Monday, July 19, 2010

The Offensive Office

The office has the rules of a prison and the atmosphere of a hospital, and indeed it feels like a place where we are all dying, slowly, day by day, of boredom, despair, of what an utter waste of time it all is. In fact, I can't think of a worse possible environment for human beings to spend eight hours a day in. Surrounded by complete strangers, forced to be nice, polite to them, people who in real life you wouldn't want to be in the same room as, who you wouldn't talk to at a party, in the office you've probably got to lick up to them. You see them every day, you spent more time with them than the people you actually love. You have to say 'How are you?' every day, 'What did you do last night?' and the answers are the same, exactly the same every single day. Like a gorilla in a cage, knowing he's better than all this, knowing there's a better life somewhere, but not being able to do anything about it: this is office life.

The backstabbing, bitching, gossiping, power struggles, close proximity to people you wouldn't choose to be near, a breeding ground for viruses, surely the office is one of the unhealthiest places imaginable for humans to spend their working life. Management are like corrupt politicians. Middle management are pointless (the UK has the lowest productivity of any country in Europe; middle management are partly to blame). All emotions, feelings and conversations in the office are false.

This world is out to waste as much of your time as it possibly can until you die and forget to do anything important or change anything. Working eight pointless hours a day. Waiting for buses, trains, in traffic jams, queues. Adverts on TV. TV. Books. Films. Life feels so circular – meeting the same types of people again and again; making the same mistakes again and again; doing the same old shit day after day.

(But why am I more emotional towards TV and films than real life! A death, a pregnancy, are far more poignant in a film than in reality. I cry during films but haven't cried over real life for decades! It must be the lighting, the music, the mood, the manipulation of emotions.)

The only moments of any true feeling or resonance in the office day is my lunch hour in the park. I choose to do this; every day, rain or shine, sitting on a park bench in the little park round the corner from work. Hardly anyone from work goes there; mainly kids in hoodies, dogs, Asians playing football in the tennis court. A dog jumping up on me whilst I'm eating my lunch.

And the other day, a little Asian boy who comes and sits down on the bench next to me; said he'd been scared of a bee, and came running over. I told him bees weren't harmful; he didn't believe me, and talked and talked, looking at my bag, lunch and book. Ran off again, on his own, playing in the rusty mini-playground, then came back again a few minutes later, talking about his fondness for nuts (I was eating a Tupperware of them), I eventually get the message, and offer him one, even though I feel like a paedophile doing so (at least it's not a sweet). He hesitatingly takes one, an almond. Then tells me where he lives (just over there, that house there). Runs off again, plays on a climbing frame, talking to himself. I go back to work.

(Little birds hiding in the leaves / Watching me eat my sandwich / Waiting for me to leave... Too busy for love, she worked, / Hoping for better things. / Nothing came.)

(2005, London)

No comments :