I Blame Dunbobbin (But I Cannot Remember His First Name) The first real mentor I had in life was called Mr Dunbobbin, I was 18 so he was Mr Dunbobbin. He was the perfect mentor as he embodied everything I didn’t want to do and didn’t want to become. He was more a sort of a perfect antimentor
I was working in a factory, in the offices as opposed to the shop floor as an apprentice accountant. Yes… an accountant, me….
I was actually good at it, surprise surprise.But jeez I was soooooo bored.
Four weeks into the job the boss of the company, or rather the boss’ wife, the immaculately groomed and presented Mrs Lewis, purred into my ear and asked me to go through the accounts for last year please because she wasn’t exactly sure about the numbers. So one month into the job I found myself looking for mistakes in the ledger, in the first month, in the second month carried through to add onto the mistakes of the third month and a long, long etcetera all the way through the year (these were the days when it was a ledger as opposed to a computer spreadsheet so lots of tipp-ex was used) Finally, I had discovered a huge hole in the accounts hidden away by simple mistakes. Mistakes by the head accountant, Mr Dunbobbin, the guy supposedly there to train me up.
It was obvious the business was going to fail, and over 200 people working there were at risk because of the squeeze on the numbers by the companies they supplied, mostly Marks and Spencer, so something had to give. I thought that there was no future there. I was right. Not long after when it crashed and burned but I was long gone by then.
So, in my first experience of being taught something by someone out of the school environment, I learnt that I “always” know better, and this has stuck with me to this day, even when I don’t (and that is usually the case that I don’t of course)
However it also taught me something possibly even more important, never trust those in authority because they are mostly faking it. Most people are promoted to a position above their ability just by their stickability, staying in the job while more capable people leave to do something else. Once they reach a position they are incapable of doing well they tend to stay there by covering their back and faking it but they never get any higher.
I left two months later (the staff bought me an industrial quantity of chocolate as a leaving present which tells you a lot about me at the time). So what were my highlights of working as an accountant?
1) Moving slowly round the office when alone trying not to set off the red light on the motion sensor
2) Devising ever more fiendish ways to get out of the office and go to have a yap with people on the shop floor (not great for them as they were on piece work)
3) Erm… that’s it.
Three months working and an invented excuse to leave that I had been chosen to go on an extended tour of Zimbabwe as a promising cricketer. Yes, I was forced into lying ridiculously to escape but at the time I felt like Steve McQueen.
However, now I would like to thank Mr Dunbobbin.
I was an early exponent of lifestyle design as a result of this job. It taught me that I would do anythIng to avoid working for someone else because when something is going wrong you invariably cannot do anything to stop it because of your lowly position and eventually you will be thrown out of work because of the incompetence of those above and around you.
I realised that the pay in a job wasn’t ever going to be even close to what I considered to be my true worth, if you have a high enough opinion of yourself that will always be the case whether you are right or wrong.
Then I spent a couple of years in the job wilderness before deciding, in another lifestyle design decision, to go to university and study Spanish so as to be able to live in Spain. You’ve got to have a plan right 😉
That is another story altogether and will be told in a future missive.