The monster next door

One time I came to work and this was spraypainted on my desk.

 I‘ve just been promoted. Rather, I’ve received a new job title which, in the words of my boss, is little more than simply ‘calling a spade a spade’. My new title is ‘Head Office Manager and Design Co-ordinator’, the second part referring to how I co-ordinate words and pictures on a page and then co-ordinate those pages with a printer, much like a designer but not – I repeat, not – a designer, merely a co-ordinator. Co-ordinating.

The first part of my new title means a lot more than just someone who arranges staplers and discusses printer cartridges all day, because it also encompasses all the stuff that actually happens in our ‘Head Office’, meaning that it’s my job to support and unify the backstage section of the whole gig we’re running. But yes, it does to a degree mean I have to arrange staplers a bit, and it also means that I am now officially the contact person for the boss of the company who we sub-let our office space from. Worryingly, the more contact I have with him, the more I realise that we have entered into an arrangement with a high-caliber common-or-garden crazy person.

Something seems to be going awry with his business; at any rate, his groovy-doovy chillaxedness rapidly vanished a few months ago and since then he rampages from room to room with such furious speed you can only perceive a sudden grey blur of fury go by. His assistant, a wrinkled lady who reminds me of a mashup of all the schoolteachers I’ve ever had, is clearly worried; her voice  trembles when you talk to her, she’s constantly wringing her hands and when she last handed me an invoice she was visibly quivering like a frightened hamster.

And it’s not hard to see why she’s frightened. This man is a perfectionist in the same way that Michael Jackson was a little bit odd. He is made frequently livid by our audacity to disrupt the flawlessness of the plush new office he has created; a sprinkle of coffee grounds on the kitchen surface is an outrage, fingerprints on a light switch a monstrosity, water droplets on the bathroom floor a fundamental breach of the basic tenets of human dignity. 

One ongoing Krieg is the loo roll, which I am told we use too much of. Bossman DEMANDS to know how and why we use quite so much of the stuff, a question which I find indelicate and impossible to answer no matter how often he asks me. He is incredulous about the relatively normal amount of loo roll we go through, and since I feel unable to accuse anyone in the office of digestive difficulties I cannot help him get to the root of the problem, so instead I am forced to help him try a variety of initiatives: first, the bins were eradicated from the bathrooms to prevent any nasal or hand-drying toilet paper applications; then he exasperatedly bought bushels of extra towels, but this did not satisfy; next he required me to create laminated signs to hang up informing people of loo roll protocol, but still we are not thrifty enough with our wiping and still he is dissatisfied.

And as head office manager I am the first in line to receive these and the other thousand issues that the man is bothered by day after day. He has a weird and unnerving tone in his emails, a mixture of aggressive-aggressive accusation (‘You rowdys better not even THINK of buying a new dustbin for the kitchen!!’) and cutesy-wutesy bits punctuated by distressing winky faces (‘By the way, could you tell your little ragamuffins to turn off the light after they leave the lobby? ;-)’ ) which evidently prove that deep down he really is just a super-neat down with the kids nice guy.

Yeah, well I’m not buying it, Mr. Sweet-n-Sour. I wasn’t buying it when you sat me down in the conference room and shouted at me for over an hour like a badly behaved schoolkid. I wasn’t buying it when you snuck into the kitchen and stole my colleague’s entire pack of biscuits (oh yes ratbag, she saw you, and all I can say is: a moment on the lips, a lifetime on that squidgy little paunch of yours). I wasn’t buying it when you drifted into the office after hours and shouted at one of the bookkeepers with no provocation, nor when you drifted into the office during the day and offered everyone a strawberry as if you were handing out homemade friendship bracelets. No. You will never be down with the kids. 

You will never be down with anyone because try as you might, it takes more than a surf-themed T-shirt and a little cord necklace to make you ‘chill’. Yes, your colleague may ride a miniscooter to work, but she still looks and acts like a scrawnier Edwina Currie. That big chandelier you hung in the conference room may seem to you a symbol of your ironic but stylish caché, but to us all we see is the big dangling scrotum you are using to oh-so-delicately compensate. And that picture of the black dude smoking a cigarette and wearing a flat cap which you put up in the lobby? Yeah, no.

And I’m not saying that we’re a young gang of cool kids ourselves either. We’re a ragtag bunch of all kinds. But my gang is genuine, and accepting, and infinitely forgiving, and I will fight your gang with bared teeth and knuckledusters if I have to. If that’s what it takes for us to enjoy great soft swathes of toilet paper.

Rose T