Becky says things about … work emails

Ah, the work email. A minefield of misinterpretation, ambiguity and passive aggression. I once received an email that was so laden with classic passive aggressive venom that I’m surprised it managed to waddle into my inbox:

Hideous, yes? No. Being a happily passive aggressive person myself, this gruesome missive in fact provided me with the holy grail: the Smug Passive Aggressive Email Counter Attack. I swiftly responded with:

Listeners, that gem of an email encounter kept me going for weeks. 

Aren’t work emails fantastic? Oh, the multitudinous ways you can imply that you consider the email recipient to be a moron! The unabashed glee of being able to write ‘For clarity…’, knowing full well that the email recipient will, quite correctly, translate that short phrase to mean ‘To hammer home this point that has been made literally millions of times before and which you seem incapable of grasping and which is screamingly obvious to the other 3,407 people who are copied in to this email, who now also see that you are a monumental luddite…’

The giddy revelry of beginning an email with ‘Thank you for your email’, being completely aware that the recipient will – again, correctly – translate it as ‘I am about to launch into the most scathing attack on the pitiful incompetence you have displayed in your previous email and I will do it under the guise of polite professionalism so there’s no way you can complain that the obvious subtext is YOU’RE A MASSIVE DICK’.

And, if you’re very lucky, the perfect beauty of being able to end an email with ‘Happy to discuss’, which basically means:

But emailing is not all glee and smugness.

You must deal with non-responders.

There are various levels of non-responders, dependent upon their previous experience of not responding, their incompetence, and their inherent knobbishness. They all deserve a lifetime of misery.

The softcore non-responder will be embarrassed into submission after a couple of ‘I look forward to hearing from you’s, and may well display some contrition in their eventual response, however unfeeling:

The hardcore non-responder is a different beast. The hardcore non-responder will retreat into a mire of silence, sit back in their chair and simply watch as your emails get more and more desperate and less veiled with professionalism.

The hardcore-non responder is not even flustered by the dynamite of passive-aggressive email tools: the Read Receipt. A hardcore non-responder simply will not accept your Read Receipt, and therefore you have no way of knowing whether you are emailing a rude person or a dead person.

But there is a level above that: the extreme hardcore non-responder. This Dr Evil of the workplace will accept your Read Receipt, knowing that this will trick you into thinking that, as they have definitely seen your email, they will, at some point, respond.

So after 2 years and 437 increasingly demonic emails from you, it becomes patently clear that this extreme non-responder saw your email and made the conscious decision that you are not worthy of a response, and, they not only do not care that you know this but they want you to know this. 

This warrants only one response.


Then there are the email typos.

Unless you have actually made this mistake yourself, you won’t necessarily appreciate how perilous the innocuous phrase ‘Kind regards’ is, and how the proximity of certain letters to other letters can result in a potentially catastrophic email sign-off:

Fortunately, in the half-second before I pressed ‘Send’, my eyes fell on my terrible error, and my left hand was able to stop my right hand from committing a potential disciplinary.

And as for email greetings and sign-offs – well. Just look what a difference it makes.

This is okay, isn’t it?

Then this. This is not okay.

What about the accidental kisses? A strongly worded email to your local MP advising them that you think they are a useless sack of balls is slightly undermined by:

Equally, a misplaced ‘xx’ at the end of an email attaching a job application may as well scream ‘I WILL SUCK YOUR TOES IF YOU GIVE ME THIS JOB’.

I look forward to your comments.

Best wishes

Becky xx

SHAMELESS PLUG:

I publish greetings cards! If you fancy one (or two, or three, or ten), check out my shop on Etsy here! 

A few lovely examples…

 

 

 

Becky says things about … commuting

A multiple choice question for you, lovely Listener.

Would you rather:

a) Peel off your own cheek, rub salt into the bloody gaping hole, then staple the skin back to your now irreversibly deformed face;

b) Attempt to crawl inside the anus of an elephant who has just suffered from what his keeper calls ‘a wobbly tummy’; or

c) Stand in a confined space with your face inside the armpit of a stranger, and breathe in not only his gasses and vapours, but the gasses and vapours of a million other people in the same confined space for an indeterminate amount of time, twice a day?

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If you have opted for a) or b), you are most likely a commuter. Hello, fellow commuters. My name is Becky, and I am a commuter.

