I went to watch my son play football after school yesterday. He's only 8 but he's very good, and when I'm there it seems to spur him on... he scored 2 goals while I watched, and they were both crackers. It occurred to me after a few minutes that I was the only parent watching the kids play. Like last week, and the week before. And no doubt like next week.
I remember a conversation I had with my divisional director shortly after I started with the company a couple of years ago. I was late for a meeting, and he decided to make an issue of it, even though he knew the shit I was going through at the time with my marriage break-up. And even though he insisted on a start time of 8.30 when it would have made no difference at all had it been 10.30 instead.
"This really isn't good enough, you know", he said to me. "Its the second time its happened and I'm not prepared to tolerate it."
"Dick, I'm sorry if its caused you a problem, but you know my circustances... I've just moved, we're all unsettled, and I really need to be able to have the kids with me sometimes during the week. Its important to them at the moment. And I can't drop them off before 8.30 because the school gates are shut. If we could just make these meetings half an hour later on the odd days I have to do the school run..."
He looked at me with complete fucking incomprehension, and said - wait for it - "Don't bring your personal problems into work."
I won't bore you with the whole conversation, but I told him it wasn't negotiable and offered my resignation there and then. He didn't accept it, but that meeting marked the end of my career, effectively, with the organisation I'm about to leave.
This attitude in corporates isn't that unusual, though, and it begs the question - how fucked up have we become? What on earth has happened to our values, when the emotional wellbeing of vulnerable children is less important than the start time of a meeting that wasn't even necessary? Or when whole generations of kids are growing up out of sight of their parents, because their parents are too scared to ask for a couple of hours to watch a football match, or to go see a school play?
Someone once said "Progress might have been alright once, but it's gone on too long". I think its time for a major re-evalution. And that's just what I'm going to do, now my life's my own again.