Sunday, November 6, 2011

Back and the Future

Much of my adult working life has been spent in offices.

More to the point, much of my working life has been spent pushing paper in the operations departments of financial institutions. Working with the distribution of dividends, corporate actions, cash balancing and reconciliations, data entry jobs in the back offices of International Banking Houses to be precise.

For me, after ten years of this sort of work, I was ready to slit my wrists. Then in 2003, after a large epiphany, three months on a Greek Island and a bout of deep depression, I made a change, found IT and began to discover that work could be fun, interesting and I could play to my strengths. Leaving the operations departments of these banks has been one of the best moves I've ever made - from financial, professional and personal standings.

So now, in my capacity as a Consulting Business Analyst for a second tier Business Consulting group (all this means is that I work with great people who drink lots of beer, have personalities and don't expect you to do fourteen hour days) I'm in a bit of quandary.

In my current role, I'm finding myself back in the thick of an operations area of a financial institution. Even worse, I'm in the thick of the operations area of Bastard Bank's Retail Operations Area.

I DON'T WORK RETAIL!!! Especially not after my first job was spent in the sub-basement of the an Adelaide department store sticking on price tags - two year of that putting myself through my final year of university part time.

Okay, I'm not in this Gormenghast of a place to WORK in operations - I'm there do document the procedures and processes, that is once I get through the air locks, find my desk, pass the forests of paperwork and rows of fax machines and try to let to foreboding sense of deja vu pass.

I left these kinds of offices nearly a decade ago.

Working in IT and telcos, I've been surrounded by computers and people in jeans - people with quick wits, idiosyncrasies and tendencies towards the autism spectrums. Working on projects, I've been among a mix of megalomaniacs with their own agendas, decent, bright, fun hard working people who strive for the best (these are the people I seem to make friends with) and a heap of very bright people who have tendencies towards the autism spectrums. Throw into the mix guys like Traralgon, Ah-Sole, Danger Dood and the Hot Scouser and every stereotype is covered.

I like project spaces. I get them. They can be fast paced and interesting at times. It's normally varied work. You meet great people.

I don't like Operations Areas. Business as Usual can be as dull as it sounds.

Yet, I'm sort of glad, as this foray into the world of Business Analysis a bit of a soft landing as I 'get' what the teams are trying to do. I get what they do on a daily basis. I get how they do it. It's all second nature. It's ingrained.

And it hasn't changed much in the near decade since I left.

Nor have the people.

Similar people, different office.

Middle aged women in slacks and jumpers who go and find  a cup of tea two hours by the clock. Younger women, seven months pregnant with photos of the kids framed on the desk. Young men in their thirties with Supercuts haircuts and short sleeved polyester shirts. Friendly management who try and make the best of the conditions. Same people, different office. Seen it all before.

And the killer for me - the radio is piped through the office.


I come from offices where everybody listens to music - it's what iPods are for! I've been known to bop along to the Pixies while fixing commas and parsing ("You are the son of an incestuous union..."). I do it regularly. ("Vamos, vamos, vamos") I used to have iPod swaps with my old project manager. ("I was swimming in the Caribbean').

In this new office, I've been subjected to GOLD FM and MIX FM. So far I've endured some really old favorites - Phil Collins, Bryan Adams, Mental as Anything - and a personal favorite - Meatloaf.

If I ever have to hear Meatloaf's "Bat Out of Hell" album again before I die, it will be too soon. Just as the CIA tortured Gitmo detainees with the Barney song, I have a similar feeling about Bat out of Hell. For two years, it was all I listened to as I stuck price tickets on department store items.

I know every word to that pharking album.

Hearing 'I Can See Paradise by the Dashboard Light' on Friday was enough to start my bottom lip quivering and the urge to run away to set in.

I'm back in an Operations Area. Joy!

It's only for a few months. I'm cutting my teeth on work things. I just have to remember this and remember this often. And go back to the mother ship of my old office when I can.

My earplugs will get a battering I reckon - that or I ramp up the iPod and play The Pixies, Florence and the Machine, The Rolling Stones and anything that is the antithesis of the easy listening crap they play over the tannoy.

