Well I had my first e-counselling session on Friday. I told the machine my problems; it told me it knew how I felt. No you don't - you're a bloody machine! It then told me I had rather a lot of problems so it would take a while to sort them all out. Great. So you'll extend the programme for me? The course was devised in the UK and isn't too bad I guess, but I remain highly skeptical.
I had fish and chips and my cousin's place on Friday night. My cousin got the takeaways, taking her youngest with her while the other boys watched telly in the lounge, leaving her husband and me in the kitchen to have a chat about his job. He manages seven people, none of whom have any respect for him. He'd just been on yet another pointless leadership course, and showed me a special pack of cards he'd brought back. There were 52 cards but you'd have a hard time playing poker with them. On each card was a word that represented a so-called value such as "power" or "honesty"; you had to select a few, make sure they aligned with your colleagues' values and heaven knows what else. (Back in Auckland in 2004, we had to do something similar except we got to choose our top five or however many values. Mine included peace and freedom. Sounds like you're in the wrong job, mate.) Anyway he never wanted to manage people but got forced into it. Now all kinds of rifts have opened up between him and his colleagues, which I find hard to imagine as he's such a nice bloke. He said he wanted to quit his job. "Resign?" "No. Quit. If you resign you have to give a month's notice and I couldn't face that." They wanted to know his career plans for the next five years; he readily admitted that he had none: at 43 he's already at the end of his career. Eleven years younger than him, I've reached the end of my career too.
My latest role isn't a career job but I'm happy with that. I don't think I'll ever have another career job, at least not in that sort of environment. I work right next to the Quality team. Before my move downstairs I'd heard of the Quality team but had no idea what they do. Quality of what, exactly? It turns out they monitor calls made to customers (so why not the Call Monitoring team instead of some euphemism?). The call centre people get graded and colour-coded based on what they do or don't say. As with much of what you see in the corporate world, it's a lot like being at school (and in fact most of the call centre staff haven't been out of school long). The Friday before last, people started talking about the $26 million Lotto jackpot. I ventured that when you buy a Lotto ticket, what you're really buying is a dream. The woman opposite me said that if you no longer have dreams, you might as well be dead.
I still don't know how long my current job will last. I hope to get some clarity on that next week. I'm seriously considering going down the mental health path in the longer term.
My brother and his girlfriend arrived on Thursday and despite the inevitable jet lag embarked immediately on a whistle-stop tour of the South Island. My brother seems to have boundless energy and not a care in the world. He's just picked up enough points for speeding in his Beamer to have his licence revoked. For the second time.
The doctor asked me on Wednesday how long it was since I last felt great. I told him ten years. In my last year at Birmingham I really did wake up sometimes and feel pretty damn good. Not because I'd achieved anything or done anything remotely exciting; I was just happy being me and being alive. What I'd give to get back to that.
The sun has shone on Wellington for almost the entire Easter weekend so far. Today was a domestic day - going to the market, ironing, hoovering, cleaning the bathroom, getting rid of an old desk, and making a rhubarb and apple crumble. By my standards quite a productive day.