take one woman with low self esteem, but quite good hair
add one moronic illness
stir in some medication which causes hair to fall out
mix it all up and this is what you get...

Friday, June 15, 2007

You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone... 

Despite my inherent, probably genetic, predisposition to bone-idleness, I am surprisingly useless at being a lady of leisure.

Having been a corporate drone for so long, I simply have no idea how to fill my time if I am not working. I need structure in my days, even if that structure is no more than "go to work, stay there awhile, then go home". Work is rather like a tailored suit, providing a neat and definite shape to one's time, but leaving its wearer keen to shrug off its restrictive and unyielding fabric when the day is done. Whereas my life of leisure was more like a pair of trackies and a slobby top - infinitely comfortable in some ways, but liable to reveal a flabby mass of hopelessness and depression, the psychological equivalent of muffin tops and visible panty lines.

Oh reader, of course there were plenty of things I could have done whilst at home. A plethora of domestic chores just waiting to be done, books to be read, craft projects to be undertaken, lunches with friends in town to be had. And, to be fair, I did some of those things for some of the time. But for the most part, I would find myself staring pointlessly at the computer screen (not so different from being at work, admittedly), wandering aimlessly around town buying useless things I could ill afford, contemplating my disappearing hair with the inevitable crying which would ensue and bemoaning my inertia with regard to my thus far mythical translation business whilst doing absolutely nothing to progress it.

Add to this the fact that my last employer made a bit of a boo-boo, paying me full salary while I was off sick (to which I was not entitled) and then demanding I repay the difference and you end up with a bored, miserable and rather financially concerned Anx.

So, I hope you won't think badly of me. I've gone against my word. For the past few weeks, I've been *whispers* working.

Don't shout at me, not just yet. You see, I made sure there were conditions.

I work no more than three days per week. Two of those days, I can work remotely from home if I wish. I do not provide on-call support, I do not travel to or work on production sites. It's work-lite, if you will.

Now, to add confusion to your disappointment, I should point out that I am working not for my last employer, but for the one before that. The one I left in December. As I pointed out here, having only worked in my latest job for two months before falling ill, I had not yet become productive. It takes time, in my line of work, to get to know the systems to the extent that one is truly useful. Furthermore, because they did not yet know what I was capable of, I would not have felt confident making demands with regard to working conditions.

However, I had kept in touch with a close colleague from the old place. I knew they had not directly replaced me with an experienced developer, but were training up an internal member of staff - and not without some difficulty. I remembered how they had begged me to stay, offering an increasingly desperate range of incentives. They liked me. They appreciated me. They needed me. They really, really missed me when I left. I knew that, if I wanted, they would take me back in the blink of an eye.

And so, in an arrangement which is mutually beneficial, until I leave the West Country, I am working part time back at the old place. There is the possibility that I might continue to work part time for them on an entirely remote basis when I move to Hampshire. That's how much they value my contribution and that feels pretty good.

I like being with people, talking nonsense with them and laughing with them - being back at work has reminded me of the importance of human contact which was what I'd been missing when I'd been convalescing at home. I have to wonder, then, how I will adapt to working from home, with only myself for company, once (I almost said if...) I start working as a freelance translator...

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