Friday, December 2, 2011
They look boring, all desks and chairs and office doors and partitions. But the inside of an office is anything but.
I love people watching and eavesdropping on conversations, and there's no better place to do that than in an office. Especially as a relative outsider, when everyone around you feels comfortable with each other. That's when the best stuff can be heard.
Like the day one of the girls was bemoaning her boyfriend's ex-girlfriend. They'd just found out that the boyfriend had to pay off a loan for the ex - although it took everything I had not to turn around and tell her that her boyfriend was lying to her; of course he knew a loan was in his name. The loan was for the ex-girlfriend's boob job. And the slagging match that followed was, well, hilarious actually.
Then there was the time the men stood around comparing notes in the world's least likely competition: whose wife had been tougher in labour. 'It's all about the epidural, then it was easy,' said one. 'Nah, mate, my missus only needed the gas... and I gave it a go too; it's good stuff!' I watched a third listen in and as he sat back with a smug grin on his face I knew what was coming. He waited for silence and laid down just one word: 'NATURAL.' There was audible shock amongst the men, and it was clear who had won. I honestly never knew it was such a badge of honour to men!
Then my inner HR geek comes out and I listen for all the clues of who's doing well and who's not, all tellings-off and exasperations. I have a keen sense for who's not doing their job well, who will be quitting soon and who won't even have the chance to quit. When someone loses the passion for what they do or where they are, it's glaringly obvious. And it's intriguing stuff.
One man told the girls about his weekend, relaying his activities with his family and finishing with: 'And then I gave my wife a facial'. All the girls were impressed - 'Aw, that's so sweet!' they gushed - but one spoke a little too loudly and some of the other men overheard. Much laughter ensued, and the teasing began: 'You had a facial too! I can tell - look at your skin!' the men jeered.
And being in the office for 'Movember' was odd, too - men that I had thought were nice enough, I suddenly looked at with suspicion during November. I'm sorry, I know it's for a good cause, but those things just look creepy on most men.
Then there was the girl who got a new tattoo over the weekend, showing a photo (it was in a spot she didn't want to share in real life) to everyone. The comparisons started, of course: look at my tattoo, oh I've got one too. I'm ashamed to say I participated in that conversation, upstaging them all with a 'Well, I've paid $1,000 to have my tattoo removed... and it's still there.' I really shouldn't admit to that, actually.
These conversations are the reason I'll miss the office a little bit. I love working from home but I do miss some of that interaction - and eavesdropping.
So next time you think of an office job as boring, remember there's much more going on in there than first meets the eye.
Posted at 3:26 AM