Friday, June 18, 2010

Observations from Within

I recently moved from London to Washington, simultaneously making a dramatic professional transition. From private practice—at one of the world’s largest law firms—to the federal government, where I’m fast learning that the pace is a hell of a lot slower.

There’s no yelling, running through the halls, or panicky late nights barely made sane by caffeine and cigarette breaks. As you’d expect, the work-life balance is—shall we say—decidedly improved on this side of the coin. I picked up my car at the office last Sunday and the guards practically arrested me, evidence enough that few, if any, of my colleagues venture to the office after Friday at 4pm.

Along with my utter delight at this improved schedule comes the amusing revelation that I am now working alongside characters from the Office. Creed, Toby, Michael, Kelly and Dwight. They’re all here, in some form or fashion.

My boss often bemoans “Parks and Recreation” for having preempted what could have been a much better sitcom about life at our agency. I for one haven’t given up hope on writing it. In the meantime, I’ll be content to share a few of the more absurd anecdotes from my "Office."

Despite inventive pranks and myriad hilarious antics, my immediate office-mates and I typically avoid the jaw-dropping awkwardness featured herein.

Such episodes primarily stem from the occasional journeys beyond my comfort zone, when I wander throughout dimly-lit halls like a confused mouse.

On one such occasion, I found myself seeking a conference room that I had reserved for a meeting. After a few missed turns, I arrived at B-504. I could see from outside that the lights were off, so I opened the door.

Much to my surprise, the room I had reserved was otherwise very important people engaged in very important activities: soap operas and fried chicken.

The large conference room was scattered with empty KFC boxes and crumbs. A few savory bites were still being enjoyed, but the women in the room were primarily focused on a much more important task: catching the last few minutes of their daily soap.

This combination undoubtedly has its place (a nursing home circa 1992?). I for one went through a General Hospital phase during the early 90s, but I kicked the habit soon after Jagger left, just before I entered the 9th grade.

Still startled, but not wanting to seem like the resident agency policeman, I began, “Oh, gosh, I’m sorry. I, err, reserved this room for a meeting, starting at 3pm.”

At this point, one would anticipate embarrassed, perhaps even apologetic behavior, but my hands-in-the-cookie-jar colleagues were not the least bit distressed.

No apologies. No quick flipping of the remote power button. Just a simple “We’re almost done.”

If only they’d taken the lingering scent of fried chicken with them when they left; it made for an extremely distracting meeting.

1 comment:

  1. reading this while at (my own) Dunder. Love it!