A four part retelling of a three month saga.
Part four: I’m a Bielieber, baby
It may have been an equal combination of my own belligerence and their bullshit that led to the breakdowns in my previous articles, but the final blow for my career in banking came from that Canadian songstress Justin Bieber. See, while we were sitting row upon row in our quasi-communist processing factory, side by side with business and economics students and single mums, we weren’t allowed to talk. This was so we wouldn’t be distracted handling money, of course, but people are not like machines, we don’t simply concentrate on the repetitive task at hand because we don’t communicate. It’s not as if communication is the reason we can’t colonise space or find time to sew a button back on that denim jacket that’s been sitting in my drawer for a month. It’s a common sense rule that has no sense, so naturally we fixated on other stimuli to avoid the dreaded cross eyes; that stimuli was music. I’m no melodic bon vivant; I don’t know my Bach from my Tchaikovsky (but I bet I would if I met them) so I’m not going to completely disparage contemporary pop music, but the music that the enlightened ones had deemed fit for the masses was one of those vapid, irrelevant radio stations marketed towards women who watch Keeping Up with the Kardashians without a trace of irony or self-awareness and whose Saturday nights consist of vodka pre-mixers and shrill, shallow conversations about celebrity marriages. The kind of station that if you tune into is never playing music yet if you listen for more than an hour you hear the same song twice. The kind of station that will pay for two strangers to marry live on air but have no idea how to begin talking about music in any depth whatsoever. The kind of station that is sponsored by tampon companies. The kind of station where they fill in all the music parts with next decades’ one hit wonders. The kind of station that gives away lacey underwear in exchange for a sexy post-weekend hook up story where you can use obvious penis euphemisms while Mums take their kids to school but you can’t say the word ‘shit’. You know what I mean. But I’m talking about the music here, if you’d forgotten. (I had.) It seems ludicrous to have a problem with the music itself in light of the atrocities committed by these purveyors of bobble headed idiocy but even I couldn’t stand hearing this same song every hour for four to six hours during my shift. This one song I will not, could not tolerate, once an hour, every hour for five nights a week, smash hit, number one in every planet in the solar system, twelve year old boob grazing, limp haired, prepubescently pre-tattooed, the-nineties-are-like-so-retro, unanimously voted the finest sonnet ever penned by the hand of man was the Justin Bieber song, ‘Baby’.
In case you’re not familiar with this masterpiece, and I envy you, the lyrical content of the chorus is composed thustly, ”baby, baby baby, oh, baby, baby, baby, oh, baby, baby” etc etc. As Austin Powers would quip, “Too many baby’s”.
To this day, every time I see a baggy of money, my Pavlovian response is a inner loop of Bieber’s baby’s playing in my head and I’m led to believe that’s it’s as bad as tinnitus.
Sometimes on a Friday night, to cut loose, one of the women would change the station to Golden Oldies. Those were the nights that I wept with joy. Quietly of course; because I couldn’t distract anyone from counting money.
When people ask me why I left my job, I told them it was because of Justin Bieber, but the truth was that I could never balance my float. I’m pretty sure I have a case of un-provable dyscalculia wherein the mere sight of numbers and decimal points are as about as understandable as a drunk Scotsman. So on most nights I just sat there like a special needs kid eating a crayon while everyone else washed their filthy money hands and headed home. This was, again, the fault of both sides. See, in all the pontificating about philosophies and teamwork, not once in my interview or any subsequent conversations did anyone ask me if I was competent at maths. Because if they had, I would have said no. They forgot what their industry was, and it’s not about cool team names and uniform office supplies and fun, diverse employees; they are in the finance game, and the costly meetings and satisfaction surveys will never ask the one question that we all want to know: is my money irrevocably secure? Of course, the answer is no, and that’s why they never ask, and probably why they never asked me if I could count without using my hands.
So thank you, anonymous bank, for the lessons I learnt in the rice paddies of the finance industry, and why Justin Bieber may be to thank for my eventual career as a writer of self-proclaimed hilarious job stories.