Hello Oxford Student. An abrupt admission: I’ve spent a good part of my life worrying I’m not moving in the right circles. In the midst of clearing a friend’s airway of vomit or pretending to enjoy Hollyoaks I have found myself wondering whether I couldn’t have been discussing Lyric Poetry or enjoying world-class butlery. And so when the opportunity to write to you arrived I saw it as recompense for all my hard work and worrying. I made us a list. I called it:
“DON’T BE CLEVER: Potentially spiriting advice on how to look like you belong in the workplace”
Here is taste of the advice I was going to be peddling:
Never stop chewing
Find a copy of Family Fortunes – the Board Game and memorize the top answer to each question: these are the things you like.
There are very few circumstances in which a person who asks ‘what am I like?’ wants to know what they are like.
When colleagues approach you, laugh conspiratorially to yourself. If they ask what you’re laughing at say ‘nothing’.
With a mirror, study what happens to your face when you knock back a shot of hard liquor . Take a hip-flask to work and drink from it and make the face. Be sure not fill it with hard liquor because you are saving for conspicuously expensive shoes and being drunk at work isn’t as fun as everyone makes out.
Don’t be clever.
It was a kind of nudge nudge wink wink you and I will never belong in the workplace because the workplace is riddled with crashing boors and fraudulence. ‘But’, I thought to myself, ‘these Oxford people are going to be doing jobs that they like or for which they will be well enough paid to maintain a tolerable work-to-yacht ratio. In all statistically informed likelihood they’re going on to the great and the good and the anomalies who don’t aren’t worth talking to anyway because their daddies don’t know anyone.’
The kind of job to which the advice is applicable* will, in all probability, not lay claim to your life, reader.
What happened to me, and what happens to most people (I think) who harbour maybe the same dreams as you do, is that life and work conspire and before they know it they’re the dolling out sub-par customer service to customers who cannot understand why someone whose only job in life is to give great customer service is so horrible at giving customer service. The job got me: laid claim to my little life and I’m not saying I didn’t deserve it or that you’re lucky. But only a heart-breakingly small amount of people get to do what they want to do with their lives and the rest have to pretend to be proactive. Today someone will wake up and realise they work at Halfords. Spare them a thought.
(* it holds good for trips to the post-office and to the jobcentre also)
– Benedict Le Gauche
(see Benedict’s site at http://curriculumvitiate.wordpress.com/)