I've been going through a gradual adjustment period lately, one that's bringing me into the realm of the Adult©. I've been getting up early, making my lunch the night before, using my little glass Tupperware and toting my lunches off to the florescent-lit open-concept space where I spend my days answering the phones, stapling papers together, making small talk around the water cooler, and desperately trying to make my face look a normal face when my boss says, "Can I see you in my office for a second?"
There are perks to the office job that I wasn't expecting. I don't really have to think too hard about what I'm wearing - as long as it would pass muster at, say, a synagogue: elbows and knees covered, hair pinned back, flat shoes and only the merest touch of glitter eyeshadow. I have a schedule, the same one every day. I'm even starting get used to getting up early, and a small part of me even sort of...enjoys it? That can't be right. The Adult© part of me relishes my morning routine of cereal and a hard-boiled egg, even as the perpetual teenager in me looks longingly at my cozy bed every morning.
I mean, aside from the perky little paycheck, there are other bonuses to the office gig. I pride myself on staying organized - a clean desk and all my Post-It notes in a row. An job in an office lets that part of me shine through, and I enjoy the process of keeping a tidy computer and making sure my email inbox is cleaned out. It's a weird thing to take so much pleasure in, but it's also helping to make this position more tenable. Even when it's mundane and pedestrian, playing to a person's skills helps endear the job to a new employee.
To be honest, I sort of have a boner for office supplies. I adore labels, boxes of fresh envelopes, new pencils and bulldog clips. I like staplers with enough weight to kill a man in a roman noir. I like stamps that make a big blue COPY in the corner of the page. I'm starting to learn how to use the big photocopier, and while it's not a skill that's going to qualify me for anything other than an entry level job, it helps when I fantasize about making a 'zine at work. Office supplies are designed to streamline and easy-make the job, and I appreciate their functional designs and frill-free aesthetic.
Just like a black apron and nerves of steel are in a waitress's toolbox, being impervious to boredom and a drawer full of hanging files are the tools of the office drone's trade. Every job has its own thing - forklift drivers usually have those hefty gloves, celebutantes have pants full of other people's cocaine, go-go dancers have their big white boots, and hairdressers have their weird glass cyclinders full of combs and what I assume is Windex©. CEOs have expensive suits, and their underlings have telemarketer headsets. Feeling equipped to do a job, whatever that job is, means that folks have both the skills and talent, and that the people they're working for have provided them with the tools to do the best job they can.
That's why the access to office supplies is so bizarrely thrilling - because it's so novel, I'm acutely aware of the fact that my employers have given me these tools. I mean, it's not like I'm whistling my way out the door with a ream of legal-sized paper in cornflower tucked into my messenger bag; I realize that the stack of file folders on my desk isn't a gift, just for me. But it speaks to the trust that a company has in its employees, to not waste and to use their money in appropriate ways. It's a new thing, to be entrusted with that, and it's sort of heady.
I guess I'll just have to wander around a Staples or a Grand & Toy as a civilian sometime soon, picking up index cards and making sure my three-hole punch is back from the shop. And incorporating some of that organizational flair into my personal life is like investing in myself, the same way a corporation does. And if and when I'm ground down by the monotony and futility of office work, I'll at least take the tools of trade with me.