For reasons that must remain unexpressed at the moment, I am no longer employed. I am incredibly, dare I say joyously busy, just not in an office-clothes, twice-a-month-paycheck sort of way, and that being the case, I am now somewhat free to blog about my (former) job. “Somewhat” in that I still respect that boundary and would never do anything to jeopardize the goodwill I built with the people I worked with. Especially since some of them now read my blog. (Hi, Robyn!!)
My former boss was always trying to get me to pay attention to what was going on in the office, and rightly so. Part of my job was to make sure things were looking good / coffee was made / there were no slicks of vomit in the copy room. Usual admin. asst. stuff. But part of his big-picture view was to stretch everyone employed there beyond their boundaries. Which I thought was kind of great, him taking an active interest in our achievements, but since I travel in a magic bubble with a radius the length of a bratwurst, my uncertain boundaries and distinct lack of achievement came under his scrutiny almost daily.
I could cope with normal office demands — I mean, if something was beeping I’d answer it, open it up, turn it off, or aim a fire extinguisher at it — but it was the above-and-beyond stuff that revealed how intensely horizontal my learning curve could be. And one duty that was definitely above-and-beyond for a serial plant-killer like me was to keep an eye on the office greenery. Once my boss learned that keeping things alive* was a weak area for me, he was on me like a hornet.
*Plants, children, relationships . . .
“Do you know what kind of plant that is?” he asked me one day, gesturing toward a new inmate in a clay pot.
“Uh, some kind of fern?” I asked hopefully.
“It’s a coffee plant. See how the leaves are drooping?”
“. . .”
“They’re not supposed to do that.”
I took the hint and found a watering can. “You might want to get a book,” he suggested.
“On plants?” I asked in amazement. “To read?” Clearly he had no understanding of how deep my strain of underachieving runs.
Meanwhile, it was also my duty to train the temp who came in on days I needed off, and apparently the universe’s idea of a joke was to give me a temp with a botany degree.
“Does anyone take care of these plants?” she asked, hands on hips. She took nearly an hour to walk around the office and take stock of every life form confined to a pot. “Where are you getting your compost from?” she asked me seriously.
I told her. (I knew that! I knew where the compost was from! Ten points!)
“Well, it’s the wrong kind,” she said, shaking her head. “And those listeria albicans in the back have half an inch of water in their saucers! They don’t like getting their feet wet, you know.”
Uh, no, as a matter of fact, I didn’t know.
The game of “Which Plant Is Eden Not Paying Attention To Today?” reached its climax two weeks ago when I was sitting at reception and my boss walked up to the counter, flicked a mouldering frond of autumn bouquet not two feet in front of my nose, and asked me if I thought its condition radiated anything other than SCREAMING DEATH.
I guess in my defense I should say that I was pretty good at other office stuff. I opened the mail without stabbing myself. And I wore shoes almost every single day!