Because physical wounds heal

Got a real nice big four accountancy story for you guys. A buddy who is still there told me of an initiative to raise morale. Each team member in an audit department gets put on a board and has to stick a smiley or sad face on their space every day of the week.

This was so management and partners can see who is unhappy on the jobs at a glance. For transparency. But middle managers or partners don’t want to be caught destroying the lives of staff,  so anyone that’s not a happy face gets a talking to.

After a week or two, nothing but happy faces on the board. Managers and partners see reports that morale has improved empirically – the board says so! While the staff die inside as they put 5 smiley faces in a row.

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Got an internet pal into big 4  – he’s doing his CPA now. He’s worried after all my horror stories. At least he’s on guard for the isolation and indoctrination techniques.  I remember when I started I was nearly teetotal. By the end, I was taking valium every day, drinking a bottle of whiskey a week, jacking off in work and fighting the urge to steer into oncoming traffic… on a bicycle. He’ll be fine.

The real thing now is trying to write better. Woman has an Masters in literature and is an editor/publisher, so she is well placed to advise on writing. Might be posting up some pieces and critical reflection.

Stuff to work on:

  • Dialogue between people
  • Moving away from genre fiction as a crutch
  • Convey emotion – read “The Fault in our Stars”
  • Brevity – evoke and don’t describe every action
  • “he said” “she said” are perfectly fine to avoid confusing your reader. Plenty of opportunity in dialogue to give further detail about interactions.

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He held her from behind beside the canal rail. The smell of leather and cigarettes crushing against her. The leaden sky reflected in the water.

“I’m not ready for this” she said.

The man slid his hand from her waist to her thigh, his callouses catching in her tights.

“It’s not anything serious. Just one week away. Some winter sun. The beach.” he said. She watched the currents in the water. Feeling the slow circular rub of his hands.

“Don’t worry, baby. I can pay for it. Just one week. We could do with a break.”

She dragged his hand back to her waist.

“We’ve had this conversation before. And my feelings haven’t changed. You swore you wouldn’t. You swore to me you wouldn’t. And you did. I can’t forgive that.”

The man embraced her tighter. She felt the cold of his fingers chisel under her jacket to her bare skin. The man rested his chin on her nape, leaning into her ear:

“That was in the past. Just one. And you’re still here. You still love me. And you’re the one I always wanted. I gave you my email passwords. You saw every message. There are no secrets between us now. Can you forgive me?” His hands snaked towards her breasts while he spoke.

A couple pushing a pram on the opposite side looked in their direction.

“Not in public” she said, pulling away from him. Her voice rose:

“I won’t keep your secrets anymore. I knew you were cheating on your wife when we met, but I thought you would end it and stay with me. And now I’m the fool. Waiting to play house with a grown man. Nothing good can come of this. Not for you. Not for her. Not for me.”

She turned into his grasp, breaking his hold.

“ I will no longer be part of this.”

She turned and walked up the bank bridge. Breathe, she told herself.  She breathed non-stop, like her first marathon.

She reached the top of the hill. She did not look back.

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Input Output

When you don’t have much control in your life, you get obsessed with eating and shitting. Like a baby. When your life is planned for you by your firm, your focus on the inputs and outputs of your body grows – in direct proportion to how scheduled the rest of your life is.

In busy season, every day becomes about lunch, dinner and breakfast. The most important question in the morning in my office is where to go for lunch. Dudes and chicks cycle through their fad diets; I rotate the same 4 dishes with small variations. When I was trying to hit 90kg or 200lb in 2013, and made it to 86kg, I’d eat three big meals a day, topped off with ice cream, a pound of cottage cheese and plenty of milk. Once a week I’d go with my training buddies to an all-you-can eat until the manager kicked us out. We had jack shit else to do because we were poor, and had zero free time outside of work and the gym.

The outputs were this: extremely regular and incredibly large shits that happened within a 30 window every day. This was always 12 hours after dinner. If dinner was delayed an hour, the window was pushed back an hour. So much oats, rice and vegetables gave me unbroken stools that routinely exceeded 8-10″. In the same vein, adding linseed to food means your shit slides out encased in mucilage.

The most satisfying shits I did were in China on squat toilets. Given that I was squatting daily and had no mobility trouble, getting down in the hole put an afterburner on the defecation process. You could drop bombs in seconds. One time, I had the runs, but the first 6″ was solid shit, which became more liquid as the monster revealed itself. Its true form was revealed only when it shed this solid plug, and the watery shit splashed my shoes. The entire development of the turd was revealed, from the dry rectum section, to the liquid that had just been secreted from the small intestine, but was cruelly ejected before its time by my gastric distress. A tour de force of defecation.

