Sometimes you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone, warns The Survivalist

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The Survivalist got out of the bunker the other day and – after having checked carefully for ravening zombies and giant mutant budgerigars, a real problem in East London these days – headed to one of the rash of new boutique coffee holes that have sprung up in Shoreditch as it continues its feeble attempt to impersonate Seattle as a groovy centre of all things tech.

Over a painfully expensive short black served by an electro-clash barista with a ridiculous twirly cavalry officer moustache and skinny jeans who clearly had better places to be, your crusty old bunker-buddy had a chat with a young pal who’s currently at a US firm and getting itchy feet.

Now, this firm is one of those with a reception area you could film CSI:Miami in, with gourmet coffee while you wait from a machine so cool it has no logo on the front, and although they work my mate like a dog, they pay him enough that he’s already in the top 3% of earners in the country and not yet 30.

Trouble is, he trained at the firm, so is suffering from that peculiar syndrome whereby the view of mates from law school tripping off for margaritas in Soho at 6pm having spent a leisurely day pratting about with contracts for ‘I’m a Celebrity…’ and doing the Take A Break crossword is starting to make him feel like a bit of a mug.

He asked me what I thought. After an unsuccessful attempt to explain Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi, I told him the story of another mate of mine who used to work in one of these apparently glamorous smaller firms. Aside from the instant coffee, she had to put up with being refused a request for a filing cabinet, on grounds of cost (“just put your files on the floor”), was not allowed to use any paying online resources and got only minimal pay rises, if at all.

The grass, you see, is often greener. Many people will try to PR a grim job situation as if PR’ing it to friends will make them feel better about it. Conversely, those who’ve got it good often moan without realising just how good they have it.

Yes, the pressures of BigLaw are not for everyone, but if you are like my pal and have no basis for comparison whatsoever, you need to do more research than others and be very careful before you make a jump to something radically different in the hope of a better life. Once you’re out of it, there’s rarely a way back, and it could be the start of a downward spiral you’ll never break.

Think carefully. Stay frosty. TS

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