It was an office in a tall anonymous building at the end of town in which people walk about with name tags hanging around their necks, just so they don't forget. They even wear them on the train. To and from. I wonder where they hang them when they get home. Maybe they leave them on. Percy Grainger, Level 65, Collins Street, Melbourne. Over red striped flannelette pyjamas and brown checked Grosby slippers.
I love the adventure of working in a new office. Not new, but new to me. Sometimes I get called in just for a day, sometimes a week, sometimes two or more, depending on what they want done. The adventure of a new office is whether the computers work, if the people are nice, and what's in the kitchen.
The people were nice. It's a funny thing. The first thing they tell you when you arrive is the way to the kitchen. 'Grab yourself a coffee,' they say. 'Kitchen's that way.' And they wave an arm about wildly.
I'd fortified myself with tea before I left home, so I didn't need coffee that early. So I sat where I was put, in front of one of those stretched computer screens that were never designed for readers. You get up a page of online text and it wraps across the screen and you just about need to have your head on a conveyor belt to read a line of type. Heads weren't designed to read like that.
I messed about with a few documents and by half past twelve it was lunchtime and the office was deserted. Offices have cultures. The culture here was everyone goes out for lunch to one of those giant food malls where people crane their necks over the glassed-in food counters to see what's on offer, trying not get their lanyard caught on someone else, or drag it through the curried chicken.
I walked out and got some hand rolls and 'free' miso soup from a noodle shop and walked back to the office and ate in silence. After that I went to the kitchen, which was past the reception desk (taller than the receptionist) and the lift well and down a common corridor. Which meant I would have to carry my coffee all the way back and try not to drip it on the marble in front of the lift well or the white carpet in front of the receptionist.
I got the milk out of the fridge and noticed that someone had written a name on it in large felt-pen letters. Look out, a common kitchen. Everything belongs to someone and it isn't you. I also noticed the date on the milk. August 15. I opened it and sniffed it. Then I put it back in the fridge. It was none of my business. One inch tall black felt pen letters on the bottle means they get ownership, including throwing it out after it's turned to quark or whatever it is milk turns into when it's not milk any more.
There was another container of milk with no felt pen name scrawled on it and two days to go before it expired so I used some of that. It was fat free, but you can't have everything. The sugar was in a tall plastic jar on the top shelf of a cupboard. The coffee was in a black plastic canister underneath the sink. The hot water came out of an ancient four-gallon stainless steel Birko that was turned up to full power but still wasn't boiling. I found a mug in a dark corner and rinsed it out a few times with the water from the Birko and made the coffee and went back to my desk and drank it. It was nice. It contained caffeine and that's all that matters. I'm not complaining.