Monday, October 24, 2016

Not So Glittering Prizes

You know, I'm feeling a lot of empathy for Bob Dylan over this Nobel Prize business.  Over the past few days he's been taking a lot of flak for his failure to acknowledge the award.  Neither he nor his management have commented upon the award, (apart from one brief mention on his official web site, which was quickly removed), nor have they indicated whether or not he will attend the ceremony in person to accept.  Whilst many people, particularly those involved in deciding to award the prize to him, see this as bad form, I disagree.  Having recently been in a similar situation - not being awarded a Nobel prize, obviously, but being nominated for an 'award' I wasn't interested in - I do sympathise with Dylan.  The fact is that he didn't ask to be nominated, let alone awarded, the Nobel Prize for Literature. For all I know, he might be opposed to the whole concept of awards in general. Perhaps he's just opposed to the Nobel Prize in particular - maybe he doesn't want any part of that dynamite 'blood money' it represents.  In which case, the 'bad form' is on the part of the Nobel Prize Committee (or whatever they are called), who have put Dylan in a difficult position through their assumption that everyone would be delighted and honoured to receive their prize.

 I know from my recent experience of being nominated (without my knowledge) for a workplace 'Reward', how bloody awkward it can be to deal with such unwanted 'awards'.  In my case, it was a fifty quid voucher I was entitled to claim, which was in 'recognition' of the fact that, for most of this year, I've been doing part of someone else's job for them.  It was only meant to be temporary, but shows no sign of ending, despite the stress it is causing me and the detrimental affect it is having on my actual job, (the person whose job I'm propping up has subsequently further taken the piss by going part-time, raising the prospect of having to cover more of their work).  Anyway, to return to the point, quite apart from the fact that, as a matter of principle, I don't believe in awards, particularly this sirt of work place award, which can be divisive and are usually pretty arbitrary in the way they are handed out, I actually found the idea that all the additional work I'd done, the damage it has dome to my health through stress, not to mention the sheer inconvenience it has caused in terms of extra hours, is only worth fifty quid, pretty insulting.  If you want to 'reward' me for doing part of someone else's job, then pay me the proportionate amount of additional wages.  However, simply turning it down would have seemed ungracious, not to say ungrateful and inevitably cause ructions in the workplace.  So, I did what Bob Dylan has done, and just ignored it, reasoning that if I didn't claim it within a reasonable period of time, then it would lapse and be quietly forgotten about with no fuss.  I'd have the satisfaction of knowing that I'd stood by my principles, but there'd be no fraught scenes in the workplace over the issue.

But, like Dylan, I quickly found that where 'awards' are concerned, there can be no subtlety, no quiet, dignified, refusals.  Just when I thought I'd got away with it, I found myself loudly confronted by a manager in the office, complaining that I hadn't specified which voucher I wanted to claim and that was, somehow, making their life difficult.  This ensured that the fact I'd been given this 'award' was broadcast to the entire office, together with the impression that I was some kind of horrible ungrateful bastard.  Which just resulted in me refusing to discuss the issue publicly and being forced, subsequently, to explain the whole issue with my own line manager, (to whom the other manager had complained about me because I wouldn't accept something I hadn't asked for and didn't want), who then resolved the issue on my behalf.  What disturbed me, once the whole business became, against my wishes, public, was the amount of incredulity expressed by colleagues tat I might decline a fifty quid voucher on a matter of principle.  Are there really so few us left who still think that having, and acting on, their principles is important?   So, Bob Dylan, if your refusal to acknowledge the Nobel Prize is a matter of principle for you, stick to your guns.  I know that my own piece of, relatively minor, sticking to my principles over an unwanted 'prize' has, despite the rocky ride, left me feeling empowered.



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