My office is tucked away in a little-used part of a long corridor on the second floor. It’s a bit shabby, but it’s all mine. And it has a key. I love it. It’s the first time I’ve had an office all to myself, and I revel in being able to do exactly what I want in it. At home I feel duty-bound to put coffee cups in the dishwasher, hang up my coat and pick up my post from the kitchen table, because I share the space with other people; namely my husand, the nanny, and the three pygmies. I am not by nature messy, but there is something gloriously liberating about having my own office – my corporate bachelor pad – and being able to spread my mail across the desk and leave it there till tomorrow.
Before the children arrived I never sought out silence, preferring instead the background noise of television, radio, colleague banter… It must be the constant stream of infant white noise that makes me now crave solitude like a drink in the desert. As soon as the children go to bed I sit down and listen to the blissful silence that pervades the house. So there is no radio in my office, and frequently I close the door on the sound of Melanie a few doors down, whose nasal tones drift down the corridor in lament of some lost love.
Today I felt in need of company and kept my door open onto the working world. I poured distractedly over my desk, listening to the snatches of conversation floating past. I heard a young man’s voice; “I’m on with Rachel today; you know, the ‘work wife’ “. His colleague guffawed with laughter at the term and I wondered how poor Rachel felt when she had heard she would be paired with this 1950s throw-back of misogyny. Did he make her brew the tea, I wondered? Or do his admin and take his phone calls? Had she turned up for work in a pretty frock with a batch of cookies for him? Have we really moved on so little, that sexism is still so prevalent at work?
Perhaps I should find myself a ‘work husband’? I could even up the balance by recruiting someone to do odd jobs for me and carry my briefcase. On second thoughts, he might make me tidy up my office. I think I’ll stay single.
Photo credit: Joey Harrison