Two things coalesced to ensure I seriously questioned my life a few days back. The first was a conversation with an old friend about an Oldboy of ours. The second was a moment of exasperation from a work colleague who’d apparently “just about bloody had enough”.

The Oldboy is a straight-forward enough story. Back at school a guy in my year had decided to become an accountant. The reasoning? He looked in the paper and saw that there were lots of ads for that profession. Now, as future planning went I wasn’t too sure about his reasoning. But, it turns out that he was right on the money. It was years later till I realised that the making money professions are the ones where you handle money.

At the time I was the guy that old geezer in that “advice for young people” speech pontificates about, you know, people who have no idea what they want to do when they’re 18. While other people were destined for high-flying jobs I was looking at factory work. But, later on I realised I was just a late starter, and got on with the getting on.

Of course, there’s no money in changing occupations, slumming it, and generally faffing around for 10 years.

Meanwhile, the guy in question was gradually working his way up through the ranks of a very large accountancy firm. In fact, an international accountancy firm, and is currently working as a trader of some sort in the Cayman Islands.

I’m a public servant…

You’ve heard the fable of the tortoise and the hare right? I was the hare, but I was running in circles and being distracted every five minutes, just like it says on my primary school report card (“Che is easily distracted”).

So, the second incident is a work colleague who was in a similar situation. Apparently she received an email from an old schoolmate the other week. This dude was allegedly the class freak, all facial piercing and bad hair. The guy was the one the nerds felt comfortable looking down on. An outsider who just didn’t seem to get it.

Well, he was happy to explain, these days he used that completely alternative perspective to set himself up in a company, and he’s making a million a year. Should be able to buy himself an island in no time.

Meanwhile, my colleague? Also a public servant.

What’s interesting is her comment. You know how when you go to a college reunion you get all these kinds of stories all at once? The fat kid who slimmed down, started an international modelling career. The flakey kid who turned out to be a great actor/painter/writer. A dozen success stories that make you think your life is just boring. Of course, there’s also the 1st XV player who came out and starting sleeping with the woodwork teacher, but that’s a happy ending we all get a kick out of.

But, in this day and age we have Facebook.


I laughed. Then thought about making my profile a little sexier…