07 July 2006

Copy Typing

Today was my favourite day at work so far. I again arrived early and started working straight away, so that I could leave early to catch the 16:55 back into town. When I got there Sarah told me that she didn't want me to continue with the filing today, as there was so much typing to be done. I was very relieved to be doing something different.

She started me off typing three handwritten letters: one from Alistair Walker and two from Andrew Simkin. It was odd, I didn't really know either of these people, yet by typing their letters, I was learning snippets of information about their lives and some of the difficulties they were encountering in the projects they were managing.

Every now and again I would come across a word that I could not decipher in their scrawled handwriting. I'd ask Sarah (who was sat opposite me also typing at her computer). If she couldn't tell what it was meant to say, I just put underscores to indicate a word missing.

The letters were then printed and then given back to the person who wrote them to check over and amend. They are then returned to me to have the changes made, and then printed, returned to the person who wrote them to be signed and then posted. The whole system seemed to me to be completely inefficient and wasteful - not only of paper, but also of man / woman hours.

There are obviously a lot of people who consider themselves too superior or important to type their own letters. If only they stopped to consider that perhaps it might save time and company resources if they typed them themselves. There would be no need for the handwritten draft, no problems with bad handwriting, no to-ing and fro-ing, no repetition - job done!

In the morning I heard Sarah chatting to a friend about the fact that it was Friday and that she was going to the pub with some of 'the girls'. As it got nearer to lunch-time, I wondered (and hoped a little too) whether I would be invited. In fact earlier in the day Sarah had reminded (perhaps slightly encouraged) me to buy a sandwich from the sandwich van. Something that I had done on the on my first day, but had missed-the-boat with on the second. Today I had bought my cheese and beetroot roll, so had I have been invited to the pub, I wouldn't have been able to eat it.

Sarah disappeared at lunch without a word; I sat in the staff room again. I didn't really mind that much, but it made me wonder why I hadn't been invited. Am I really that odd or boring that someone wouldn't want to spend time with me? Am I really that different from the 'the girls'?

In the afternoon I typed up handwritten minutes. This was interesting - the minutes had a set Gleeds layout, which I quickly got the hang of. The numbering system for each point was efficient and corresponded exactly to the points listed on the agenda. This was unlike any meeting I had ever held or been present at before - the sorts that ramble on for hours without any need, without any real idea when a conclusion has been found (but that's artists for you!) I fantasised about being as efficient and professional with minute taking as Gleeds, at all the meetings I attended in future.

After making changes to several sets of minutes (some I had typed and some Sarah had), I only had about an hour left of work. I still had to finish off my filing, if I left and didn't come back next week, without re-labelling all the files I had adjusted and reordered, nobody would have a clue where anything was stored. Then I would definitely end up with the same reputation as the last poor temp.

So I set about re-labelling. I didn't have time to re-do the entire numbering system as I would have liked, so I had to settle for a half job. It was good enough to understand where everything was stored, but was a deviation on the regulation Gleeds system.

I hoped they wouldn't be disappointed or angry with what I had done, but instead I hoped they'd feel pleased about the positive changes and remember me for the initiative I had shown, spending two whole days creating a new logical filing system to help them cope with their large quantities of paperwork.

I had to leave in a bit of a rush, not leaving time for any 'long goodbyes', but just enough time to snaffle a few souvenirs in the way of stationery and Post It notes.

I was just in time to catch the bus and arrived back in down in time to collect my second pair of glasses from Specsavers and to meet Jon and Tony at Broadway Cinema to watch Spike Lee's Inside Man (OK, but very silly).

I went straight home to catch up on my spreadsheets and to tidy the flat a little. Later that night there was a film on TV called Office Space. A film that previously I may not have been able to identify with at all, I was suddenly fascinated with. The main character is fed up of his dull job in a boring non-descript company. During a company evaluation, he tells his boss that when he arrives at work he stares blankly at his computer screen for around an hour to make it look as though he is working, then he does exactly the same for the first hour after lunch.

There is plenty of talk to 'memos' and 'procedures'. When asked what he would do if he won the lottery and didn't have to work he says 'I'd do nothing all day - nothing for the rest of his life'. This related quite neatly back to the conversation I had in May as part the Group Crit.

I also fantasized about doing nothing, but the reality of it would probably drive you crazy in no time. Isn't there some sort of saying about a busy mind being a happy one?

I found this quote from Office Space particularly amusing: 'Ever since I started working, every single day of my life has been worse than the one before - that means that every new day is the worst day of my life'.