Thursday, February 08, 2007

Chain gang

As is perhaps evident from the relative decrease in nonsense posted on this blog, I have finally started work. After nearly four months of idle sedentariness - three-fourths of which were spent horizontal in bed – work’s unremitting, merciless routine has needless to say shocked me to the core in a way I last experienced when I misjudged the temperature gauge on a bidet. What is particularly odious is being thrust out of sleep by an alarm clock, more precisely my mobile alarm clock, whose alarm music is in theory meant to gently ease one into the morning with a soothing, cheerful tune gradually escalating in volume. I obviously never wake up immediately, and in my semi-conscious state usually incorporate the music into my dream a la Spielberg. As a result of this I invariably wake up flustered, disorientated and devastated that the sound hammering in my ears is not in fact my and Ahmed Ezz’s wedding march. A recent addition to this barbaric chaos has been my cat, Lupin, who occasionally experiences the urge to sit on my head on certain mornings. This is not meant to be a cute and twee exaggeration: in an effort to wake me up so that he can then trip me up on my way to feeding him, the animal literally wraps himself round my skull like a hat/launches himself at my face.

All this is marginally better than the (unrequested) wake-up call I used to receive from my father, which consisted of him SINGING “wakey waaaaaaaakey! Dah de de dah dah daaaaah” at 8 a.m. The barrage of expletives which this inevitably provoked would then result in a lengthy discourse on why getting up early is a healthier way to live one’s life, since getting up any time after 8 a.m. means missing “the best part of the day” – all while I was still lying stunned in bed. My attempts to persuade him that it is unnatural to get up any time before 9 a.m. for any reason other than catching a plane or escaping a burning house if the smoke is bothering you have failed miserably, and whenever I am under his roof this postman’s regime is imposed on me. For added piquancy the first question he asks me once I am vertical is invariably “how did you sleep?” to which I answer “horizontally” in the hope that he will desist. He doesn’t. I have noticed, come to think of it, that members of no nationality other than the Brits interrogate me as to sleep quality on a regular basis, leading me to conclude that this question forms part of the battery of grunts and sounds which British people find themselves compelled to emit when in the presence of other persons anywhere other than on public transport, and which for the most part revolve around the weather.

Working in an office is equally rebarbative. There is something truly soul-destroying about being incarcerated in a room at a desk for eight or more hours, regardless of whether you enjoy your work or not. This malaise is unique to office work, and entirely different from the armpit nature of for example manual labour. I once did a two week stint in a giant shed, which the company called a factory, where my task was to stand at a bench and stuff paper adverts into magazines before putting these magazines in clear bags, from 9 am to 4 pm. We did of course receive a half hour lunch break together with tea breaks, during which one of the girls there would regale us with stories about her pit bull terrier. We were also not allowed to change the radio station, with the result that as I stuffed the adverts into magazines knowing that they would be thrown away without a glance, I was serenaded by a constant stream of Phil Collins. The factory owner’s car number plate was something like ‘Paper 1.’ He was a very short man who drove a very big jeep.

The work was physically a nightmare, mentally a graveyard, and the musical accompaniment made it near-torture, but the mindlessness, the unchanging routine and the knowledge that it would end lent the work a certain reassuring constancy. It is this mindless constancy which is somehow absent from office work, or at least the desk jobs I’ve found myself in, with the result that I am mentally stimulated and alert (eventually) but confined, which I believe produces mental agony on a par with that experienced by giraffes kept in zoos.


gayyash said...

i think having to wake up early is very good, but only if you can manage/avoid noon narcolepsy.

speaking of Lupin, maurice from bikya has a cat that he and the other member of my 2006 household named Tirmis.

Basil Fawlty said...

I know you MTV-generation kids have the multi-tasking and the ability to parse lots of information with one, quick glance and all that...but pity us poor geriatrics who see nothing but a solid block of text on your (very fine) blog and have to glean the info by squinting. A few more paragraph breaks, please? I'd consider it a personal favour..

fully_polynomial said...

ahh, all good things must come to an end.


Amnesiac said...

Gayyash: Tirmis is a wicked name, and the cat himself is gorgeous.

Basil: 7ader. We take



very seriously.
I know I'm dense, but I see no reason why my writing should be.

Fully: Quite. Still! Only 76 days or so until the next public holiday.

Zed said...

.... merciless routine has needless to say shocked me to the core in a way I last experienced when I misjudged the temperature gauge on a bidet

You are hilarious.

Anonymous said...

I worked in a mailroom once for 6 months, doing nothing but stuffing and sealing envelopes. This was before I was to go onto grad school. The 'reassuring constancy' was definitely there those days - along with a camraderie among fellow stuffers. Believe it or not, I started missing it a bit once I was knee-deep in books... But I wouldn't go back if someone paid me even good money for it. :)

Cut the office malaise with more blogging if it's possible there!

Good luck with the job.


Forsoothsayer said...

she's only like three years younger than you. at least she unlike me, can tell u to shove ur age discrimination (something that apparently certain friends of yours share towards me btw).

it does get better after the first month. shit, even i am still at the internet-free job!

Amnesiac said...

Zed: Merci merci.

Cat: I worked in a government department's postroom once too, opening up applications. It was better than the magazine stuffing, but only marginally.

I would blog, but my screen is directly facing the door, which is opened at frequent and unexpected intervals by my boss. I am also too committed to my enthralling work etc etc to think about blogging. (In case he ever reads this.)

Forsooth: 5 years thank you very much.

Basil Fawlty said...

It was less a dig at her age and more one at mine.

It's not discrimination against your age, Sooth. You just don't know how young you come across sometimes. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Forsoothsayer said...

am growing as fast as my hormones will permit. but i'd prefer if people just accepted that i'm always going to be extraordinarily silly and immature :)