Working days left: 2. I think it’s finally beginning to sink in. It’s now more than an abstract notion: I am embarking on my biggest adventure, possibly ever, and certainly since coming down from Scotland in the summer of ’87. When I left school, I knew I was going to university; when I graduated, I already had a job lined up. Now…all I know is it’s an era drawing to a close. But as it does, another opens, one of uncertainty, yet also of huge potential. Next Wednesday morning, I am going to wake up, and it’ll be more than “not going to work”, it’s “have no work to go to”. I’ll be unemployed, and feeling like a long-term prisoner who has finally got parole, and must make his own way in life once more. There’s a brave, new world out there, and it’s a little scary.
It’s incredible to think it’s twelve-and-a-half years since April Fools’ Day 1988, when a raw, naive innocent (that’s me, in case you were wondering) first crossed the doorstep of James Capel, as HSBC was then known…and crashed their live dealing system on his first day. I like to think I have maintained this standard of professionalism and integrity ever since. It can’t have been too bad, however, since a year later, they poached me from the software house, and the rest is – or rather, is about to be – history.
I’ve spent a fascinating couple of days emptying my desk drawers, filling two sports-bags with the stuff I want to take home, and several bins with the junk. The vultures are gathering over the remnants, with the destination of my glow-in-the-dark scorpion paperweight and Buffy lollipop tin likely to be the subject of severe debate. The contents act as a time capsule, reflecting both internal and external history. Thus, there are master copies of the early issues of TC; a dozen posters from the team outing to see Barb Wire (the cinema were glad to get rid of them – anybody want one?); a fragment of the Berlin Wall; chocolate handcuffs; the FHM 100 Sexiest Women supplement for 1996 (Gillian Anderson was #1); all my turn sheets for the Movie Mogul play-by-mail game, and so on. Material relating to actual work was in the minority – for I’ve learned over the years that “documentation” = “evidence”, and is thus incompatible with my personal ethos of plausible deniability.
The weird thing is, I’m leaving a job which is perfectly adequately-paid, and in which I am not unhappy. I’m working for a good manager, who believes in letting us get on with our jobs; my co-workers are a generally amiable bunch of social deviants; and after more than a decade, you acquire a certain security of tenure because you’ve outlasted everyone who knows what your job actually entails. But the siren call of America, a new life and a new home, is just too powerful to resist, and so I find myself with a mere fourteen working hours left in this country. I have now received the Termination Letter (capitals used out of fear), which warns me of the direst consequences (it stops short of sending me to sleep with the fishes, but only just) should I reveal any commercial knowledge to the competition. Fortunately, any knowledge I possess is of the entirely uncommercial kind: our team won the departmental pub quiz on Wednesday, thanks largely to our nailing of the ‘Myths and Legends’ section – I knew watching Xena would come in handy someday.
And that’s it. On Tuesday, at around 5pm, pause for a moment, and think of me, as I pick up the last of my possessions, put on my coat – and run screaming from the building. Here we go, indeed…