Fuck you life, and your fucking jobs

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Like many of you, I am currently trying to strap on my job helmet and squeeze down into a job cannon and fire off into job land, where jobs grow on little jobbies… I am not having much success.

The whole process is a fairly crushing ordeal when repeated over and over. I wouldn’t mind a whole lot if it was just emailing off my CV to Pam in HR like how sensible people used to do things in the past, but now every company seems committed to making the whole thing a crippling ordeal. You have to answer a series of questions to get to the first questionnaire that establishes if you’re eligible to complete the online application form. The application form will take approximately three hours and two days to complete and probably require more mental effort than the actual job itself. You have to think of five occasions when you showed leadership characteristics, four when you used initiative, three times you worked well as part of a team, two turtle doves, and one story about how you took on a highly organised criminal group who had taken your wife hostage on Christmas Eve during a heist in a Los Angeles skyscraper under the guise of a terrorist attack. After this you get to the assessment centre where you have to do a maths test, verbal reasoning test, give a presentation, make a balloon chair for a porcupine and then thwart terrorists who have taken control of the air traffic control system so your wife’s plane can land before it crashes… also on Christmas Eve. Then something something Die Hard 3 and you all celebrate by killing a helicopter with a car like that scene in Die Hard 4.

… That got a bit out of hand, but the point is job applications are draining. It’s a pretty shitty feeling trying to dredge through the past 5 years of your life in the hope of finding something in your head that shows any form of commitment or growth and not finding much. Embellishing every little thing with meaning or development just to seemlike a human being who can be trusted to copy and paste things into an excel topcat-topcatspreadsheet (this is every job there ever was and ever will be, obey the spreadsheet and it’s magical cell corners, do not question ctrl c ctrl v). It’s not just me either; I know this because I have a LinkedIn (yes, I am part of the problem) and everyone is as full of shit as each other. We all know absolutely nothing about what we’re supposed to be doing, stumbling blindly through life throwing around words like passion and synergy, hoping we don’t bump into an adult because they’ll yell at us for not knowing how to do our jobs. The adults aren’t much better because they don’t even know which bullshit to call us on. They may go the gym before work because they had an early night and despise the thought of spending another minute with their families, and not because they stumbled in at 4am and thought it would be a good way to sweat out the alcohol. (pro-tip, it is not a good way to sweat out the alcohol, although it is a good way to vomit up the 3am chips), but they’re just as tied to it all as the rest of us. Everyone pretends that they know what they’re doing and hoping their boss doesn’t find out they don’t, unable to call out the people below because it would bring the whole system crashing down. It presumably keeps going up and up the levels of management until eventually you just have the ghost of Steve Jobs and Top Cat, giggling to themselves over martinis.

No one is really sure how the career thing began; we got on a train that made real life start happening and hoped it would take us to somewhere that made it all feel normal. At Paddington we could go anywhere, so we decided to see what Bath might be like; no commitments, just some nice yellow buildings and boring everything else. But then the train started speeding up, taking you further away from the time when you could want to be anything and that anything still be realistically possible; making life events increasingly blurred and narrowing your options. You keep going until the invisible signal master who has been making all these decisions for you eventually has a heart attack and dies, slumped over his big Thomas the Tank Engine lever in the ground, and your train careers into a ravine called cancer. Sometimes you get the Bristol Parkway to London fast track and sometimes it’s the scenic Arriva Trains Wales service to Anglesey via Powys, the one with the designated sheep cart and blowjob seat, but it all ends the same way in the ravine. The word career literally means to move swiftly and in an uncontrolled way, so if you’re not panicking about it, ordering a double vodka and trying to jump off (remember to tuck and roll or you’ll break your legs) then you’re probably doing it wrong.

… That got a bit out of hand, but the point is careers are scary. I wouldn’t mind as much if these were jobs that existed, but they basically don’t. Like pretty much every intern, I’ve worked in research, and research is definitely a thing that everyone pretends exists. Carol in Marketing wants some research so that if her idea doesn’t work (because she doesn’t know what’s she’s doing) she can blame Steve in research (who doesn’t know what he’s doing). If the research says to do something else then Carol will probably do her idea anyway because otherwise she’d have to make a new train thomasbowerPowerPoint and today is curry day and Carol loves curry day and wants to get down to the canteen before the naan bread runs out. She’ll just claim she was using her initiative and went with her gut, and because in LinkedIn career world every trait is positive, every weakness is a strength, everything is nothing and nothing is wrong, knowledge is pizza and pizza is power and no one knows what they’re doing, it probably won’t matter. The other jobs I kind of know how to do are silly media things, like writing long articles that reference every Die Hard movie, and talking about drill music on the radio because I think it’s funny to play Chief Keef songs loudly in the SU (which it really is #bitcheslovesosa). None of my skills are relevant to humanities continued existence in any way; I take in oxygen and create a fairly large carbon footprint, that’s about it. The only real thing my career may result in is a little bit of global warming and a few steps closer to entropy.

Proof of this is that in a post-apocalyptic world I would be useless. The carpenters would be building houses, the nurses tending to the wounded and the lion tamers would be taming other large animals that were a threat (I assume the skills are transferable). I meanwhile would be writing a think piece about how our new society is at risk from gentrification because the shit-twig tepee that the elders use to tell tales of life before the event is being turned into a Gourmet Burger Kitchen. Maybe I could stretch to a podcast about whether Drake or Childish Gambino would be more useful to us (sorry Drizzy, Childish just has more skills, he could start our TV and film industry), but that’s it. Fifty years ago I would have at least known how to mine for coal and probably other things (I assume the skills are transferable), but thanks to Margaret Thatcher I don’t even know how to do that. If I can’t even go down a hole and catch the black lung, how I meant to create a five year career plan and wear matching socks?

Anyway, that’s about 1,000 words of procrastination so I should probably go and apply for something. Maybe one day the train will have slowed down enough to enjoy a martini with Top Cat, or maybe I’ll have jumped off and be living in the woods with the ocelots and James Cordon. Either way, it’d be quite nice if somebody could just tell me where I’d be next year. If you need me I’ll be watching Die Hard and wearing odd socks.

Photo credit: Thomas Bower (flickr)

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Thomas Gane is the former Online Editor (2014-15) and bite Editor (2012-13) at bathimpact. He writes about popular culture, music, the University of Bath and both local and national politics.

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