It’s been a month. Four weeks. Thirty-ish days. I am reporting to my new post for a fifth Monday, and I gotta be honest here, change is really, stinkin’ tough. It’s not the people; the people are great. They’re welcoming and thoughtful and many of them actually feel very familiar for some reason. It’s all the other things. The 8 trillion tiny nuances of your work life that are just a tad off center.
I never thought I would be that girl. The one who desires that distinguishing fruit on her laptop and operates by a handful of apps. But I am all the same. Earning my paycheck in the digital sphere has me married to luxuries like a sizable monitor, Evernote and mobile machines that sync and allow me to set up shop wherever I land. The way your devices speak to each other is a language you learn to live by, and changing that setup is like finding yourself at a dinner party in … say … New Orleans. You can follow the conversation but every now and again, you feel completely disconnected.
Offices have secrets. They all do. One of the most charming things about finding yourself on the veteran end of a corporate position is being one of the keepers of the secrets. Who stocks ibuprofen and StaticGuard. Who lets you “borrow” stamps. Which bathrooms smell like lavender and which ones smell like lavender mixed with unpleasant things. Where to find boxes. How to ship things. Where to score a cup of the best coffee and who is kind enough to serve up a splash of their creamer. Who comes in early. Who stays late. Who has the best candy bowl; You know, the one with the stuff that really makes it worth the calories. All of these secrets make your work day just a little easier to swallow, but I’m still drinking the crap coffee and couldn’t ship my pants if I had to.
Office space, and cubicles in particular, are very tricky. You have to strike a balance between color and conservative. Inspirational and efficient. Cute and corporate. No one wants to stare at vanilla corkboard 40 hours a week, but you don’t want a mammoth shrine to your posse at home, either. I find it best in a situation like this to introduce my obsession with my children in small, digestible doses. First, a few Stickgrams, followed by some of their finest artwork and then a few quotes for good measure. It’s like planting mint in the garden. It starts as a few sprigs and sprouts into a sweet, overgrown garden.
I just can’t. I’m pretty sure that everyone with dealings in insurance, retirement funds and your assorted additional benefits got together in a large room and decided to throw a smattering of complicated, indecipherable jargon on a binder of papers and then tell you to make copies of all of it to store in a file folder for, like, forever, until referenced in some obscure way 18 months from now. Stupid. Just so stupid.
There are folks who have a masters in networking. They’ve studied the art of small talk and flattery. Put them in a room of bees and they’ll leave with barrels of honey. I am somewhere a step below those people. I love a good conversation, particularly when it involves something I know about, or want to know about, but going in cold usually just leaves me feeling frozen. Typically, one familiar, friendly face can thaw and save any social situation, but when every face is a new face, I tend to resign myself to an awkward smile and excessive coffee drinking. I miss the days of a stranger being the exception and water cooler conversations about more than the weather. We’ll get there. Rome wasn’t built in a day.