Blog Week 47: A fundamental truth.
Sunday 15 October 23.12
On Friday we were told the EU will be this year's office Christmas party theme. At face-value it is not very original, giving the opportunity for a lot of national stereotyping ... but the twist is that we have to "avoid the obvious". There is an unspecifed prize for the best idea/costume/song/dance. It actually sounds quite a challenge...
Tuesday 17 October 23.46
"You need to start thinking about the fundamentals".
I had no idea what Old Timer was talking about. He was heading off to yet another meeting with Johan, Bill and Pierre. As he walked towards the doorway he just stopped and turned towards me. There was an intense expression across his face. It was as if he remembered he had meant to say something to me sometime before and should say it now in case he forgot to ever say it again.
"Human thoughts, actions and reactions are in a constant turmoil due to the tension between who we as individuals are and who we want to be. We feel dissatisfied with who we are and are also dissatisfied that we cannot be who we want to be. Like any man-made organisation, a law firm struggles with that same tension. But the consequences are different."
I was not quite sure where all this "pop" pyschology/anthropology/sociology was going - not the usual stuff of law firm life - but it made an interesting diversion from the spreadsheet in front of me detailing last month's taxi receipts.
"Before the merger, one Brussels office generally behaved like an international firm should. It treated it's people well, paid accordingly and had high expectations of what they would do. There were times the other law office was like an outpost of a faraway empire; run by the largely unaccountable, often too cheap in spirit and action to actually be what it pretended to be to the outside world. A shotgun marriage brought these offices together under one roof. Keep your eyes and ears open and things around here will start to make a lot more sense."He winked, wished me well (he is away for a little while) and then departed.
I was a bit stunned. This really is not the sort of stuff that gets discussed around the office. My immediate reaction was he must be drunk or was making a joke that I did not understand. But he said what he said without any bitterness or anger, just in a deadpan way with a trace of exasperation.
I tried to ignore Old Timer's comments and get on with reconciling some accounts (there is a bug in the software) but a nagging feeling told me Old Timer had considered what he said and for some unknown reason wanted me to know.
His "insight" rattled around my brain for the rest of the day and I am still not sure what to make of it. It feels a little unsettling - I thought everything in the office was going ok since the office move.
Maybe I am bit simple, a bit complacent, spending too much time grooming my too-cool-for-school, sideways glance office attitude (even if no one else in the office seems to notice). Am I missing the really interesting stuff going on around me?
I can't even work out which office was/is the proper one and which one was/is cheap like Scrooge.
But it has given me an idea for the Christmas party ...
Wednesday 18 October 23.41
Mockney was in celebratory mood this afternoon. He had heard a whisper that he and his IT buddies are going to get only "a small slap on the wrist" for their recent on stage misdemeanours. He asked me, Barbie and some others if we wanted to celebrate with him in a Karoake bar near the North Station. We politely declined.
Thursday 19 October 23.51
Mockney was looking a bit scared today. I was passing him in the corridor when he quietly said someone had uploaded the Karoake video on You Tube. It has not received many views but he was still concerned the partners might find out. After all everyone involved thought this matter was now over and it could take on a life of it's own.
I was in a rush so quickly told him not to worry. After all the chances of any of the partners visiting You Tube must be close to zero. They could define it in a Form Co ok, but won't have the time or inclination to ever visit the site! He laughed - until I pointed that one of their kids might still find it and say something.
Mockney started to look worried again. I probably should not have said anything.