According to this morning’s Daily Telegraph, today was the toughest day of the working year.
The report says that Office Angels, the temporary recruitment agency, asked 1,500 people to rank the distress levels involved in returning to work after breaks from the office, including summer holidays and bank holiday weekends.
Almost the out of four nominated the New Year return to work as the toughest, due to a combination of factors including a depleted wallet, the prospect of three months sun deprivation and weight gained over Christmas.
I would have agreed with the report in the past. I used to hate the first week in January. Christmas was over and there was nothing to look forward to.
Tim, my best friend in primary school days had his birthday on 8th January and his mum always allowed them to keep the Christmas decorations up until his birthday was over. I used to go to his birthday party each year and feel that the decorations were making fun of us.’Ha, ha’, they were saying, ‘Christmas is over and we’re here to remind you that it’s past’.
Then fifteen years ago I came to realise that there were far worse experiences in life than the first week in January. My first visit to the Third World in January 1991 took me into the shantytowns of Manila. People were surviving, and surviving with dignity, on literally next to nothing. Houses were made of hardboard and cardboard and plastic and tin. Water came from a pipe down the street. Food was rice boiled in a pot on an open fire. I walked through places struck dumb at what I saw.
When I returned home I thought about what I had seen and realised that there were even worse places I could have been, like in a refugee camp on the borders of Sudan, without food or shelter, with my children dying and with no-one to care. It was a sobering thought.
I still hate the first week in January, but then I think about the shanties and I think about the camps and I think, ‘isn’t it great to have work to go back to?’