Of Sheep and Cold Coffee
‘I seem,’ said our MD, in lieu of the more common greeting as he walked into the office at 8.30 this morning, (I used to call him my boss, but ‘don’t call me that,’ he’d say ‘we’re partners.’) ‘to have acquired five sheep.’
Nobody knows where the five sheep came from - although my bet’s on the not-usually-open gate. Either that or they jumped over the wall late last night whilst he was trying to sleep - or who they belong to.
‘The gate was open,’ he said with a shrug as he wandered through to his office, ‘I’ve closed it.’
Looks like the sheep are staying, then.
And so began another day at the office.
The thing about life in a small office is that it could easily lean towards the mundane. Day in, day out, forever the same: the same handful of people; the same piles of paperwork; the same conversations. You’ve got to look for variety where you can find it. We find it, more often than not in little things like this - five sheep appearing from nowhere; the factory alarm being set off by a cat causing the aforementioned MD to wander around with a ten foot bamboo pole and a menacing expression calling ‘here, puss, puss, puss’; a Jack Russell chasing someone up a ladder; the time (horrifyingly) a mouse ran up the inside of my trouser leg. That was A Bad Day, but it goes with the territory I guess, of offices on a river bank, surrounded on two sides by fields and it was certainly something to talk about - we still joke about it now. Or rather, everybody else jokes about it. It still kind of makes me want to cry a little bit.
These breaks from the norm, these are the things that get us through the day. It’s probably also the reason I get my packages delivered to the office most times. When you have a pile of mail to open, most of which is invoices and remittance advices and bank statements and notifications from the telephone provider that your direct debit is increasing again, despite countless hours on debating just that, it kind of slows the slide to dullsville, when one of those packages contains (like it did today) a bangle quoting if nobody speaks of remarkable things. I slid it onto my wrist, smiled to myself and suddenly the afternoon’s task of chasing monies owed doesn’t seem quite so dismal.
It’s the little things (and it’s an exceptionally pretty bangle...)
Especially when the day is like today: dark and dismal and freezing cold. It’s dark outside, more like dusk than lunchtime and even in thick socks and a jumper I’m still shivering. The sustenance of a crisp butty (or sandwich, if you’re posh) is still not enough to send the goosebumps packing and the light from the fluorescent tubes that line the ceiling when coupled with the grey sky and rain, makes it feel decidedly wintry. Artificial light, a sure sign that summer is decidedly over.
It’s the kind of day that calls for woolly socks and blankets, apple crumble and a good book but sadly (oh, how very sadly) none of those things pay the bills. Spending the day with Patrick Ness (his work, not his actual self), as much as I am loving him right now, will not ensure my mortgage is paid. What will is processing that order, and dealing with that client and completing the figures for that report all whilst trying not to throw a hissy fit because my nail polish has chipped (I got a french manicure for the wedding and it was so pretty, dammit) and wondering if September is too early to put on the heating. It’s the random appearance of 5 sheep that make it worth it sometimes, because unless you are one of the lucky few that are doing a job that makes you sing with joy, there is always always somewhere to be and something to do that is preferable to work. I’m just lucky I guess, that my boss - sorry, partner - is so adept at providing that much needed light relief.
‘One day,’ I tell him often, usually whilst trying my hardest not to double over with laughter, ‘I’m going to write a book about you.’ One day, perhaps I will. Til’ then, I’ll sit here with my crisp butty and cold coffee and wonder if anybody has noticed yet that they’re missing five sheep.