Blog Week 29: (Re)papering over the cracks.
Sunday 11 June 23.57
At the start of my blog I said I would not talk about the weather, but these past few days have been amazing. I was at the coast today and finally my tan is starting to look good. We have some summer!
Friday became a pointlessly tense day over something - as usual - trivial.
Being so hot, inevitably everyone wore summery office attire. Lets just say Barbie's attire was more "comfortable" than most. Mockney, temporarily sitting with Barbie, struggled all day to keep his eyes in his sockets.
Barbie's clothes - or lack of clothes - touched upon a much bigger subject. Prior to the relocation, both offices did a number of things differently. To keep everything harmonious, in the run-up to the office relocation a number of issues were filed away and marked "To be dealt with later". Well now is "later" but no one is keen to take any decisions.
One issue is office dress and there is no avoiding the issue now. One firm had a fairly conservative dress code and the other fairly liberal (in terms of office clothes versus business casual). From what I understand, Johan and Bill - the two managing partners - have sent emails back and forth about this subject (instant messaging is another story) but came to no decision. The fact Barbie is Bill's secretary makes this issue somewhat "territorial"; attack Bill's secretary and you attack Bill, capiche ... Pierre got involved in afternoon and was having to tiptoe through a minefield of issues to help find a solution.
The easiest thing would be to say: "Barbie put some clothes on". But what do I know? I am just a humble Administrative Director's Assistant. (I still like that title, so expect to see it used gratuitously in more blogs!). I am also female; which may explain Bill's defensive attitude to his secretary's attire.
Tomorrow is supposed to be hot again (hurrah!); as no one has said anything to Barbie yet, I cannot wait to see if she will dress accordingly ...
Monday 12 June 23.46
Very hot outside today, but the office temperature turned out to be not so "hot" in the office. Mockney - the office's very-own 007 - read Johan-Bill's email exchange on Friday and told Barbie what was being discussed. She was all covered up today. In terms of her clothes - rather than next-to-none, she was more like a nun! Ok a pathetic joke, but you cannot blame me for trying...
I suppose Mockney's warning was helpful - as an office "grapevine" he has his uses. Not that anyone is going to thank him for it. Particularly Bill, who seemed a bit disappointed by Barbie's latest look.
For some reason Weirdo was dressed in a "style" that imitated Barbie last Friday. A woman of her age dressed like that is not a pretty sight. Certainly I would not want my mother dressing like that.
Miraclously Johan and Bill were able to agree that Weirdo's dress was not "appropriate" and Pierre was dispatched to have a word with her. An email was later sent around the office saying that the office dress code policy will be formalised shortly. Fine words, but I have a feeling no formal policy is going to appear anytime soon.
Tuesday 13 June 23.59
Office life is sometimes like a distinct culture from another dimension.
Another "cultural" difference between the two offices has become apparent this week. One office had an open-door's policy; meaning all lawyers were required to keep their office doors open at all times. So when something confidential had to be said or discussed either it was whispered or the lawyers sneaked off to a conference room. Both steps arousing suspicion from everyone else. The other office had the opposite practice - I guess what you would call a closed-door policy; close your door when you want and be as loud as you want (well within reason).
Now some lawyers do not know if they can close their door in case they unintentionally cause suspicion or offence. One or two have opted for a half-closed compromise. But that is sending out all sorts of confused signals.
Shakespeare brought this issue to Bill's attention today. According to Mockney:
- Bill thinks Pierre was supposed to have "red-flagged" such integration issues in his role as office manager of both offices.
- Pierre is blaming the integration specialist consultants for not doing what they were paid to do.
Anyway a decision on the crucial issue of open/close door will be "taken soon". Sounds familiar.
Wednesday 14 June 23.03
This morning's rain was quite a relief after the past few days' heat. I know I should be grateful for the hot, sunny weather - but the lack of breeze can get a bit much. The office has felt like an "oasis" by comparison.
The World Cup gives everyone an excuse to gather in the large conference room and watch the matches. I even noticed Weirdo was in there earlier this week. Like most international law offices in Brussels, ours is very multicultural and so there is usually someone supporting one of the teams that are playing. No real tension so far - guess we'll have to wait for the knock-out stage. Bill seemed really down after the Czech's hammered the US. I notice, after all the time he has spent here, he still refers to football as "soccer".
Thursday 15 June 23.39
Quiet day. Nice really.
Only mildly interesting thing that happened in the office was the large conference room tv screen went dead during the afternoon World Cup match. There was slight panic that the England and Sweden games later could not be viewed by those attorneys (still in the office). But Mockney (with some help from Brilliant) came to the rescue: spending a frantic period unplugging, replugging and eventually thumping the tv set.
The tv was working again just before the England game started. As everyone waited, Shakespeare set the mood by delivering some rousing quotations from "Henry V" including:
"I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game's afoot:
Follow your spirit; and, upon this charge
Cry "God for Harry! England and Saint George!"
It made a nice change from just shouting "Come on England"!
But I did not stay to watch that match; I got to a friend's place where a group of us saw the Sweden game. Just like with the Germany game yesterday, another last-minute winner. Exciting stuff. Cannot wait for the Netherlands v. Ivory Coast game tomorrow.