Things I shall miss on leaving work:
- The opportunity to work with people who, although you might not view them as firm friends, nevertheless offer good company, a warm welcome and a different perspective on the world.
- The campus I work on, a green oasis on the edge of the city, styled as only the 1960s knew how, yet graced with a lovely Shaker-style chapel in the middle, a very attractive canteen known grandly as ‘the refectory’ which sold some of the best salads known to humanity freshly prepared by a huge Eastern European chef, an empty car park which nevertheless required you to buy a ticket each day using one of the most truculent parking machines in the world, friendly maintenance staff who wander around all day cutting, hacking, grubbing up and generally destroying any attempt by nature to grow by more than an inch, and a generally relaxed demeanour to the place which tells you that people are happy to be here in general.
- The morning pastry. Where will the rationale be now for this tasty yet unneeded daily treat?
Things I shall not miss on leaving work:
- The commute, which in my part of the world involves queuing to pay 5p to cross a toll bridge. The Devil himself could not design a better torment than this daily trial of will and character, requiring cars from three exits of a roundabout to converge onto a tiny road and queue for half a mile to give some poor, polluted soul your 5p to enable you to cross an ancient stone bridge, all the time praying that your crossing does not coincide with the arrival of the massive artic on the other side. Even better is that you get to do it all over again on the way home, sometimes joining a queue of several miles.
- The grinning idiot who greets you at work on your last day with the timeless classic, “So, last day then?” which should perhaps be responded to with either a gesture of sorts or the response, “No, I’ve bought the company. Now piss off, you’re fired.”
- The work which, although at times fascinating and challenging in equal measure and sometimes rewarding when you succeed in cutting a client’s equivalent of the legendary Gordian Knot, often tends towards the endless drudge of recycling a lot of previously provided information into an over-lengthy report which you know no one is ever going to read. (A small game: if you have recently written something you have shared or published, ask a colleague what they thought of it. I guarantee they will respond, “I didn’t read it, I just skimmed it” or “I read the Executive Summary”.)
Perhaps the greatest irony about work is that, although many of us bemoan the daily grind, it is part of life and the loss of this activity leaves a gap. Marx said that but he was just a bit too serious and wordy for anyone to take much notice. For all the chores there are at home and all the plans to write that novel, set up that business or invite that attractive neighbour for coffee, sitting at home with the kettle just too damn beguilingly available is not the same.
That said, leaving work in July is most definitely A Good Thing. A month of reflection (and DIY) in the sun will be quite welcome while it stays fine.
So, about a week then before England and its weather bites me on the bum. Best enjoy it while I can.