#18 Know your PS1 from your VL2

In Get cash, Tales on December 15, 2009 at 12:28 am

First up, a big shout out the Berlin eBay massive who I hear are loosing their jobs following the company’s decision to relocate its services elsewhere in Europe. Genuinely sorry to hear that.

Thanks to the German love of bureaucracy, they won’t actually be kicked out until some point in the middle of the year, once everything has gone through their Works Council, and several other bodies. On the one hand that’s six months to line up some schemes and realise your dreams (open a shop? foreign travel? write more?); on the other it’s six months to get bored out of your mind going through the motions of a job you already know is doomed. Expect mass sickies.

Personally, I’m coming to the end of my six-week sojourn into the world of work, where I’ve been filling out purchase orders, ordering stationery, scanning in funding proposals, and trying to work out the difference between a PS1 form and a VL 2, who should get which colour duplicate, and whether or not I can bring myself to care. I’m leaving just as I finally get access to the Z: drive, and find somewhere interesting to get lunch (an intriguing little Japanese convenience store called Natural Natural, just off Finchley Road). Only last Thursday I discovered the basement and another staircase; on Friday I realised there was a whole other building.

Don’t misunderstand – I’m incredibly grateful for the work. Somewhere warm to go during the day, and some cash for Christmas presents. Though I’ve spent most of my time on my own in a cupboard sending emails, I’ve learnt how to spell Grotowski, to pronounce HEFCE as heff-key, and to use a sentence like, ‘I’m not sure the VP’s research outputs are REF-able; let’s see if we can get any funding through SCUDD.’ I’ve been shocked by the students – not because they look so young or so self-absorbed, but because they have more expensive clothes than I do. And it’s been eye-opening to see how much more money there is sloshing around higher education that around publishing.

But most importantly I’ve learned that I love my job. Not the cupboard-based one, but the one I took for granted for two decades. I really wish my vocation was high finance, law, plumbing, search engine optimisation, or celebrity ass-kissing… anything with a decent wage. But it isn’t. The further removed I get from work, the more I realise it wasn’t really work in the first place, but getting paid for your passion. Which, let’s face it, was quite jammy really.

I recently heard of an editor of a weekly magazine (known to be pulling a six-figure salary) who has gone on holiday while his/her Christmas issue goes to press. Traditionally this is the toughest issue of the year, but also the most fun to produce. How sad to be in such a privileged position and yet appear to derive no pleasure from it.

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