Erin at Work
I used to complain a lot about being a graduate student: having to walk all over kingdom come to get from class to class, about the inconsistent scheduling, etc. About just getting in the groove of doing one thing and then having to switch gears and do something else.
Now that I’ve had to reorient myself into the 8 to 5 world, I’m remembering the positive points of student life. There really is something to be said for being able to change up what you’re doing every 2-3 hours. Even if I was doing the same work all day, I could transfer myself after a few hours in my campus office to a seat in the library, and be relatively re-energized. Eight hours is a long time to sit anywhere, but especially in a corporate cube. Especially for someone as easily distractable as me.
Here are some of my cubicle-dwelling idiosyncrasies.
I fidget constantly in my desk chair. It’s partially my feet; I am more comfortable when they are elevated. When I sit at home I have them on the couch or on the coffee table 90% of the time. The last time I worked in an office, I kept a crate under the desk that I could rest my feet on. At my current job, I’ve not found anything of adequate size and stability that isn’t being used, you know, for what it’s used for.
I get sleepy easily. Like every office in the developed world, the temp here swerves wildly depending on who is in and on shift at a given moment. My office is right next to a warehouse, so ‘too cold’ is frequent. Something strange about me is that I get drowsy when chilled. I have biology teachers and the like who have tried to convince me that this is not possible, that the human body gets drowsy in a warm environment and that, being a proper homosapien and not a mutant, I should be the same. It is a true mystery why I am not. My best attempts to combat sleepiness involve a work sweater and hot tea.
I drink anywhere between 3-5 cups of hot tea a day, even though I have to boil the water in the microwave, which is sort of a minor travesty. In a related story, I visit the bathroom about 3 times a day, too. Sometimes I will put my mug of water in the microwave, set it up for 60 seconds, then hit the bathroom, and then return to the kitchen to pick up my boiled water. Wait a few hours, repeat.
I snack constantly. I bring granola bars and pretzels and Pop Tarts and graham crackers and enough of it to last all day, spend the whole morning finishing them (and sometimes my lunch too) and the whole afternoon craving what I haven’t got left. (Honestly, I’m not hungry. I should just start chewing paper. I probably wouldn’t notice the difference.) (And no, I don’t like gum.) It reminds me of that episode of The West Wing where Sam takes Ainsley Hayes to that meeting and she keeps chattering about how hungry she is, and how she already ate that day’s lunch. In the meeting, she keeps drawing attention to like, a muffin platter, and when she leaves, she takes some. Sam is humiliated. As for me, that was kinda the only time I ever liked that character. (Oh, that time, and also the time the president caught her singing in her office.)
I sing in the office. No, kidding. But I do have my headphones in constantly, and I do hum uncontrollably with my music. While listening to music I am also easily startleable. Anyone who has ever lived with me can vouch for this as well. (Because I needed some direction if I was going to listen to music all day, I started listening to my complete iTunes library by letter. Then, I started constructing an ABC mix, which is almost done. More on that later!)
I clip my fingernails at my desk. I know, GROSS. But I have this incredibly prominent nervous tic where I pick and tear at my fingernails (again: ask anyone who has lived with me), and if I can’t get up and walk around, I do it more. I even manage it around almost continuous typing. To combat this behavior, I bought a half dozen pairs of clippers, and, in addition to having one in every room of my apartment, I also have one in a cupholder in my car, and one in a pocket in my purse, and that’s the one I use at the office. Clipping, you see, at least precludes the “pick pick pick” sound and the inevitable bleeding that follows. I properly dispose of all nail clippings. I have never brushed or flossed my teeth at my desk, removed my shoes for any reason, or applied any cosmetics excepting hand lotion. So, cut me some slack.
I don’t buy my lunch too often (I’m only budgeted to do so about once a week) and I don’t leave the building at lunchtime very much, either. Usually I sit in the break room and read. Some days I will go out to my car and nap in the driver’s seat. Today was one of those days.
I listen shamelessly to the sales and service calls going on around me. They are frequently hilarious, when the customer is being belligerent or moronic. I have done customer service and I recognize my co-workers’ hard work and restraint. Who among us hasn’t said, “Thanks for calling, sir, and I’m sorry we couldn’t help you with your problem,” then hung up and said, “Also, I’m sorry you’re SUCH A JACKHOLE.”
I started here with ten office pens on my desk, but they secretly wanted to be home pens. They smuggle themselves into my work bag and on my person and have one-by-one relocated themselves to my apartment, entirely without design on my part. At work I have one left. This week will probably have to be the week I finally ask where the office supplies are.