Twice a day, I stand in a train carriage along with approximately 2,450,957 other people. There is nothing pleasant about this.

I am short, Listener. I am 5 foot 4 inches. I therefore spend a great deal of my time standing below the faces of people taller than me, and when I am trying to read my book it is difficult to concentrate when I am caught in the violent torrent of a tall man’s nose breath.

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I board the morning train looking like this:

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and disembark looking like this:

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This is displeasing. It has also taught me that tall men breathe A LOT. More than is probably necessary.

I try to use the commuting time to read a book, in order to edify my mind. However, due to the fact that I am crammed into a small box with those 2,450,957 other people, this doesn’t always work out.

Example of failed reading #1:

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Example of failed reading #2:

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Oh, the intimate proximity of others, Listener. Faces everywhere. I turn my head to the right and my eyeball brushes against the eyeball of the man next to me. I turn my head to the left, and the girl chewing gum over my shoulder accidentally bites off my nose. I am so trapped I can only stare directly at whatever is straight ahead of me. On a recent journey, this happened to be an old, faded streak of bird poo on the back of a man’s jacket. By the end of the journey I was livid. JUST GET IT DRY CLEANED YOU FILTHY MONSTER. A whole journey staring into the face of another human’s evil disregard for cleanliness. Hellish.

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As a commuter, you learn to perform everyday actions at a minute fraction of their normal spatial requirements: sliding an object out of your bag with a movement invisible to the naked eye; holding your phone against your retina in order to text. This doesn’t always work out: last week my headphone wire got caught in the spokes of my umbrella as I was trying to fold it away into my bag, and my head ended up being sucked into my own handbag.

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And what if a song that you don’t like comes on your iPod? Or if the volume is UNBELIEVABLY LOUD AND IS LITERALLY RIPPING YOUR EAR DRUMS TO SHREDS AND WILL CAUSE YOU UNTOLD AURAL PROBLEMS FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE??? There is nothing you can do about it. One of your arms is wedged against the testicles of an overweight businessman, and the other is pinned to your side by the force of 594 school children. You must spend the journey either being musically abused by the song you don’t like, or being deafened to the point of tears. The only thing you can do is just be brave, Listener. Brave.

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I entered a train carriage the other week to be faced with a man’s backpack. It was preventing me from getting my whole body inside the carriage, which is often necessary for a safe journey. I politely asked the man to take off his backpack so there was more room for me.

The man answered me with a cold, hard stare that said ‘When you die, I will not only give an incorrect church address to all your mourners, but I will visit your lonely grave and write in marker-pen on the gravestone: ‘I’ll wear my backpack wherever the f*ck I like”.

I was thus forced to hope that my body was mostly inside the train carriage, and as the doors closed, I was relieved to discover that I had not lost a crucial appendage – until I realised that my hair had become trapped in the door. I realised this because it forced my head to slowly lift towards the ceiling, so I had to spend the entire journey gazing quizzically aloft and pretending I was thinking deeply about something, with this bastard’s backpack wedged against my chin.

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Commuting is like being thrown into a Room 101 filled with all the horrendous things about human beings that you already hate. Incessant clearing of throats. Loud breathing. Snorting. Sniffing. Swallowing. Loud chewing. Random and inexplicable grunting. Loud private conversations about Sebastian’s unreliable cornet tutor or Roger’s worsening hernia, or loud business conversations filled with buzzwords and acronyms that make you want to vomit into your own sleeve.

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Commuting is the Devil’s journey. Commuting is our penance for all the bad things we have done in our lives. And our reward for our morning’s worth of psychological and physical abuse?

Work.

Brilliant.

 

Becky says things about … the first day of a new job

Let me tell you a story, Listener. A story of fear.

Yesterday I walked into my local coffee shop. I glanced at the menu board and made my decision. There was a young girl standing behind the counter. We looked at each other.

I realised I was looking into the face of fear.

The girl had TRAINEE BARISTA emblazoned on her shirt.

Ordering coffee from her felt a bit like this:

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She handled the milk jug like it contained a human heart, poured the milk into my cup as though it were the pureed remains of Christ himself, and when she spilt the tiniest globule onto the counter, looked at me as though I was going to club her to death with a raisin whirl and whispered ‘I’m so sorry – it’s my first day’, I wanted to hug her.

