In my world, in my little corner of East Milton Keynes (Eastside bitches), it’s been a good few weeks for getting things done. I’m at the start of a week off work – I’m heading soon to a bit of a solo writers retreat in a caravan back oop naarth – and I feel like I’ve literally skidded sideways into the weekend after tying up a fuckload of loose ends. In the last few days the car has been serviced, I’ve taken thirteen people from work on a cool little indoor climbing and caving experience, I’ve hosted a smart little ‘retro gaming & pizza’ party at my gaff (and fucking WON the gaming competition – touch me), I’ve spent a couple of long days getting shit sorted in London, and I’ve even squeezed in a few reet sweaty 10km runs. All of this is cool, and even in my boozing days I like to think I wasn’t the type to sit about in my grundies and let life pass me by, but one BIG thing that has always been good at putting a black cloud over things for me – and that has stuck through me like a giant mucky kebab skewer for years and years – is the unshakable feeling that I’m shite at my job, and that handing over before a holiday will expose me for what I really am. And this worry is far-reaching…
Three years ago I could be sat there on a Saturday night about to open a bottle of wine (likely the first of three, and then some) and the work-dreads would enter my head like a huge bolt of FUK, making me think forwards to Monday morning. Suddenly I’m considering the shitstorm that I’ve got waiting there for me, and I’m cycling internally through ways I can ditch the job…
Could I just never go in again? Maybe I can make money on the internet instead? But surely I would need a business plan – and that would take time! Should I turn to crime? Maybe I should start robbing old ladies? Or selling drugs? Maybe I should start selling drugs to old ladies? A bit like meals-on-wheels – I could buy a scooter and sell ecstasy and cocaine round the back of the sheltered housing to old Ethel and her bonkers blue-rinse crew! Maybe I should become an ice-cream man? Is it too late to become a world-famous child actor? Ah shit probably since I’m thirty eight….
And the source of all of this worry? Usually it would stem from nothing more than a simple task at work, which I’ve perpetually postponed and worried about until it’s grown into an unwieldy and terrifying beast with piercing red eyes and Excel spreadsheets for hands (?). It goes like this:
- Boss tells me I need to Googlefuck the primary mech-tampons to ensure they’re fully audit-ready ahead of the arrival of Satan (standard project-management tasks right?). The whole office is doing the same thing, and if I get it wrong then Satan will bugger me in the boardroom in front of all the Directors and their mums. I have no idea what he’s talking about but it’s cool – deadline isn’t for three weeks yet.
- One week left. I spent the last two weeks at work hungover, and the tiny amount of energy I had was spent deflecting hard questions and pretending that everything’s going really well.
- Two days to deadline. Most of the office has already complete the Googlefuckings. I’m not even sure what a Googlefuck is. Too late to start asking now though – the time to ask questions was three weeks ago.
- Can’t sleep. My Googlefuck project is due in tomorrow morning and I’m hungover to shit. Still don’t know what a Googlefuck is. Have a few beers, forget about it.
- The boss likes me so I’ve managed to buy some extra time. I’ve told him it’s nearly done and I’ve scored an extra week extension. Definitely too late now to ask what a Googlefuck is.
- This has all gone too far. I feel useless and scared. I’m going to hand my notice in before my lack of mech-tampons knowlege is exposed. My weekends are spent worrying about Googlefucks. I’m drinking more to blot it out. Always in a bad mood. I hate everyone. This is bollocks.
- Start new job, and leave behind a mangled car-crash of un-Googlefucked mech-tampons. Whole cycle starts again. The new boss wants me to lazer-shit the entire Jason Donovan Infrastructure . Not sure what he means. No worries – deadline is two months away.
- Three years later. Realise that Googlefucking is easy. It was just a little switch on the wall near my computer.
I’ve been in my current job for about two and a half years. It’s a techie job dealing with a lot of techie people – so based on my previous bad experiences with Googlefucks and Jason Donovan Infrastructures and whatnot I should be in a whole world of shit by now right? Especially as I’m trying to tie up all the loose ends ahead of a week off work! These are the moments that expose us that are ‘winging-it’ as fraudsters and charlatans, are they not?
