Prompted by a Tweet on the challenge of staffing an exhibition stand, I posted a while back on Stuff they never tell you. I used the public sector example of working with politicians.  People seemed to like it so it got me thinking about other things they don’t tell you at work.

Here’s my top ten.  Feel free to add your own.  Just press Leave a comment if you’re on the home page or Leave a reply if you’ve dived into this post directly.

  1. When the boss says “My door is always open” he doesn’t mean it
  2. The caretaker is one of the most important people in the building
  3. In the lift (elevator) when you say “I’ve been here two years and I still haven’t seen the b****y director” the elderly gent in the corner is him
  4. You may have thought you worked hard at college but it’s never as tiring as paid work
  5. The happiest people can be the most unlikely and there is no correlation to what they earn
  6. Both the best and the worst things are invisible
  7. Strength is not the same as power
  8. At some time you will forget your password
  9. No one retires and sighs “Aaahh, I wish I’d spent more time in the office”
  10. The good old days were not.  They were always worse.

Estanys de L Ubago and Gran Collado de Anglos, Aragon

…planning the rest of his Atlantic – Mediterranean Pyrenean walk by the Spanish GR-11 long distance footpath – la senda.  It’s a long-held ambition.  I’ve had years of being preached at by HR colleagues about work-life balance so why not a bit of balance on this blog? 

Proceeding west – east, I hit Catalonia on the last leg.  Just over half-way.  Not quite downhill all the way now but a feeling of the end in sight. 

The cliché “up hill and down dale” doesn’t do it justice.  Last year the highest pass we toiled over was 8,700 ft.  Magnificent scenery.  Days with no clouds and half a day hailing at full pelt.  Fantastic food at amazing prices. 

Work was far from my mind.  Yet as always the similarities and differences struck home. 

Similarities? – immigrants in the smallest places doing the work Spaniards won’t, even with 15+% unemployment – Ecuadorian builders, Romanian shepherds.  EU-funded courses for those sin trabajo in the town hall.  Political sparring between left and right over a councillor in Benidorm who changed sides and tipped the balance of power between socialists and conservatives (now there’s a surprise).  Tensions between different levels of government including the two regions – Catalonia and the Basque country – that would much prefer (maybe) to be independent thank you.

Differences? – four levels of government from local council upwards with up to four police forces.  A weirdly flexible No Smoking policy that means if a restaurant or bar sets aside a smoking area the noxious habit is banned elsewhere in the premises but if they don’t it’s allowed anywhere.  A used battery being snatched by the check-out operator in a supermarket because that’s how they make sure they’re recycled.  The mobile matadero who’ll come and slaughter the pig on your smallholding (what happened to the EU regs there, then?)

It’s all good stuff and leaves me hugely refreshed for the other side of the work-life balance.

  • la senda­ – affectionate name for the GR-11 footpath
  • sin trabajo – without work, unemployed
  • matadero­ – slaughterman