Because, most adored Listener, is there any fear like the first day of a new job?

My first ever day of work was at a telesales company that sold double glazing. I was 15 years old. I was presented with a sticky phone, a soiled phonebook, a chewed pencil, a grimy script, and a deep sense of everything in the world being black and wretched.

I was told to call members of the public and sell them double glazing. I stared at my besmeared equipment and suddenly realised that I had an insurmountable phobia of phones, people, talking, and life. If I had been given the choice of phoning a stranger and trying to sell them double glazing, or sandpapering my own corneas, my decision would have been swift.

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After 20 minutes of trying to devise a cunning and elaborate escape, I pulled myself together, dialled the first number and had a brief conversation with a member of the English public that went something along the lines of:

‘Hi, my name’s Becky, I’m not trying to sell you anything but – ‘

‘If you call me again I will hunt you down and I will kill you.’

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On my first day of working in a gift shop when I was 16, I realised I had a terrible fear of greetings cards. Oh, Listener, they all look perfectly harmless when they’re neatly stacked in their displays, but when you’re the poor chump who has to get them out of their box, find the right slots, price them, and stock-check them against a mystifying coding system that was devised by an evil genius in a distant subterranean lair, it is alarming.

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After emerging from the emotional persecution of greetings cards, I was handed a duster and told to dust the shelves. As a result, I discovered a snippet of wisdom that is invaluable for your first day in a new job: find a task you can do and do it very slowly and very thoroughly, thereby keeping well out of that shark-infested deep water and remaining safely in your comfort zone.

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I dusted for about four hours, bristling with terror every time a customer came near me, until the worst fear of anyone on their first day in retail was realised: SOMEONE ASKED ME SOMETHING. 

Everything went into slow motion. The customer’s words morphed out of his mouth, slowly cutting into my soul like demonic blades.

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Fortunately, there was an incredibly simple answer, and I learnt my second piece of wisdom: PEOPLE ARE GENERALLY STUPID.

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What about your first day in an office, Becky? I hear you ask. Behold, sweet Listener.

If you are unfortunate enough to be taking over someone’s job, starting work in an office is like bursting in on a recently-bereaved family, grabbing the urn off the mantelpiece, and shitting in it.

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Your desk is not your own – it is the desk of Val, or Beryl, or Graham, or whichever adorable and much-loved colleague sat there before you. On that first day, and for a fair time thereafter, you are The Person Who Took Over Val’s Job. You are using Val’s pencil. You are using Val’s stapler. You open Val’s desk drawer to find a festering, tea-encrusted mug, and you innocently hold it up and say ‘Er – is this anyone’s?’ and the office sinks into a stony, grieving silence, and before long your new colleagues have grown enormous ginger beards, are wearing horned helmets, and are telling you you are not welcome in their village.

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But there is no fear, no abject terror comparable to your first day working behind a bar.

I was 20. I walked behind the bar on my first shift to be confronted with the blank staring faces of eight men behind a gauze of smoke. I couldn’t have felt more exposed if I had removed all my clothes and straddled the beer pumps.

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The landlord then proceeded to place me two feet away from the group of customers, wrap his arms around me, put his hand over mine on the beer pump, and pull it down, all the while murmuring ‘Theeeeeeeeere we go, pull it hhhaaaarrd, don’t be afraid of it, give it a good tug now’, while the men viewed me in solemnly judging silence. I will give 50 English pounds to the 20 year-old girl who claims she would be comfortable in this situation.

I spent my first shift staring numbly at the ludicrous amount of bottles, the baffling multitude of glasses, and wondering whether I could make it through my entire barmaiding career without ever having to serve anyone a drink.

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The most unnerving thing about that first day was the exposure. In Space no one can hear you scream, right? Well, behind a bar everyone can hear you scream, and everyone can hear when you drop a glass and everyone can see when your skirt’s tucked into your knickers and everyone can see when you’re staring desperately at the bottle shelves trying desperately to see the Pernod and pretending desperately that you’re not trying desperately to see the Pernod, and there is no escape. Space is easy. 

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So I felt for that girl in the coffee shop. The only advice I can give her is that it will get easier. She will become more confident, more assured, until she will wonder what she ever worried about. She will also develop a profound abhorrence for the human race and everything it stands for, but that’s just the beauty of life.

