Another Day at the Office by Emily Smart
After eight years of procreating, wiping children’s bottoms and working from home, I am finally back in an office. With grown-up people. Who have a life outside of kids. Who talk about what they watched on TV last night and say things like, ‘I’m going to get a coffee, do you want to come for a walk to get one?’ I know, I know, not the most radical thing in the world for all you people who go to the office day-in day-out, but for me it’s been something of a revelation.
Adapt or Implode
Things have had to change. I am aiming to get to the office (that phrase still has a certain charm at the moment) by 8 am. I was a bit late this morning as my 6 year old son stopped me from leaving. He had to show me a drawing he had done at school yesterday depicting a man standing in his underpants holding 36 apples. The other 6 year old begged for help pouring out the cornflakes, whilst my daughter needed to demonstrate a finger puppet show she had devised. All really interesting stuff, if I didn’t have to dash out of the door.
There are other changes. The other half is now on lunchbox, breakfast and school drop off duty and I can tell you that the novelty has already worn off.
Then there’s the journey to work. On day one I thought I would scooter in. Not a motorised one, but one where you put foot to ground and launch off. I work on Karangahape Road known locally as K Road. It’s something of an anomaly in New Zealand in that it’s a vibrant, buzzing melting pot of craziness. New Zealand on the whole is laid back, small town, quiet, unassuming. K Road is mental. It’s a long street littered with titty bars, gay bars, trannie bars and food bars. There are homeless people, prostitutes (of all sexes), and druggies. I walk along at lunchtime holding on to the phone in my pocket for fear of being mugged. And yet I like it. It reminds me of Edgware Road in London minus the Persian cafés. I can buy anything here, from synthetic drugs that can get you ‘high’ to creepy horseman dashboard wobblers (yes I did buy one for a friend’s birthday this week – the horse and not the high.) I can pop out at lunchtime and buy some exotic food or get a tattoo done. The world is on my doorstep. It’s busy, colourful and slightly edgy.
Lessons from the Coalface
As my first week of working in an office draws to a close, I have been thinking about what I have learnt since my return to Civvy Street:
- Scootering to work is a great way to travel; however, when you arrive at work, have to ascend several flights of stairs and look like a 30 stone man who has completed the London Marathon in three days wearing a comedy out-sized chicken costume, then it’s time to use the car.
- Working in an office the size of a postage stamp, with no windows and 6 other people is not conducive to problems with flatulence – I’ll spare you the details.
- After working silently from home with just the animals for company, it’s a whole new board game having to speak when spoken to and do so with a smile on my face. Learning to work in an environment where people talk to each other and listen to the radio (which is on all day) is a huge distraction. Although the worst part is that yesterday I was singing along to ‘Bad Medicine,’ which not only demonstrates I am old, but also that I have no taste in music – slightly embarrassing when I’m surrounded by youthful people who have never heard of Bon Jovi.
- Never buy a ‘sandwich’ from the fake Subway across the street (the lunch bar is actually called Fresh Way with the tagline ‘You’ll be loving it!’ If you happen to buy one, don’t order the one with heated plastic chicken and onions – see point 2.
- Get up half an hour earlier than you ever want to. This allows time for small children’s requests, locating toothpaste, making sure the dog has a wee, and ensuring you don’t turn up at the office looking like Susan Boyle pre-makeover after a night on the turps.
- Hope to God that feeling completely knackered all of the time is only a passing phase. Of course it isn’t, so remember that Grey’s Anatomy is only a drama series and that it is of no consequence whether Richard the head surgeon survives after being electrocuted. Getting to bed is far more important. I really hope he lives…
On a more positive note, now that I am out of the house and have a new neighbourhood to explore, on Friday afternoons I might be able to squeeze in half a lager and lime down at the Thirsty Dog (in between Calendar Girls and the Las Vegas Strip Club) before the school pick-up. Classy!