Office Blues

As I write this I am sitting in the office, my office, which I share with two other lovely people, who today are both on leave and I am left here on my own to cope with the barrage of orders and paperwork the immensity of which baffles me in this virtual world.

I cope by whining and whinging.  It’s the fight or flight kicking in, only in an office environment you do not really fight-fight, and there is nowhere to fly to.  Three windows surround me and one partition for a wall through which I hear every single long-drawn sigh the secretary next door exhales at very close intervals.  A yard-wide shaft offers the panorama through the opposite window.  A barbed wire fence flanks me across the other bay window and a five storey high, six-hundred-year-old bastion strengthened by weather and age brings in the rear.  This building is very old you see, and served as a bakery in the times of old.  No, I am safely locked in here for the remaining eight hours that will give me deliverance at the end of the day.

My email is beeping, indicating oncoming missiles.  One by one they come, pestering me, forcing me into action; each one more disturbing than the one before it, more urgent.  Flying red flags and screaming, bold lettering assault me.

Like many other members of the working demographic, I hate my job.  I hate it with an intensity that shakes me to the core from time to time and jolts me into the realisation that I do not want to do this for the rest of my life.  I am being eaten alive.  My youth is withering, my creativity is waning and desperation pushes me ever closer to the precipice of lethargic apathy.

When these fits come I run home in a panic, grab the classified section of the previous Sunday’s newspaper and pore over it while I hyperventilate.  I sift through its every detail.  Vacancies call to me – Cleansing Administrator, Retail Executive…  While I admire the valiant attempts to promote these meaningless bread-winning occupations in the most creative jargon the marketeers can muster, I am also not that desperate, thank you.  With two degrees and an expensive mortgage, I don’t afford to stoop that low.

No, the professions that pay the salary I need to get by, and that offer the dignity I need to live with are the others – Accounts and I.T.  Those two professions swim around in front of me in black and white.  Vacancies upon vacancies lure in the diligent and the clever.  Because those are the professions needed in this day and age.  And one must be diligent and one must be clever to have chosen the right paths that would pay down the line back at the tender age of eighteen when the life forming decisions are being made on the threshold of university.  And one must be clever to stay away from the attractive options of Communications, Art History and Psychology which while interesting enough, bring you no hope in the job market at the age of twenty-one.

But, I was never good with numbers.  Sorry, that is an understatement.  I am allergic to numbers to the brink of phobia.  I refuse to open envelopes from the bank, terrified that they might contain lists upon lists of accounts.  I pass on the bills to the male variant in my household along with a signed blank cheque – He’ll deal with it, I always tell myself and sigh in relief.

My education in mathematics halted as soon as it was legally possible.  I scraped through my O’level after three long arduous years of private lessons twice a week.  So, in sum, the financial arena of the job market is not for me.

But neither is I.T.  My career in I.T. came to an end with the same rough finale as the one in Math did.  Private lessons once a week, mental suffering and heartache brought me to the final exam at sixteen. One of the compulsory credits was programming.  The binary code was my enemy.  The lists of ones and zeros never spoke back to me, taunting me with their evil silence.  I listed my programmes, throwing in a ‘whereas’ and varying between colons and semicolons wherever I though they fit – beauty of the text driving my pen rather than any other constructive purpose. The programmes written on dog-eared sheets of paper deceived me, assimilating themselves to harmless poems.

The assigned task for the exam was to create a game of Hangman.  I tried, oh how nobly I tried!  I took extra lessons.  I pored over the books and often cried myself to sleep.  I did get an A in that Programming test but only after many tears brought the pity of the tutor benevolently upon me and he hung the man on my behalf.  Some say angels don’t exist, but they do.  That is a fact. They come in the form of Programming Tutors, walking inside a stuffy class room, the halogen tube shining behind their heads forming a beautiful glowing halo as they place a floppy disk in front of you on the desk.  They smile knowingly and wink.  And you feel your heart swell in a sudden warm burst of affection and gratitude.

So with the wide array of available jobs ranging in the two fields my impotence is accentuated most, here I remain.  Sitting in my office, buried underneath towers of paper and a monitor stuck too close to my face.  A Senior Manager regurgitates senseless orders from above, like a talkative parrot.  I work for the government.  No special skills required.  Just a determined tolerance against nepotically appointed Management with fancy letters behind their names – B.Hon. MA. B.S.

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