Back to work blues

If you’re back at your desk with a fast-fading tan and a smouldering sense of resentment, you’re not alone.

Job search agencies report that the time workers are most likely to quit is right after a break.

That’s because there is something about sitting around a pool drinking daiquiris which brings into sharp focus the awful realities of working life.

It’s then that your idle, disinhibited brain begins to rebut the alternative facts you usually force-feed yourself to make it through each day.

“It could be a lot worse.” No, I really don’t think it could.

“It’s better than bartending.” No, back then, I could at least drink on the job.

“John’s laugh isn’t that annoying.” Yes, it is, and if anyone cracks a joke in the office again, ever, I will staple their tongue, along with his, to the corkboard.

At my last job, prior to every shift, I had to talk to myself in soothing tones, as though I was preparing to push out a baby.

“Come on, you can do it, you can get through this, it’s not that bad, just grit your teeth, breathe, breathe, breathe.”

I got a lot of strange looks in the elevator.

At the two hour mark, I would say to myself, “OK, that’s great, well done, you’re a quarter of the way there. That’s not so bad, is it? Almost time for a break. Wonder if the vending machine is working? They’d better have restocked the chocolate bars.”

Self-talk isn’t typically on the watch lists supervisors use to help them identify unhappy staff.

More common flags include rampant use of sick leave, frequent eye-rolling in team meetings and increased acts of aggression such as stapling colleagues’ tongues to corkboards.

Habitual lateness can also be a sign that someone is about to walk, tardiness being interpreted as the expression of a worker’s subconscious desire not to be there.

To be fair, though, some people face more substantial hurdles in their quest to get to work than others – children demanding to be dropped at school, daiquiri hangovers, the need to eat one’s breakfast mindfully.

Traffic jams also create significant setbacks for just about everyone, and can always be relied upon to provide an excuse if your boss refuses to accept any of the above.

For instance, the latest data from GPS navigation device manufacturer TomTom showed Brisbane commuters spend more than four days a year stuck in the city’s traffic – over and above the average 72 minute daily commute.

This suggests that the infrastructure designed to get us to work isn’t working. Ironic, much?

But there is more than pricey public transport and an inadequate road network to blame. Other support services designed to deliver us to our destination are also deficient.

Take your nearest McDonalds drive-through. When you’re hungover, hungry, and hideously late, being able to grab a Sausage McMuffin en route to the office really is the ant’s pants.

So why can’t they make drive-throughs for other things we really need when running late for work? Starting with hip flasks, painkillers, and ladder-resistant tights.

This story was published in The Courier-Mail and The Daily Telegraph on 30 January 2018.

© 2022 Denise Cullen