29th April 2011
It has been a frustrating few weeks at work.
Although the frustraton has something to do with my job, it is difficult to wholly rule out other factors while assessing what it is that has exacerbated my usually good humour.
The other factors may include:
a collegial sense that if one is not in by 9am, one should be hung, drawn and quartered; or
an organisational belief that individual employees must care about their employment duties; or
a national, nay, universal structure that insists upon an individual attending a place of employment to fund their lives.
Setting aside these possibly related factors, I have had little trouble concentraing on the main points that have ignited my fury in a way that has not happened since BBC 2 popstponed episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer to air the snooker, or tennis, or something ball based.
I wanted to start this entry by stating ‘I clattered into the Portakabin’, but that would be a lie. ‘Clattered’ would imply that I were wearing heels of some kind – spikey stilettoes, or patent kitten heels, or something that makes a pencil skirt look better and a Monday morning less difficult to get up to. Sadly, once the team that I administratively support and I were banished to a Portakabin, my heels have been long resigned to the back of the wardrobe. A few weeks ago, I found a dog tooth check heel in the back of the car and reacted to it as a momument from a lost, albeit forgotten, civilisation. In these post heel times, I stumble around in worn down flat ankle boots and rubber bottomed brogues, attempting to purvey myself as part of an uprooted peasant camp, but somehow skip the style required for boho fashion and just look like a girl in flat shoes.
I softly scraped (it just doesn’t work) into the Portakabin one Monday a few weeks ago. I had been away from work for a few days the week before, just enough time to forget the black lino floor and the pressing claustrophobia that working in a Portakabin creates. The memories came flooding back with enough brain force to create a nose bleed within a few seconds of arrival. I softly scraped towards my desk and switched on the computer. The screen remained black for a few seconds before informing me in the detached, ungiving way that computers have, that something had crashed and now it wouldn’t start and that I should have given it a cuddle before I abandoned it a few days ago. I left a cry for help message on the IT voicemail.
It was difficult to carry out my daily admin tasks without the computer, but instead of slumping at my desk and sobbing over the lack of access to email and Facebook, I had proactively pulled the filing cabinets apart with the intention of tidying them up for sensible use by those that I work with. This did not come without problems – stacks of paper covering most of my desk, plus the haemorrhaging in-trays (I have six) that I was unable to attend to owing to the lack of a PC. Sweetly, the majority of those that I work with could see the bigger picture, and worked around my tumultuous desk; the exception being Almira Gulch who commented nasally that the desk was a mess.
Almira Gulch still wears heels in the Portakabin, despite the hollow floor and downstairs neighbours. Almira Gulch has a too-tidy desk and her desk drawer is a shrine to the goddess of organisation.
My desk drawer holds a gigantic bar of chocolate and some pens that don’t work.
Monday – home time
A man from IT appeared in the Portakabin. I grumpily told him I had been unable to work all day. He told me that I could have worked from one of the other computers in the room. I flipped my hair over my shoulder and softly scraped through the door, coolly informing him that I would try that tomorrow.
I switched on the PC, and was disappointed to find that it still would not work. I left a self-righteous message on the IT voicemail and distracted myself by clearing out the boxes underneath my desk, re-discovering a pair of red heels in the process. It was an emotional morning.
Around midday I began the miserable picking through the first of six in-trays, stacking papers according to what I could do without a computer and what I could not do. Almira Gulch turned in her seat to tell me that the paper shuffling was hampering her ability to make a telephone call. I sulked in front of the stacks of paper until she had put down the phone.
I made another call to IT, and luckily the IT manager answered.
Me: Oh hello, my computer’s still not working.
Him: Yes, we’re well aware of that.
Me: Oh, are you likely to fix it?
Him: Yes, I was just about to come down.
Me: Thanks – I haven’t been able to do anything since last week.
Him: You know you can use one of the other computer’s in the room don’t you?
Twenty three minutes laer, IT Manager entered the Portakabin. I had attempted to set myself up on one of the other computer’s in that titme, but it would not take my username or password, so I had returned to the in-tray assault, which had not done much more than create more mess on my desk.
IT Manager sat down at my desk.
Him: What I’ll do is put this in here [he placed a CD into the CD ROM]. Let me know when it finishes.
Me [Buried under the weight of the in-tray contents that I could not do without a computer]. Thanks!
Him: Yes what’s happened is COMPUTER JARGON COMPUTER JARGON COMPUTER JARGON.
