Thursday, August 17, 2006

Homo ITconsultantus: The Hard Life of an IT consultant

According to my philosopher and guide, Mr. Jorge Cham (the lunatic who sketches PhD Comics), grad school is the last refuge of the kind of chappie who wishes to postpone his entry into the real world (indefinitely, if possible).

I do not deny that I am inspired by the idea of avoiding any contact with people in the real world.

I am satisfied with the little all that grad school funding provides me, and do not direct envious glances at other blokes my age who earn packets working in IT consultancies. I do not begrudge them their Ford Fiestas and Renault Laguna. I wave cheerily at them as they pass me by as I ride my BSA SLR to the shopping centre. At no time do I curse my luck when I try to haggle with the blighter at the desi store to allow me to add another two quid to my tab.

Ah, who am I kidding? I’d like the money, but I’d rather remain poor than live the hard life of an IT consultant. For instance, look at NS’ terribly tough life. Well, you can’t do that, considering you don’t know NS, and have not had the opportunity to hob-nob with the aforementioned luminary. And therefore, may I present to you the hero of this little story, NS.

NS is a good friend of mine who currently stays in our kitchen – or on the bedroom floor if the wafting aroma of curry, Chinese sauce and African god-knows-what gets a trifle too strong for him. He is, as I have had reason to mention earlier, a cog in the wheel of commerce. He is the lynchpin upon whom the fortunes of a major IT consultancy rest, if lynchpin is the word I want.

As I write this, NS’ day has just begun. As the sun sets on a grad student’s night, the white-collar worker’s sun begins to rise. That NS is awake is made abundantly clear by the fact that the stench of his eau-de-cologne has spread across most of the flat.

The first major trial he faces is that he has to shave. Unlike unkempt grad students, IT consultants cannot look like something the cat dragged in. Not for him the week-old scraggy stubble that adorns this grad student’s visage. After having shaved, he has to rush to work at 6:54 in the morning.

What he does inside the corridors of the consulting company is a sealed book to me. I would assume it involves plenty of veiled women smelling of Chanel 5 pinching trade secrets. After eight hours spent writing reports and keeping the aforementioned veiled women at bay, NS drives to the kebab shop.

NS does not like the kebabs he gets there. He avers that it tastes like sandpaper, and this chronicler can, from first-hand experience, attest to the veracity of his opinion.
Not many kebab shops can butcher a kebab as well as this shop does. But then, not many kebab shops have Polish shop assistants who look as good as the one at this shop does.

If NS were a mere graduate student, he would decide to find another kebab shop and let the Polish chick vanish out of his life. But them IT consultants can take the rough with the smooth, not to mention tolerate the presence of large quantities of sandpaper in the intestinal linings. Besides, he has to practise his Polish!

After that trial by food, NS arrives home to more work.

He starts off by yawning loudly, preparatory to a hard night that will be spent in the company of Gantt charts (or whichever other weird creature of a lesser God that the world’s workers deal with on a daily basis).

He then announces that he plans to take a short nap for fifteen minutes in order to recharge his batteries. In order to ensure that he sticks to his grueling schedule, he sets an alarm on his mobile phone.

NS subscribes to the Snooze school of productivity enhancement. In order to test the efficacy of mobile phone snooze buttons, he decides to use it once.

NS at 2045 hours

And twice…

And a third time, just to make sure there are no bugs in the mobile phone’s implementation of the snooze function…

And maybe a fourth time…

Ad nauseum, ad infinitum…

NS at 2145 hours

However, this intensive testing schedule is interrupted by his better half who calls after he has used the snooze button approximately twenty times.

NS then speaks with his better half. The contents of the conversation are unfortunately unclear to the raconteur as the language spoken is Great Britain’s new lingua franca, Polish. However, NS soon manages to convince his girlfriend that work, that cruel taskmaster, calls out to him. He switches the alarm on again – so that he can recover from the conversation.

NS in converstation with his girlfriend

After about half an hour, NS arises and decides that enough work has been done for the evening, and decides to call it a night.

NS at 2230 hours, after an evening spent hard at work. Note: The subject can be identified by following the direction of the index finger, and must not be confused with the other inanimate objects in the room.

After having spent the last couple of months monitoring the hard life of an IT consultant, this author has decided that his considerable talents shall be directed towards the furthering of scientific research.


Besides, I’m virtually unemployable as no company would be particularly interested in hiring a chap who spends all evening monitoring the working/sleeping habits of the Homo ITConsultantus, and then spends the rest of the night writing a report on it.

This, on the other hand, shows that I have the perfect temperament to be a procrastinating grad student adept at writing nonsensical reports to please his supervisor.


If I could maybe add a graph or two to this piece, I could maybe submit this as my weekly progress report to my supervisor.


If I could add a few citations to this, I may soon have a publication in an IEEE journal.


The identity of the Homo ITConsultantus has been withheld for security reasons (read: to protect author’s life and limb).