Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Office niggles

Trying to think what I could blog about, and I thought I might do a series of posts on office niggles; you know, the things that annoy you in the workplace, things that are really minor but which somehow work you up to such a pitch of resentment that by the end of the week you would willingly have the perpetrators hung upside down from their ankles, smeared with gravy, and left to the ministrations of several hundred ravenous polecats with a particular taste for gravy-smeared nostrils.

Obviously, when I say things that annoy you in the workplace, I'm talking about office-type jobs. If you're a fire fighter, or paramedic, or policeman, you might not understand my take on this. You might find that people who have severed an artery are more of a strain than malfunctioning coffee machines, or that people trying to thump you are a bit more trying than the photocopier running out of toner, but each to their own.

Anyway. Part One.

Water coolers, the refilling of.

Now, almost all of us have water coolers in our office. They are part of our corporate culture, one of the very few American practices that we have imported that is a good idea. People talk about things around the water coolers; TV schedulers talk about "water cooler TV"; programmes that you all talk about around the cooler while you are briefly together, before you get back to work. This presumes, of course, that you work in some mythical corporate nirvana where the work is so fulfilling that you only ever talk about this at the water cooler. Instead of the sort of office where you spend every spare moment at your desk distracting each other with this sort of stuff, until one of your colleagues spoils things by wanting to do some work, so you have to log on to the Big Brother website.

Anyway, water coolers are, by and large, a good thing. The problem is, they run out. And when they run out somebody needs to remove the container, and replace it with a full container.

Now, the containers are bulky and heavy. But they are not quite heavy and bulky enough for it to be a job for a big strong man. Women can manage it easily enough, but only if they adopt the stance and expression of a Sumo wrestler with a bad case of piles. And making sure that the little spiked thing penetrates the new container is a bit like jets refuelling in mid-flight. There are three ways of dealing with this dilemma:

The Avoider

You aren't that thirsty, in fact you're only going up there because you're on some sort of health kick, and you've read that you need two litres of fluid a day and lager, sadly, doesn't count. You see the empty container, you know that there is probably a bit in the reservoir within the dispenser, but no, best to come back later when somebody else has refilled it. You pretend you are going somewhere else.

The Brazen Hussy

You just don't care. You will empty the cooler, see the flow cease, and pretend that that volume was exactly what you wanted, by utter coincidence, and waltz off. This will make your co-workers seethe. Then again, you might work in an office where seething is the main source of enjoyment, so who cares?

The Big Heave

Yes, you have drained the water, and there are several containers beside the dispenser. You bend your knees, hug a container and lift. You groan as you do so. We are not talking the slight, musical groan of sexual ecstasy as captured on various films, as you thrust your pert young breasts (well, OK, your breasts) upwards towards...er...anyway. No, we're talking about the groan of a typical darts player picking up his arrows from the floor whilst farting loudly.

You wobble a bit, like a championship weightlifter, but without the steroids and tattoos. Then finally, after a few false starts, you guide the base of the container onto the plastic spike, a bit like the mating of a particularly obscure shellfish, but without the breathless commentary by David Attenborough. It's done. You look round at the rest of the office for some sort of recognition. They are looking down at their desks. They hadn't remotely imagined it needed refilling, you see...

4 Comments:

Anonymous Gert said...

We don't have water coolers but we do have drinks dispensing machines. Two problems. One is that you have to use a new plastic cup every time you want water (hello Planet!) and whenever there's a bit of a heatwave the machines run out of plastic cups so people go on foarging parties round the building. This means that not only can't you get free water you also can't get paid-for tea/coffee type drinks, either. Although we do have water boilers and a couple of cafes that sell proper tea and coffee and bottled water.

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