After nearly three full years of swimming in the world of working from home, I am back at an office that demands my physical presence. In the one week that I have managed to attend, I have realised that what I struggle with the most is eye contact and not knowing what to say after “So, how is it going?”. I hence have an appeal.
On February 1, my life changed in the small ways that life changes. I moved teams and became part of perhaps the most-read supplement that my organisation has produced. It is ancient and possibly as close to ‘gossip' as my employer will get. It is also where historically, the prettiest women of the organisation have worked. I am not implying anything, please stop.
Many people tell me that this is their dream job or that they have applied to work here in the past. My sister tells me that she will finally begin voluntarily reading my articles. This is after some six odd years of me being a full-time journalist. I’ll take it.
Most people also finally recognise the brand I am working for. This is unlike my previous adorable film organisation which has all my love but literally me and my two editors as readers.
What many people do not know is that this job demands my physical presence at an office with a desk, a chair, a keyboard that actually makes many clank-krick-kat-kat noises and an air conditioner that never stops. It also has a canteen with metal plates and variety rice everyday, a coffee machine lobby and many other places where I am confronted with fierce eye contact.
For someone who has worked from home for about three years now, the routine I once created and went onto perfect, worked miracles for me. My bed was my office. My laptop was an organ, and I was a tool who’d spend so much of my time making loud ‘tuts’ and ‘fuck this fucking everything’ as often as I could.
I wore no pants whatsoever and had my hair up in an eternal bun. If I had people over, I’d squeeze in a shower during the day but mostly, this task was relegated to the evening. I would finish work, stare into absolute nothingness, eat a dinner, watch a show, perhaps read and pray that I fall asleep before Vasanth’s infinite koratais keep me up- all on my same office bed.
This new job however, needs me to come in, thrive in an environment that has my enemy — the air conditioner, and understand perfect social queues. In the one week that I have worked here, I have realised that I have waved to at least three people who had not waved to me in the first place, said “So, all good?” despite having opened the conversation with the same question and have gotten multiple rejections to my half-ass attempt at a smile.
Do I tell the akka keeping toilet paper in the bathroom thank you have a good day? Should I loudly greet everyone when I walk in? What is an appropriate snack to eat at work without having to offer it to everyone? There is a very good looking person who smiles at me. Do I smile until they pass me or keep smiling through the entire 20 metre distance like a creep? What is an appropriate response to how are you liking your job without making my job seem boring? What do I do when my phone very loudly plays an ‘stove mela kadai’ and the entire office gawks?
In order to save myself some basic trouble, I have decided to walk the corridors while only looking at the ground. I also think that eating at the canteen may not be a good idea as my eyes tend to wander but the trade off is a sweet on the 1st and the 16th of each month. Is it worth it?
I appeal to the general public to stop talking to me entirely or talk to me about talking to you.
I do not know how to do this because it is likely that the first thing I will tell you about is David Attenborough’s voiceover for a slug’s mating ritual where their penises grow as long as their bodies. Save yourself.