Thursday, 18 March 2010
Work like you don't need the money
My friend sent me a couple of emails which I wrote when I worked in an office made of flimsy board situated at the bottom of one of Heathrow’s runways. So close in fact that I could pretty much wave to individual passengers from my desk, and 8 times out of 10 all of the car alarms in the industrial estate (for that is where I was lucky enough to work) went off every time a plane took off.
At the time I took this job, I had the choice of two, one in e-learning in Aberdeen at the lovely university, and this one as a web designer in an industrial estate where waiting for the bus would have kerb crawlers circling the roundabout looking out at you. So of course I chose the web design job, especially as I had never done an ounce of web design before in my life. But in those days I had the confidence to think ‘Uch, I’ll buy a book and learn as I go along’. I should explain I got this job on the basis that they liked my illustration style and the fact I mentioned Creme Eggs on my CV.
And wouldn’t you know it, I got away with it, or at least I think I did. It was a small office and there were only 7 of us, 3 of whom were directors. Then there was the administrator, two programmers, and me. I pretty much hated the programmers. One of them sang Gilbert & Sullivan songs incessantly, but even that was nothing compared with the one I named ‘the crisp eater’. His diet consisted solely of things that could only be purchased at a 24 hour garage. The one he shopped at seemed to have a permanent special on beef flavoured crisps, which he ate all day long. To go with his beefy aftershave he sported a startling collection of boils, and had all of us jumping in our seats with his high-pitched, high-volume sneezing. I used to while away hours during the working week wondering how I could get rid of him.
The sneezing became a hot discussion topic amongst the rest of us; we would gather at the dishwasher (there might only have been 7 of us but we had a dishwasher because the Administrator and I refused to wash all the dishes just because we were women. It should be noted that I would also have needed to buy a book on washing dishes were this a requirement). Anyway, first it was thought that the crisp eater might be allergic to my perfume, so I made a concession and changed it, but it didn’t help. Then it was suggested that he might be allergic to my washing powder, at which point I put my foot down and said I wasn’t not washing my clothes just for him. And it wasn’t the office dog, for although I had begged for one, one of the directors was stricken with allergies too which put a stop to any dreams of an office bloodhound or an office peanut. This was another of our favourite conversations – How to carry out an emergency tracheotomy on xxxx, Stanley knife and then biro, or just stab the biro right into his throat. I believe all our knowledge was gleaned from Casualty and ER, so we were all really well-versed on the emergency tracheotomy procedure. Poor xxxx wasn’t very keen on either approach and simply banned peanuts from the building.
Anyway, the crisp eater never resolved his sneezing issue, but he did go on a health kick not long before I left. He got involved with some company that was attempting to carry out pyramid sales using Aloe Vera. The crisp eater tried to get the rest of us to go to a number of Aloe Vera conventions but by this point he was drinking it directly from a big white oil canister thing that he kept on his desk and this combined with the sneezing, beef crisps and occasional Ginsters product did not produce the enticing advert for its health benefits that I think he was hoping for.
I left before I was forced into an Aloe Vera cult, but I do miss them and all their funny little ways terribly.