I was right; people wandering around the office measuring things is never a good sign. Still in denial mode re. the fundraiser event last week, and avoiding Sophia (don't you hate it when people start laughing as you walk in the room and you've no idea why?) I brace myself for another day of young creative types waving their brand new iPads trying to get it to print. And playing Angry Birds.
Ping: First email of the day. Oh no… From: HR. Subject: Private. I really don't want to read this but you know what it's like with email – if you don't read it, it just piles up like the laundry.
"Due to our ever-evolving need for dynamic strategy improvements, it has been decided that the room currently known as the IT room will now be the new Enterprise Mindmapping Zone. This will be a peaceful area available to all creative staff, who need a place to focus and streamline their projects and engage with other team players..." It went on, but I gave up at this point, once the sweat started to form on my neck.
So, quick thinking needed here. I'm losing the office: Definitely a "fail," as the kids might say. But they didn't mention whatever I did at the party: Win. Colin won't like this, mind -- it's a daylight thing, but maybe he can be a sitting tenant or something. If he can handle the creative corporate bullshit going on around him.
Later on I get grabbed by a HR lady. I usually avoid walking past their office during office hours but I obviously let my guard down today. A schoolboy error.
"Ah, Ethan!" They got the name right at least. "I expect you're wondering where your new office is?"
"Well...it had crossed my mind," I reply.
"Come with me, I think you'll like what we've done" said HR-Susan.
Into the lift, and she presses the button for the 7th floor. No! I can feel the blood drain from my head. I can't go up there, that's where the creative girls are! And Sophia. And they all witnessed my..."behaviour" at the party, which I still don't remember anything about. And I’m still trying to deal with the ‘If I don’t remember it – then it didn’t happen” law for blokes.
"We thought we'd put you up here, to save you running back and forth to fix all the various printer issues you seem to be hassled with most of the time" Susan says, pointing to a desk in front of the PR department. I doubt I've felt this level of embarrassment before...well, not since I woke up wet and shoeless in a park after the other week's work fundraiser party, when all my troubles began. Cringe -- I spot all the PR department and creative teams waving, smiling and giggling in my direction.
Within a day my old office is painted light blue (to encourage creative thinking, according to the painter I nearly tackled as I was sorting my assorted cables into boxes), with some "tasteful" prints tacked to the walls. From IKEA I noted, as I peeled a corner back. Huge round sofas, a drinks machine, and even a bloody fish tank. With plastic fish. From there, a constant stream of wavy haired boy-band lookey-likeys appear, trying to look cool as they juggle their iPads and Innocent smoothies, leaning into conversations with the creative team's ladies.
After saying goodbye to my old office (and my Kylie calendar), I trudge upstairs to my new desk. Why does that lift break down every week? Trying to look nonchalant as I arranged my desk items, the girls catch my eye and start to gather around me.
“So did you mean what you said at the party, Ethan?” enquires Sophia sweetly.
“Er, I, er, well, it was rather loud in there, wasn’t it?” I bluster.
Vague recollections and bits of the evening start coming back to me, and I wince at the memory of trying to convince Sophie that her boyfriend was a waste of space and she’d be better off with me. Not to mention being extremely rude to the barman after he refused to continue serving me, and -- oh god -- Kate reminds me I dared to bring up the particular tightness of my boss' wife's dress. In front of him. Starting to blush, I'm saved by my mobile buzzing, so I snatch it and reverse quickly out of the office.
“There’s a loud noise coming from the cupboard in the Enterprise Mindmapping Zone Room, Ethan” HR-Sue worriedly explains to me.
“That’ll be the servers resetting their diagnostics” I blurt, thinking on the run. “In fact, they do that every 20 minutes.”
“Is that going to disturb your, er, mindmapping?” I ask.
I still don’t know what Colin was doing in that cupboard, but I felt awfully glad for his tendency to hide in dark places. The desks have since returned, the sofa's gone, and we seem to have inherited the fish tank duties, too. Only one thing is left on my mind now...
“Colin? Have you seen the Kylie calendar?”
Ethan Net is a pseudonym for an overworked and underpaid IT Manager. It doesn't matter where he works or who he is -- unless he happens to be your IT Manager. Look out for his column every Wednesday afternoon here on Gizmodo UK.