Picture one of those zombies from 28 Days Later, and if you haven't seen it, just picture a zombie; wild-eyed, monosyllabic, kind of angry looking.
That was me at work on Wednesday, except with more foam at the mouth.
Wednesday was Grim Reality day. I get this now and again, and this time it was due to being 33 years old at a job I intended to quit approximately nine months ago for "Something Better".
Several years back, when I couldn't find continuing gainful employment in the Media, I took a 'Stop-gap' position at an awful fucking exam board. This was always going to be temporary so naturally, I stayed for three years. I snapped in 2004, quitting without a backup plan or a backup job, and pottered around South East Asia for a few months to a) Lose weight (I did) and b) Have sex (I didn't).
I returned much fitter but with a Lady Repellant hairdo. I got another 'Stop-gap' job, this time in telesales, sitting next to a violent, mood-and-fist-swinging fuckheaded boss. Quite friendly when out of the office, really quite frightening when in it. The fact that I lasted six months both staggers and disgusts me retrospectively, and in equal amounts. Clearly, Suffering + Apathy towards Making It All Stop = Prat.
But leave I did, eventually getting the job I do now. And I'm having a grand time, doing this thing that I do. I shall tell you what it is.
Please don't stalk me.
I sell bags.
Not exciting bags either. Certainly not Chanel, Gucci, or even Fendi bags. Under those circumstances, that could be considered quite exciting (particularly for women) but no, the bags I sell are made of paper, and have a little bit of string in the corner. I also sell bags made of plastic. Both 'genres', if you will, can come with handles or without. Your choice.
Sometimes, we call our workplace 'The Shop'. On other times, it is 'The Office'. For it can be both. I sit behind a monitor for 9 or 10 hours a day, always on the phone, buying stock, placing orders, taking orders, and generally bemoaning everything. We deliver to London's many restaurants and shops too, so we often get calls from impatient people with impenetrable accents demanding cling film.
We also sell cling film.
We get a lot of people walking in off the street to breathe down our collective necks as well, so whatever I'm doing, no matter how important, has to stop so I can sell a cardboard box to someone who's now made me forget to do something vital. In fact, the two most hideous sounds in my known universe are the thudding footfalls of someone who's just walked into the shop, or those fucking phones. My job is basically being distracted from doing admin.
Wednesday's anger was all encompassing. I was running the shop on my own as the boss was out, leaving me to deal with people who do things like phone up when I'm doing something else, and say things like 'I want my bags.'
'Well who are you?'
'And what bags do you want?'
'The medium ones.'
'OH YOU FABULOUS CUNT, WE HAVE ABOUT TEN SIZES IN ANY GIVEN BAG AND I REALLY CAN'T TAKE THIS FUCKING ROUTINE EVERY SINGLE DAY.'
'Just look it up on the system'
'NOOOO! NO NO NO NO NO!!!!! IT'S NOT A SYSTEM, IT'S A DELL, AND I'M IN THE MIDDLE OF DOING SOMETHING AND TRUST ME, IT'S NOT SOLITAIRE AND I HAVEN'T HAD A LUNCHBREAK IN 21 MONTHS. CAN'T YOU EVER, JUST ONCE, JUST KNOW WHAT IT IS THAT YOU WANT, LIKE WE DO WITH OUR SUPPLIERS? YOU KNOW, BY KEEPING SOME KIND OF FUCKING LIST PERHAPS???'
By Wednesday night, it had occurred to me that my rage had a chemical basis; I have stopped smoking. I have stopped smoking and am surrounded by fucktards. Obvious, really. But having said that, I have turned 33. 33, and in another stop-gap that always fills in and becomes my History. These stop-gaps will Never, Ever End unless I break this fucking cycle, unless I finally decide WHAT THE FUCK I WANT TO DO, then maybe I could aim for it instead of just wandering aimlessly and bitching about it later. And today, the boss is away again. Under normal circumstances for everyone else, this is very very good. In my circumstance, this means doing everything myself, being nagged to a husk, and getting very very angry. Plus my colleague, a 41-year-old bruiser who spends most of his time sitting down and reading the paper til 5pm, gets extremely arsey when I ask him to take a message or ask for a cup of tea.
On a tangent, I left my flat on Bank Holiday Monday and ten seconds later was on my very quiet High Street, quite surprised to see an enigmatic looking Debra Messing - and I'm 97¾% sure it was her - walk past me and towards Hammersmith. So I was treated to the odd sight of queuing up at a cash machine while Grace from Will & Grace waited for the lights to change, all with a Mona Lisa smile on her mug.
But why, why, WHY was she heading for Hammersmith???