Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Yes, minister

For 6 months in 2003 I found myself working in a government department back home. My previous job fell through when the small company I worked for found itself up a financial shit creek (it has since recovered, which is good – it's a good company full of good people). We'd done a decent job on something for the department in 2002, and they were looking for somebody with my 'skills', whatever the fuck they happen to be.

The job, as much as any I've had, supported my Career Theory of Sanitisation (see Hardly working). My problem (one of them) is that I tend to get along well with most people, so when I denigrate a job I feel like I'm denigrating the people, too, and I don't mean to do that. Generally, they're good people who are just trying to muddle their way through life the best they can, as most of us are. I just happen to have the luxury of being a bit emotionally retarded and hence not having a family or mortgage or whatever it is that gets people worried and makes them forget all the idea(l)s they used to have about doing things differently. Having said that, I'm hardly reaching my own ideals. Recognising that a job is almost pointless doesn't exactly make me a world authority on making the most of opportunities / living life to the full / [insert seize-the-day cliché here]. Take this as official acknowledgment that I have no right whatsoever to comment on or criticise how anyone else lives their life. Which probably means I should shutup.

Staggeringly, I was regarded as a bit of an IT whizz in my department unit. Now, I'm not a computer moron. I can turn the things on and off, and I can fumble my away around obscure applications, like the MS Office programs. I can even download Firefox and subsequently scoff at all the Explorer users, as if I have a fucking clue why Firefox is better. But 'whizz' is pushing it. So how did I achieve demi-guru status? I knew how to remove the "DRAFT ONLY" watermark on department press release drafts. (I was actually taught this by one of the women in my unit, but the rest of the team seemed to forget that.)

When I revealed, after 5 months, that I was leaving for distant shores, they asked me if I knew anybody who could slot into my job. I suggested CJ (who has now been there for a year-and-a-half and has been made permanent... I will seek him out when I'm middle-aged and destitute and he has an inner-city house and a weekender on the south coast). I met him for lunch and to give him the low-down on the job. I'd just told him about my insane IT status when my (work-issue) mobile rang. I swear the following conversation is true.
"Hello, SW, Media and Marketing Unit."

"Hi, this is X, from the minister's office."

"Oh, hello."

"We just called the media unit – they said we should call you. We desperately need to take the 'DRAFT ONLY' bit off a press release."

"Oh. OK. Click on 'view', then 'header & footer', then ... and that should work."

"Perfect! Thank you so much!"

"No worries. My pleasure."
I gave CJ an intensive course on taking "DRAFT ONLY" off press releases. I hope he remembers this when I turn up at his house in 15 years, in tattered old jeans, a dirty great beard and an odour of stray cat's piss.


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