Iiam Ratcatcher! 1983
I am a workaholic, or rather l used to be one. These days it is probably more befitting of the phrase as Suze likes to quote at times, ‘living a life without moderation’, whilst l quote back ‘moderation is for cowards!!’
That is a seperate post all by itself and lord knows where l am going to slot it into any of my series, but l will find somewhere even if it just arrives as a Dear Blog entry.
However when l was in my later teens and early twenties l was a seriously dedicated worker, l simply couldn’t stop. When l was twenty aka 1983, l was working as one of the youngest assistant area catering managers for a private company. My contract was for 60 hours a week minimum, with a take home pay of £4900, of course back then as a juinor, it was still considered a ‘fair wage’ because it was reflective to the cost of living in the UK for the time. But it was still a lot of work for a permanent contract. I hear of people complaining today who are in their mid twenties and early thirties about the fact that they may have to work 37.5 hours a week and they are only on perhaps £20k pa, and despite all the years between ’83 and 2018, they are still in a better position than l was financially back then.
Now whilst l know today that the reason l was seen as a robot is due to my Asperger’s, my love of routine, of patterns, of the black and white, of an endless physical energy, of an ability to not not just multitask but triplemultitask both mentally as physically, but of course l did NOT know that back then. Combine those qualities with no romantic involvement, living at home and basically what many said was a complete and utter lack of ‘life’, then what you actually have left is a 100% completely functioning robot. But what the critics actually forgot and l didn’t know back then, was that l loved work, l loved everything about work, l had made it my special interest or rather l had turned work into a hobby that l just happened to get paid for! What was not to love?
Despite living at home, l actually hated being at home and that was because it was a continuous battle zone of arguments and violence from my Father to my Mother and myself, so let’s be real, who would wish to live in an environment of a constant barrage of doors slamming, high pitched screaming arguments and the more than occasional twack as someone got hit?
Yeah l know what you’d say, no one! Well l was no different so working the 60 hour contract week simply wasn’t enough at times, and so it wasn’t unusual for me to work closer to 90 hours a week. It became so inviting that l went out and bought myself a campbed and set it up in my office. Because l used to work in the civil service industry side to catering, all the buildings had showering facilities, so l could bathe and sleep, and l could fix myself something to eat should l need to. You don’t have to be a chef to make toast and grab a bowl of cereal.
However, my bosses began to notice that l never went home and l was brought in one day and asked if l was either extremely stupid, on the take, had mental problems or perhaps l simply had no life? I answered honestly with the latter and that l just loved work as it was to me a hobby.
I remember clearly the two big bosses looking at me, and one asked, if l had a good home life and when l answered that l didn’t, they suggested one of two things; 1] move out and if l couldn’t afford that then 2] take more holidays. They continued with the fact that whilst it was brilliant to have a worker so dedicated and with an unlimited supply of energy, that life was about moderation, and they said l obviously had no concept of that word. i am guessing my blank response to the word answered their question. My main boss, Michelle simply said “Rory, l am ordering you to take holiday time! Starting from today. All this overtime you do you don’t get paid for, and we are beginning to feel like slave drivers and your staff are worried about your sanity!”
I obviously looked quite grumpy at her response to me, because she simply said “You can wipe that look off your face, you are a young man who has got so much to give to the world, why don’t you go out there and do some exploring?? In all my days as a manager l have NEVER had to actually order someone to take time off! So from right this minute, l am giving you two weeks off, and this.” With her last statement, she handed me £700, “Take time off Rory, go out and have some fun!”
The other boss in the room, sitting next to her – Gerald said, “Go and get drunk, get shagged rotten, grab a tattoo, disappear for 14 days and come back more refreshed!”
I walked out of the office that day thoroughly upset and confused. Why did they want me gone? What am l going to do? Where am l going to go? I had packed my briefcase and was walking down to the train station, thinking about the £700 in my pocket, when l walked past a travel agent, that had a picture of Dracula in the window and advertising it as The Dracula Tour. i was quite captivated by this image. I was also at the time writing for pulp magazines and comics horror stories and l was quite a keen horror buff.
“The Dracula Tour!” I said out loud, so loud that passer bys must have thought me quite unusual. I thought about that if l went home my Mother or my Father would probably want a good chunk of this money. As it was l paid my parents a large chunk of my money to live in the house in my old bedroom where l never used to pay anything when at school, and whilst l didn’t begrudge that as Mum said it was teaching me about money. I really didn’t want to have to hand over this little bundle.
“The Dracula Tour follows the history and the legends about Dracula, the infamous character of Bram Stoker. The tour starts in Bucharest, a city first mentioned in a written document by Dracula himself. On the way to Transylvania you’ll reach the real fortress of Vlad the Impaler and then, passing through Sibiu you’ll see many other place related to him such as the Corvin Castle, the medieval town of Sighisoara, his birth place, the Borgo Pass or the Bran Castle, the most visited tourist attraction of Romania”
It was 8 days travelling and 5 days in Mamaia beach resort and it was only going to cost me £300, which meant l could have spare money for spending and … that’s when the second idea struck me. I could desposit a fair chunk of this money into my bank and start saving up to move out!
I walked into the travel agent and simply said “Sign me up for The Dracula Tour please, l want to go to Romania!” Within the hour, l had paid for my trip and it was set up, the next morning a taxi would pick me up at home and whisk me off to the airport and by tomorrow afternoon l would be in Bucharest!
When l got home later than day, l simply walked in and said to my parents l was going on holiday for two weeks as of tomorrow and no one was going to stop me. I ran upstairs, threw my briefcase under the bed, grabbed a suitcase flung all sorts of stuff into it, got my passport, and in the space of an hour l was packed and raring to go! Over dinner l told my startled parents and my Sister l was starting my adventures from tomorrow.
Well my Mother wasn’t so impressed, l have to be honest and she started to kick up a fuss and said l would be kidnapped or killed, that l had no right without discussing things with them first, my Sister burst into fits of giggles which annoyed my Mother even more, but my Dad l will give him due, he simply said “Margaret, Rory is old enough to make these decisions by himself, if he is old enough to give his life for this country, then he’s old enough albeit slightly strange to be going on some kind of vampire holiday!”
It was settled then. Later that night my Dad came up and gave me a load of condoms for ‘Just in case moments’, even then l thought it odd that Dad had condoms just lying around. He gave me some advice too, he said to never place a condom on the outside pocket of my wallet as the circular shape could be seen by others and it gave the game away, again something l found odd?
However, the next day at 6am, the taxi picked me up and l was off to start my first real adventure by myself – what could possibly go wrong?