take one woman with low self esteem, but quite good hair
add one moronic illness
stir in some medication which causes hair to fall out
mix it all up and this is what you get...

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Corruption from within 

Life as a corporate wage slave is not noted for its excitement. Frustration, yes. Disillusionment, of course. Utter futility, you’d better believe it. But excitement? No. One has to provide one’s own amusement within the grey partitions which make up the office landscape.

When I spoke to my boss about being made redundant (or not, as it turned out), he mentioned that he felt I had had a positive impact on the office, that since my arrival, there was a certain "je ne sais quoi", a new vibe in the office. I blushed, thinking to myself: "I’m sure I didn’t bring *that* into work..." then realised what he actually meant.

I reflected, at some length, on what I had brought to the office environment.

My first contribution was biscuits. There were no biscuits prior to my arrival! All the tea or coffee one could drink, but no biscuits. Evil temptress that I am, I began to introduce the odd packet here and there, offering them around to my more than willing colleagues. It was clear that the biscuits were a welcome addition, so I made my role in this regard more official, becoming "biscuit monitor", collecting "subs" and stocking up on a regular basis.

Then, of course, I introduced the bell. Initial bemusement turned quickly to amusement and the bell has become very much part of the furniture, providing its sweet sonority whenever required. Others were encouraged to foster their very own "noises": one colleague dug out a whistle for which he had previously had no use, whilst another downloaded a variety of wav files from the internet.

Next came the diminutive names. There’s something about the fact that I’m from East London, I believe, which makes me inclined to call people by anything other than their own name. If someone’s name is deemed "too short", it will be lengthened. Similarly, if someone’s name is longer than strictly necessary, it will be shortened. If someone’s name has the correct length, but requires "embellishment", I will provide it, free of charge. Of course, these judgements are all made subconsciously. There is no logical rule which can be applied to determine which names will be shortened, lengthened or "embellished". Some are left well alone. It’s not within my control, it’s simply the way it is.

More recently, of course, was the Venn diagram. Not well received by a certain party, but I still believe that every office should have one.

One of my more surreal contributions is again related to names, but in a slightly different way. A colleague has a name which, for reasons I am at a loss to grasp, I feel the need to say in a broad, Australian accent. It just sounds "right" that way. But, lacking as he is in a sense of humour, it can only be performed out of his earshot. Bizarrely, others have "caught" this affliction of mine, and whenever they hear his name, they will repeat it with the Australian accent. One colleague enters into it with gusto, bellowing the name across the office with a huge grin, much to my, and everyone else’s, amusement.

I suppose it was inevitable, really. There was always a risk that, once the habit had entered into the subconscious of the lesser mortals, it would be hard to control. And so it was today. The colleague with "the name" was at his desk. I mentioned his name in my normal accent, as I’d received a system message from him and wanted to ask him about it. My other colleague, on hearing the name, immediately spouted it in the Australian accent, without thinking. As if had been hypnotised and given the "key word".

I desperately tightened my lips to stifle any guffaws and tried not to look at my other colleagues who were doubtless stifling guffaws of their own. The colleague with "the name" looked slightly confused, but we all managed to act as if nothing untoward had happened and continued with our work.

I *think* we got away with it. This time.

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