Not many people have heard this story, and I’m sure the person I’ll be talking about doesn’t even remember that day. Sure thing, he won’t care.
This happened in SW London, in 2015. It was nearly Spring.
At the time, I was still buried in the blue-carpeted office with windows sealed with cement. The job itself wasn’t that bad, but about 80% of the team was composed of spectacularly incompetent people. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried working with spectacularly incompetent people, but I can tell you that since then my tolerance toward idiots has dropped below zero.
You know when in a workplace each and every move you try to make is obstructed by a stupid process that prevents you from performing your job to a decent standard? You know when you try hard to change things but nothing can be done, so you just end up doing pretty much nothing relevant all day long?
My job at the company consisted of translating their website, marketing collateral & co. from English into Italian AND into French AND into Spanish.
The Boss had created the role especially for me after rejecting my application for another position. It was good to get a job tailored to my skills, but I didn’t want to be a full-time translator, let alone in a place where I was not allowed to wear my Nike trainers. Try to work in all these languages on a daily basis wearing black ballet pumps and being surrounded by shouting morons, while also hearing Catalan at home all the time, and then you’ll tell me.
I was going crazy, and I feared I’d end up like a mute penguin.
Plus, since the beginning, all my hard work was being fucked up by this remote IT team in India that was having fun pasting my Italian content in the French website and vice versa, because they had too many spreadsheets open at the same time, for God’s sake.
Life had been going on like this for months when, on that day, the Boss blew up.
He is not a bad guy a priori. He is Aries, and I’ve got a long history of creative chemistry with this star sign, but each time it finishes in a terrible way. I fall in love with their shameless and loud way of being, we do amazing things together, we have fun, and then we suddenly mess everything up, we never say sorry and we end up detesting each other. I don’t know why it’s that, too much fire I suppose.
But I never regret anything, because some people come your way just to smack you awake, and then they leave, and you know that your anger will love them until you die.
The first months there didn’t go too bad. The office was already full of incompetents, but the Boss seemed such a wonderful guy that you just didn’t care about the rest; he acted as if he really was loyal and honest, you know – someone who tries to see the best in everyone.
Then, from one day to another and at no notice, he turned into a bastard.
He got into the habit of abusing and terrifying everybody just for the sake of it.
He fired people just like that, he humiliated people in front of everyone and made them cry, he got childish and irrational.
That afternoon, he was on the ground floor installing a stupid clocking machine that got mysteriously broken the following day. We had never had this before, we just signed in and out, and to be honest, everyone was extremely punctual there, but the bastard still wanted this fucking clocking machine installed just to take the piss out of everyone. As soon as the floor clock would mark 5 o’ clock, I’d leave. After all, I was spending my days doing nothing, I had no reason to stay overtime.
– Where are you going?
– Home. It’s 5 o’ clock.
– It’s not 5 o’ clock.
– I swear it’s 5 o’ clock.
– It’s 5 o’ clock when I decide it’s 5 o’ clock.
– Well, you know what? It is 5 o’ clock, and this is not an opinion. I’m leaving. See you.
To my colleagues’ greatest surprise, I didn’t get fired.
I left the building with a proud smile on the face, like if nothing had happened.
Then, just around the corner, I broke down in tears.
I cried my heart out for three million years.
I was hopeless for two reasons: first, I had realised that if I had waited one more minute, I would have smashed his face in. My hands were still trembling, and this scared the hell out of me. Second: all of a sudden, I had got it.
What the hell was I doing with my life?
Why was I having tons of job interviews ?
I didn’t want another office job, another boss, another clocking machine.
I had no respect for the status quo nor the Christmas party.
What happened after that day amazed me.
The following week I got a freelancing job offer from an exceptional London-based media intelligence company, the same I’m still working for. That job still pays most of my bills and has allowed me to launch this website, to save time to help the refugees in my area (before realising that my volunteering colleagues were in just to have something to boast about at their upper-class cocktail parties), and to travel as much as I feel like.
Since putting my trainers on again, I’ve worked remotely from London, Bloody Bromley, Brighton, Seville, Cadiz, Jerez de la Frontera, Madrid, Valencia, Ontinyent, Cullera, Brussels, Rome, pretty much everywhere in Scotland in a camper van, Florence and Renaio in Tuscany, Bisaccia, Squillace and Spezzano della Sila in Southern Italy, Bloody Milan (I dislike Milan at least as much as I dislike Bloody Bromley), Turin, Zurich, Stockholm, São Paulo, Ilhabela and San Francisco.
But it was only when I finally handed my notice to the Boss that I realised how grateful I had to be to that man.
Boss, we’ve never had the chance to speak again since then, and I perfectly know that you don’t like this story and don’t like me anymore either. I can picture you now. You boringly sit at your desk covered in Maltesers, wearing a suit that does not match your trousers, you’ve had about 19 coffees since this morning and you don’t know what the hell to buy Sam for her birthday. You’re still making great money thanks to the stuff I translated for you, but you hate that I labelled the company a blue-carpeted office with windows sealed with cement, you hate that I called you a bastard.
But you know what, Boss?
At least you’ve been the most important bastard in my life.