I spent a goodly portion of Tuesday tidying my bedroom and making a charity shop pile. I do this a couple of times a year -- anything I hovered over last time but haven't worn / used / given a second thought to since goes. It generally works well, though there's a denim skirt I still miss.
This time round, I gave the briefcase a hard stare. I haven't used it for years, but I've hesitated to part with it during previous purges because a) it was a gift, and b) I could see an occasion when I might want to use a briefcase again happening before an occasion when I might buy another one. For a while I felt like that about my suit, but I got rid of *that* (M&S, machine washable, utterly charmless) ages ago.
I opened the briefcase to see if it was empty. It wasn't, but everything in it -- business cards from the House on the Hill, pre-rebrand Tampax, out of date painkillers, a mousemat from a conference -- was dial-up ancient. The most recent thing in there was a print out of my presentation for my first job interview at NGO X, which happened some time in early 2000. There was also a Parker mechanical pencil (result! I'd totally forgotten I'd ever owned such a thing) and a rather smart notebook. Was a time I passed as a proper grown up. I had more expensive hair then, too.
I flicked through the notebook, which mostly consisted of notes I took while covering the conference that provided the mousemat... end of 1998, I'd guess, possibly end of 1997. There were conversations with PR people (never my favourites) and marketing managers (only marginally better). There were lots of words with 'fucking' inserted in the middle, like 'super-fucking-highway' and 'stra-fucking-tegic'. Some things never change, I thought to myself.
And then I came upon the knowledge-fucking-management notes, taken during a conference session, I imagine, where I was probably both desperately hungover and spectacularly bored. Let's just say there are some environments where you wait a long time for a quotable quote, and this was one of them. But the scary thing wasn't my palpable uninterest or casual profanity, it was that the questions outlined by the speaker, which I dutifully wrote down, in my handwriting which hasn't changed a bit but which looks somehow like it comes from another world -- 'Who owns KM? How do information management people get senior managers to take it seriously? Why don't IT departments understand it?' are, at least in the NGO world, still not resolved.
I struggle every (working) day with the same things those people were struggling with OVER TEN YEARS AGO. The wheel is still being invented, the mire is just as deep. I found this profoundly depressing. There is no way I want to keep that briefcase now.
I went back to work this morning. At least it was warm there.