in fairness I do this all the time (I do it when I’m blogging, the kids think it’s really funny). But I had this constant pressured feeling inside – not of stress, because I always knew I’d get it done – but of anger. I felt that we were being taken for granted and I was inwardly furious about it, though I didn’t realise quite how furious until Wednesday morning.
About five people have a key to the front door of the office, and one of us is meant to open this door before eight each morning. It’s possible to get in the back door without a key, but this sets off the alarm, so staff are not supposed to come in that way before eight o’clock. You will always find people, however, who believe that the rules do not apply to them, and I have often come in and found people sitting at their desks eating cereal, with the alarm ringing above their heads.
On Wednesday at 7.45 I had just reached the front door when the alarm rang inside the office. I went in, switched it off and met one of the young staff guys walking calmly around the office, turning on the lights. Now, I’m not and never will be part of the management, it’s none of my business, I shouldn’t care if this guy set the alarm off every morning by abseiling down from the building roof and crashing feet-first through the office window. I shouldn’t care, but for one second as he walked casually towards me I felt an overpowering urge to punch him in the face.
That’s when I realised that the saying in the opening sentence is wrong. It should read “All work and no play makes Jack a murderous git”.
So I went to my desk, sat down, took a few breaths and then booked today, Monday and Tuesday off.
This is my first morning. I have tea at my side, music in my background, a post nearly done. I have a newspaper folded on the table nearby, and intend soon to find out has anything happened in the world over the last six days (apparently we’re going to have a tough budget, they call that news?). There will be TV watching, there will be reading, there will be visits to the pub, there will be chats with the kids. There will be blogging.
There will be all play, and no work.