I’m beginning to suspect my office is less normal than it appears.
I’m surrounded by stylish, clever women. That’s the first thing that alerted me, you see, to the potential weirdness. I don’t mean all the successful women (sexist). I’m talking about the severe lack of testosterone. If half the earth is dudes, why is all of my office female? This lowers my ‘meeting future boyfriend at work’ potential drastically. Unlike the flick Bridget Jones, my boss isn’t a hot but naughty Hugh Grant with dimples. Instead my employer is a mom with two kids and a plan to breed bulldogs on the side.
Anyway, unrelated but annoying, everyone here is dieting. This weekend I was overcome by domestisicity (it should be a word). I (rather ineptly) sewed buttons on my coat and did my laundry. On Sunday all of this culminated in me baking brownies. The thing is, I’m also, um … erm … living healthily so eating an entire tray of brownies is frowned upon. I’m used to baking at home around my two permanently hungry brothers; here though I can’t unload any of the bloody things. And my colleagues’ rejection faces have a slight undertone of judgement – which is just lovely on a Monday.
In fact, the only men that come here are guest speakers – and the guy that sometimes takes over from the secretary (I’ve been here for almost a month and I don’t know his name. I’m in too deep now to ask). This guy always creeps me out a bit because one of his arms is shorter than the other one. He’s still a very nice guy (he gave me safety tips on Friday before he left me alone, in the office, at 4.30pm). But I find my eyes skittering over his mismatched arms every time I see him, then guilt washes over me as I walk to my desk. Ah well, I guess a healthy dose of guilt is as good a way as any to start the day.
However, the weirdest thing around here is definitely the bathroom.
It has a sign that says “Look behind you”. I shudder a little and quickly glance over my shoulder every time. It continues, “To make sure the toilet seat is clean”. There’s also a little cupboard in one of the stalls. Every time, before I go the loo, I open it just to make sure Narnia definitely isn’t in there. I can’t really think of a more awkward time to have Aslan visiting.
The weirdness doesn’t stop there. There are soap dispensers in the stalls, right next to the toilet paper. WTF? Is it ok if I wash my hands by the sink instead? It’s not like the sinks are far away anyway – we’re not talking about an epic trek to the kitchen or something; more like three steps. And besides, the only water in the toilet to use with the soap, is, well, in the toilet.
Sadly, though, the weirdness in my life doesn’t stop with the strangely placed soap dispenser. I also have a fridge in my car.
It makes me feel a little like a character in a Dr Seuss book: “But Sam-I-Am, can you drive very far, with that fridge in your car?” All because littlest brother Angus, before going back to Pretoria for two months (that’s where home is – less judgment and disapproving eyebrow lifting from Capetonians please) needed a place to store the thing. It’s been in my car for three days – and counting. I’m all for women doing it for themselves, but I am physically incapable of taking the thing up three flights of steps to my flat. Maybe I should just walk up and down the street outside my flat looking helpless, carrying beer, and snag the next guy walking past into some manual labour.
But the weirdness goes further than that.
So, OK, correct me if I’m wrong – but we all go to work, right? 8am, 9am we’re in the office. And we can’t leave till 5pm. So why is it that SARS opens at 8am and closes at 4pm? Most offices disapprove of their employees nipping off to do their own thing during work hours, right? So how does it make any sense at all that SARS closes at 4pm? I only leave work at 5pm. And they’re closed over weekends. What on earth do they do during the day when everyone’s at work? It’s like those restaurants in Switzerland (I was there on my gap year) that take a lunch break over lunch. That’s right, restaurants in Geneva close over lunch so the waiters can take a lunch break. IT DOESN’T MAKE ANY SENSE.
Maybe it’s not just my office that’s less normal than it appears. Maybe it’s everyone. Comedian Steven Wright asked, “Is it weird in here, or is it just me?” I might have it all wrong. Maybe it’s just me. Banana.