the saying, to know them is to love them, is not that true. Or quite the contrary.
The typical ensaïmada and coca de trampó someone brings to the office to celebrate they’re leaving or coming back or that they were named after the saint of the day.
The typical smiling-forcing coworkers to eat.
The typical leftovers.
And the typical host who will not have food dumped or worse, brought back home.
So she begins to pester everyone around about having a piece or two and taking them home —for tomorrow morning’s breakfast, she suggests.
The typical smiling-forcing coworkers to carry food along.
FLANDERS. I got there last December. Brussels, Bruges, Ghent —very fine. They’re too loud, though. Quite a thing, the Atomium, by the way. Cold, but that’s OK. What it isn’t is the sun —boy, it seems incapable of rising more than thirty or thirty-five degrees each day; rather a self-conscious sun, you would say. Beautiful bleak landscapes. I found Brussels about ten or fifteen years behind cities in Spain —that’s a lot of room for it to become further spoiled at the hands of dutiful city-planner officers and political modelers. Got a little surprised at myself with an unexpected, and not necessarily welcome interest in paintings, statues, buildings and that etcetera I never had found myself genuinely interested in. As a matter of fact, afterwards and from the comfort of my desktop I spent several afternoons virtually visiting the museums I didn’t have the time, the money or the will to visit in situ.
MY PEN. I bought a fountain pen and started writing with it. When I saw that was the thing to write with, I got myself another one for work. Cheap ones, I mean —priced between twenty and thirty euros; I wonder what a 1 500 euros’s one could do for me that these ones don’t. If someone knows please tell me in the comments.
A month ago I found my pen at work missing. Someone had obviously taken it. I’m happy with myself about how I handled the matter. Experience has taught me 1) There’s always a kleptomaniac at every workplace; 2) The typical reaction is to highly voice the subtraction in an indignant way 3) Which only makes the innocent (all of your workmates but one) feel offended while leaving the culprit frolicking now that everyone else’s a suspect.
So instead I said nothing. No fuss. It was part strategy and part, knowing 1), penitence —I should’ve known better. I started collecting my things at the end of my workday and locking them inside my table drawer —I knew only one person would notice.
Last day when I sat on my table I saw my fountain pen waiting for me there.
I’m settling in yet. Place’s good, surroundings are beautiful. Boss lacks latitude but otherwise is okay. Coworkers seem nice, but we’ll see —I sit backwards to the psychologically unstable one; luckily for me, she has no pair of scissors of her own, so that to stab me from behind she would previously have to borrow them from me, which hopefully would give me time to get to her pills.
It’s two months and a half since I started. I’ve already raised the clothing standards, males’ category. My casually worn ties and ironed fit shirts have made them aware of their lousy ways —and nobody’s trying with bermudas and slogan-filled t-shirts, thank goodness.
I process files and file files and stamp stamps upon them, which is a civil servant’s dream come true.
And I work —more than my coworkers, which is not making me especially popular. While they’re chatting, I work; when they’re chilling out or eating snacks or having lunch in the kitchenette, I work; all the time they spend on Zara online, I work. I work because I have the odd idea that I get paid for doing so. Also, I really love to see my workload pile by my side vanish into nothing and then got refilled with a new one, Sisyphus’s style.
What it’s causing an impression on my colleagues, I didn’t expect it —the tidiness of my desk. They come in droves and lean over and say oh, you have everything in place, and oh, your drawers are perfectly in order, your pencils are in line, oh, how can you manage to do that? Then I point them to my Windows only-two-icons-in-desktop‘s desktop to let them go feeling superior —the guy very neat, yes, but the moron doesn’t know how to clutter his computer’s desktop yet, ha ha!
There’s this guy who is giving a training course at work about how to adapt to change. Then he suddenly stops speaking and contritely, small panic showing up in his countenance and voice, interrupts the class flow, and solemnly says, you know, there are things we could easily talk about in the past but we can’t, shouldn’t now… A moment ago I’ve said something I profoundly regret having said, when in reply to A.’s comment, I’ve said, ‘Si pasa eso, nos tiramos directamente por la ventana’ (If that happens we throw ourselves directly out the window). In speaking so I’ve trivialized… well, I’ve trivialized that big human drama that is suicide. I apologize to you for such disgraceful and utterly disrespectful remark… Can’t even begin to imagine what would someone who has been through the situation I’ve joked about and taken so lightly feel right now… I recant my comment and apologize again.
