Wednesday 23 March 2011

Packing It In

If you are not a regular reader of this blog, there are two things I want to tell you about myself.

First, I love to travel.

Second, I am almost desperately seeking a way out of the rollercoaster ride that it is my chosen career.

I don’t like to write about my job, because if I were to do so, I would let rip and almost certainly write an extreme post about everything that is wrong with it – and it might get me into trouble.

As a result, I bury my feelings in a box inside my head and get on with my life. However, just for this post, I am going to open that box, slightly, and let a little bit of information about my career escape into cyberspace.

Actually, thinking about it, the information I am going to impart to you is one of the good things that keeps me going in my chosen profession: my job requires me to travel.

Thanks to my job, I have worked in some fabulous places: Holland, Singapore, Switzerland, Trinidad, America, Canada, Hong Kong, Russia, China and South Africa to name but a few.

I have had some very interesting experiences in those places and the prospect for further travel is always there. It is by far the best part of the job for me.

So I stay – at least until I can figure out another way to achieve the same ends without the pain. Sadly, the pain still exists, and two recent events have sliced open the wound and poured vast quantities of salt into it – along with some acid.

Both events are similar and involve friends of mine.

The first of those friends is a guy I used to work with who we call Chopper.

Why do we call him Chopper?

Those of you whose mind, like mine, tends to edge towards disgusting reasons are wrong. We call him Chopper because within his first few weeks at work, he managed to be involved in several incidents where innocent people were injured. To be fair to Chopper, only one of them was his fault – and it was the first incident.

Chopper was playing five a side football with another colleague who had only been working at the company for just two days. Chopper, a very competitive guy, took a swing at the ball but instead of making contact with it, he hit the guy’s leg and took a chunk out of it.

Chopper was, obviously, mortified. The poor victim had to be taken to hospital and was off work for a week or so. The seed was sown.

A couple of weeks later, he was playing table tennis with another colleague when his opponent’s Achilles tendon snapped with an audible ping. Chopper was wholly innocent this time and once again a sporting opponent found himself in hospital. This time the poor guy was off work for weeks with his foot and ankle in plaster.

The final incident occurred at work, when Chopper was walking up the stairs. Coming down was a member of the HR department. Our story is that she realised that she was about to bump into the thug who liked to injure people and hurled herself down the stairs. What really happened was that she slipped and fell headfirst towards Chopper. If he hadn’t been there, she would have surely injured herself quite badly. Thankfully, Chopper caught her and saved the day.

The legend was born out of these events – the victims were “chopped” by the Chopper. The name stuck.

Anyway, back to the point of the post. Chopper and his partner have decided to take a leave of absence from the rat race and move to Greece for at least six months. The reason? They love Greece and want a break from the absurdity and stress of corporate existence.

And I am insanely jealous. It is a risk for them but Chopper is adamant that he wants to do this. He leaves next week.

And he isn’t the only one doing this.

We live two doors away from a young married gay couple, Luke and James, who have opted to do something similar but even more adventurous. These guys are in their late twenties and have decided, while they are still young enough, to go on a massive adventure. They are heading to New Zealand via India and the Far East. Their journey will take a year and they plan to settle in New Zealand for a few months, working to keep themselves going.

They left a couple of weeks ago.

I am even more jealous of Luke and James because they are embarking on a wonderful journey, a journey that I would dearly love to make myself.

The problem is that I just can’t make that final step to do something like that. Part of me tells me that I should just say “To HELL with it” and escape for a year or two. Sadly, there are many reasons not to do it, not least of all my two lads who are about to reach a landmark period in their lives. My eldest is about to go to university and my youngest will be doing so in a couple of years. I need to be there for them and give them all the help I can – which means working and saving and struggling on.

Besides, their happiness is more important than my dreams.

Mrs PM shares my love of travel and would also willingly travel the world with me but she too has reasons not to. And of course, I simply couldn’t go without her, even if I were free to do so.

Consequently, I have to drudge on – at least for now.

Maybe one day I will do the same and just pack it all in to jet off to a land of adventure.

Bon voyage, Chopper, Mrs Chopper, Luke and James – I am deeply envious and I hope you have a really good time on your travels.

And of course, my own dream is still alive – and I shall travel in short bursts with work and on holiday.

One day, dear reader, one day.


Pandora Behr said...

