Tuesday, July 3, 2012

An impossible question. And some work history.

A whole other lifetime ago, I worked for the Commonwealth Bank. I started out in Proof, which was where...well, the fact that I can't explain what my job was is probably a good indication of how unsuited I was to the position. There were big machines that we put cheques into, and they made an awesome noise as they got sucked into their little compartments, and we started at lunchtime and finished late which suited me. But then they closed the department and decided I could be a teller. 

The latest ad campaign. Putting the logo over the world "can't".
Oh, I see what you did there! 

I hated it being a teller. 

I hated watching CBA TV every morning -- a little five minute broadcast that told us how fantastic the bank was and how we should all work harder and praise the leadership (kind of like in Nineteen Eighty-Four except I was forced to internalise my rage). I hated how I used to get in trouble for not selling enough housing loans and credit cards when our core customer base at that branch was made up of people old enough to remember the war (and talk at length about it) and homeless alcoholics. I hated how the only fun part of the day was when Julian and I would sit in the strongroom before the branch opened and plot the perfect bank robbery. And we had some solid ideas. 

Yes. Just yes. 

But mostly I hated those godawful team building exercises where we had to Get To Know One Another. Please, if I think you're a dickhead at the office when they're paying me to be there, do you really think I'll like you anymore in what should be my own time? 

Once, they made us fill out questionnaires about our favourite things. Which is pointless, because I always lie in those anyway. Partly because there is no way I'm painting a weird target on my head by telling you that my favourite hobby is writing -- I'll just put "going to movies with friends" because that makes me seem sociable and uninteresting-- and partly because it's none of your business. 

Anyway, this particular questionnaire asked: What is your favourite book? 

I hate that question. Without being overly dramatic, asking me to name my favourite book is like asking me to name my favourite lungful of air. Because I need them all. Need. I can't narrow down the list of books I love to a hundred, let alone ten, let alone one. All I can do is keep adding to the list as I find them. Is that so unusual? 

Anyway, as I sat there mulling over how to answer such an impossible question, the trainer facilitator idiot in charge leaned over to me, saw that I was stuck, and smiled. 

"Don't worry," he said in a friendly tone. "I don't read books either." 

I hate you beyond words, I thought in my loudest fashion while resisting the urge to scream and stab him with a pen. 

Shortly afterwards I quit my job at the bank for my current place of work, where I am allowed to be as jaded and cynical as I like. Sometimes it's like heaven. Cranky, profanity-filled heaven. 


So, what's your favourite book? 
What's the worst job you ever had? 


  1. I think everyone should have a job like that. A seething, soul destroying job where you can feel the life being sucked out of you. The caveat is that you can only have that job for 18 months or less, or else it really will turn you into a zombie.
    Soul sucking jobs can sharpen your sense of self, make you realize how much you don't belong in that kind of world and push you to find the world you do belong in.
    My worst job ever was as a tea lady in The City when I was living in London. I was a fucking tea lady. I pushed around a trolley with tea and coffee and biscuits on it, into meetings where men and women (venture capitalists, to be precise) had more money in their wallets than my entire extended family put together. And they complained about the tea. They laughed and said, obviously an american wouldn't know how to make a proper cuppa. I dreamed of pouring the most exquisite, perfect blend of tea directly over their heads. I could go on with horrible details, but I won't, because you've all probably been there. I came out of that job with two things: fodder for writing and the knowledge that that line of work was not my cup of tea (chortle!)

    1. I absolutely agree that a soul-sucking job is excellent for teaching you what you don't want, as long as you get out in time! I worked with a lot of people at the bank who really didn't like their jobs but, for whatever reason, didn't throw it in.

      I dont think I could be a tea lady for the English either! And seriously, venture capitalists? Ugh. I hate them already!

  2. Worst job ever? Working in retail for 18 months. I was bullied by my boss and depressed to the point that I stopped eating properly and my doctor told me to either put it back on OR ELSE. I dunno what the OR ELSE was and thankfully I never found out. Thankfully I escaped to a much better job and cartwheeled across the shopfloor on my way out, in front of the boss who had made my life so miserable.

    1. I hate retail, but add a bastard boss into the mix and it would be a nightmare. I'm glad you got out when you did, and I hope that your current day job is much healthier!

  3. If I think you're a dickhead at the office when they're paying me to be there, do you really think I'll like you anymore in what should be my own time?

    Yes. Just yes. And I so hope someone at Commonwealth Bank finds this post by accident. :-)

    As for my favorite book, I always steal a line from Hawkeye Pierce: "The dictionary. I figure it's got all the other books in it."

    But after your boss said that, I'd of answered it this way: "The book that's coming out next year about the unsolved mystery of my boss's gruesome death."

    1. I love that line about the dictionary. I'll use that next time I have to do one of those horrific questionnaires.

      And I'm fairly certain that none of my former colleagues from the bank read blogs about writing... But I kinda hope they do too!

  4. Worst job: Executive secretary. SO unsuited to it.


    Which tells you everything you need to know about why Executive secretary was the Worst Job Ever for me.

    Marian Allen
    Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

  5. Ugh... Executive secretary. Sounds like the sort of job where you have to blow dry your hair and wear perfect make up and iron your clothes... And that's even before the actual work part...

    I LOVE Three Men in a Boat! It is hilarious! How much did you want to be with them, mucking about in a boat on a canal? It's such a fun, joyous book.

  6. LOL! I wouldn't have taken MONEY to be in a boat with those three nuts! Have you read Connie Willis' TO SAY NOTHING OF THE DOG or Peter Lovesey's SWING, SWING TOGETHER? Wonderful tributes!

    1. I loved To Say Nothing of the Dog, but I haven't read Swing, Swing Together -- I will have to check it out.

      I put the Three Men in the same category as characters like Bertie Wooster -- fantastic fun to hang out with, but you wouldn't want to be married to them!



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...