Becky says things about … monstrous things about working in an office

Fairest and most magnificent Listeners, I salute you.

Do you work in an office? Yes? No? Not sure? (If you’re not sure I suggest you rethink your suitability to the workplace in general.)

If you work in an office, as I have done for the last five years, then you will understand that it holds many joys. To name but a few:

  •  office banter (only yesterday I mused out loud ‘What’s my password?’ and my boss replied ‘ ‘I’m a fuckwit’?’);
  • office pranks (who doesn’t enjoy covering every single item on their colleague’s desk with pictures of David Hasselhoff?);
  • office cakes (raspberry lamington from Jean in Finance, anyone?);
  • office insults (tip: insert any office or stationary item before the word ‘wanker’ i.e. ‘hole-punch wanker’ or ‘spreadsheet wanker’ (isn’t it fun? (okay, thank The Inbetweeners for that one)));
  • unbridled access to lots and lots of stationary.

Yep, working in an office can be an absolute joy.

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HOWEVER.

There are some truly monstrous things about working in an office. Things that make you question the very nature of human existence and contemplate the annihilation thereof. Take a deep breath, oh trusting Listener, and dare to face, in no particular order,

MONSTROUS THINGS ABOUT WORKING IN AN OFFICE

1. The Toilets

Forget the ‘in no particular order’ thing, this is definitely the number 1 most monstrous thing.

Now, I can’t speak for you blokes. I do not frequent the men’s toilets and therefore can’t make legitimately scathing remarks about your sanitation habits. However, I am extremely qualified to be scathing about the women’s toilets. Picture this: you have been on the phone for an hour. The person on the other end will not shut up and you are about to suffer an MBM (Mortifying Bladder Malfunction). You finally get off the phone, sprint to the toilets, barge through a cubicle door, and are faced with this:

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That’s right. The woman who used this toilet before you deemed it appropriate – necessary, even – to defy social convention and wee on the toilet instead of in the toilet. Yes, menfolk, it’s not just you who suffer the odd wayward wee. The sight you see above happens ALL.THE.TIME.

And I know who the culprits are. They are The Crouchers. The women who cannot bear to have their precious behinds touch the odious filth of the toilet seat.

I have three things to say to The Crouchers:

a) The toilet seat was not odiously filthy before you crouched over it to avoid touching its odious filthiness. It was odiously filthy after you crouched over it to avoid touching its odious filthiness, thus making it odiously filthy. Do not crouch. Your wee will go wayward. You are odiously filthy.

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b) Unless you are odiously filthy yourself, you would never, ever, be fine with leaving your own toilet in your own home in that it odious state. That is how The Plague started. If you must crouch, clean it up. For the love of God. Clean it up.

c) Your wee is always, without fail, always, this colour:

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You are not drinking enough water.  Drink some water.

2. When People Don’t Respond

Imagine you meet your friend at the pub. You’ve got a lot to chat about. You sit down in front of her and the following occurs:

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Aside from being a very unsuccessful night out, there may be a number of reasons why she is not responding to you:

  1. She has taken a vow of silence.
  2. She can’t be bothered.
  3. She is in a bad mood and just doesn’t want to talk.
  4. She is abominably rude.
  5. She hasn’t noticed you are there.
  6. She is dead.

Whatever the reason, it will exasperate, peeve, and infuriate you. That’s what it’s like when people don’t respond to emails. It makes you want to send an email along these lines:

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They still won’t respond.

3. When You Don’t Respond

So you got on your high horse about people not responding to your emails. You curse their incompetence and their appalling rudeness. You would never do such a crass and unprofessional thing. Then you receive the following email:

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Realising you are not perfect is a harsh cross to bear. A harsh cross.

4. Food Smells

You understand that people need to eat at certain times of the day. You yourself have a lovely ham and cheese sandwich in the fridge that you are very much looking forward to. But some of your colleagues are insistent that they must feast on the smelliest of foods for their lunch and think nothing of inflicting these pungent aromas on the rest of the office. Is last night’s curry necessary? Mexican? Smoked mackerel? Chinese cabbage? A chilli so spicy that it causes the rest of the office workers’ eyes to fall out?

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This is monstrous.

