First week in

There’s not much I can say about my first week in the new job. I was in training the whole time, and will remain in training for the best part of the next seven weeks. Nevertheless, impressions were made.

I arrived in the city by train on Monday morning in good time to begin on time. I walked out of the station at Melbourne Central and had a feeling that I had only ever experienced travelling interstate for work. The drill normally is to get an early flight and to arrive – in Sydney or Brisbane mainly in my experience – in time for the morning rush.

You walk out of the airport and get in a taxi, and are delivered to the steps of the office. About you are normal people going about their normal business. You have business too, but there’s a different slant when you walk into the office with your overnight bag or suit carrier. You’re a part of this, you belong there, but you don’t belong there in the sense of it being familiar or normal. You’re an irregular. You’re the exception, the one who appears only every so often to join the regular throng. You look about and you know it, but it’s not yours. You’re visiting.

That’s how I felt. Once upon a time I made my way to the CBD every day to work, and many years in a stretch. Now it’s strange to me, and I feel a stranger.

For all of that there was a welcome sense of something fresh. This was new. I was here. In a minute I would start a new job – but let’s check out the coffee here first…

I’m one of eight being trained in the intricacies of salary packaging. I find it quite interesting. I enjoy the complexity. It’s refreshing to be stretched and made to think. It wasn’t terribly difficult, but I guess there’s a lot.

The others I’m being trained with will be doing similar jobs to me, and so I paid the some attention. There are eight of us, four of each gender. One of the other guys is a young Vietnamese kid not long out of uni. The other two are gay I think – one has admitted to it without qualm. He’s theatrical and talkative – camp, I guess – a nice enough guy who could perhaps talk a little less.

The other has so-called gay characteristics, but has not made reference to it one way or another. He’s primly snobbish, though in an un-obvious way. His hair and attire are immaculate, and he’s a brand name convert. I like him, though I suspect someone like me seems quite different.

Of the women one is a young and pretty Vietnamese girl, sweet and bubbly. Another is an attractive and gentle natured Indian woman. There’s a Kiwi with hair like Morticia Adams, raven black, long and straight. She has the unfortunate habit of interrupting with tenuous and generally tedious stories, all of which she expounds with broad and grating Kiwi accent.

The final woman is a music fan. She moved here to be closer to it. She’s quite oversight, with interesting fashion sense (emo?), and pink dyed hair.

Most have experience in the customer service area, or have made their career in it.

Then there’s me. I’m the oldest there, and the only one who isn’t Gen Y. That makes a different. I’ve made observations on this in the past, but spending a week in the same room has given me quite an insight into the differences between us.

It’s well documented how Gen Y are very open with their expression, which, I think, is almost the opposite to Gen X, and so it was in the training. By comparison to them I must have reverted to the tall, silent type. I wasn’t quiet. I answered questions, and asked my own. I joined in discussions, and wasn’t shy about being social in our breaks. I’m there for a reason though, and focused on it.

By comparison several of the others were notably talkative. The Kiwi girl wouldn’t shut up. The gay guy kept interrupting to give his (generally unwanted) perspective from a previous job, or else would expound on the side to whoever was sitting next to him while the training continued (to the teacher’s frustration, and eventual anger). And the pink haired girl would share whatever crossed her mind, or would suddenly and without apparent cause bark out laughing. It was designed to gain our attention, to make us inquire, which we did, which served her purpose and interrupted the lesson once more. It was a ‘look at me’ laugh.

It reminded me a bit of being back in school when I was about 13 years old.

I probably sound sour, and a bit churlish complaining about it. I should be more George Clooney. I was frustrated though, but also pretty curious. For the first half of the week I went along with it; then, figuring I was never going to understand, ignored it. I wasn’t going to play.

It’s very foreign to me, and in my quite austere perspective, pretty self-indulgent. I’m old school, and quite possibly old fashioned these days – but happily so. With the notable exception of this blog (which I write for myself), I’m not much for revealing my inner workings. I tend to think of it as an imposition on others. Who wants to hear about my issues all the time? Why inflict them with it? And it’s boring. I don’t want to know every passing thought, feeling or experience. Finally, my life is nobodies business but my own. I come from a generation where privacy meant something, whereas now it seems to mean nothing.

I’m not so much annoyed as bemused. I’m happy to be social, and to share appropriately, and will do so when we’re in the work environment proper and at our desks. I just don’t think the classroom is the appropriate place for it when we’re all trying to learn.

With that said I find it quite fascinating. The anthropology of these differences make for some interesting thinking. There’s a degree of generalisation in this. We revert to stereotypes. You have to be wary of that, and I understand if people are offended – no-one wants to be categorised, and certainly not reduced to a set of attributes. That’s especially true when you don’t fit those attributes.

It’s how we think though. It’s easier to draw conclusions based on the common denominators, even when they are not perfectly aligned (but what is?). That’s my caveat. Everyone is an individual. We have our own set of unique experiences and influences. We are not clones.

All the same, it’s useful to recognise the patterns and draw conclusions. I’ve been around long enough to see the differences with my own eyes. It’s somewhat politically incorrect these days, but clearly there are valid generalisations that can be drawn. We seem to think nothing of them when they’re deemed positive, and happily embrace them. They get rejected when they include the negative as well as the positive attributes (much of which is subjective anyway). So yes, I’m stereotyping, I’m generalising, and you might be quite different, but the thrust remains true.

I’m a thoughtful man. I have a good mind and have spent a lot of my life observing things and making an analysis of it. I had a job doing that. I sit and watch and listen. Anomalies leap out at me, and in this case, cultural anomalies. The baseline I use is my own experience, so it is subjective. I’m Gen X, and so, by and large, I view things through the prism of someone born in that generation. Once it was the default; now it is no longer the case. What appear anomalies to my experience are becoming the norm in general society, so the anomalous is subjective too.

I like to ask questions. I’m interested and curious. I’m inquiring. I look outside. Maybe I’m more so than most Gen X, but I still believe it to be one of our characteristics. By comparison it seems to me Gen Y are less interested in the world beyond their circle. They share much, but question little. They’ll report on the minutae of their life – in great and theatrical detail – but not once will ask anything of yours. They’re forever giving answers to questions not asked. God knows how much personal trivia I was exposed to during the week.

It’s quite interesting, but at the same time it’s a broad generalisation that must also factor in maturity. I’m of a different generation, but I’m also much more worldly and mature. When I was their age I know I spouted nonsense too – but it was nonsense of a different nature, and from a different perspective.

I’ll have more to write on this on another occasion. I find the comparative anthropology interesting.

Just finally, I got an email on Friday from a recruiter suggesting that I apply for a role they have advertised because they think I would be an excellent fit. Thing is the job is for a Scrum Master (nothing to do with rugby folks), which I have no direct (and little indirect) experience of. What to do?

Well, the answer is you apply – what’s too lose? Makes me wonder though given recent events if I’ve been wasting all my time applying for jobs I’m actually qualified for. Rookie mistake. Obviously I’m a much better chance going for the jobs I haven’t done.

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