Wife often complains that I work too many hours. I don't keep score, but I operate a 'give and take' attitude to work these days: mostly I put a lot of time into my job, more than I ever get paid for. In return I expect - and get - flexibility. If I need half a day off, boss is quite happy for me to take it.
Now for the first time in 25 years I am working for an organisation that closes at Christmas and doesn't open again until the new year. Ambulance services, of course, never close, so after all those years of working or being on call at Christmas, it was a delight this year to put on the 'bugger off' message (aka ' Iam out of office...') with a note that I would attend to matters when the campus reopened on Jan 4. As if to emphasise the point, for some unknown reason the IT department expired my account, so I couldn't have worked during the holiday even if I wanted to.
First day back, and the Wellington Phoenix are playing Sydney FC at 3pm. A friend tempts me to go...
The last time I skived the afternoon off to watch a football match I was sixteen. Coventry City were playing an FA Cup replay at St James' Park, Newcastle. For some reason me and my mates thought no-one would notice if we were missing on a cold and wet sports afternoon at school, so we piled on to a bus for the four hour journey through what seemed to us to be a desolate wasteland. Perhaps in January 1976 this was a reasonable description of the north of England. We saw a lot of snow. We almost got beaten up in a chip shop and lost 5-0. The following day our form teacher just smiled sardonically at us: 'good match was it lads?' We sulked. Our dream of going to Wembley was over for another year.
In complete contrast, yesterday I piled on the sunscreen and strolled along the walkway to the Westpac Stadium in my shorts to see our local heros win a ding-dong match 4-2. I had one of the best seats in the stadium, right on the halfway line, and got $5 off the ticket price for being a student!
So why did I still feel some residual guilt for leaving work at lunchtime to watch a football match? Too often we feel that our work colleagues judge our performance on whether we are actually there, when in fact the truth of work for many of is is that it doesn't matter when or even where we do it, as long as we do it to a good standard. Anyone who is office based these days only needs a good internet connection and access to a VPN and you can do your job from anywhere in the world. The fact that there was no-one around to notice that I wasn't actually there didn't matter - I was doing something naughtly during working hours. It was kind of fun, but I think the only person I was rebelling against was myself.
Check out the match report at http://www.stuff.co.nz/sport/football/6213985/Phoenix-beat-Sydney-FC-4-2 Go the Phoenix!