Thursday, August 23, 2007

The work ethic

It's been a sickeningly long time since I blogged; my digital silence crushed under the weight of its own hypocrisy. I have always advocated blogging and believed it to be a worthwhile online hobby, a 21st century communication tool and more, yet I haven't posted a blog in 7 weeks.

The main reason for this lack, at least in the last month, has been the daily grind of 9-5, the working life. In fact what made me think about blogging seriously again was a work e-mail and meeting regarding 'social networking sites' and Portman, who I currently work with. (I don't say 'work for' as I'm technically employed by a recruitment agency, who take about 15% of my wages, and because I could quit Portman with no notice at all as it is 'the nature of temping'). This e-mail said that it is important, working as we do with sensitive and highly confidential financial information, that all internet activity that in any way mentions Portman must be clearly safe and not in breach of the Data Protection Act, and secondly, and more oddly, must be accompanied by a disclaimer stating that any views expressed are those of the individual and are not held by Portman Building Society.* So:

*Any views expressed within this blog are those of the author, Tim Miller, and are not in any way opinions belonging to, or endorsed by, Portman Building Society. That Portman Building Society disappears into financial history and is literally no more from 28th August 2007 onwards, when it gets taken over by Nationwide, is not the point. My views, I guess, are not endorsed by Nationwide, either.

Anyway, the work ethic. Choosing Portman was forced upon me by my penniless situation and £290 p/m rent after 2 months of relaxing since finishing Uni, and not being able to afford living while the wait searching for and getting a job I wanted went on, as it was simply taking too long and everyone needs money. So having turned them down initially, I was humble enough to throw myself upon their £7 an hour offer a second time and was luckily not turned away. Also lucky is that I've landed in a Correspondence Team, so, as tenuous as it is, my writing and communication skills are actually in use! There's a moral in there somewhere, probably about not biting the hand that feeds.

Regardless of where it was, though, I needed a job, as my days without structure had begun to turn into weeks where the weekends bore no difference from the weekdays, and getting up before 11am was 'early'. I've spent three years in that mindset, now more than ever before, I guess, it's time to grow up. And it has been enjoyable, having a new place to go to, new people to meet, something, however menial or dull might seem, to work for. After the communal University atmosphere and the comradery forged through being students, a place where the majority of staff are under 30, bright and beautiful and on your level is not a lot different. It is, in fact, more of an extension of those relationships and links, except now I'm paid for turning up.

There's something faintly Hitler-esque about it, but earning your own wage is very comforting, knowing that you've earned money to call your own and do what you will with. You start somewhere, and this is only the beginning, but a real sense of self-satisfaction comes from working at something so that you might live a certain way, achieve a certain goal, create new possibilities. There's also a sense of independence, of freedom, and maybe Adolf was right: Arbeit Macht Frei.

Because it also makes you appreciate the free time you get, the friends you have, the hobbies you take part in, the music you listen to, and so on. For the first time since I was a 16 year old about to do my GCSEs, the weekends actually mean something to me. And of course, the great difference between working and Uni is that you leave your work at the door. No coming home straight into a 2,000 word essay anymore, or reading a hundred pages on Marxist criticism. At least until I do a Masters....!

Working is inescapably something that has to be done, for the bulk of your lifetime, and you spend more time with your colleagues than your family, friends and partners. That's why enjoying and embracing the work ethic is so important, and by association, finding a job you love is too. There is no sense in belittling a 'job', ignoring work until it's an aside between doing things in free time. It needs to be swiftly integrated and harmonised to suit the lifestyle you want. Until we find out what the human race is for, and the meaning of life, 'work' will be how your life is built and managed, and subsequently, something which has to be taken head on.

(This was certainly not presented as part of a speech at any recent Neo-Nazi conference, and again, is not in any way the views or opinions held by Portman Building Society or Nationwide. The rich fat-cat wankers).