A friend has already pointed out that a mere 5 reasons might not do this topic justice, but as I imagine there are a finite amount of pages on the internet I will limit myself to these initial thoughts. These points relate predominantly to office work, the most miserable of trades.

The Hours of the Day
You spend roughly 8 hours asleep. Of the 16 hours of the day remaining, 1 hour is spent getting up and ready for work, between 1 and 2 hours is spent travelling into work, then there’s the 8 hours of actually being at work. 1 to 2 hours is spent getting back home, leaving you between 4-6 hours to yourself. One of those hours will be spent talking about work with a significant other, flatmate or just your mentally traumatised self. Potentially another hour will be spent weeping into one’s microwaved curry about work. The precious few hours remaining will be spent either watching television programmes such as The Apprentice or The Office, or drinking quantities of alcohol which you were strictly warned about doing by some self-righteous busybody manager. Either way the time will fast approach where it’s time for the allotted 8 hours of sleep, where you’ll most likely have that annoying dream about being late for work. Of course, there is a way round this and that’s to drink heavily the moment you leave the office, but chances are you’ll wake up with little memory of your precious few hours of freedom and only minutes to get ready for yet another long and dreary slog, and in some cases you may even wake up under your desk as if you’d never left, having been too drunk to find your way home the night before.

Time and Relative Dimensions in Work
I think Albert Einstein said it best when he said something very clever and confusing about time, perception and relativity. I believed he used the idea of a person travelling on a train to illustrate his theories (here’s one explanation), when perhaps he should have used the example of a man sat at his desk in work to give the definitive example. Whenever your average human being is given a rare opportunity to indulge in something fun, the time spent doing it flies by. Whenever that same person has to spend a day at work, the cogs of of time grind to a rusty halt and every simple second appears to last at least 4 minutes. Of course, time is passing at exactly the same rate whatever you are doing (near enough anyway; there is scientific evidence that proves there is a slight variation). At work however time drags like in nowhere else. Every key stroke feels like tooth extraction. Every meeting feels like a Wagnerian opera played in slo-mo. The only time worktime gathers pace is when there’s an urgent deadline to meet. Then it suddenly decides to skip along merrily and if the deadline is especially urgent don’t be surprised if time speeds by like a Tron light-cycle.

Having a job costs a fortune
I’m sure if I just stayed at home and held my breath, I’d be no worse off financially than for coming into work. First there are the basic costs. Travel to and from the office, and money for lunch. If your company has a dress code you’ll be forced to purchase smarter clothes than your preferred ketchup stained t-shirt and tracksuit bottoms. Then there are unreasonable demands made on your wallet by calls for contributions to birthday presents for colleagues. Chances are these are at best people you’ve never heard of and at worst characters you despise with every proton of your existence. Perhaps even worse, when it’s your own birthday you’re expected to feed your colleagues with crisps, cakes and vegan rice cakes for the pale, emaciated misery-guts in the corner. For sustenance throughout the day your office may provide free vending machines but these will almost certainly vend undrinkable swill, so you find yourself forking out large amounts of change for buckets of caffeine to keep you awake. Then there’s the cost of socialising. On leaving work people are so de-mob happy that they’re prepared to put enmity aside and drink with anyone from their workplace, just as long as they can drink. This costs lots of money. Tens upon tens of thousands of pounds over the years in some people’s experience (ahem!). Very few people can afford to work for a living.

The shit rises to the top
It appears to be a common link between organisations that intelligent, amusing and interesting employees slave away for minimum reward while socially backward, dense and ferociously incompetent staff soar into the promotion stratosphere. I theorise that the latter take work so much more seriously that in many ways they are bound to get ahead. However, I have known senior managers who couldn’t tie their shoelaces until in their 30s; communications and marketing managers with the reading ages of 9 year olds; and managing directors so studiously absorbed in their own self-importance that they’d need a board meeting to tell them their face was on fire. Generally these dullards will be prepared to tread on a kitten’s neck to get ahead in the workplace, while decent people just muddle along trying to do the best they can be bothered with. Their reward – bugger all.

What’s the point?
The thing you worry and grind your teeth about is more likely than not completely without meaning or consequence and in 5 years time, or even much less, your efforts may as well have not occurred. I don’t mean to do workers a disservice. I fully applaud all those people who go out every day and slog through another 7.5 hours of misery just to put food on plates, clothes on limbs and taxes in government coffers. We need these people. We need to work ourselves. However tasks such as completing a spreadsheet, updating a website, delivering a presentation, all the myriad duties performed in an office role generally have an inverse importance to that which is placed on them by the bigwigs referenced in point 4. When sitting down with a manager and going through the year’s objectives one is given the impression that they have an importance second only to a Papal funeral. Are we supposed to descend into Bacchanalian revelry when our manager ticks the “Has provided good customer service” box? Perhaps I’m expected to invite the family round and solemnly announce that it’s been deemed I met the 2 day task turnaround time as required, before weeping emotionally and hugging each of my nearest and dearest with whom I had to share this landmark. Or perhaps we correctly do none of these things, because most people fully understand that ultimately work is meaningless. Unfortunately those who have been sent to make us despair, our managers, can’t get their heads round that fundamental truth and so the misery continues…

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