The click-clack of keyboards and occasional rustling of files and papers. The dread which pours over you as you hear the footsteps you know so well – your boss, as you ‘Alt+Tab’ your way out of the online shopping site that you were browsing seconds ago.
Ah, the hum-drum of the daily hustle. Welcome to office life. The place where we pretend to know what we are doing as we engage in adult talk (not that kind!) and side-eye the clock, mentally counting down to the end of this corporate hogwash. But we love the money.
After being stuck at home for the longest time you’ve ever been, #circuitbreaker Day N (we’ve lost track), going back to the office sounds like a dream come true. I truly miss those kaypoh colleagues, erratic bosses and even the Battle Of Lunchtime. But as much as I want to stop WFH and resume WFO, there can be some pretty awkward scenarios in the office which I definitely don’t want to encounter.
It’s usually nothing but you’re 3 minutes late and rushing to clock in before the big boss comes in. Except, big boss is in the same elevator with you. Alone. She gives you a tense smile and you’re on high, over-sensitive alert. Every action she does means something, especially when she glances at her watch. You struggle in horror as you try to make laboured small talk till both of you have get off and you wonder if you should walk beside or behind her.
Noon marks the start of the Battle of Lunchtime – long queues and seat chope-ing. But nothing beats the stress of deciding what to eat as a group. Then there is Emily who says she is on intermittent fasting and will not be eating today, followed by the collective group persuasion to drop this dieting schtick, or rather, group sabo. Also down the hallway is Thomas whom everyone dislikes and it feels bad to not ask him to go along so he came along anyway.
All you need is someone to say he’s going to the post office/bank/printer/cafeteria and you’ll find all sorts of personal orders thrown at him. If you make a trip to the printer that’s about 20 steps away, chances are that you’ll be picking up some extra prints for your colleague that’s 30 steps away. Or if you want to tabao bubble tea back just for yourself, be prepared for the guilt trip and group sabo again. Who am I, your personal butler?
We Singaporeans have a different term for number 1 and 2 – we call it small and big business. Try guessing what each of these means? There is nothing more awkward then heading into the toilet with Susan from Finance when you’re about to embark on big business, and straining to time the number of plops you can make in the water before she starts judging you for life.
Rule #1 of corporate life: always check your messages 3 times before you send it out. Because mistakes happen, and it will suck. As much as we hate it, we are stuck with being available 24/7 via WhatsApp groups and emails. It is easy to accidentally click the ‘Reply All’ button for an email meant for a close colleague, or send a private message on your WhatsApp to the whole group.
Birthday celebrations are reserved for families and friends, and colleagues don’t usually fall under any of these categories. So when one is sprung unto you unannounced, it can become pretty awkward. You know there will be some sort of celebration, but you act surprised anyway. When the entire department burst into a half-hearted birthday song, you smile and bob on the spot hoping the song ends soon. Free cake, anyone?