On the good side of things, I'll go back to the project enclave after this stint, the people are friendly, its walking distance from home and the canteen is so bad I'll have to take my lunch in so I will get my diet back on track. And there may be a bit of travel attached to this job with the slight chance of being sent to Sydney for a few weeks.

On the not so good side of things, other than the persistent drone of easy-listening radio, I just have to remember that although this type of work started me on the route I'm on now, it's not what I do any more. It's not who I am. And I'm not stuck there, earning half of what I earn now, bored out of my wits with no way out.

Thank heavens it's not for too long.

I've had a weekend out from things. Went with Jay from the gym to see Rock of Ages yesterday - loved every minute of it.

As somebody who normally doesn't like musicals, this one got me to me. An old friend highly recommended it - and I'm so glad I went. The only musicals I tend to like are the edgy, slightly wrong ones - like Rocky Horror, Hairspray and Chicago. I think that Andrew Lloyd Webber should be publicly executed for crimes against humanity.

Rock of Ages has a Rocky Horror sense of fun, a completely wrong sense of humour and one of the best eighties sound tracks out there. And they give you a fake cigarette lighter to sway to the music with. I'm never going to hear  Pat Benetar's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" in the same way again. I don't believe that I ever wore the clothes they wore - I've never worn acid wash double denim or gym lycra unitards. My hair's too boofy to have a spiral perm... And the last time I wore suspenders and stocking was to a "Shock Your Mother" party at college. Thankfully all the photos of me in a school uniform, stockings and suspenders in a shopping trolley have been burned.

If you get a chance to see it on stage - do it - though the movie of the stage show is coming out next year. Tom Cruise as Stacee Jaxx should be a hoot.

Other good things to happen this weekend - Pump class with 25 kilogram squat track, meditation, a quiet night on Saturday with a lot of Vampire Porn (True Blood). All good things.

On the not quite as good side - a not that interesting Mason's rehearsal, which was infuriating and insightful in turn and completely wasted Friday night. And lots of vampire porn has made me decidedly horny. But we can't talk about the last thing.

I'm going into middle age - I didn't think you were supposed to get horny any more.

I suppose the latter is a bit of compensation for the fact that tomorrow morning it's back to Gormenghast to look at operations processes which haven't changed that much in twenty years.


Days without ice cream - 15 (and brownie points for donating to Trin the scoop of vanilla ice cream that turned up in my skinny iced chai latte up at the 1000 Steps - like who puts ice cream in skinny iced chai latte?)


Sometimes I think of your skin
The unexpected smoothness found
At the base of your neck
And your chest's scent
Where I used to lay
Your chest, my pillow
Your arm, loose around me
Protective and calm

I can never go back
But you are always there
In the recesses
Where light rarely goes
Soft, smooth, scented
Imperfectly perfect.
Protective and calm.


Kath Lockett said...

It's a crime that any form of radio or musak is piped into an office - how the hell is *any* form of music going to please everyone? *shudder*

Re Rock of Ages - I *did* do the spiral perm, having had only cobwebs for hair and did own one pair (just one) of acid washed denim....

Pandora Behr said...

See, I thought you were trendy with your spiral perm and acid wash - I always felt daggy not procuring them.

Jackie K said...

Oh god, radio in the office - torture. In my last month before finishing up at Really Big Bank, I sat opposite Old School Russell (who I adore) and his radio (which I hate) - and he listens to Triple M all day every day. Only bonus, he left at 4 so I always then walked round and switched it off. I cannot believe there are so many songs I forgot ever existed, and now I was listening to them every day. 90's rock. I started waking up with them in my head. *Shudders*.

The Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Pand,

I would hate to listen to music while working. I am terrible at multi-tasking and to me listening to music is a task. I would love to listen to some metal on my mp3 player but sadly I wouldn't be able to do my job properly if I did - and (worse) I might actually start singing!!!

Cathy said...

Er...not ALL the photos of you at the Shock Ya Mother party in suspenders and school uniform have been burned...;)

Pandora Behr said...

Mrs Shoehorn - dare you to shove a few of those shots of facebook...