Actually wait. NO!
I’m fine. Everything is chill and gravy and all those other things. Work is up to date, and everyone knows what they need to do in my absence. There are no secret car-crashes that I’ve been hiding in my desk draw, and I haven’t been lying to anyone about anything.
So what’s so different this time around, as I plan for a week off?
Well, as any regular soberpunks readers will know, I haven’t had a drink in over two and a half years. I actually quit drinking a couple of months before I started my current job, which means my colleagues have never seen me drunk – or indeed hungover. The benefits of sobriety on my work life have been immense…
- Good, wholesome friendships with colleagues
- Actually keen to do a good job (wtf mate?)
- Oh the bantz
- I think I actually know what I’m doing
- Zero tiredness – I’m literally in the office at 7am and AT IT rather than being slumped in a pile on the men’s bogs pissy floor
- No booze paranoia
- I smell like a bottle of Jean Paul Gaultier, rather than Batley Wetherspoons on a Friday teatime
- Get up and present to a room full of people? No fucking problem mate. Pass us the pointy stick
…but one benefit in particular took a while to come to fruition after I quit the booze; the ability to stop storing things up in my internal Doom-Laden Box Of Fuckoff. Previous contents of this scary-sounding box include the aforementioned Googlefucks and Jason Donovan Infrastructure pieces of work. Basically, this is the part of my mind where tasks are hidden away to grow into grotesque creatures waaay bigger and scarier than their original form. It grows bigger with every procrastination. It sprouts more legs every time you shove it again to the back of your mind.
Worryingly, this practice of hiding away complex-sounding pieces of work in the Doom-Laden Box Of Fuckoff had morphed from being a hangover-induced work-deflection system, and had become something habitual. Something I did without thinking. This meant that even in more recent post-boozing years, with the clearest head I’ve ever had (full HD bitches!), it has taken real effort to break the habit; to look at a piece of work and say ‘OI! I NEED HELP UNDERSTANDING THIS PLEASE!’ rather than instantly looking for ways out and around it.
It was genuinely and wonderfully eye-opening to find that the people I work with are all talented, cool, friendly people – and always primed to help. Have I just landed lucky with this job? Or were people always this awesome – if only I’d asked them for help? I’ll never know. What I do know though, and what I’ll never forget, is that drinking leads to hangovers, and hangovers lead to shoddy workplace performance, and shoddy workplace performance leads to excuses, procrastination, and me being a sweaty paranoid mess – which all results in me storing things in the dreaded Doom-Laden Box Of Fuckoff until they’ve mutated out of all reasonable proportion and turned into a huge dribbling burden, hanging around my neck, like a ridiculous rapper’s necklace made of SLUDGE and WANK.
So as I prepare for my 5 hour drive up to the little caravan near the sea in North Yorkshire, I’m happy with how work has been left. I’m happy that there are no dead bodies under my desk, and no mech-tampons left unGooglefucked. Even with the clearest of heads you can still make monumental fuckups – but they’d be genuine, sincere, sober fuckups. Not fuckups borne of a destructive relationship with alcohol which can, and did, take a cricket bat to just about every single aspect of my young adult life: Friendships, health, romantic relationships, finances, and WORK.
So take heed if going to work is something that you dread despite all of your best intentions. Take heed if Monday mornings leave you wanting to bolt up, and off, the nearest skyscraper. It may be that you’re in the wrong job, but it might just be the booze, sucking the sparkle and the turbo out of you.
I used to sit on the train to work and cross my fingers, praying for a derailment straight into the nearest warehouse. BOOM! How fucked up is that? And it turns out that all I needed to do was put down the bottle – and then, slowly, things got easier. And then things stopped being shit and started being okay. And now things have stopped being okay, and started being good. I have bad days at work – everyone does – but even the bad days are twice as good as the best days were when I was drinking too much. Even the best days were bad.
Just my experience. Beer was the problem. Might not be the same for you. Worth a try though right?
Thanks for listening to my confusing dreck. I’m off to pack my bag ready to hit the road in the morning.
And I still have no idea what a chuffing Jason Donovan Infrastructure is.
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