Stationery drama


In this job, one of the ways I can be most useful is in providing academics with stationery. I increasingly find myself living for those moments when an academic bursts into the office, breathless and flustered, gasping:

“Please can you help me? I can’t find a post-it note.”

I can almost hear the triumphant chords of a violin chorus as I sweep post-it and pen from my desk and into their outstretched hand, with one smooth movement of my office chair.

“No problem.” I smile beneficently back at their delighted eyes.

So imagine my distress this week, when my colleague tells me not to give our supply of box files away to an academic in need. I freeze, clutching the flatpack cardboard and gazing sympathetically at the scholar standing, perplexed, in the office doorway.

The seconds seem endless as my colleague launches into a lecture on the correct process for ordering stationery. Still holding the cardboard prize, I’m caught in the crossfire as the academic begins to negotiate – he’ll fill out all his overdue paperwork in exchange for one box file. My manager and I exchange a glance across the room – we know how high the stakes are.

At last, defeated by the length of the awkward pause that ensues, my colleague relents. The academic can take the box file – this time. I shove it into his hands and scarper back to my desk. He backs out of the office wearing an expression reflective of the horrors he’s just experienced. My colleague reprises her lecture to the office in general as I make a mental note to order more box files.



Around 2pm

This day has been at least three weeks long. Been texting parents, desperate for some gossip. Mum lost Dad in Marks and Spencer’s. Then she found him and they’ve gone to get coffee. Feeling somewhat jealous – pensioners have such action-packed lives.

Work diary

As of a few months ago, I am working in ‘communications’ – although whether the work I am doing qualifies as communications is another matter – at what is supposedly a university. It looks sufficiently like Hogwarts, but there is a suspicious lack of any students on campus. At all.

In an attempt to maintain a positive attitude, I am (sort of) aiming to live by the 4 principles in the ‘FISH!’ workplace philosophy*:

  • Choose your attitude
  • Play
  • Be present
  • Make someone’s day

and to make a new friend or acquaintance every day.

*As described by Stephen C. Lundin, Harry Paul and John Christensen in their book ‘FISH!’



First day back at work after Christmas. The job is still relatively new, but I’m getting to know the people quite well. They’re all very friendly and kind, but there’s a pervasive laid-back attitude that’s sadly at odds with my natural inclination to throw my whole self into my work. I’m like a particularly excited goat that wandered into the tortoise enclosure and just can’t get with the vibe.

At lunchtime I went in search of a staff choir that I once saw a poster about somewhere. Found the room after prolonged exploration, at the end of what could be described as a secret passageway covered with poems and Shakespeare quotes. The room itself was a surprise enormous drama room, which is a bit odd considering this university doesn’t teach drama.

It may have been the room of requirement.

No sign of a choir, but I made friends with the man in the sandwich shop so consider the day a success.