I love working in-house. You get all the perks of big businesses without the politics. I like to rush in, work my arse off, suck down whatever booze is on offer, hoover up any freebies (ranging from birthday cake to pens) and zoom off again in a flurry of good vibes.
And it’s always interesting to observe the little cultures that evolve in every company I visit. For a week I’ve been working at a large company in the city, which has given me a chance to eavesdrop on other people’s lives and generally rubberneck at the unsuspecting.
I can report that all is as it should be in the corporate world. It took me two hours to secure a visitor’s pass. There are pictures of Warnie everywhere, that no-one has defaced. The design department has the requisite beanbaggery and copies of Desktop. There are more men with crisp, inoffensively muted shirts, spiky hair and soul patches than you can poke a stick at. And conversations are conducted in a huddle with a kind of carrying whisper that announces to everyone that Someone is Being Spoken About.
I have, obviously, been getting a lot of enjoyment out of it.
They have a fantastic café downstairs with subsidised meals, and I’ve been going the whole hog. Anyone who’s ever been a student, a traveller or just low on funds understands the Depression-era duty to throw yourself at a cheap feed.
On the first day in the queue, waiting quietly for Roast of the Day (and slobbering discreetly), I heard a group of very skinny, very corporate, very blonde women talking behind me. They were weighing up each dish in terms of its fat and carb content, and what they were going to order. They said they were obsessive about the café, and hung out eagerly for the new menu each week. Each ordered the steamed veggies. I think bottled water was involved.
I got a plate piled high with roast veggies, a huge piece of chook and as much gravy as the plate could hold, and waddled over to a table to snort over Evelyn Waugh. Soft drink came for free in little cups, so I lined some up in front of me.
I looked around – was no-one else as excited as I about Roast of the Day? Some blokes had the chook with chips. Others had a Parma with chips, or a schnitzel sandwich with cheese. One (obviously prompted by his wife – I can think of no other reason) had removed the delicious roasted skin off the chicken and left it on the side. As the plates were fairly small, some fellows had maximised the opportunity (as they would say in the corporate world) and ordered their meal in a takeaway container to fill to the brim and eat on the spot.
However every woman in the place seemed to have ordered the veggies! Or a salad sanga! Or sushi rolls! One brought in a tuna tempter, I kid you not. One large woman was glumly perusing a tiny cup of yoghurt and fruit. And I do not place myself above hefty ladies when I say this – I’m well-covered myself – but is there any sadder sight than a big gal on a diet in a swarm of mosquitoes?
But further observation revealed that I was jumping to conclusions. There were other women stuffing their face – and they were all Asians. I had to laugh. All my Asian friends treat every meal as though it was their last (which is probably why we get along), and these chicks were tucking in with impressive gusto.
What is this little world I asked myself, scattering gravy.