Monday, 17 August 2015

Blaugust 17/31: The Mexican in the Lobby

This post is part 17 of my seemingly unending battle to defeat the behemoth that is Blaugust 2015.

The schedule appears to say that Mondays are for posting my eight-year old cartoons, so despite my wanting to rant about all sorts of frustrating things English, let's just get on with the show, shall we?

There are two things that I've always liked about this comic. The first was my joy in discovering that just like in every office in every American television show for all time, our office cleaner was a middle-aged man of Hispanic appearance. This just seemed like too good a stereotype not to use. The second was that everything in that third panel worked exactly how I wanted it to. I think this was the first time I'd ever drawn something in this really cut-down simple style and had it express everything that I'd tried to put into it.

Why I was working until 9 P.M. despite the complete lack of working conditions and entitlements to make it worth my while? I don't really remember, though my notes from the time suggest that this was the first "Project Phoenix", which sounds ominous. Presumably I was young and stupid. These days I keep a much more accurate eye on my time and try not to work any overtime at all. Maybe I'm too old and too cynical now, and it would be better to go back to those days, but the benefits of being home to the family for dinner are hard to turn down.

The main thing that strikes me as amusing from this strip is that apparently eight years ago I thought these were egregious samples of end-user ineptitude. I worry a little that by seven days into the comic I'd already fallen back on Dilbert re-runs, but was yet to realise that I was actually working for the PHB myself, and that Dilbert was no exaggeration on real life at all.

I remember that the somewhat hopeless attitude of this strip worried me then too, as after Working Life I made a real effort to make what comics I did do have a more positive outlook, and try and find humour in the contrast between that outlook and my own burning cynicism.

That's pretty much my life at this job. For almost eight years, pretty much nothing has changed, there's been periods of manic scrambling to meet rapidly-approaching deadlines, and then the big lull afterwards, accompanied by a spike in caffeine intake and periods of difficulty focusing on the tasks at hand. Something of this nature that encourages that pattern is pretty much my ideal job; I've always been a sprinter when it comes to my attention span . Something like Blaugust, a big rush of activity, comes reasonably easily, but maintaining a steady output on something for an extended period has always been too-great a challenge for me. That was one of the reasons that I started the Leaflocker, but a quick look through the archives suggests that it hasn't taught me that life-lesson yet.

It's nice to look back and see how much my life has changed in eight years, as I sit in a room surrounded by boxes of a life that I'd barely even envisioned when I sat down to pen these. 

This puts me in the mind to pose a writing prompt or two:

1) Are you were you wanted to be when you left school/home/job x?
2) When you look back on the person you were a decade/career/lifetime ago, what's the biggest change between them and you?
3) What advice would you give them?
4) What joy have you got in your life now that you could never have imagined then?

If you haven't voted on the best necktie 2015, there's still time. It's probably the most important plebiscite you'll get to partake in this year.

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