Today has been, in turns, frustrating and mildly exhilarating (actually, can you be mildly exhilarated?). Frustrating because, courtesy of Liberal Democrat Voice, I have been reminded that younger people can be reactionary, ageist and intolerant just as convincingly as older people. I've also spent forty-five minutes waiting for British Airways to answer what seemed, on the face of it, to be a pretty simple request, only for it to be made to appear like the height of optimism.
On the other hand, people close to me have had good news regarding their careers and, perhaps most surprisingly, I appear to finally have a grasp on my new(ish) job.
It would be harsh to say that I haven't been entirely happy in my current role. Bemused and slightly unsettled, yes, unhappy, no. After many years of bureaucracy in an environment where certainty is hard-wired into process, and backed up with legislation, I had grown deeply comfortable with the idea that, confronted with a new situation, I could come up with a definitive answer. As a liberal bureaucrat, that feels right, in that a rules-based environment is one in which good administration can flourish, as long as those rules have built-in safeguards and offer everyone equality before the law.
My new job, however, which I can't actually talk about, is more of an evaluating one. I am presented with a lot of data, and a range of operational tools with which to analyse it. It may, or may not be, complete, it may, or may not be, accurate. There is, if you like, uncertainty - definitely not in my comfort zone.
And so, it has been necessary to adapt. That's easier said than done - I'm not as young as I was, and increasingly set in my slightly idiosyncratic ways, and I respond less well to direct philosophical challenges than perhaps I once did. It has not come easily. The challenge, if you like, has been to put it into a context which sits comfortably and yet allows me to be as effective as I can be.
But, this week, things have fallen into place. In our half-yearly performance assessment, my manager declared her puzzlement that I see my work as a logic problem, feeling as she does that there doesn't have to be an exact answer - often, there can't be. What you can achieve, she believes, is a position where you have an argument that stands up to rigorous, independent scrutiny if necessary.
That makes sense, I think, but appals my inner control freak. And so, I have dwelt on what she said, and carried out some analysis on some of the data sets requiring my attention as a means of developing a modus operandi that sits more comfortably. Interestingly, I'm not sure that I agree exactly with her analysis, but have realised that there is a way in which I can achieve a similar result.
You see, if I can establish all of the areas of certainty, I can then define the area of uncertainty in terms of a series of expressed doubts, which can then be queried by means of interrogation and, if necessary, testing of hypotheses. There is, if you like, an internal logic which might not provide for exactitude, but does produce an 'exactly about' outcome which feels fair and reasonable.
It was, if you like, that light bulb moment, a realisation that this feels right and good and philosophically sound, not something that most people would associate with bureaucracy, but then, perhaps I'm not your typical bureaucrat...