I can’t remember the exact joke but it goes something like this.
You go to school and spend much of the day looking at the clock. Your life revolves around the clock, what you do and when you do it.
And you go to work by the time on the clock. When the clock strikes 12.00, you have your lunch and then you wait until the clock ticks up to the time when you can go home when you will set the clock for the following morning.
And after you work for the employer for, say, 39 years, as I did, what do they buy you? A fucking clock.
Except that the last bit wasn’t true. In fact, my work colleagues did a nice collection and bought me some vouchers for me to spend as I chose.
But it certainly happened to a lot of people.
39 years is a lot of your life to give to any employer, in my case the Government, so not a particularly nice employer. Labour governments treated us badly, Tory governments treated us far worse, so when the chance to be part of a voluntary exit scheme, I was halfway through the door before you could say Jack Robinson (maybe Jason Robinson would be more appropriate these days).
So anyway, I left back in May to kind wishes from friends and colleagues and a lovely letter from my boss which meant an awful lot.
You are not valued in much of the public sector so it is not surprising when your leaving is accompanied by little by way of a fanfare, but it it slightly disappointing when your leaving is accompanied by nothing from the top of the shop or anywhere near it.
I did not expect a personal letter of thanks from Iain Duncan Smith, congratulating me on my results and walking the extra mile for far less than the national average wage, but perhaps a stock letter with my name written in biro might have been appropriate?
But there was nothing. Above my boss locally, nothing.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am glad I have left. I do not regret getting out when I did. I was burnt out, I had nothing left to give. A few months off work is something quite excellent.
And I am not whingeing, feeling sorry for myself that those nasty people at the top don’t give a shit about anything I did over 39 years because I know that we are just numbers. When they needed to cut staff, I became a number George Osborne could brag about in the House of Commons, talking about ‘efficiencies’ and ‘cutting out waste’.
A letter did arrive last week and I stupidly thought that maybe here was a stencilled letter from a middle manager thanking me and wishing me good luck but it turned out to be my P45!
I was privileged to work with some truly wonderful people and I hope I keep in contact with them as the next stage of my life unfolds.
But the government proves once again that they know the price of everything but the value of nothing.
That this government is by far the worst I have ever worked for – worse even than Thatcher’s – they’ve all been unpleasant employers, just some less worse than others.
One thing though is that I am no longer clock watching. Apart from when it’s time to open the wine.