Thoughts on being a battery hen and why offices are terrible places

27 Jan

I always knew offices were places of terror. Now I’ve had enough proof to last a lifetime.

For since earning some of those nice Monopoly-money green dollar bills has been a pressing concern for new immigrant me, I’ve had to take the first jobs that came my way – in this case, signing up with some Manhattan temping agencies and being sent out on receptionist assignments to banking firms, in the heart of capitalist New York.

My initial thoughts were, it’s not going to be too bad, is it? Surely this will be a doddle after teaching (I’m a qualified EFL teacher) – at least I’ll just be able to sit down and relax all day rather than leap about in front of a class of adults inspiring them in the ways of the English language. Maybe I’ll even get to do some writing/revising Spanish/reading as I sit there, I thought.

And yet, what I had totally forgotten was how much of an extreme torture it is for the restless soul that I am to be forced to sit still, in the same position, all day long. I had forgotten the sheer tedium and brain-draining experience of being constantly sedentary without any recourse to anything intellectually-challenging.

What’s more, being a temp, i.e. replacing the permanent receptionist, meant that I was invisible to the vast majority of staff members who passed my reception desk. So essentially, I was just a drab piece of furniture that they passed by, loudly continuing their inane pointless corporate banter:

-Business is love, ha ha ha (special corporate laugh)

-Happy New Year – To you too! -So far so good! Ha ha ha

-When’s that meeting? -On Tuesday afternoon  -OK I’ll make sure I’m not there, ha ha ha

-We meet again, ha ha ha

-Oh, just to let you know, I’m making those modifications – OK, I’ll let them know the letter’s not going out today

(all genuinely overheard)

Each day felt long enough to have lived an entire lifetime in. I willed myself not to look at the clock, trying to trick time into going faster. To no avail. Each minute was the equivalent of an hour, each hour the equivalent of a day. In the evening, between each lifetime of torture, I made myself laugh when discussing things that had happened only a day or two earlier because to me, they truly felt like they had happened three months ago. Time was playing bad tricks on me.

Then my hubbie, who is even more anti-offices than I am, made a very valid point: Why do we humans make such a point of buying free-range eggs, making sure hens get to run around freely, but not demand the same treatment for ourselves as a basic human right?

It got me thinking. Why indeed do so many humans sit in their office-cages day after day, week after week, year after year, doing tedious, pointless, paper-shuffling work, having to pretend to be busy when they’re not? Surely, in the 21st Century, we must be able to seek out an alternative vision for the general good of humankind?

And then I complain why I’m always so poor.


7 Responses to “Thoughts on being a battery hen and why offices are terrible places”

  1. Aliza Hausman January 28, 2010 at 02:15 #

    That pretty much sums it up.

  2. Yasmina January 28, 2010 at 09:41 #

    My dear Rebecca,
    I admire your and enjoyed reading it and what you sais is truly right but as human being we also need to free our souls from money and gold and expensives bags and oter silly things as the first reason leading peole to do it is that they all looking for fortune and fame t obe recongnise but not freedom for their souls and hapiness in small tiny things which are around us/

    Keep writing it’s so good.
    I love it

  3. Carolyn Farr January 28, 2010 at 10:05 #

    Thank you for your Blog sweets. I’m just about to start temping again myself and I am DREADING IT!!! And the battery hens comparison is so true. Love from a former temping Admiral. Carolynxx

  4. Valerie January 28, 2010 at 14:55 #

    I know…also sadly spent too much time in jobs where each day seems like a lifetime….

  5. alexei January 28, 2010 at 15:14 #

    Well done Rebecca for another insightful article, much enjoyed by us all and particularly Bea and Vita, who enjoyed it enormously.

  6. Unc January 28, 2010 at 16:59 #

    Yes, well said, office jobs – specially ones with no intellectual challenge – are appalling. At least the poor hens aren’t in need of intellectual stimulus!


  1. We’re all here in the henhouse | Water Cooler Etiquette - March 15, 2010

    […] my search I came across Rebeccainspace’s blog entry ‘Thoughts on being a battery hen and why offices are terrible places.’ Like me, she is a temp, and like Douglas Coupland, she likens the experience of office work to […]

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