Monday, 26 April 2010

The grass is greener....

Over the past few days I have felt a sense of futility.

Futility? Surely not Springgirl! What could bring on such a lamentation?

Well the catalysts were threefold. 

First, over lunch in one of the 7 million eateries in this particular national chain (I shall not name it - let's just call it the "Sandwich Place") that promotes itself on its environmental credentials, I watched spell bound as one of the staff bundled up into one bag all of the carefully separated recyclables with the tea bags, food scraps and other flotsam and jetsam of high street life that tends to find its way into cafe bins (used nappies, tissues, sweet wrappers, cigarette packets, newspapers, love letters, travel cards and so on). I was with the Off-Spring at the time. While they hungrily devoured their lunch, I had been assessing my tray and trying to decide into which bin I ought to dispose of my salad box, coffee cup and cutlery. 

Now, as an aside, let me just explain that I like to follow rules that make sense. Also I am a tad competitive and I long ago imagined that if I were to leave the in-flight meal tray on long-haul flights extremely neat and tidy I would be awarded the prize for Neatest Passenger (Meal-time Category) and earn lifetime complimentary upgrades or perhaps even permanent gold card flight club status on the strength of my superb and thoughtful scrap presentation. Hence, my silent musings as to how to ensure the best outcome from both a neatness and an environmental perspective at the Sandwich Place.

And before you start your silent musings along the lines of "what a loser/control freak with too little on her mind", I should assure you (again dear Followers) that I am not a control freak in all respects at all - come and see the kitchen floor and judge for yourself - only in a couple of small ones. Basically, I have made peace with the fact that there is so little one can control (e.g. children, the economy, relationships, the delivery guy, job interviews, queues in the supermarket, random terminal illnesses, ash spewing volcanoes and muck spewing pigs, to name but a few) and I am happily mindful of that most of the time. But, given that we are mere specks on the face of the earth, have control over so little and will be gone before long anyway, it is imperative that in the ways that one can exert influence, one really needs to do so with conviction and commitment. Hence, my obsessional need to go to the gym, my compulsive fixation on DRY cappuccinos and this aeroplane tray tidiness syndrome. There may be one or two others...

So, there I was mulling over whether to use more paper wiping out said salad box to make it pristinely clean for the recycling bin or to leave it messy, save three napkins and put it in with general trash, when lo and behold the green credentials of the Sandwich Place were tossed into one large black refuse sack with all the other garbage. 

The gullible customer is conned once more. And that's when the sense of futility began to seep into my under-occupied Saturday afternoon mind. I began to think "what else" (a thinking process that I learnt from Lee Child, author of the Jack Reacher thriller series - thanks Lee - whose characters describe applying this thinking in assessing the credibility of clients and witnesses); if there is one lie then what else may be untrue?

Am I really drinking Spring Water, eating free range eggs or hand carved turkey? Is the cheese truly from France? Are the sandwiches actually prepared with love? Today?

I was once again cast adrift in an ocean of confusion. Thankfully the Off-Spring were with me - helping to keep it real... But not for long, alas.

The second catalyst to this sense of doom is a sneaking suspicion that like "Eco-friendly", terms such as "Diversity" and "Corporate Social Responsibility", as ubiquitous as "Green" these days, as catchwords for the Values in Action of many organisations, have become hackneyed and overused, lacking in real meaning.

I can claim to be Green. After all, I am eco-friendly - I don't drive much, I turn off lights and taps and I don't even own a tv. I watch my air miles - the tidy tray thing is not a common occurrence. My carbon footprint is small - apart from my food-miles - as I do love the fair trade pineapple, and Australian Eucalyptus honey sweetened tea. 

I can claim to be socially responsible - I am a mother and charity begins at home. I drop coins into buckets proffered in tube stations. I never leave my towel lying around at the gym or fail to share the gym equipment. I hold doors open for strangers and I even drink responsibly.

And I embrace diversity in many forms. I watch a range of tv shows, buy loads of different cereals from lots of different stores and trump card - I even have friends from different countries.

All of these attributes supposedly distinguish me and myriad companies and organisations and I daresay you. We are all officially excellent and to be congratulated. What else?

Finally, the third event. I have been considering a return to salaried employment as a sideline to my coaching and writing. I envisage a highbrid role up to 25 hours a week (school hours) - business development/coaching/facilitation/practice management. After all so many organisations welcome and support part time workers, offer family friendly packages and even win prizes for their work-life balance strategies. 

But then the rot really set in - I was advised by a recruiter that all such roles on their books are full-time. 


So the upshot? I can join a firm that embraces Diversity in the form of female staff seeking flexible working hours. The firm would consider and reject said flexibility and offer me a full time role that would allow me to leave the office earlier than the fee-earners, the directors or the partners and thus for all intents and purposes at salary review time - be part-time. My contribution would help create a big enough cushion to enable the firm to offer voluntary or pro bono work and thus be Socially Responsible. I would then have the satisfaction of knowing that my firm was competitive in terms of its values, congratulate myself on being one of "the Best and the Brightest" lured to it by same progressive social agenda and I could in turn pay a stranger to raise my children, do their homework with them and watch them grow and learn. I would nevertheless, enjoy a satisfying, organic, fresh, handmade sandwich for lunch (low cal hopefully as I would have skipped the gym session due to having to attend the early morning breakfast meeting with the fee-earners, clashing with both pilates and the middle child's class assembly). Icing on the cake? I would be sure to find a coffee shop with staff capable of steaming and frothing skim milk to my satisfaction.

Meanwhile the kitchen floor would get mopped, the kids would appreciate me more, I would have ready cash to spend on non-recyclable consumables like another espresso machine, home gym equipment, expensive toys to salve my conscience and buy back my children and airline tickets to exciting destinations.

This self employed/working from home thing doesn't pay too well but it certainly offers a lot of benefits for cynical blogging failed lawyers like me...

What else?