Friday, March 20, 2009

Up Up and Away

With the tip of my tongue I tack the stir-stick in my mouth against my palette and try spitting it through the beige drywall by the coffee maker.

I can see every bit of lower and west Manhattan from where I am standing in the pantry – this being a sink, a fridge, and a cupboard – as well as a good chunk north whenever I sneak into the boss office. Some important sales rep is in town for a few days and staked out a cubical on the dark side of the building, the northwest side around the corner from the coffee maker. This rep is staying away from the windows.

He looks like Toby Flenderson from the US version of the Office.

There is some of that smacking steam sound as the coffee maker fills my conveniently sized cup. Toby doesn’t look up. I pour in sugar and make sure to spill some on the counter.

This is just good business.

Spilled sugar on the counter shows visitors, competitors, and ne’er-do-wells that people are working here by gum. These people are working at and thinking about their jobs, not about their coffee, and they are eager to get back to it.

I have to walk back to my desk because we don’t have moving walkways in our office. If our office was laid out in any kind of regular sort of order, then maybe there would be moving walkways, although we aren’t really THAT kind of company. The path through the office snakes, more like a maze instead something more regular, and it becomes an experience just to use the lavatory. There isn’t a track that leads you around in a logical pattern. There aren’t uniform corridors – spaces and walkways weave around exposed, painted I-beams in some kind of hard-nosed industrial chic. There isn’t that sense of normal here.

This doesn’t create an aggressive office decorum per se, but it certainly makes things a bit edgier in an unmarketable sort of sense. We’re just a bit more aware.

I sit in a corner and try not to get so bored I fall asleep, and try not to overly invest in my work, which I find stressful. I understand some people masturbate at work. I’ve never masturbated at work. I remain detached, and can’t really see how you’d want to suddenly touch yourself pouring over a spreadsheet or project report. Maybe it’s the people on the phone all day.

Sex in the office is another matter.

If Toby Flenderson wasn’t squatting in that nook I’d go back over and take a yogurt out since I haven’t eaten yet today. It’s almost 1PM. 1 hour to go. 4 hour Fridays.

I don’t hate my job. I’m not a dick to people. Really. Like I said this isn’t an aggressive atmosphere. Some days you can’t help but feel that the patterns we walk as we move about this obstructed realm are tracing out some large, intricate cosmological pattern, and this pervading sense of the place is to wonder exactly whose cosmos we are contributing too.

Actually I feel sorry for Toby, which is why I don’t want to walk back over there. I felt sorry for him for the 42 seconds it took for my pristine little cup of coffee to brew but the journey back to my desk has altered how I view the world. He’s wearing a suit, something that cost him what my apartment costs each month, which is a lot to some people, people like me, and I’ve risen above that. He hasn’t walked around enough in here, so he looks at me disdainfully as I am wearing sandals and a short-sleeve plaid shirt, but the fact is I look –and think- better than he does.

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