May 1st is a holiday in many countries to mark the International Workers’ Day. In the UK we just work. It is problematic when most of your colleagues are in the let’s-get-drunk-cause-it’s-the-weekend part of the world. Or are just in the wrong time zone. My in-box looks eerie as I wait for urgent help from someone in Costa Mesa, California. Is it still urgent if the answer won’t arrive in at least five hours? Or is urgency something only attributed to a question, and not to the potential time frame of the problem solving?
Yes, this is another feeble attempt at putting a philosophical perspective on another workday that has the vitality of a really damp cloth (read: if you don’t know how to read it, I won’t help, because I’m not getting any answers to MY questions, am I?). I am waiting. I’m not patiently waiting. I’m involuntarily angrily waiting. Time is running out. Soon I’ll activate another out of office reply on my work email and escape to what some would call “a very random place”. My options are becoming limited, the time to solve my urgent issues almost gone. I look at the time but it doesn’t look back. I’m invisible to time. I have my needs you know, I have red flags all over my in-box, things need to move, I’ve got other things to do, I tell my Outlook. What I about my deadlines, I cry. No answer.
I put my blue coat on and take a walk; I buy an overpriced fruit smoothie. I look at uninspiring clothes in an uninspiring store. Some rain falls on my head. Slow lazy rain, doesn’t even make my hair wet. Useless rain. Rain that makes me think about my in-box. I check my in-box on my phone, hoping it is less inefficient than the London rain. But it is as eerie as before, and my flags are not going anywhere. Damn those flags, I tell no one. All my colleagues are gone when I return to my desk. Where is everyone? Then I realise they are in the all-day meeting I was supposed to attend. Instead I am sitting here waiting for answers. Come on answers.
I try sending a couple of emails, to instil a feeling of productivity. I tell myself it is a cornerstone of what a good employee should be; productive. Out of office replies bounce in my face. I open a PowerPoint document and stare at all large gaping holes where I don’t have enough information to proceed. I add a picture I don’t like to one of the slides. I change a headline I don’t like. I wonder if the new headline is even worse. I stare at the blinking cursor in the PowerPoint presentation (I wonder if it is the cursor or I that blink). All I see are symbols of wasted time.
I sit here in the office, waiting to be set free, to finalise things. For a couple of minutes I forget about my inbox, I’m filled with a misplaced attitude of can do. I feel like I’m in a Nike commercial, like I am running across the soft office carpet with a sense of liberation, I’m flying, I’m KLM, I have wings, I have Nick Cave quotes in my head. Soon after; I have no answers, I am a Swizz cheese.
I blink. And my in-box looks at me; no new emails. I walk to the bathroom, the TV in the lobby shows riots from somewhere in the Ukraine. But all I can think about is my in-box.