Dear Acting Diary: Office Work
A day of temping:
7:00 am – Alarm goes off.
7:37 am – A grown man crawls out of his loft bed.
8:10 am – I pat my hair and think it doesn’t have enough “sleep grease” to make me look embarassing. I don’t need to take a shower. I’m going to take it easy this morning. I wet my hair, comb it back and assume it will look acceptable when it dries. Do I have time to make lunch? If I do that I have to wash dishes first to make space in my “kitchen.” Tomorrow.
8:40 am – I’m on the subway, later than I should be. There’s nowhere to sit and read. I figure it’s better to stand since I’ll be sittting all day (typing this blog entry). As I’m adjusting my bag on the floor, someone brushes by me so she can snag a seat. I almost fall on top of a bystander. I then start my daily internal rant against people who scramble for a seat on the train. The subway is a school bus.
8:43 am – I notice this woman who looks close to my age. Her hair is dyed red but her roots have been growing in for a while. They’re black with strands of grey, kind of a salt and pepper look. I wonder what kind of stress caused that.
8:47 am – I’m waiting to switch trains and see a middle aged woman reading an old novel. It looks like it might be an old sci-fi paperback. I circle around her trying to see what book it is. I fail.
8:50 am - Back on subway, but ready to switch trains again. As I try to see if I have time to get the train arriving across the platform, I step on a woman’s foot. She says “Ow!” I apologize. Then as I leave the train I start my second daily internal rant against people who wear open toed shoes in a crowded city then are surprised when their feet get stepped on.
8:52 am – I realize the woman really wasn’t wearing open toed shoes. I was wearing my hiking boots because my dress shoes broke last week. I still continue my internal rant against open toed shoes in New York City and blame the woman for being in my way. At the same time, I begin my internal diplomatic mission with myself not to blame others when I’m at fault.
8:53 am – The woman with red/salt and pepper hair is next to me on the train. I feel guilty about starring before. This reinforces my theory that if you stare at someone on the train you’ll bump into them again.
9:05 am – I’m out of the Subway. The street is lined with office workers all going in the same direction. I’m part of a human ant farm. I feel like nudging one of my fellow drones and saying “Why do we do it?” Or “Here we go again, pal.”
9:11 am – Late to work. No one says anything. I’m told it will take a half hour for my computer to start up.
9:30 am – My boss arrives and asks me if I got a haircut. “No, I just didn’t wash my hair this morning,” I respond. “Oh, so you just used some stuff to style it then.” It’s not a question but I agree, stopping myself from saying “Actually, it’s just my natural grease.”
10:00 am – I fish around the tea bags in the office kitchen and find one herbal tea bag. St. John’s Wort. It tastes kind of weird but makes me feel settled and content. I’m a little disappointed that there’s no bagels or cookies in the kitchen area. There’s a second floor that I’ve never been too. But I can see the vending machine from the storage room window. I’m scared to go down there. There’s a special door you have to go through that involves a secret code or card swipe or retinal scan.
10:25 am – After my boss’s comment about my hair, I look in the mirror. My hair looks greasy. I look like I work in real estate. My shirt’s wrinkled too. Someone could easily assume I rolled out of bed and came to work. And they’d be right.
11:07 am – Maybe I should eat breakfast. How cruel–at work I’m surrounded by boxes of cookies for sale but feel it would be a crime to bite into them.
11:08 am – Someone in an office close to me calls me with a question. I have another internal rant: Why can’t you just come to my desk and ask me?
11:10 am – I email my boss who is in the next room that I’m available for another month.
11:49 am – I continue to count pieces of various papers to be put into boxes. I hear back that they could use me for a bit longer which is fine with me. It’ s not so bad here compared to other places, i.e. I don’t have to answer phones.
12:03 pm – I realize most of my communication is with myself via internal rants.
2:00 pm – I’m eating lunch in the park. A woman with a baby stroller walks by me. On her cell phone she’s emphatically telling someone she saw somebody levitate and propel themselves over a river. I want to hear more but she walks away.
2:07 pm – I’m still eating lunch. I’m sitting in a chair and woman sitting close to me stands up. Through my peripheral vision I sense her standing right behind me. She’s really close-like subway close. I start to wonder if she’s going to garrot me and how I should defend myself. I prepare my defense: “Pull at her pinkies. It will release the grip. Just like that kid told you in the fifth grade.”
2:38 pm – Back from lunch. I resume sorting papers for a mailing. I lose my count around 2 or 3 times. I think about the calculus and behavioral ecology classes I took in college.
3:03 pm – A couple thoughts: 1. I really wish I could take a nap. When are we going to have siestas in the American workplace? 2. I want to invest in a pair of pants that have a pocket big enough to carry a paperback book, this way I can go to the men’s room and read. If I carry a book in there, it will be too obvious.
3:30 pm – I’m given work to do. Up until now the work I had been doing was on my own initiative. I could have coasted through the day up until now. This work involves finding “blue folders.” I get a little nervous. Where am I going to find blue folders? Manilla or real folders? Do they have any in back? Will I have to fill out a requisition? I comb through the cabinets by my desk and find nice shiny blue folders. I feel a sense of relief and accomplishment. Then I start to worry about the emotional payback I recieved from finding some folders in a cabinet.
4:40 pm – I haven’t really done much of the work. I have been amusing myself by initiating a fight between two of my own facebook profiles.
5:11 pm – I head home. It’s humid. On the streets and in the subway tunnels everyone is grumpy as if we all saw a long bad movie together (such as Thin Red Line). Everyone on the train is plugged into some sort of electronic device.
5:45 pm – I’m enjoying the book I was reading on the train. I head over to the park to read some more. There’s a crew filming a short movie in the park. A 12 foot tall PA asks me to hold on for a minute before crossing. As I’m waiting, I try to ask questions about the shoot. The PA doesn’t want to tell me anything. He’s polite but doesn’t appreciate my curiousity. Maybe if I had told him how I found those blue folders he would have confided in a fellow working man. Next time.