Sunday, March 18, 2012
I’ve managed to avoid the desire for a two-seater open-top sports car. The bike doesn’t count because I’ve owned large motorcycles since I was a teenager.
The other thing I’ve been doing since my teenage years is engineering. First, science O and A levels, then a civil engineering degree. After graduating with a Desmond (Gaudeamus igitur), I spent six months as a motorcycle courier before finding a proper job in the civil engineering profession. And I’ve been more-or-less continually employed ever since. Twenty-six years: you don’t get that for murder.
Regrettably, this is now how I feel about it. Instead of actual engineering, which a colleague described as “an industry which needs a couple of big buckets of common sense,” I find myself being inexorably tractor-beamed into the Death Star of Financial Management and Quality Assurance. There seem to be ever-increasing layers and layers of Business Bollocks between me and actually Getting Things Done.
I’m driven to wonder how anything ever got built before the post-war introduction of Gantt charts and Quality Plans; before Construction Design Management. Are all those Victorian and older structures merely figments of my diseased imagination? Was the universe created yesterday, complete with false memories? The oldest bridge in the world is the Pons Fabricius in Rome, which was built in 62BC. How did the Romans build that?
“They had massive whips, Rimmer. Massive, massive whips.”
The engineering industry has openings for Planning Engineers and Quality Assurance Specialists. If I wanted an electrical sub-station designing, I’d get an electrical engineer. Why then am I expected to be a master of all trades where planning and QA are concerned?
My point is that I’ve become completely disillusioned with everything I do for a living. It pays well, but I only continue to do it so that one day I’ll have enough saved up so that I don’t have to do it any more. Ten more years. A decade. Not so much a word as a sentence.
So I need a change. Changing employer would only exchange frying pan for fire. And because of employment laws in Qatar I’d need a No Objection Certificate from my current employer or be banned from working in Qatar for two years. NOCs are Not Coming In Doha, Mr Goat.
What else could I do, assuming a career rather than merely a country change? Having done engineering for so long, I have a very narrow set of skills. What I do, I do very well. And I must be good at it; feelings of self-doubt are logically unfounded because if I were a fraud I’d surely have been found out in under 26 years.
· Barring the vanishingly unlikely chance of making it big on Britain’s Got [not very much] Talent, any alleged ability I may have as an actor or singer isn’t enough to make a living.
· Writing bestsellers? Read Alexander’s blog about self-publishing and marketing his book. All I need is an original idea, a plot, and some protagonists. “The first in the Phuqinora trilogy from a major new talent.” Yeah, right. I can just see that happening.
· Driving, perhaps? I can do that, and I even earned some money once for piloting a car in a TV advert. It’s a small and irregular income stream. I don’t need to do motorcycle courier work again, and I don’t have nearly enough tattoos to qualify as a proper White Van Man.
· Scuba instructing sounds like a great idea, and it’s something I can actually do. Getting paid to dive every day in the tropics? Getting paid a pittance, more like, until my abused middle-aged body gave up in disgust.
· Retraining as a teacher? Frankly, notwithstanding any ability I may have as a teacher, the mere concept of standing in front of a class in order to put food on the table fills me with abject horror. Full marks for anyone who does it!
So I’m stuffed. I can’t stand doing what I’m doing for much longer; certainly not for ten more years, and I can’t not do it for fear of never being able to afford to retire.