It has been rather stressful at work lately. Loads of work, absent colleagues etc. When that happens I find it really helps to take a break and eavesdrop on conversation. Sure, not the most ethical thing to do, but if you’re going to have a weird conversation at work your totally asking for it. After all I don’t judge when people overhear me talking about sword-fighting, trailer parks or parkour and then admit they were listening by commenting. Then again I’m very forgiving.
Colleague: Hey when did you start here?
Other Colleague: ’86
Colleague: Was that before or after they banned smoking at your desk?
Other Colleague: Right in the middle. I remember coming to work my first day and seeing someone light up right at their desk.
Colleague: Using their corporate ash-tray?
Other Colleague: Safety first. Butting a cigarette in the garbage can could start a fire you know.
Colleague: What were they thinking?
Then they laughed, and I joined in, busting myself for eavesdropping btw. We laughed at the crazy idea of allowing something as hazardous to your health as smoking in the workplace. Laughed at branded ashtrays provided by the company, and hazy blue air. Then I thought…you know that wasn’t so long ago…less than 30 years (ok now I sound old)…I wonder if in 30 years there will be a group of people standing around the water cooler talking about us?
Future Employee A: Do you remember when people used to bring doughnuts to work to share with co-workers?
Future Employee B: Yah, and the managers had bowls of candy on their desks?
Future Employee A: Nothing says an open door policy like a diabetes risk, and plates of saturated fat.
Future Employee B: What were they thinking?
Also over-heard today? My new favourite word. “Westiest.” As in British Columbia is the westiest province in Canada. Awesome. For those of you who fear for the state of grammar in our office, it was a joke. We were trying to come up with alternate ways of saying “western most” and things got out of hand. That’s just the sort of wacky thing that goes on in our office. (Wow, my job can be dull.)
BTW, playing “hide and go sleep” is not as good an idea as it sounds…recipe for getting fired, even on a Friday.
Over time the definition of acceptable behaviour changes. Imagine what would happen in a future office (50 or 100 years from now) when a group of people found an employee manual from today. What behaviours that we have now would seem shocking? Would they laugh at our attempts at earthquake drills (hide under your desk, that’ll save you if the building collapses)? Would they sputter in disgust at our exceedingly long (or short) workdays? Spend fifteen minutes imagining employees of the future, and their opinions of today. Happy Writing.
NB. For inspiration, think back to your childhood and recall doing things that you would never allow your children to do today. Standing in the backseat of a moving vehicle. Sugar sandwiches (I actually ate these…it may or may not have contributed to my reubenesque nature). Lighting a cigarette for a parent. (How did we ever make it to adulthood?)