I have been having a bit of bother with the old sleep lately.
And when I do eventually grab an hour or two, I invariably have vivid dreams that I am back working in RTE.
Maybe nightmares would be the right word?
Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed my job and the people I worked with were in the main a very decent bunch of people.
There were two things I hated about working there. I hated the fucking traffic every morning and evening – sitting staring at the rear of the car in front of me for an hour or two is not my idea of fun – and above all, I hated the managers.
When I first joined the place back in ‘72 [or was it ‘71?] it was a brilliant place to work. There was a relaxed family atmosphere and everyone worked their arses off because we were proud of what we did. To give an idea of what it was like, when I did my final interview for the job, I shook hands with the manager who had just confirmed that I was in, and then I remembered I hadn’t asked a fairly important question – what time did I start in the morning? He replied that I officially started at a quarter past nine, but that if I rolled in any time after that I would find the lads from the department having breakfast in the canteen.
For a few years, that was the way it was. They didn’t really care what time we started or finished, provided we got the job done. And not only did we get the job done but we never knocked off until it was done. We were happy to work our balls off and we took pride in our work.
Then the accountants and the bureaucrats moved in.
Overnight the place changed. We had to sign in and if we were a minute or two late we were hauled over the coals. They started doing time and motion studies on us, and cost analysis on our work. They stopped worrying about the standard of our work provided we were cost efficient and turned up on time.
It became worse over the years. If an urgent job needed doing, we no longer could go to the engineers to requisition vital equipment; we had to go to the accountants where everything had to be countersigned and copied in triplicate. If they whinged about budgets, then the job didn’t get done. It was more important to balance the books than to keep things working. Needless to say, we lost interest in our work. We no longer worked beyond half five because if they wanted to play silly-buggers over timekeeping then so would we.
By the time I left, it was a soulless place. Everything was run by the book. Staff would spend more time at meetings than at the desk. There were policy meetings. There were progress meetings. There were meetings where we had to endure endless Powerpoint presentations on workflow or some such shit. I fucking hated those meetings with a vengeance, but management’s eyes would light up at the very mention of one, and regularly we would be ordered to down tools to attend yet another pointless meeting.
So now you know why I wake in a cold sweat these days.
I could take the work all right.
I would enjoy being back with my old colleagues.
I could nearly, almost, possibly tolerate the rush-hour traffic jams.
But those fucking bureaucrats and their fucking endless, pointless meetings.
No fucking way.