As another weekend draws to an untimely end, 35 hours of soul destroying tedium circles through your conscious like a corporate feathered vulture. Sunday's television schedule does little to distract you from the thoughts of a job that you once donned your finest suit to secure, and here, in a moment of depressing clarity is the realisation that, "this is your life." Instead of a red book filled with your greatest feats and wittiest one-liners, the best that you can achieve is two pages of Arial 11 point detailing your employment history and one or two hobbies that you added in a desperate attempt to make it sound as though you were a true team player and not the mis-anthropic, work-hating malcontent that you actually are.

If this sounds familiar then fear not, you are not alone. The Daily Grindstone is here to help you through the perils of employment and give weight to your long held belief that, despite the hype, work just isn't that great. So... make another cup of tea (remember that a full kettle takes longer to boil and can add minutes to your break), get comfortable, and prepare to adjust the scales of the work-life balance a little more in your favour.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Office Dwellers Part III: The Jobsworth

Every office has at least one person who believes that their modest job entering numbers into an Excel spreadsheet is no less important than finding the cure for cancer. Whilst there is nothing wrong with having pride in your work, if you find yourself forcing your passion for mediocrity upon your disinterested colleagues, it may be time to accept that you have become one of the most irritating of all Office Dwellers.

The Jobsworth would be capable of unearthing hatred in the Dalai Lama, and so tasked with a normal human being, they can induce torrents of rage filled bile to erupt out of their pores like an island of volcanoes. Not content with using ‘wacky’ shaped post-it notes to transform their workstation into a cathedral of tired and clich├ęd motivational phrases, the Jobsworth will insist that each and every one of their colleagues shares their enthusiasm for data entry/customer services/packing envelopes* (delete as appropriate).

Were the Jobsworth an agreeable character who just happened to possess an over- exaggerated opinion about the importance of their job, most, if not all people, would be able to forgive them for their shortcomings. Unfortunately, the Jobsworth behaves like the unholy lovechild of Josef Stalin and Richard Littlejohn, and in between musings about the “lazy immigrants in the production department,” will survey the office for opportunities to preach the merits of hard work.

Should the Jobsworth spot a co-worker engaged in a minute of idleness, they will alert the nearest figure of authority and swoop like an iron-fisted eagle to pointedly remind them about the company’s code of conduct. Like a sociopathic Rottweiler, their lack of empathy, combined with a devastatingly low level of intellect, makes them the perfect guard-dog. Witless and unintelligent, they are loyal to the hilt and will disembowel without question.

Going about their duties with the subservience of a Nazi prison guard, the Jobsworth acts as gatekeeper to the company. Having held the most junior position in the office for the last twenty years, every new entrant to the kingdom of corporate life must negotiate their way through the Jobsworth’s department. Any mistake that they make will be instantly reported to the line-manager and like a human threshing machine, the Jobsworth will ruthlessly help to separate the wheat from the chaff. Each and every disciplinary firing that is substantiated by their expert testimony will help to move them one step closer to the fabled, ‘employee of the month’ award.

Whilst there is no escaping the bitter and watchful eye of a Jobsworth, with a modicum of intelligence, most of us should be able to obtain some degree of immunity.
Like a huntsman spider, the Jobsworth’s toxic exterior hides a creature longing to be loved. By showing just a little interest in their twenty year career as an envelope packer, you may just buy yourself enough goodwill to avoid the effects of their poison.

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