5. Colleagues who provide a running commentary on their daily activities 

You know the sort I mean. The colleagues who lack an interior monologue. Who tell you everything. I mean everything, from how many emails they have in their inbox, to how they have responded to said emails, to which documents they have just printed, to their intention to rise from their chair to collect said document from the printer, to how they have just inserted a formula into a spreadsheet, to how they are waiting for someone to respond to an email and how they are going to heat up last night’s curry for lunch.

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It is unnecessary. Unnecessary and monstrous.

6. The Fire Alarm Test

Despite the fact it happens every week, on the same day, at the same time, it will still take a year off your life and give you a small heart attack.

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7. People who leave long voicemails

We’ve all had them. The ones that begin: ‘Hi, it’s Barry – just after a quick catch-up on mousemat situation…..’

THREE HOURS PASS

‘…. anyway, give me a buzz when you’re back and we’ll chat about it.’

Please, Barry.

‘Hi it’s Barry, give me a call back when you can’ will suffice. Listen to me, Barry. Life’s too short.

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8. Technology

Our world is very high-tech. Isn’t it great? Of course it is. We don’t need to use pens anymore, we can send messages across the world at the click of a button, we can do anything, ANYTHING.

Except that we can’t.

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9. People who have in-depth conversations in inappropriate places

Namely: by the sinks or fridge in the kitchen or in the toilets. How many times have you been frightened to retrieve your salad from the fridge because these people are standing right in front of the fridge?

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Perhaps more monstrously, why do people choose to reveal their deepest, darkest secrets in the toilets? Toilet conversations are best left for nightclubs, where you can cry, shout, or throw up in the sink to your heart’s content, and everyone else is too drunk to notice or care. I appreciate that you may be concerned about your son’s marijuana habit – although you should be grateful it’s not heroin or sheep (terrible thing, a sheep habit) – but when I go to the toilet I do not want to hear your conversation, just like you do not want to hear my tinkling. I’d like to tinkle in private thank you very much. Hearing about your son’s marijuana habit a foot away from me as I sit on the toilet gives me stage fright and I’ll just have to sit there not weeing until you leave.

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Yes, I know. It’s been a painful journey of monstrous situations, many of which you may have experienced only today. And you will experience them again tomorrow. And the next day. And the next.

But keep smiling. It’s Friday tomorrow.

Becky says things about … meetings

Oh, sweetest listener.

Meetings.

They are an integral part of grown-up life, like love, depression, and buying the wrong bin bags. Whatever your vocation in this strange and bewildering grown-up world, you will, at some point, have sat through a meeting.

That meeting might have been so phenomenal that you emerged from it on a PowerPoint-induced high and were forced to do something spontaneous and dangerous, like a bungee jump or get an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet, just to make use of the adrenaline.

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On the other hand, that meeting might have caused you to question the very meaning of humanity and your status therein, wish a terrible ‘accident’ upon everyone the room, and wonder whether the fall from the window would kill you.

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As the question ‘Why are meetings evil?’ is one of the most pressing and profound in the modern world, I have attempted to answer this with a comprehensive list of reasons, and, for the good of mankind, have also suggested the best methods with which to remedy these ghastly situations. (I did prepare a PowerPoint presentation, but Stickman closed it down before I could save it, all because he wanted to look at his disgusting websites.)

Content

The foundations behind any meeting’s evilness. I have never sat down at a large cluster of tables with a plastic cup of cold coffee and been told ‘Right, the purpose of today’s meeting is to design a Julie Andrews-themed theme park, and come up with names for the rides, like ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialigoodnessmethisisfast’. We will also be drawing a lot of pictures of roller coasters.’

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That literally never happens.

What does happen, is someone says ‘BLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA QUALITY DATA BLAAAAAAAAAAAAAA PERFORMANCE INDICATORS BLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA SPREADSHEETS BLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA EFFICIENCY MANAGEMENT BLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAABIMBAMBUMBOODLE I’M GOING TO BORE THE BUM OFF YOU BUMBUMBUMBUMBUMSPOON.’

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Due to the fact that the topic under discussion is invariably as enchanting as a hernia, the very act of being alive can become a strain. You begin to wish your skin would melt off just so you could leave the room to get some Savlon from the first aid box. The speaker’s words cease to be words, just noises, like a walrus humming. Concern grows that your brain might actually be crumbling, and will soon dribble out of your ears like a torrent of soggy moths. The clock tells you you have two more hours to endure, and you panic.

