Surely you know where I purloined the rubric to this post?
The Prisoner is a 1967 British avant-garde social science fiction television series about an unnamed British intelligence agent who is abducted and imprisoned in a mysterious coastal village, where his captors try to find out why he abruptly resigned from his job. It was created by Patrick McGoohan and George Markstein, with McGoohan playing the lead role of Number Six. Episode plots have elements of science fiction, allegory, and psychological drama, as well as spy fiction. It was produced by Everyman Films for distribution by Lew Grade’s ITC Entertainment.
But it’s so apposite, in my opinion, to the workplace — even allowing for the gradual shift away from working full-time in an office (I don’t think it will last).
I know I’m speaking out of turn. I mean, I should be lucky that I’ve got a job and I’ve managed to find employment these past 40 years but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to feeling the heat of… “I am not a number”.
Then again, apart from a brief sojourn in the wilderness of self-employment, I’ve not exactly broken the mould. Instead, I’ve dutifully watched my ‘Ps and Qs’ or at least not rocked the boat too much.
But think about it. We have a National Insurance number, a payroll number and probably a plethora of other identifiers. As to our real gifts and talents — even being good at what we do — when do they get recognised? And when I say recognised I don’t mean the gold watch or the 21st Century equivalent on doing 30+ years service. I mean we’re seen as more than a means of production.
I do realise that my axe-swinging, ‘I’-am-a-human’ point is hardly new or even, dare I say, interesting. It is what it is, right! Then again, imagine or at least wonder what it would be like if we worked in a place that didn’t see us as a number and the only job of the Bosses, Managers and Leaders was to develop us all body, mind and soul. Yes, I know that sounds fanciful, particularly in our Capitalist, dog-eat-dog world but from my vantage point — and it ain’t at all lofty — I know that if only more time and attention was spent on the people, in a profound and meaningful way, then the world would be a very different place.
Even if this grand scheme of mine seems a bit out there, a bit wacky, I still wouldn’t mind opening up a conversation about why it is we still have this massive Playbook for controlling people, instead of treating them with dignity, respect and tenderness (I think love might be pushing it too far)?
Is that really too much to expect?
Much love, Ju.