The works Christmas party at Hinsliff Inc is going to be a quiet one this year. Just me and, um, me. (Due to recessionary costcutting, the dog's not invited). The drawback of freelance life as opposed to having a Proper Job is being forced to provide your own festive warm white wine.
But it's made me think about what I miss about office life. So, in no particular order:
1. The IT department. Oh god, I miss the IT department. Now when my computer breaks, I have to tell myself to switch it off and switch it on again. And then deal with (shudder) the O2 call centre. Never again will I infer that inhouse IT geeks are, well, geeks. They're GODS.
2. Sausage sandwiches from the canteen on press day. Just not the same at home.
3. PAYE. Money just drops into your bank account, by magic, every month! Someone else does your tax and NI! You never get told misleading and inaccurate information by the HMRC so-called 'helpline'! I get misty-eyed thinking about it.
4. Gossip. Not watercooler stuff about last night's telly, which I can get online. Proper juicy gossip about colleagues and rivals doing hopefully embarrassing things.
And before I get nostalgic, things I don't miss:
1. Meetings. I reckon I spent about three hours a week in internal office meetings. That's 150-ish hours a year: six days of my life i'll never get back. And at about two biscuits per meeting, god knows how many calories.
2. Commuting by tube, nose jammed in sweaty stranger's armpit on Circle line.
3. Office politics. The flipside of office gossip: endlessly watching your back, analysing what your competitors are up to. Makes real politics look easy.
4. The Ten to Six feeling. This is the panic that overtakes working mothers on realising that they have to leave the office in ten minutes' time to pick the kids up: and that they have a lot more than ten minutes' work to do.
See also Ten to Midnight feeling, the bleary-eyed realisation that it's nearly midnight, you are still in the office and you still have more than ten minutes work to do.
But what really tips the balance in favour of freelance life is that I just got an invite to my old employer's Christmas party (old colleagues taking pity on me). Phew. Now instead of just getting drunk as usual, I plan to spend the evening being exceptionally nice to IT people....