August 27th, 2003



Who said this job didn't have any perks?

When the suits have suity meetings, they are usually supplied with free (free!) sandwiches, presumably as fuel for the ensuing protracted (and proactive) meetings of endless arse-scratching tedium. When they don't finish all the free (free!) sandwiches, we lowly plebs are granted the privilege of rummaging through the brown-breaded slightly-stale executive detritus, and consuming what we find therein.

As a result, I now have a free (free!) lunch, which cost me no money, and which consists of three sandwiches. One of the sandwiches is definitely tuna and cucumber; of this much there is no doubt, as it can be smelt from several desks away. (In an open-plan office, there's no such thing as "my" egg sandwich.) The other two appear to be something which is almost, but not entirely, unlike mushroom. It tastes slightly of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup, and has the approximate consistency of sludgy brains.

The cheapest sandwich I could have bought from the company sandwich vendor would have been about £1.80 for something appetising like prawn and grape. By consuming these so-called sandwiches, these disgraces to the good Earl's name, I have therefore saved enough money to buy myself three cans of coke.

Dear god, it's not tuna after all. At least... I don't know what it is, but the texture is mush, the taste is somewhere between ripe cheese and crab paste, and it still smells of tuna.

I have saved £1.80 ... but at what cost?
  • Current Mood
    not free (free!), but cheap

The old straight track

The spores of routine, accidentally inhaled, can take root in your body; and before you know it an entire tree will be growing there, ripening its unsavoury fruit.

When I worked here full-time and had a small electronic smart-key that allowed me to enter by the most convenient door, every morning I walked past a manhole cover or similar metallic aperture on which the word 'Earth' was (and still is) embossed.

I caught sight of this out of the corner of my eye, and noticed that it said 'Earth'. Some short-circuit of the brain made me read this as 'Earith', or rather, made me realise that I could have misread it as 'Earith', since they were only different by one letter, though they were not necessarily pronounced similarly. This reminded me that I did not know how to pronounce 'Earith'. By the time I had finished this musing, I was inside the building.

From then on, I always noticed the manhole cover, and the word 'Earth', with its visual whisper of 'Earith', which I still did not know how to pronounce; the resulting mental itch carried me scratching over the threshold every morning. After a while, the noticing became self-referential: I was glancing at the manhole cover and thinking "I always notice that, and see the word 'Earth', and I do not misread it as 'Earith' but it reminds me of it all the same, and I still do not know how to pronounce 'Earith'." The self-referentiality became resentful: "I do not want to notice this manhole cover every morning and have the word 'Earith' which I still do not know how to pronounce lodged in my mind all day!" Sometimes, for variety, I would defiantly look away as I walked past the offending ironwork, and would think to myself "Today I have successfully ignored the manhole cover, the words 'Earth' and 'Earith', the whole sorry routine."

I resigned from my job, and returned on a freelance basis, without the privilege of a small electronic smart-key that allows me to enter by the most convenient door. This was nothing to do with the manhole cover, or the word 'Earith', which I still do not know how to pronounce. Now I have to enter by the main door, and sign in, noting the time when I enter and the time when I leave. This deliberate, forced routine has erased the old routine, but I still know that the old routine is there, because some paths are still paths even if nobody travels them, and other paths will never be paths no matter how fervently they are signposted.

A small matter of procedure

This brings us to the question of whether to tip the coke into the half-empty coffee cup, or the coffee into the half-empty coke can. Factors to be taken into consideration include, but are not limited to, the following:

i. The preferred ratio of coke to coffee,
ii. The preferred temperature of each component liquid (separately and/or combined),
iii. The relative pricing of the component liquids (see Appendix I),
iv. The desired quantity of the resulting combination.

It was agreed that we would look into the possibility of providing an alternative container for the combining of the two liquids. [Action point: JM to investigate.]

Appendix I

In August 2003 a 330ml container ('can') of Coca-Cola ('coke') retailed from Cambridge Vending Machines Ltd. ('the drinks machine') at £0.50.

Coffee followed a more complex pricing matrix, viz.:

Fresh Brew£0.00£0.00£0.00£0.00
Instant Medium Roast£0.00£0.00£0.00£0.00

All types of coffee are sold in the same measure, that is, "small plastic cup".
  • Current Mood