And some people in this place don’t even wipe their ass in this place. They just shit, piss and walk away. Absolutely disgusting.

Leave and cleave

College course is proceeding.  Still in work, but off on holidays for 10 days. I’m going to wait for the exam results, and see if they’ll fire me post October 17th, and then pay me a month’s severance in lieu of notice.  I’m really glad I jumped ship before I was ready, otherwise, I’d have been sitting around with my thumb up my ass post October 17th.

Got mixed reactions from family about starting the software engineering HDip.

Met my grandmother for a barrage of complaints about how I never see her, and the way my mother treats her. Being old means you don’t give a shit any more. She was bombed in WWII in Northern Ireland, then emigrated down South when Catholics weren’t getting their fair share of the good times of the 1950s, and before the fighting started. She said I was stupid for starting a serious relationship so early, and going straight from college to a professional job. She said I should have taken a year out before I got too committed to the woman or a career. She’s 86, and worked herself until she was in so much pain she couldn’t bend down to pick up her children. I respect that. I wouldn’t be here otherwise. But Jesus fuck, suffering olympics gold medalist.

Different story with the woman’s ancestors.

Went with the woman to her grandparents, as her grandmother is recovering from knee surgery. They seemed delighted to have us, and we were talking away for hours about the bastards that wrecked the country. But then when we went home, the woman’s father had gotten a call from his father that we had inconsiderately imposed on them! And she got given out to, despite turning up with flowers. Her father said not to take it seriously, as by all accounts, the grandfather is a bastard himself: a cute hoor, a bollix and a gombeen. But he was as nice as anything to our faces.

At least I know where I stand with my mother’s family: they’re all cunts, and any sprinkle of pleasantness is to be savored. But we got no indication of the grandfather’s displeasure, and the grandmother was having a grand aul time talking with us.

I don’t think you ever get treated as a separate person from your parents in Ireland. You inherit their status in the family, and any problems with you aren’t brought up directly, but go to your parents instead. It was like the time I was homeless, and had to stay with an aunt. But when I got back from holidays, she had turfed me out, and I was totally unaware that was her plan. Even if we get married, we’ll never be a separate “unit” from her side and my side. We’ll still be in the hierarchy that was destined for us since we were born, and almost nothing we can do in life will change that.

If you’re the first born son, great things are expected of you, and you’ll always be treated well in public. But expect to get a bollicking in private over everything because expectations are so high. That goes double if you’re “bright”. If you’re a woman, and the first born, it seems similar, but there is more pressure to do well in school and college. Men always had farming or trades in the past to fall back on.

“15 acres doesn’t marry 30” is a country phrase that describes the interfamily bargaining that went into marriages in the past – it was a business union. But I think, as people moved off that land, it was brains and social capital that were judged. And funnily enough, it seems men marry “up”, as more women had better education and more upper class employment according to our national statistics bureau. She definitely has more brains than I do.

Fuck it. There’s always the civil service to work for.

Algebra of need

My calculator has broken. It’s a sign.

So, accepted the offer, and we start software development next Monday at 6pm. Work knows about my decision to leave, but I have not yet put in official notice. I’ve asked for a career break of 1 year, and they’ve told me it’s contingent on passing my exams. Which I am 80-85% sure I have not passed. If I have passed, I am not currently able to study for the second year while working.

The official notice period to leave is 1 month. My results come out in 1 month. They’ve told me they try and fire people as fast as possible once the results come out, and the faster the better in my case. Generally 2 weeks.

So the option is put in notice tomorrow, and leave in 4 weeks, or stay another 6 weeks. Regardless, I have to do 4 60 hour weeks at minimum on the course.

For the Month’s notice:

Pro

  • Start earlier
  • less stress and pain
  • better performance in class
  • less likely to pick up another injury
  • Marginally happier

Con

  • lose out on €770 wages
  • harder to get welfare – up to 9 weeks wait
  • lose potential for career break
  • worse relationship with work
  • work more likely to ask for fees back

The assumption underlying the 6 week choice is that I will be fired within 2 weeks of getting my results on the 17th October. If I wait 6 weeks:

Pro

  • Potential for career break if I pass exams
  • Get welfare in 4 days when fired
  • Another €770
  • Less likely to ask for fees
  • Better leaving relationship

Con

  • More consistent pain for 6 weeks
  • 6 weeks of 60 hour weeks could injure me further
  • If I pass exams, unclear if I will then have to put in a month notice to quit for study leave.
  • 25% of material will have reduced attention
  • Exhaustion for remainder of course

If I am fired within 2 weeks of getting the results, staying 6 weeks is the better option. If I chose the 6 week option, I stand to earn about €770 more, and will get welfare much quicker, guaranteed.

