Sunday, 1 April 2012

6. Darren is asleep

I am in a meeting. I don't need to be in this meeting. I'm not sure why I've been invited. We are fifteen minutes in, it's scheduled to be two hours, and so far, nothing of any interest or relevance has happened or looks likely to happen. And we don't even get any biscuits these days because of the recession.

Present are Jane, Jane, Fiona, and Jane, all from the Overworked Department (I find the preponderance of Janes to be an issue in this team) Darren from the Department of Doing Things Very Slowly, and Ray from the Boring Department.

I compose haiku to keep myself awake.

Haiku are three lines and 17 syllables long. The first and last lines must be five syllables long, and the middle one must be seven. Their length means they tend to be snapshots; single emotions, scenes, or thoughts.

We drown in paper.
The minutes are accurate;
the coffee is cold.

One of the Janes frowns vaguely in my direction and I realise I'm counting syllables on my fingers. Better stop that.

Darren is asleep.
A flurry of acronyms.

I am deeply jealous of Darren’s meeting face. It naturally falls into an attentive yet thoughtful expression and when he closes his eyes, it looks as if it is to better hear and understand the debate. He is, however, asleep. I once tested this by discreetly pinging an elastic band at him, so I know it's true.

I am well aware that my face, on the other hand, reflects whatever I am feeling or thinking at any given time (which, in meetings of this type, is usually “I wonder how long it would take me to bleed to death if I bit through my own wrist?”) and this is not endearing to my superiors.

In my last appraisal my manager said he was concerned about my attitude. I asked if there was a problem with my work. He said no, my performance was uniformly excellent, there was no performance issue. I asked what the issue was if this was the case. He looked uncomfortable and then he said: "I feel you aren't emotionally involved. You don't really care. You aren't a team player."

He's absolutely right.

Work is a transaction: I need money to live, eat, and buy clothes with. I have made a deal with the company. They give me money, and in return I will be at my desk obeying orders to the best of my ability between nine and five on week days. I understand this bargain and I uphold my end of it.

But it puzzles me why I'm not only expected to do my job, but also expected to feel deep emotional involvement. The report's delivered on time, the report's delivered a week late. It's better if it is delivered on time, because people get unreasonably excited about things like that and I hate being bothered with boring disciplinaries and so on, but the reality is I don't give one shit.

To return to my appraisal: we spent the next 20 minutes discussing How He Could Help Me, although personally I think he would have been better off accepting that I do my job and leaving me alone with my bad attitude. It's bad enough having to work every day without people coming around insisting you should enjoy it.

I excuse myself from the meeting and go for a short stroll around the building. On the way back to the room I bump into Jena, who works in the Vague Department.

"My soup looks like man juice," she blares. She is holding out a polystyrene cup. I can't imagine why she thinks I'd be interested in this observation. Sometimes Jena distinctly reminds me of Ralph Wiggum from the Simpsons, if Ralph was 25, female, orange and had a barely-contained 36G chest.

She's still holding out the polystyrene cup. I look into it. It is filled with something that, if I'm honest, does look like semen.

"Yes, it does," I agree.

Jena squints into the cup.

"The guy in the canteen said it was cream of mushroom, but I reckon he just had a couple of wanks and thought he could make a profit on it," she says.

She's a nice girl really, without a thought in her head beyond X Factor and marrying a footballer. There are worse people.

"He's a pervert. Every time I go in there he looks at my boobs," she informs me.

This is not a surprise. I'm a heterosexual woman and I look at Jena's boobs. They're just...there. Constantly. Bobbing around, getting in your field of vision. I cannot imagine how any of the men in her department get anything done at all. 

"Are you coming out on Friday?" she asks.

This is difficult. Jena thinks of us as close friends - although I'm not sure where she gets this from - and she often asks me to go out with her and her friends Susie and Michelle. They like to get drunk on bottles of something that looks like radioactivity and then fall in and out of the city's less salubrious bars, with the general aim of getting groped to Beyoncé by men who wear white shirts with their jeans.

I went through this stage of my life some time ago and I'm not really ever up for it now but, since she always looks like a sad puppy when I say no, sometimes I accidentally end up going. Fortunately this Friday I have already been booked to help bleach Amanda's roots (a delicate process, involving copious amounts of alcohol, Clairol and screaming) so I decline.

1 comment:

  1. She sums up well my feelings about going to work. I once had a supervisor tell me a person can't do good work without being enthusiastic about it. And, of course, that I am not enthusiastic. I basically just said it's true I'm not enthusiastic, but it isn't the work. I'm just not that type of person.