Where were we?
You work in an office – AKA Graveyard of Dreams. Everyone around you is qualified in something other than the mundane shite of what they do all week; yourself included. Most of them will have been aspiring teachers, chemists, midwives, engineers, solicitors, entrepreneurs, fucking astronauts…but, instead, they ended up next to you sorting out another Excel spread sheet.
Let’s talk about Excel for a moment. Indulge me, here. Does anyone confidently and unwaveringly understand their way around Excel? Because even if you think you do, Jackie sends you one to complete on Friday afternoon at 4:50pm and suddenly you’re in a Microsoft minefield. One typing error and you’ve fucked the whole thing up. Instead of numbers it’s screaming “#VALUE #100085! #ABORTABORTABORT!!” etc. In a desperate attempt at rectification (i.e avoiding royally fucking up) you try and exit the page. Usually, it asks if you want to save and you’ll likely click “Hell No”, allowing you to start again pre-typing error. However, it’s 4:50pm on a Friday, you are knackered, and you have that post-work pint firmly at the forefront of your mind. On auto-pilot you click “Yes” and…well, fuck it…there’s no going back.
Anyway. Moving on. Let’s talk about something else. Office Etiquette and other things.
‘Tis a strange sphere, the office. You’d think that this, of all places, would be a haven for all stationary…alas, the irony is that there is not a pen in sight. But, on the bright side, you’ve got plenty of post-it notes. It’s kind of like having the imbalance of sprinkles : yoghurt ratio in the Muller Corner (which you’ve packed for lunch but you forgot to put in the fridge this morning. Yummy! Warm Yoghurt at 12pm!) Abundance of one, lack of another. Nightmare.
Except one day, by sheer luck/fate/god, you find a decent pen. This is like no other fucking pen. This pen is a Parker knock off, blue ink, and it’s like writing on silk. You lend it to others to have them acknowledge your godly status of pen; they comment things like “This is a nice pen.” and you feel like a proud parent. But, beware, because every motherfucker is out to get this pen. Suddenly it’s like The Hunger Games except it’s not your life you’re guarding, it’s your pen. Every fucker you’ve lent it to is out to get it. Oh yes. Those bastards – they’ll nonchalantly put it in their bag, seemingly unaware of what they are doing. You’re onto them…
“Where’s my pen?” you enquire, keeping your cool on the surface whilst the panic rises within.
“Oh, silly me!” they giggle in reply. “Sorry!”
You’re not laughing. Why? Because you know they’re out for you. Watch your back.
Insofar as cellotape, scissors, Tippex (the Holy Grail of office equipment), stapler, ruler – hardly ever found when needed and yet in abundance when not required. Paperclips are everywhere though. (And there’s always that random massive one just lying around.) At the end of the day, you’ll sound like a prat when you’re trying to make a note of something whilst live on call to a customer and you’ve only got a post-it note and a fucking paperclip. Finding myself in this situation once and trying to sound professional as fuck on the phone, I desperately scoured my own resources and used lipgloss to write information down.
Speaking of telephones, does anyone else shit their load when it comes to making a call? I swear to Zeus that when the phone rings I stare at it in fear for a good few seconds until someone else picks it up. Mad respect for the Customer Inbound Teams out there – my sweat patches would be too real by 5pm.
As for the printer, it’s always out of order and looks like it was bought in the 1980s. Sounds like it, too. In a world of Mac Books and iPads, why are printers still the size of Mount fucking Everest? Always the awkward moment when you’re waiting in the printer line – you’ve got a rainforest to print out and some poor sod comes to print off their one-sheet letter. Ensue the terrible small talk about the weekend, what your tattoo says (and if it hurt), and some bashful joke about the weather.
What are the perks of office life, then? Well, there’s always the fun of internal emails (I got to know my husband this way. True story.) and office pranks.
Ah! The good old office prank. Covering the laser in the mouse so it doesn’t work, pulling the plug out of the monitor, moving all the keyboard tiles for the rusty typists who need to look at the keyboard whilst writing very important letters, pulling faces at your colleagues when they are talking to customers, searching for the most ridiculous customer name on file (Richard McCunty, Evelyn Twatt, Charles Dickett)…These are the things that make you feel alive between 9am – 5pm. To top it off, there’s the occasional email drama – the passive aggressive sign off. You can bet your arse that if an email is signed with ‘Regards’ as opposed to the usual ‘Kind Regards’ then you, my friend, have offended.
Thus far, we can gather we hate our office jobs. So, the question is, how do we survive?
1) It’s hard but, for your sanity and the sake of the human race, your colleagues are human beings. They have lives. They have families. They are someone’s sister, mother, auntie, brother, Dad, grandson…View them as individuals who are here doing a job to get by, and you will make the day a little easier. Acting like a prick in the office is usually a cover for those who are shit scared and winging it every day. Like you. (And, it’s OK, no-one else knows Excel either.)
2) Don’t get disillusioned. I know, I know…it’s easy to say and fucking hard to do. If you are dealing with customers who act like complete arseholes…please remember no one is born an arsehole. They become one because they’ve been wronged, betrayed, or hurt somehow. Same with colleagues. Be gentle. We’re all fighting a hard battle. I promise you that the whole world is not like the customers you converse regularly with during working hours. You know something – you can bring light to someone’s day. A smile. An offer to make tea. Bring fucking cake – everyone loves cake. Negative ions are transferred (#science) and take over positive ones. Fuck that; defy the laws of physics and stay positive and watch that shit spread like butter.
3) Finally, and most importantly, you spend most of your life in work. You need to enjoy it. If you don’t, leave. I swear now, if you get that ‘Sunday Night Feeling’ of dread in the pit of your stomach about Monday…Go. Quit. Find something that turns you on. Don’t stay because it’s easy but makes you loathe your very existence. You’re too good for that shit, trust me. You are a talented human being and deserve to make something of yourself. If you change jobs, great…if you stay in the job but take up a hobby outside of work…this is also good. Don’t live to work…work to live. You have skills from this job – write them down. Fuck it, email me and I will help you. You’re not wasted. You’re not talentless. Regardless of how you feel, it is never too late. As Rachel would say at lunch time whilst you’re eating your warm Muller Corner and trying to balance the yoghurt : sprinkles ratio…Go for it.
Office Workers, we salute you. You are the fucking nuts.