Of course I went straight to the trainers’ supervisor’s office after the class to tell her to dismiss him immediately and altogether. She showed restraint, that one being his first and only fault until now, she said. So I had no choice but to tell her the whole truth, that over the total of the twelve hours’ course twice or thrice he had failed to use inclusive language.
That was it. He’s no trainer anymore. Good riddance.
I wonder, is there an end to the talk about how to rinse, cut, sink, brush and comb the curls, perms, braids, buns and ponytails in which my female coworkers passionately engage every time any of them makes the slightest, most unnoticeable to-no-one-except-them modification of her straight, dry, greasy, dyed, iron-curled or whatever scalp they happen to own at the moment? ‘Cos in my office at least it is relentless, incessant, non-stop, formidable.
Saturday morning. I go biking. On my way out of the city I see a female coworker in her way in to the city to waste some hours doing overtime at the so-called parking day in which some streets are emptied of cars and children are invited to be expected to what? Don’t play soccer don’t play rough don’t play un-inclusively no competition allowed everybody has their prize don’t dare go to the street beyond don’t do anything without adult supervision if you’re wronged come here my darling and tell your teacher. But at least she’s worth looking at, in passing.
Although I’m out of form, I try na Burguesa, the tallest peak around. I fail at 2/3rds of the summit. No fellow cyclists around, by the way, and definitely none of the ones carrying 3000 euros worth of equipment on them. Just one mountain biker on my way up and two on my prudish and ridiculously-paced way down.
Saturday evening. Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some. You end up wondering if you’ve been cheated into thinking you’ve just seen another no-brains movie or if, on the contrary, a very inconsequential film is infiltrated with very interesting dialog and scenography to make you think this isn’t another no-brains movie.
Sunday morning. I try my new gadget to clean windows—a windows sucker. You apply your ordinary windows cleaner to the glass and then you proceed to vacuum. And it works, actually better than expected.
Sunday afternoon. Rio Conchos. Not a bad story made into a very watchable western whose very most merit lies on the way their heroes are not.
A young coworker of mine announced she was pregnant with her first baby. She looked so radiant and was such filled with happiness, it moved me.
This young man held a post in this office some time in the past, and then got a promotion and went elsewhere. He was liked and well regarded by his colleagues at work.
After he left, he got involved in high school activity as a father of two girls and was appointed president of the federation of parents’ local associations, which gave him some renown and made him kind of a (lesser) public figure.
Last week, his face showed up in a photograph in a local paper, because an old, leftist political party in quest of renovation had apparently sounded him for a leading place in its lists as an independent candidate. The article was badly laid out, though, and actually induced the casual reader to think that he (our young man) was in fact being engaged with the old, rightist political party.
When a guy at the office wholeheartedly, cheerfully, naively points to the young man’s picture in the paper and says out loud for everyone to share his joy, ‘Look, it’s <the young man’s name>, he’s on the news again, and this time big time!’ another coworker raises her ugly, anger-filled face to bitterly retort, ‘Yeah, but he’s joining the <name of the wrong party>’.
So there you have it, spontaneously acted out for the benefit of your eyes and ears —atavistic, careless, silly bonhomie (he’s our friend, he’s flourishing: let’s celebrate) versus sophisticated, pointed, self-righteous and hate-inducing moral and political judgmentalism (he used to be on the right side; now he’s mean, less than decent; he’s not our friend any more —quite the contrary).
Collecting sinners in an old tin cup.
Someone from inside went all the way out to stand before me and tell me in by no means a friendly or discreet way that didn’t I know that you couldn’t pay fines here, only get the form to pay them at the bank? I had actually told a young guy he could pay there right at the desk!
The problem is, as much as I’d like to know who it was who scolded me, I can’t, because it happened on my first week at my new post and frankly, they all were blurry faces to me back then yet. I’d really love to hate her and long hold a grudge against her but find I’m getting nowhere on that path because no matter how hard I try to match her face against the ones I’m able now to put a name on—I can’t.
And now that I come to think of it, it might be perfectly the case that I’m actually being nice to her, without knowing so. Such a shame, isn’t it?