This is not over yet
By Parson Thru
Hell, I’ve just realised that it’s 25 years this month since I walked out on my first real job – a whole quarter century.
25 years since I gave up on the idea of job security being the meaning of life, to the horror and disgust of a good number of close stakeholders.
My dad: “Best job in York.” He always did overplay these things – it wasn’t by a long shot.
Head of Personnel (that’s what we called it then) – Geoff. A really great bloke, who loved the company – the inheritor of the principles of Joseph and Seebohm Rowntree – loved his job and loved his staff. It was his calling. You don’t find many of those now.
“Look, Kevin, it’s not the youngsters like you we want to leave – it’s the older blokes closer to retirement. I can tear this form up right now and that’s it. No questions asked, just go back to your tools.”
A heavy decision for a 27 year-old with a mortgage and two kids.
“Thanks Geoff, but I think I’ve made up my mind.”
Yes! My mind. That was the start of the revolution.
Job for life. “Keep your nose clean and don’t rock the boat.”
I could have still been there now. 52 and heading towards the tipping point where it’s silly not to take the offer and rest on your package.
But 25 years ago was the start of a process of realisation – that life is out there, but the locus of control is within me.
Today, I ended up in a fight at work. We didn’t get to blows, but I could have taken his head off, or maybe just walked out in tears and gone home. The bloke was a nobody – a joker. He picked the fight. This is where you realise that over those 25 years something has occurred.
I’ve run a small business where I got up at 3 in the morning for 2 years. Broke my back and broke my heart knowing that I was losing money every single day that I went out. Went bust – took the bank – took my family – took the divorce.
I’ve ridden courier motorbikes hundreds of miles through the most atrocious weather, had lorry tyres explode three feet to my side and had to out-accelerate the veering lorry to stay alive and still got the tender there on time, my only reward a fag before setting off back.
I’ve survived in a world of gangsters and crazies – had the boss stare across his living room at me trying to work out what makes me tick. I didn’t even know what he meant at the time.
I’ve discovered that I really did understand economics following a fluke entry into university and walked away with a First Class Honours Degree. Argued with my dad about wasting my time with books and then had to listen to his drinking-mates taking the piss because he’d tried to big-up having a son at university.
I’ve been warmly welcomed into a world he’d have shat himself in among RAF officers (he was a corporal) – “This is Kevin. He’s one of us.” I almost wept.
I’ve been stared through as though invisible in the Officers’ Mess, and been pulled into the most outrageous orgies of booze-fuelled fun in the same dining room by fantastic mates. You learn that everyone is different and stereotypes are just that.
I’ve taken 18 tonne lorries into impossible places and learned transmissions, roping and sheeting out on the road. I’ve fed small industry its life-blood, then walked away.
I’ve stood up against £400,000 a year PWC bastards and come back from humiliations to win the day.
I’ve delivered success.
Met beautiful people (If you’re reading this, I love you so much and you know who you are).
I’ve found myself in a hole. Assessed my situation, regrouped and dug myself out.
I’ve found the difference between life in work and life in life and realised that both of them count.
I’ve found values. Not somebody else’s, but my own.
I’ve found out what intrinsic means.
I’ve found something called character. This is not something I claim for my own. My mother has it. Her mother had it. I thank God that I now have it.
And so back to work:
They’ve entrusted me with something they care about.
I care about it, too – amongst other things – but I’ll fix it for them.
The fight today? It was like wiping a bug off the screen.
There’s so much more to this.
One day, if I don’t keel over and die at the kerb-side, I’ll forget who I am and what I’ve done. So today is a celebration.
25 years since I walked out on that first job.
Lesson: Never be afraid to walk out.
And for me?
Watch this space. This is not over yet.