I may appear polite, even deferential, to the spineless jobsworths who populate my workplace. But I despise them, and I despise their petty politics. Their meaningless office-speak is this company’s unofficial vernacular. Mastery of that, as well as an ability to smile like a simpleton in any situation, is what passes for professionalism around here. The head of my department is particularly fluent:
“With er… regard to the salary review you were promised, as such, we are presently not in a position to implement any… increases, as such, going forward… at this time.” Days later I catch him pouring vodka into a vase in his office. I don’t tell anyone. But I make a conscious decision to do a hell of a lot more dossing, going forward. By now though, the only way I could be less productive would be if I were to start pouring soft drinks over people’s PCs or inserting swear words in their correspondence.
The most obvious recreational outlet for a man of my disposition – the internet – is denied our department by longstanding company policy. Admittedly, if you were to let most of the idiots here loose on the information superhighway, they’d lose themselves in masturbatory abandon faster than you can type NYMPHO TEEN SEX SLUTS IN NAKED GANG BANG ORGY. But it’s still a pain in the arse.
So I go online after work, emailing film scripts, political biographies and journal articles to my work account to read the next day. When those run out, or when they don’t get past the email filter, often wind up composing endless off-kilter missives and sending them to myself. Of these I keep a careful record, since they might one day provide the documentary basis for a Guilty But Insane plea.
From: Eoin Butler
Sent: 27 August 2004 14:49
To: Eoin Butler
Subject: Dummy album review
Dear John Paul,
It is with considerable confusion that I acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 21st.
I am well aware that you are the Supreme Head of the Roman Catholic Church and that I write album reviews. But I fail to see how this makes us rivals.
I know you’re worried that I’ll mistake [BANDNAME]‘s [WHAT IT ACTUALLY IS] for [WHAT ITS SUPPOSED TO BE] and I appreciate your concern in this regard. But I can assure you that nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, I’d go as far as to say [SOMETHING FUCKING HILARIOUS].
With all due respect Your Holiness, it is you who would appear to be “losing it”, not I.
I’ve been angry and frustrated most of my time here. Angry with my bosses for being so incompetent. Angry with my coworkers for being servile and pathetic. But most of all, angry with myself for even being here in the first place. Even anger fades. And when it does, all that’s left is the unbearable purgatory of just being here.
The ringing telephones. The clanging prints. Those inane stop-and-chats of the How’s things? / Ah, you know yourself / Has to be done / You said it! variety… I’ve developed a shell in which I can shut all those things out. A near total detachment from the hellish reality that surrounds me. I skirt the perimetres of sanity, frankly, for vast chunks of my working day. But I do so within clearly defined parametres (visiting hours: nine to five) and I swear I’m able to deal with it.
Hell, I’m tapping into a level of self-awareness that would previously only have been known by the likes of Alexander Selkirk, Mordechai Vanunu or the monks of the Skelligs Rock. And I’m doing so on a clock-in/clock-out basis. I’m adrift in a deep green sea of my own subconscious but I could meet you in the pub in fifteen minutes if you wanted to. I’m tripping along the ledge here, tripping along the ledge with no fucking rope and no fucking safety net and these fools are actually paying me to be here.
This isn’t mundane, this is the greatest fucking job in the world…. Let go of me you fools, fucking PUT ME DOOWN!
Part Two is here.