Tuesday, December 11, 2012

What Happened at Work So Far Today

Our morning meeting takes place in the reception area because all the conference rooms are booked. There’s a couch, a big ottoman, two tables, some chairs. People walk through the middle, heading in or out the door or along the hallway from one side of the office to the other. Some hurry their pace a little, as though crossing the sight of a tourist’s camera. Some give a little smile that says: There you are in your meeting, and here I am walking through it.

This morning most of the seats were taken. I sat at the high table by the wall, in the corner behind the electric Menorah. I beheld the four fake, flickering flames as account executives discussed this and that. I studied the bearings of the people who walked through. Their various gaits. The meeting broke up and I knocked out the plug while stepping off the stool. The Menorah went dark. I furtively restored it and looked around. No one seemed to notice.

In the men’s room, someone in a stall was engaged in a conference call on speakerphone.

In the middle of the afternoon a colleague suggested we go to the Christmas event that was taking place in the lobby downstairs. The Nutcracker emanated from some unseen string trio and mingled with the din of the assembly. White-clothed tables, festooned with tinsel, ringed the famous globe and lined the marble walls. They bore trays of gingerbread cookies, cake lollipops with red and green frosting, urns of cider and hot chocolate, pitchers of eggnog. A black-clad attendant stood at each, offering to shake nutmeg, to apply aerated cream, to spoon mini-marshmallows with a little plastic spoon. Their faces strained with the discomfort of doing for people what they should do for themselves.