Quitting within the month means I give up €770, and also adds the risk of losing €98 – €144 a week, for up to 9 weeks. At it’s worst, that’s €1300, or almost €2000 total.

What I stand to gain by quitting after a month is 10 days to begin studying and concentrating on the material, plus the lower risk of injury. This is a very intensive course, and I may not be able to make up the time spent studying later. Doing 60 hour weeks isn’t realistic in terms of my health.

So, within the 6 weeks option, I can take close to two weeks paid leave, and probably swing some unpaid leave. This would reduce the negatives of the 6 weeks option. I’m not really booked on any big jobs, and try to avoid stress while I’m in work.

References from work are on request by a potential employer, so I’m not sure how relevant they are to quitting.

If we can solve this problem, I can maximise the return while minimising the downsides of pain, being asked for the fees back, and losing potential welfare income.

I guess that problem solving training was worthwhile.

The change will do you good

Fatman, another attempt to get out of audit.

I’ve been offered the one year degree in mobile software development. Did the logic test last night, and got the offer today. The course is on evenings and weekends, and begins in the next week.

I’m talking with work about deferring for a year to complete the course, and then return to the firm’s data analysis business line. The year would also give my back and neck injuries time to heal up, so I can really commit to a career.

I spoke during the Summer about my interest in data analysis, and they suggested trying for the data analysis group. But I didn’t have any skills to offer, so the advisory role was not feasible. The tax transfer was also a no go, as they couldn’t offer me audit hours, and said wait until you qualify.

I’ve talked to the data analysis staff, and I’m organising a conversation with a senior manager to see what they use, so I can build those skills on the course and in my own time.

Getting a deferral on the exam hinges on a few things, they’ve told me they have to look at my busy season booking, and whether I pass my four repeats. I’ll know by mid-October whether I passed. If I do pass the exams, I am not committed to the second and third years of exams and work; I want to try something else. If I failed, they will probably terminate the contract anyway. I may be studying 3 nights weekly while doing the course, which will be difficult on top of a full time job.

The ideal situation is to not work for the year, and study this full time. I’ll try pick up some hours part time to help fund the course, but I have enough savings to cover until about April or May. Work may let me stay in audit while I study, but I would not be enthusiastic about that.

My key concern is an exit on good terms, with the potential for a return if I need it. If that means staying for another month, or six weeks, I’d do that. If it’s not feasible to work full time and study full time, I’ll put in notice, and take the time off. If that sours relationships, I can get a reference from two senior staff members who have since left for other businesses or countries.

It’s fine, I guess. Can’t keep the head down and work forever.

Subprime

Might be changing careers soon.

Ireland is in the middle of a tech bubble at the moment – everything but ICT has seen average salaries going down. The government has spotted the gap, and is funding unemployed people to retrain in IT. But I only found out Saturday that people who are employed can get year-long courses in programming and development. I’ve applied for four I think are worthwhile and have good job outcomes at the end. I will likely quit if I get accepted, or ask for a year of deferral while my back and neck heals up.

My 4 repeat exams finished last week, and I’m back in work. Still bored and dissatisfied, and a few other first years left for better pay/hours while I was away. I said I’d give it a year, and that year is up. Past performance is the strongest predictor of future success – this year in Big 4 has made me sicker, and has also made me dissatisfied with my career progression. Even if I pass the exams, the next year will be even more intensive, and I’m not sure I want to throw away my health for crap money, and a qualification that is becoming increasingly less valuable as CPAs from abroad take up positions in Ireland, and the work becomes more automated.

So in comes computer science.

When I left college, I wanted to learn a programming language, figuring that between Chinese, English and Java/HTML I would have my bases covered. When I worked in a tech startup, I had good ideas for the website and service, but no ability to put them in practice. So I had to leave to find steady work in Big 4.

I’ve put 18 months into Excel, accountancy and corporate life, and I got good results: best in intake, trip to Disney Florida to meet the CEO, a few other awards. I can’t guarantee I will make more money, or my life will be easier. But at least these courses will give me more options. The time in financial services isn’t a write off either – there’s a big gap in the market for cloud services in the finance industry, mainly applications that give real time insight into cash flow and liquidity. I could also use my background in compliance to develop apps that make compliance less onerous.

There’s also the option to take a semester doing mobile game/app development, which would both give me very tactile portfolio pieces, and fulfil my teenage dream of learning to code a game in DarkBasic. I could do it in Unity instead.

Doing a logic tests tonight to qualify for entry. One way or another, I’m transferring out of this chickenshit outfit.