Never forget

Never forget the things from which you’re escaping.

I walked past an office building in downtown Montreal this evening. I was on my way to meet my girlfriend for a family meal, which we would follow by attending a magazine launch party. Inside the office, meanwhile, the desk jockeys were working overtime beneath florescent lighting.

No more of that for me, thanks. I felt immediately grateful for the fact I was on the outside of the stone wall and not on the inside any more.

Some things I do not miss:

– Clock watching
– Commuting
– Unsuitable working environment
– Pointlessly frequent fire drills and other health-and-safety obstacles
– Being unable to enter a productive (or leisurely) mood when recovering from a day’s work
– Mindless submission to tasks that do not matter
– Representing an organisation in which you have no interest
– Being an apologist for other people’s bad decisions
– Petty office politics
– Counterproductive cross-business politics
– Staring into a computer screen for 80% of the time
– Pointless meetings
– Frequent and demeaning training exercises
– The dreaded early rises

These are just a few of things I do not miss. I’m sure there are others.

Even when I worked though, I found ways around a lot of these things:

– I’d find ways to work from home whenever possible
– I’d volunteer to attend conferences so I didn’t have to sit at my desk all of the time
– I’d wear an immaculate suit almost as if to satirise office etiquette
– I took an hour-long lunch break every day instead of eating at my desk
– I moved my home to within a ten-minute walk of the office so I didn’t have to commute so far or rise so early

Interestingly, few of my colleagues took these measures even when I was providing a precedent. They seemed more content to complain about the conditions that were being imposed upon them without realising that even within the framework of their office life there were small freedoms to be found. Why did they not take them? Did they prefer to complain? Were they the victims of peer pressure or Bad Faith?


Robert Wringham is the editor of New Escapologist. He also writes books and articles. Read more at

9 Responses to “Never forget”

  1. […] not going back to work in an office somewhere. No more clock-watching. No more mindless submission. Never forget the things from which you’re […]

  2. Monevator says:

    Perhaps your colleagues didn’t complain or escape because they liked conditions in the asylum?

    We who live outside the walls need to remember most are happy – or at least comforted – by being inside them.

    In fact, we should be grateful for them.

  3. Rob says:

    Thanks for the link at your site, Monevator.

    You’re absolutely right, of course. In fact, the editorial of our next print edition is titled ‘For Madmen Only’ and asks whether Escapologists are the crazy ones for turning our backs on such comfortable and straightforward conditions.

  4. […] I was on the outside of the stone wall and not on the inside any more.” (Robert Wringham of New Escapologist remembers what we’re escaping […]

  5. […] scheme and a period of proper R&R to get the creative ideas flowing. Above all, I sought to remember the oppressive details of the working life from which I’d escaped. No looking back! […]

  6. […] rather than ‘employers’.  When I finally got sick of it all and struck out, it was because of things like an unproductive working environment, the early rises, the commute (I only had a twenty-minutes […]

  7. […] in my life, I’m doing rather well. Remember when I used to work in an office? Bloody hell, I do. I’d rather have to visit the Post Office once a week. Post Office: after office. Geddit? […]

  8. BeatTheSeasons says:

    Hilarious – someone just tested the fire alarm while I was reading the article.

    I also twice had to pretend to be looking at a spreadsheet when a colleague walked past my desk.

  9. Love it! See what I mean?!

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