I’d like to think that many of you, as I do, feel pity towards the poor tortured souls that are professional footballers. How awful it must be to have to play football two, three or even FOUR times a week for a measly few thousand quid. Boy, am I glad I’ve spent most of my working life in particularly tedious office jobs. Having given it some more sober consideration, though, I began to come to the quite staggering conclusion that professional footballers don’t actually have a bad life, really. If you weigh it up, playing football for cash probably just about beats serving hamburgers, photocopying bits of paper, or installing kitchen units for a living, for example.
Nonetheless, our hard-done-by young men seem to find it very difficult to cope with the demands we make of them. I must admit, there have been many occasions when I’ve heard a footballer bemoaning his salary or conditions and thought, “Bloody hell - who does he think he is? What would happen if I spoke to my boss like that?” So as a bit of a social experiment, I decided to try out a footballer’s lifestyle for myself for a few months to see if it suited me. It all started after I’d made a particularly good job of raising some purchase orders and credit notes. My reputation around the company was very good - and I was already being tipped as a future Senior Administrator.
Sensing my career was in the ascendancy, I went to see my boss to complain that turning up for five consecutive days a week was making me tired and jaded, and I needed to go on a three-day week in order to produce my best work. After he refused to listen to my quite reasonable concerns, I appointed an agent to represent me. He arranged a meeting with my boss and the personnel manager, at which he highlighted the contribution I’d made to the business and demanded a 100 per cent pay increase and a three-day week. My agent informed my boss that I had already received an offer of a clerical job in Italy on twice the salary. He stated that as I would be retiring at 35, I needed to make sure I had enough money to support my reckless lifestyle by then. My boss agreed to look into it… but I heard him laughing after we’d left the room.
A few days later my boss called me in again and said that since he couldn’t agree to my terms, he’d be asking other departments if they wanted me to work for them instead. I was very hurt by this, so I pushed him to the floor in anger and then took the next three months off, on paid sick leave, suffering from stress. My agent advised me to ensure that the staff magazine and the local newspaper were kept informed of my side of the story. I then refused to return to work, claiming I’d been promised promotion when I joined the company a couple of years earlier and it hadn’t materialised. I did, of course, continue to draw a salary. Whilst I was at home, I sent out a press release to the local paper suggesting that everyone else in my department was shit at their jobs and I was too good for them. At about the same time, my agent got me a job writing a column for The Guardian on office matters. This involved someone else penning a couple of hundred words on how to get the best out of a photocopier toner cartridge, with me then signing it and receiving a cheque for £500.
I soon got bored at home, however, so I decided to go back to work for a bit. Strangely enough, when I popped back into the office at 5.00pm on Friday to see if anyone fancied a pint (on me), I found my colleagues not at all welcoming - the ungrateful so-and-so’s. This meant that I had to go out and get completely pissed on my own instead. Unfortunately I ended up in a fight, punched a taxi driver, and was eventually charged with being drunk and disorderly. I wrote to my boss explaining that since I quite liked a pint and the occasional pound of top quality Bolivian marching powder, I’d be unable to come back to work for a bit - but please continue to send my pay cheque as before, thanks.
By now, I was finding the footballer’s lifestyle very hard to cope with. An article appeared in my company’s staff magazine suggesting I had indulged in shenanigans with one of the girls from the personnel department. Although this was true, I sued the staff magazine and then sold my own story to the local paper of how harshly I’d been treated by the company. After a while I went back to work, where an uneasy truce existed between me and my employers. My boss publicly stated that I’d be moved to another post as soon as they could get a temp in. Meanwhile, I produced the odd sparkling piece of administrative paperwork that proved just enough to keep me in a job.
Soon, though, I started to hear people talking about me. They were saying that I was a has-been - that I was overweight, that my invoices were sometimes incorrectly filed, that I rarely brewed up for my colleagues and that I’d soon be given only filing and photocopying to do. Just as I though my career was over, I got a phone call from my mate, Ray, who’d set up his own company. He offered me a job on treble my salary - and all I had to do was turn up each week to collect my pay cheque.
It was dream come true. I lasted a year there and whilst the other staff hated me because I never did anything, I did make an awful lot of money. Unfortunately, though, this was swallowed up by my mountain of gambling and drug debts. So, next time you find yourself thinking, “Bloody footballers, who do they think they are?” - give the lifestyle a try yourself. It really works. Honest. And the fact that I’m now unemployed and penniless is just a coincidence. Really. It is… honest Anyone need their windscreen washing?
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