I’m on a training course this week. Spending the week before Christmas travelling up to London during rush hour to learn all about networking. Not so much to learn really, more to forget how to do it properly and learn to do it so that I can pass the exam.
One of the things about the IT industry is if you want to keep up on your professional qualifications you end up going on far too many training courses. The first morning is always the same as you have to be at the centre half an hour early to sign in and register.
If there is one thing you need to know about me dear reader, is that I am always ridiculously early. The last time I went on a course I got there over an hour ahead of time, and that was even after stopping at Euston Station for breakfast.
On subsequent days, getting there early isn’t a problem. You can go straight to your classroom, and if the trainer is also early, you can go over things from the day before. On the first day, you normally get herded to, and spend some quality time in, the break area. I’ve been to many training companies and all their break areas could be described the same.
As you walked into the area, there are a number of hot drinks dispensers, with a sad and lonely food vending machine next to it. As the hot drinks are free, they look well maintained, but the plastic cups they dispense are the same shiny blue colour. As you have to pay for the food, the vending machine looks full stocked. However, you notice that it is from a lack of customers because one of chocolate bars on sale is called Marathon.
For those youngsters reading this Marathon became Snickers rather a long time ago.
After collecting your drink, you turn towards the seats and in front of you are a number of tables, all of which are set up for either four or six people. However, those tables which are occupied only have one person at them, they sit there heads down wishing that the world would continue on around them and leave them alone. If you accidently make eye contact with one you both look away embarrassed.
You find an empty table and you sit on the light brown veneered chair, which is a little cheap and uncomfortable in a masochistic way. You look around you again and notice that the walls are too white, and that there is an ethereal vibe to the room.
Once all of the tables have their allocated one person sitting at them, tatecomers will huddle around the one television in the room. On the TV invariably is a muted news channel with the subtitles on. Of course, as it is really early in the morning, a trainee is typing the subtitles and most of it is gibberish.
If you’re bored you begin to look at the others as they enter and try to figure out who would be on the same course as myself. One hint is that if they are female they aren’t on the same course as myself. I’ve had women trainers teaching me, but I’ve never been on a technical course with a female delegate.
There is a deathly silence in the room until the trainers come in to collect their course delegates. A palpable tension is in the room as the course number is called out, as you pray that it is for your course. When it is, there is a moment of sadness for those that you have left behind, as you know that you’ll never see of them again.
I’ve always imagined purgatory to be something similar to the experience of waiting for a training course to start. Either that of a doctor’s surgery, but at the doctor’s people normally leave in the order that they came in. I’m certain that there are a small number of delegates sitting in a break room somewhere whose courses will never be called out.
When I first started at London Electricity I was on their graduate scheme. Have I mentioned the story yet about their six week IT training course? Not yet, but I’ll get there eventually. Part of the scheme was training on management techniques with a group called The Industrial Society.
The training centre was literally a stone throw’s away from Buckingham Palace. So, it was very posh. The course was on how to manage people, and it was the biggest load of manure that I’ve ever been on. Everything about it was pretentious, the other delegates spent most of their time either climbing into or out of their own back sides. As for the person leading the course, they spouted so much waffle that even a spin doctor would shout “Speak English boy.”
Do you know what the funniest thing about the whole course? I was considered a natural leader because I was able to be wishy washy with everyone else. After the three days I was adamant that management was never going to be a thing for me. And people wonder why I only lead with reluctance.