Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I Got All My Assistants With Me

I guess the good thing about feeling comfortable in the office where you work is that there's no one to impress. That's not to say that you don't work to the best of your abilities. It's just that it's a relief to know that your best is all anyone is looking for.

And that your dirty flannel shirt will be kindly overlooked.

The downside is that We the Comfortable tend to forget that we are not actually in our living rooms. Every once in a while the static of keyboards and the sighing ventilation system is interrupted by an audible phone fight with an idiot boyfriend, or a post-lunch burp ringing out of an office door with all the urgency of a guard dog's bark, or loud farts in the bathroom. Farts antithetical to the shy, apologetic farts of a public restroom, those oh-pardon-me-for-disturbing-you-with-my-base-behavior farts of strangers in the company of strangers.

A few days ago, I took the elevator from my floor down to the mailroom to check for a package I was expecting. It was after four in the afternoon, which is the precise time of day I want to do things like check the mail, eat chips, or sit at my desk and examine the pattern of my cube upholstery until it's time to go home. It's not that I even want to do these things; it's as though my very survival depends on doing them when there's less than an hour of work to go.

Anyway, so, I took the elevator down. There was no package. I got back in the elevator to go up. I leaned against the wall because, come on, there's no way I'm standing unaided after four in the afternoon. The stupid elevator doors wouldn't close, so, without moving from the wall, I stuck my foot out completely across the elevator and hit the door close button with my big toe.

Like a very graceful chimpanzee.

This was the point at which I remembered that there was a dude in the elevator with me, a guy whose presence I had apparently deleted immediately from whatever lobe of my brain controls functioning in human society. At least he laughed (the good natured laugh of someone who cannot get a friend's dog to stop sniffing their genital region). I wasn't even particularly embarrassed. I was just caught. Like having to answer the door for the delivery guy in your pajamas at five in the afternoon.

It's times like that the surreality of working in an office hits me. I will spend far more time at my desk than I ever will at my kitchen table. I will pass way more hours with the loud talker and the cackler and the enigmatic sociopath and gross chewer and the boy who wears a blue shirt every single day than I will with my parents. This is why the co-worker relationship must be rigid--given the amount of time we spend together, if we all feel comfortable picking our noses in front of each other and never brush our hair, we wouldn't be co-workers.

We would be a family.

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