Hey PM - gotta love workmates like Chopper.

One of the things I got out of my redundancy was some time with a career consultant - sounds like you're due for a chat with them. If you're miserable, get out - they can help.
Great entry.


Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Pand,

Yes indeed. Chopper is a great bloke and I envy him.

Career wise, you are probably right but at the moment, the travel really is something that keeps me happy. I have really enjoyed that part of the job - the rest is political nonsense and it drives me nuts.

But there will come a day when I will perhaps follow your advice. I know you're right but circumstances dictate that now is not the time.

I just need a spare couple of hundred thousand and I would be off like a shot.




Mind Of Mine said...

It is in situations like this, were marriage and kids, live up to its 'ball and chain' stigma...

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Mind of Mine,

I see your point but the rewards of marriage and kids outweigh the downside.




Elephant's Child said...

Travel wasn't a part of my job (while I had one) but the suck skills for success political nonsense and posturing did get up my nose big time.
I hope some good work related travel comes your way soooon.
In the mean time dream. Perhaps it will happen sooner than you think.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi EC,

It's the politics that gets in the way really - as I said in an earlier comment, it is deeply frustrating.

Yes I will continue to dream...




Luke & James said...

Travel is much fun and when the time is right I am sure you and Mrs PM will get the chance to explore. We are known as flash packers- flash enough never to stay in a hostel dorm but never quite making a hotel. You and Mrs PM will have to invent your own term when yu go. In the mean time plan a very exciting holiday that will take you all over and tire you out so when you get back to work you will be too tired to care.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Luke/James,

Sounds like sage advice.

BTW - I'm enjoying reading about your exploits. Sounds like you are having tremendous fun.




Jackie K said...

Great post!
I love the comments in first paragraph about work, can totally relate as I'm stuck in a bad job at the moment too (a few months more, a few months more....)
The good thing is your boys are uni age which means in a few short years you and your wife may be free to set off on some travel too.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Jackie,

As you say - there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Lucky you - just a few more months.




Anonymous said...

I know making a decision is difficult esp. when it concerns jobs and financial situations.
But does the "travel perk" really outweigh the angst of the job? That's the biggest question that will probably influence your decision.

Nomad said...

I also left my home and became a "runaway." Some people take to that sort of thing better than others. I learned so much and so fast. It helps to lower your expectations and to know what it is exactly you want to leave. There are something you carry with you every place you go so, in that case, there's not going to be much change.

Oh, yeah, in the beginning you think everything is so fascinating and fun and then after the third month, (and every third month interval) a fed-up-iness mixed with homesickness closes in. That can last until a) you decide it was a big mistake b) you tell yourself you have learned whatever you tell yourself you needed to learn or c) you stay put and learn to get used to it or at least, to tolerate it.

You have to be willing to give up a lot but, generally speaking, the trade-offs are worth it. Things make a lot more sense to me now. But for each person, it is different. If your plan is for a year, then you really should give it a shot. Most people can endure anything for a year. My plan was to travel for only TWO WEEKS. It didn't turn out that way and I have been away for 20 years! :)

I think the best thing is to keep it in your head that you aren't running away from something but you are running TO something. That means, if you are serious about getting out of the rut, then you have to spend time preparing for the new life you'll be living. Learning the language, getting a teaching certificate (or some means of subsistence) learn about the culture and, most importantly, make some contacts with people who are where you want to be. If not, you'll be making it all that much harder for yourself.

Having said that, I can add that, for me, it was the best decision I've ever made and choosing the road less travleled by, was worth it a thousand times over.

Of course, I do wonder sometimes if I would have been happier with a family and kids, staying at home and developing a life like my parents. I don't know. In the end, we have one life and I think we often spoil things by wanting to do everything instead of doing a few things to the best of our ability.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Bingkee,

That's a very good question and one that I can't answer.

I guess that's the problem.




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Nomad,

Fab comment. I have (kind of) had a taste of this when I worked in hong Kong for three months - and the disturbing thing was that I wasn't homesick at all really - though to be fair Mrs PM was there too.

When I got home finally I was pleased to be back in England - but I think I had been bitten by the bug - and that may be the problem.

I love Manchester and England but the prospect of disappearing for a couple of months is very appealing (as impractical as it is at the moment).

It seems to have worked for you - a two week travelling trip turning into 20 years?

Sounds incredible.