ONCE again it is Monday, as if you were not already well aware, and you must run the torturous gamut of post-weekend office chat. It will go like this:
Stage one, 9am-9.45am: talking about your weekend
You didn’t do anything interesting or fit for public consumption, so invent bland lies about drinks with friends or popping to a farmers’ market. The reality – you lay about in your pants for two days, playing violent video games, eating takeaway off your belly and browsing porn – is not suitable for the office even though it’s what everyone did really.
Stage two, 9.45am-10.30am: pretending to listen
Having rattled through your heavily redacted non-event, you’re obliged to listen to the non-events of others. It will be the same boring shit they’ve been doing for years, like visiting parents or taking children to ballet classes. Nod and smile and occasionally say ‘wow, really?’ until they’re finished.
Stage three, 10.30am-11.15am: what you’ve watched
The office chat will be under intense strain at this point. To avoid getting to know your colleagues at a deeper emotional level, move to the safe subject of telly. Who’s watched what? Who didn’t like what? Why is Amanda giving a rundown of who won on Pointless Celebrities? Still, it’s preferable to getting a glimpse into their deranged souls.
Stage four, 11.15am-12pm: brutal and intense focus on work
Pleasantries are over. It’s time to put on corporate personas for a demoralising huddle and bollocking because nobody’s hitting their KPIs this quarter. Any goodwill built up from asking how your line manager’s Sunday at a National Trust was is exhausted. Silently vow to spend the afternoon updating your LinkedIn profile.
Stage five, 12pm-onwards: “Cup of tea?”
That over, everyone sighs in relief and chat dies down to a metronomic back and forth of ‘Tea anyone?’ It’s safe. It’s inoffensive. And it makes you look efficient and productive which you really need after that meeting. The rest of the week will be occupied by chat entirely mundane. This process will be repeated unchanged every Monday for the next 20 years.