The god’s honest truth is- I don’t quote The Bangles enough.
I have been remiss not to post anything about work. I mean, for the most part I don’t like to blog about work. That seems so unprofessional and we all know how classy, appropriate and dignified I generally am.
But I just received a ‘Workstation Assessment’ and it is not lost on me what a serious perk that is of working at a large, multinational, for-profit, corporate, sanitized, capitalistic, (I am running out of publicly acceptable adjectives) firm. This kindly gentleman just spent many minutes with me with the utmost concern for the pressure on my spine, the comfort of my vision, the elimination of repetitive stress on my hands… I mean, I kind of love him a little. I don’t care if an employer is simply trying to pre-empt worker’s injury/disability claims- I feel loved.
It’s like office supplies. My first few days back I kept meandering into the office supplies cavern on my floor with a huge grin from ear to ear, desperately trying to think of ways that my role might some day require twine or a glue stick.
I am quite fond of my new officemate so far. I don’t feel ashamed to ask him important questions about the language and cultural barriers between our two great nations, for example when is it a baked potato and when is it a jacket potato. Because these things plague me otherwise.
We got a punch of color/colour in here yesterday after I received a call from the Taxi/Courier Services department (seriously) telling me I had flowers to pick-up. I hadn’t even hung up the phone when I suspected my guilty husband. A few minutes later, my suspicions were confirmed with a read of the attached very sweet card. I bring you the “Guilty Husband Arrangement”: the thoughtful flowers you will receive as a working mum while your husband cavorts with friends in Austin, Texas at the world-famous South by Southwest music festival.
They are actually quite lovely. And will no doubt complement very well whatever new outfit, earrings and highlights I soon select.
Law firms, against their best intentions, are hugely dorky creatures. The U.S.-based behemoth Morrison Foerster just released its new iPhone application. Not surprising given how annoying the firm’s homepage is. It was inevitable that a gadgety beacon of cool has the shelf life of Drosophila before being invaded by the outlandishly uncool. And sorry, but that’s the state of Facebook too. I actually cover my ears when Bryan tries to read me people’s status updates. It’s too painful. It’s not even ironic any more to make fun of them / take the piss. It just gives me a stomach ache. Oh sorry, gratuitous soapboxy tangent.
Back to work.
The variety in my diet has improved quite a bit since returning from maternity leave. A major plus. The reduction in hummus and pretzel intake has been more than counterbalanced by an abundance of fresh vegetables and other parts of the food pyramid that I don’t like to be responsible for at home. Just the other day I was watching Oprah and she was interviewing the founder of Chipotle, and I got a surprisingly painful jolt of homesickness. And so, work to the rescue. I am just steps from a pedestrian market that includes a locally-famous burrito cart with deservedly long queues and reputation. Working breeds independence. And burritos at lunchtime.
So my law firm is merging with a Washington, DC-based international law firm to create, in what is appropriately very big legal news, one of the world’s largest international powerhouse law firms. There is quite a flurry of activity as we countdown the weeks to May 1/1 May in somehow seamlessly merging two entrenched computer systems, client bases, websites, value systems, brand identities, workplace cultures, etc. Imagine my belly laughter when the press reported one of the issues to address was differences in vacation/holiday allotment. I wish I could have been there for that discussion:
We give 2 weeks a year as standard. After thirty years of continuous service, we will increase it by a day and then each five year increment thereafter will accrue another day. So that when you are 115 years old, you could theoretically have earned up to 3 weeks off. However, any sick time taken and personal days will count against you at a ratio of minus a 1/2 day of vacation/holiday for every one hour of sick time taken. Plus, never speak of a vacation/holiday in the office. In your Outlook calendar, just pretend you will be at a very long meeting.
Oh, we give 5 weeks to all new employees.
Why would you do that?
For quality of life and to actually increase productivity.
Is that a British expression? I don’t understand.
See, one of the other significant considerations is whether to use British English or American English as standard on the website, marketing materials etc. There are more differences in lingo than you could possibly imagine. Just last week I had to silently puzzle over the meaning of “going off on a frolic” in a business context. I feel I am in a really unique position as one of the only Americans in this great London office of our new firm. I want to leverage my hard-fought knowledge for a possible (very lucrative) promotion to on-site translator.
Because it’s the little things that have to get you through the day before you can rush home and take one long inhale of Earth’s Greatest Scent: that mysteriously perfect combination of baby fat rolls and old spit-up and diaper/nappy cream and snot and applesauce-encrusted hair and drooly milk breath. Bless.