I’m not having the greatest time at work at the moment. I have a job which I don’t love. It’s a job which pays the bills and I’m totally honest about that. It’s certainly not a career, it could be but it’s just not for me. That being said I’ve had the same job now for six or seven years so it can’t be all bad but, as with many things, it’s easy to focus on the negatives than the positives.
And what’s happening at the moment is definitely a negative.
Several years ago, I used to do the exact same job I do now – in Leeds – from an office in Huddersfield. Then, due to a series of unfortunate events, this job got moved to Leeds. The same job, just further away from my home meaning increased travel time and decreased time spent with my family. The work-life balance, something which is very important, slipped in favour of work and that just wasn’t the right thing.
As part of this office move, we were gifted, if you like, the cost of the increased travel to our new offices. For example, it cost me the princely sum of zero pounds and zero pence to get to work in Huddersfield but – for sake of argument – now costs me the better part of £150. Now, I say it costs me, but it actually doesn’t. It costs the company because, very generously, they pay the travel costs (albeit taxing us on it, but still it is provided). Until the end of this year, that is. When it will no longer be provided.
Which equates to me knowing, now, in March of 2014 that come January 2015 I will be doing the same job I’m doing now – the same job I did in Huddersfield – but for 10% less wages than before. My enforced travel – something I didn’t ask for or express any desire about – means that I am effectively being asked to take a 10% wage cut for the privilege of going to and from work. That skews the work-life balance firmly on the side of work, effectively meaning that I am living-to-work rather than the much more desirable working-to-live.
Now, this travel thing is a bone of contention. There are those who think we should never have been paid it in the first place, those who think that it is unfair that we are given the cost of travelling to and from work when they do not get it. And I can see their point to a certain extent, but the majority of those people applied for a job in Leeds because they wanted a job in Leeds and got a job in Leeds and, in a lot of cases, live in or close to Leeds. I didn’t do that. If I had done that, then yes I would expect to have to pay the travel costs to get to that job and that is something I would have considered at the time when I was looking at the wages. And, were I to apply for my job today – in Leeds – based on the salary I get now I’d have to turn it down because once you factored in the travel costs it’s just not a viable option. So, while I can see the point of the people who say that we shouldn’t expect the travel costs to be paid, I also can’t help thinking that if I came along from the start of next year and took away 10% of their month wage that they’d also be more than a little bit fucked off.
The upshot – and one that terrifies the crap out of me – is that I’m going to find myself facing the job market again. I can’t go to work in 2015 knowing that I’m already throwing away 10% of my take home pay on unreliable trains and a bus service that is shitter than a really shitty thing covered in shit.
Whatever happens though, I have to treat it as an opportunity. I have to see the positive in this negative. I have to look at this and see that inside the dark, swirling maelstrom of misery and poverty is a bright, shining glimmer of hope. Of a new beginning. Or the push that I need to step outside of my current job – outside of the safety net I’ve been in for however many years – and to take a risk, or a chance, on me.
Wish me luck.