Fear and self loathing in la Square Mile

[This article was first published on 23 February 2009, on http://life.hereisthecity.com/sound_off/877.cntns.]
I loathe venturing into the Square Mile these days. I spend the whole time furtively glancing around like a fugitive on the run – worrying I might bump into a soon-to-be ex colleague. However, I am feeling decidedly less lonely today, having read that my soon-to-be former employer ranks in the top 10 in the latest financial markets job loss league table. Who knew such a league table even existed last I looked, such league tables were reserved for schools, hospitals and football and the aim was to be as high up those leagues as possible. In the case of this league table, it was always going to be a tough competition for the top spots with the carnage-ridden likes of Bear and Lehmans around.

I imagine it to be not wholly dissimilar to bumping into an ex, after just being dumped, while experiencing a bad hair day, followed by him informing you of his impending nuptials; or perhaps like turning up to a school reunion to discover that all the ex-classmates are now knights or Nobel prize winners and the only cards you have to put on the table are that you just managed to move out from under your parent’s roof. Loser with a capital ‘L’ springs to mind.

No matter the number of people who insist that the R word is not a personal thing and simply an issue of unfortunate statistical cutbacks, there is undeniably an element of the personal involved. If not, then why not resort to a national lottery type draw to determine the unlucky losers?

It is darkly reassuring that I am one of a double digit percentage of the workforce relieved of their duties there’s a lot to be said for safety in numbers. As far as pride goes, it seems less wounding to know I am just the unlucky one out of every three or four. They’re not the odds I’d want to hear if my life depended on it; so push comes to shove, I’d rather sacrifice my livelihood to such stats. 

I can’t help staring at all the blank faceless statistics as they pass me by – those who have (so far) hung anchor-like to their jobs. A swathe of black coats echoing the doom and gloom; heads down, shuffling mutely to work (though a sign of the times is the vast number heading in after 9am – unheard of in the heyday). What has differentiated this bunch from those who are no longer privileged to walk these City streets? Luck? A Darwinian survival of the biggest brown nose? Does an absent status fulfil the opposite effect of making the employer’s heart grow fonder? Is it a process of LIFO or FIFO? Or is it more random than that? 

Times like this I am wistfully nostalgic of my old life (like the rose-tinted glasses through which a parent views their child, choosing to adopt a selective memory approach and ignoring the less pleasant aspects). But then nostalgia turns reality.

I suspect that my desk has become synonymous with the local dumping ground for all forms of useless paraphernalia; think out-of-date FTs, half empty (half full to some) cups of cold, mouldy coffee, unwanted (inedible) food gifts from passing guest visitors from out-of-town offices, piles of unread and never-to-be-read research that bears no relevance to the current market. In fact, I would willingly wager this week’s child benefit on there being a pile of ‘2009 Market Outlook’ research tomes that are already at serious risk of being out of date and factually flawed in their prophecies. I would also wager next week’s child benefit on the fact that my chair has found a new lease of life as the desk coat rack.

As my multiple PC screens gather dust and my name plaques begin to gather grime, like an unkempt gravestone in memory of my former existence, the most fear-inducing thought of all is that an imminent visit to my old haunt is looming on the horizon and I’m not looking forward to it one little bit.

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2 thoughts on “Fear and self loathing in la Square Mile

  1. Take comfort. If you were (the ludicrously titled) ‘Sir’ Fred ‘the Shred’ Greenwood you might be being stalked by a mob intent on a lynching?

    Be grateful that your redundancy terms were just a little less generous? ….. though some of us are still paying for them, perhaps for a long time to come given our means to contribute?

    But in the event that some of us might wish that mischief befall the likes of Sir Voracious Fred, of course the ever-guillible tax-payers would be called upon to cough up yet more thousands to pay for his protection from the vengence of his victims.

    Try as hard as you might but sympathy for fallen members of the banking ‘screw them high’ fraternity is going to be pretty thin on the ground.

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