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Bored of the old routine
Jim Johnson

Right from the start I realised that I would never love you, and I think you knew that too. You were only supposed to be a short-term measure, never anything more permanent. I’m sorry if that sounds a bit callous; that’s the way it is. But you knew how to hang on to someone and for five long years you kept me in your clutches. Why didn’t I walk out sooner, you’d probably say. It wasn’t as if you had me locked in a room, ex-communicated from the outside world, like the way in which Annie, the psychotic captor in Stephen Kings’ Misery, detained her victim. No, I was free to leave whenever I wanted, you’d say. Well, even though I wasn’t physically trapped, mentally you drew me in. Gradually chipping away at my self-confidence, making the outside world seem frightening – a place where I wouldn’t survive alone.

So why did I stay, well there were a few incentives: a hassle free life where I didn’t really need to think; the nice people you introduced me to; occasional free flights abroad; expenses paid nights in top hotels and a never ending supply of doughnuts at coffee time. All very nice, but on their own not enough to buy my fidelity for five years. But you found my weakness and exploited it. Let me listen to Radio One all day while I was going about your mindless chores and that was it, you’d got me. I retreated into your sheltered world not to emerge until now. I love pop music, so it was an excellent diversion, providing an uninterrupted soundtrack to my otherwise dull day. I was happy with hour after hour of Jo Whiley and Mark and Lard. After a while even Chris Moyles didn’t irritate me that much. Have you any idea how much fun we had gambling pints of Guinness trying to correctly guess Simon Mayo’s ‘mystery years’? Or sending in emailed suggestions for the ‘cheesily cheerful chart challenge’, trying to get our names read out on air. Then there was the cast iron guarantee that no Status Quo, Genesis or other such crap would ever feature on their strictly controlled playlist.

Sounds nice enough doesn’t it? Why on earth would I want to leave you anyway? But however hard you tried to make me fit in, you must have known that your spell wouldn’t last forever. I resented you for making me apathetic, for laughing at and dismissing my hopes and aspirations. No amount of enticements could compensate for this or alter the fact that the work you made me do was mind-numbingly boring.

Well that’s what I would say if my ex-job were a person, someone who I could shout at and accuse of holding me back. In reality however there’s only one person to blame and that’s me. I stayed in that job because it was easy. It didn’t fulfil any life long ambitions and was usually boring, but I made some very good friends and it paid the bills. The hours were good; unlike many jobs it didn’t eat into my evenings or weekends. When I walked out the door I left work behind me and that’s a luxury that many jobs don’t provide.

The Victorians invented the idea of useless labour. They thought that prisoners who were forced to work, making shoes for example, might gain a sense of purpose or achievement as a reward for their efforts, forgetting that they were actually being punished. So to remove any possibility of this happening they introduced cranks and tread-wheels, devices designed to make the inmates work, but were absolutely pointless. They didn’t drive or power anything, just demanded hard labour. Sometimes that’s a bit like how it felt in my ex-job. I’m not talking about the harshness of the environment as I’m sure the regime in a Victorian prison in no way resembled that of my old office. And I think the prison wardens may have been slightly less sympathetic and much crueller to their prisoners than my bosses were with me! But I often got that soul-destroying feeling that I was wasting my life, dedicating my working day to futile projects that might just end up being forgotten.

So even though it’s taken some time I’ve finally managed to make the break. Don’t worry about me, I’m fine, finally doing something that I’ve always wanted to do. Having to think for myself for a change. I’m really sorry it didn’t work out, I think we were just not suited to each other. You need someone who cares about you and isn’t afraid of making some commitment. Thanks for some really good times though, I won’t forget you in a hurry. I’m getting used to listening to the radio less often and it’s probably a good thing that I’m not eating as many doughnuts any more. In the long run you’ll thank me, you deserve someone a lot better than me.

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