Me: Yes, it wouldn’t start –
Him: You kow you can use one of the other computers in the room –
Me: [Snottily smug] Actually I tried that and it didn’t work.
Him: Really? It must be COMPUTER JARGON COMPUTER JARGON. [He taps away at a computer and tells me to enter my password, looking away in fear of violating the Data Protecion Act as I do so. The treachorous laptop logs me on.]
Me: Thanks- the only thing is that my phone constantly rings and I’ll spend the day running up and down the office if I stay here.
Him: Just let me know when the CD’s finished and I’ll come and set it up.
Fifteen minutes later, the CD had finished running. I called IT and reached their voicemail. I told their voicemail the CD had finished. No one from IT returned for the rest of the day.
The PC switched on and I entered a password and everything, but alas, I could not access any of the organisation’s folders, or internal email. I called IT and sobbingly explained that it was now Wednesday and I still had last week’s work to do, as well as preparation for a Big Important Meeting on Thursday.
A few hours later I accessed a voicemail from IT Manager asking me to email him all the current problems I was having with the PC. I arranged for a carrier pigeon to visit him at work with a handwritten list. The rumour was that he fainted upon finding something that had been produced by a human without the medium of wires and screens.
Discussed the situation with the other members of the office.
Almira Gulch: It’s really not good enough.
Me: I know – I haven’t been able to do much at all, and there’s all the stuff for the Big Important Meeting tomorrow –
Florence: IT don’t seem to appreciate how much you need a computer –
Me: I know! I think if I was a computer, I’d have more luck with them …
My voice tailed off as a plan foggily formed in the massively unused creative part of my brain.
I had spent the morning locked in a miserable meeting that I am sure will provide the flesh for another work focused observation another day.
Once the meeting had finished, I had stumbled blindly into the corridor, and once collecting myself for twenty minutes, began the exercise of the plan that everyone had agreed yesterday was a Very Brilliant Idea.
For the plan, I required:
1 broken PC monitor; and
1 saw that could cut through metal.
By half past four I had placed the monitor over my head and was wandering towards the IT office with the plan of confronting the IT Manager with an object he could relate to, when my manager incredulously recognised me in my fancy dress.
I was ushered into a quiet room and asked what the problem was.
Me: I, um, couldn’t access my PC all week.
Manager: Okay. Why are you wearing a screen on your head?
Me: Um. It seemed like a good idea when we discussed it in the office.
Me: Um, yes.
Manager: Okay. I understand.
I stormed into the IT Office. It was empty. I sat down at the IT Assistant’s desk and waited. It was hot inside the monitor. And uncomfortable too, plastic prongs and ridges that I had not noticed before. Eventually I heard the monotone of the IT staff along the corridor and stood up in anticipation.
The babble of conversation continued around me. I waved my arms around a few times, but to no avail. After twenty minutes of being ignored, I painfully pulled the broken monitor off.
Manager: Hello – I didn’t see you come in. Has the CD finished yet?
Me: Actually, I’ve been here for twenty minutes, disguised as a computer, but you still didn’t notice me!
Manager: Disguised as a computer, you say?
Me: Yes. And the CD finished running a day ago.
Manager: [Stands up to look at monitor that had been on my head] Did you break this?
Me: Of course not! I found it .. somewhere. It’s not important anyway! It was a prop to try and get someone in this department to listen to me!
Manager: We’re very busy here at the moment. We do understand that your computer hasn’t been working. But other matters take precedence.
Me: Precedence? Precedence! Do you not think that being unable to work when I have made all the effort ot getting out of bed to do so, requires some kind of attention?
Manager: You will be top of the list tomorrow.
Me: [In style of 1950s actor who quits their office job at the beginning of the film] Oh, I don’t think so, Mr. Bigshot IT Man – do you know what – I’m going to go straight down to Finance and request a typewriter in the next staionery order!
Manager: You just do that – one less computer to have to worry about.
Me: Um, If I don’t make that order – and even if I did, it won’t be here by tomorrow, do you think you’ll still try and fix my computer tomorrow?
An email has been sent from the IT department decrying the use of IT equipment in recreational activities. The list ranges from personal emails to wearing equipment as attire. Immediately afterwards, an email is sent from HR outlining the need not to threaten fellow members of staff. I can’t help but feel that both messages are slightly pointed, and based on complete misunderstandings.
My computer still does not work.