‘In you go then,’ said Norman, ‘I haven’t got all day.’
‘Are you sure, Norman?’
‘Well, you’re on the inventory, so you’ll have to go in one of the boxes. This one’s big enough and there’s plenty of bubble wrap in it. I’ve drilled a couple of air holes – you’ll be fine’
Sometimes I write things down that really I shouldn’t.
When I entered myself on the inventory for our office move, it was more out of bored mischief than anything else:
Month purchased: 11.02
Item description: Communications Manager
Norman is a stickler for procedure. I respect that. I was cc’d into his 3 page email to the university porters detailing access and egress points and I was reassured that nothing at all was being left to chance. Perhaps it was in an attempt to emulate Norman’s efficiency that I completed the inventory. Perhaps it was an unconscious sense of horror at this need to emulate Norman that compelled me to add myself to said inventory. Perhaps it was Norman’s recognition of this motivation that compelled him to insist that I got in the box.
There’s nothing like being in a tea crate for several hours to encourage reflection. My year at The National Clay Pipe Centre began badly – I was palpably less welcome than the dowry I brought with me of office furniture and modern stationery. I recall how the Pipe Centre staff marvelled and gasped as Norman demonstrated the many benefits of the newly arrived post-it notes.
In time, though, the Pipe people warmed to me. I began to be included when tea was brewed – sometimes they even washed my cup. After only a few weeks, my name was added to the signing in sheet. I was even offered staff discount in the Pipe Centre shop (pipes make marvellous Christmas stocking fillers).
A few of my new colleagues even offered kind words when Jocasta was born in January. A poor substitute for a gift and/or a card, but small steps in the right direction. It’s almost a shame that I won’t be sharing their cramped, malodorous, windowless office space any longer.