Friday, November 5

career success avoidance 3

My parents, who provided me with an expensive school tie, were sorely disappointed that I never waved the tie to walk into a company job. I'm pleased to say that the few career opportunities that ever came my way were of my own making, and I messed them up all by myself.

Applied Particle Physics

When I was a researcher, I occasionally I had to put aside the jazz tapes and speak to other research people. The worst time was when I had to deliver a paper at a computer conference in Cambridge. I had never spoken in public before, and it was an audience of about 500 smart-alec academics. Fortunately, my paper was scheduled for the very last day, so I had all week to watch other speakers being publicly mauled. When I wasn't watching the torture, I was jogging around Cambridge on beta-blockers (the doc refused to prescribe valium but gave me these heart-slowing pills instead.)

Well, by the time my turn came at the podium thing, I didn't know whether the buckling knees were from jogging or nerves or the beta-blockers, but I got through it somehow. And because I had prepared a very clear and colourful slide presentation (if I was a real academic I would just have waffled without props), I caught the eye of a head-hunting researcher from Switzerland. The guy left a message asking me to phone him overseas, which I did.

Over the phone he offered a job, housing, medical plan, pension plan, and removal expenses to Switzerland. Well I wasn't going to fall for that! So I asked him about the work I would have to do. He explained that he was working on a government-funded project to allow worldwide communication between computers using hypertext and mouse clicks, so that anybody could access any computer in the world. It sounded a pretty wacky invention.

It would be hard work. And who wants to move to Switzerland when they've already got their hands full in Glasgow, managing two girlfriends in parallel, working day and night to prevent them finding out about each other?

Naturally I rang the guy back and turned the job down. A few years later his invention had some success. It was called the world wide web. Thank goodness I avoided getting caught up in all that.


  1. Albert? Well done for avoiding anything that was trying to make you work hard! That's what kills people. I've always tried to lie in bed a lot of the time, or most of the time. The world wide web is crap anyway. Just as well you stuck to the animal experiments. Hope this helps. Hotboy

  2. Hotters. I knew you'd understand. There's also the altruistic dimension - like giving up a bus seat to an old lady. Standing aside from the career treadmill to let someone else have a go.

  3. I say!

    "...communication between computers using hypertext and mouse clicks, so that anybody could access any computer in the world."

    I don't think that would ever catch on. Too much clicky, clicky for some people.

    MM III

  4. Mingers. On the plus side, a system like that could free up librarians for more important activities. It all balances up.