There’s something really exciting when you move into a new office. It feels like New Year in a way; the chance to start afresh with a clean slate. You can rearrange your desk to your satisfaction. You can go on raids into the stationary cupboard to get fresh stocks of paperclips and pads and post-it notes. The smallest and most mundane of things – lockable drawers! A heart shaped clock! – become shiny and exciting.
We have just moved offices for the job I do three days a week, and I am more excited about it than I really ought to be. I spent a happy half hour arranging my new base to my satisfaction, which included selecting which side of the desk my in-tray would go, and lining up my files within an inch of their life. I then raided the organic shop downstairs for snacks to store in the bottom drawer and overcome the afternoon munchies. A pack of sesame sticks, a radio artfully positioned, a new orange highlighter from the stationary cupboard, and I’m good to go.
Positioning of the desk is, of course, very important. I am lucky in that the office has a whole wall of windows that look out across the city, with trees softening the urban landscape. Two church steeples poke their heads out above the red roof tiles and chimney pots, the Victorian terraces contrast with the distant high rise flats, and the old factory’s steam tower presides over it all with a sense of pride.
I now also have the satisfaction of taking the train to work. This sounds strange, I know; if I had to use something like the London underground on a regular basis it would become the norm as a means of getting around. Where I live, however, we are not so lucky to have such a facility, and mostly have to rely on a dreadful and expensive bus service for our public transport. Yet there is a small network of local overground trains, and I am fortunate in that two of them are relatively close to the bases of work and home, so I can use them on a regular basis for commuting. The thrill I got out of taking the train for the first time! It was only two minutes, but I felt like a “real” commuter for the first time in a long time. There’s something about trains and stations, particularly in the mornings and evenings; people are in work mode, striding across the concourse with their newspapers and cups of coffee and umbrellas peeking out of bags. Women look incredibly smart, until you reach their feet and notice the comfortable but unattractive trainers they’re sporting in order to walk more quickly. Men in suits often have that distracted, “I’m so important” look on their faces, as they shoot back their cuffs to check the time. People effortlessly lift up their folding bikes over the ticket barrier and sprint to catch their train. I love just people-watching and thinking about where they’re going, what their job is. Now I’m a part of it too, rather than an occasional onlooker. It may only be for three days a week, but it’s enough.