Remedy

If there is a view from the window, estimate how long it would take you to travel from one end of the view to the other using various styles of movement i.e. crawling, galloping, ambling as though filled with hubris. If there is no view from the window, imagine one bursting with sunshine, meadows, sparkling brooks, and those cartoon cupids from Fantasia. If there is no window, get out immediately. You are being held against your will and they are going to torture you, remove your limbs, and laugh at your helpless torso.

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Room Temperature

In an age where we can hold the world in our hands, explore distant galaxies, and make washing machines that are also tumble dryers, no one has invented a meeting room with a stable climate in which living organisms can exist comfortably for any portion of time. In these chambers of atmospheric whimsy you will either be boiled to death in temperatures that make the Sahara feel like an English Summer, or you will get hypothermia, pneumonia and frostbite in a sub-zero climate about which you can do absolutely NOTHING, because the air-conditioning is controlled from an office in Saffron Waldon, and by the time you have logged a call, requested that the air-conditioning is turned off, received an acknowledgement of your request and a promise to respond within 24 hours, you will already be dead.

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Remedy

If it is too hot, strip to your underwear, lie on the table and ask the speaker for a Lemon Fanta and a massage. If it is too cold, your most judicious option is to make a hefty coat from the skins of your colleagues. If you have no instruments with which to achieve this (don’t underestimate the uses of the humble Biro) or are of a non-murderous disposition, you’ll just have to hold up a placard with a polite request to put the heating on, vocal ability having been rendered impossible due to the air-conditioning drying your passages so that they resemble the dusty pipes of a derelict manor house.

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Human Noises

Without doubt the most deathly appalling and evil element of any meeting. In that inescapable confined space you are subjected to the various bodily clanks and clunks of people you haven’t chosen to be locked up with, because why would you choose to spend two hours with someone who clears their throat every six and a half seconds? Not a cough, listener – they never actually cough, there is an apparently insufficient build-up of phlegm to warrant an actual cough – a mere clearing of the throat. Every six and a half seconds. You know the sort I mean. A little ‘hahhugm’ noise. Every six and a half seconds. After two hours each ‘hahhugm’ is like a dagger in your heart.

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And then you must contend with the sniffers, the sneezers, the sighers, and, the godfather of all evil meeting elements: the speaker’s mouth noises.

The loud swallows, listener – every squelch his saliva makes as it forces itself down his throat echoes through the room and pierces your very soul with its heinousness. The sucking of his tongue on his teeth every time he draws breath or starts a new sentence; the occasional slurp or snort; or the accumulation of such a quantity of saliva in his mouth that it sounds like  he’s talking through a mouthful of cotton wool, and this only serves to intensify your growing panic as you begin to rock back and forth, a tear forms in your eye, and you silently offer up your own grandmother in exchange for just one swallow from the speaker.

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Remedy

There is no easy way to deal with this evil meeting situation without making tyrannical and barbaric use of staple guns and shredding machines.

No, I mean there really is no other way.

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Epic Fatigue

It is well-known that meeting rooms are fitted with devices that spray invisible yet potent soporific gases into the atmosphere to cause almost coma-level drowsiness and extreme weakness in the inhabitants of said room. There is no other way to explain the unfathomable and almost biblical lethargy that one feels immediately upon entering a meeting room. You might think you’re a fairly virile, bounding sort of chap – you eat a lot of pulses and lean protein, and you fit in a couple of 5K runs a week and people say things like ‘I wish I had your energy’ or ‘I can’t keep up with you’ – and yet you are no match for the epic fatigue that consumes your entire being during a meeting.

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Remedy

There are two effective methods to combat the epic fatigue: the first is to make a cocktail of espresso, Lucozade, Red Bull and cocaine, and fifteen minutes before the meeting inject it into your veins. There are possible extraordinary side effects of this method, including re-enacting an entire battle scene from Gladiator with you playing all the parts (including the horses), building a scale model of a pyramid using pencils, agendas and your colleagues, and trying to walk on the ceiling.

A less disruptive method is to simply give in to the epic fatigue and get yourself a nice couple of hours kip, with only a marginal risk of shouting out potentially compromising dream words.

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So there you have it. I hope you now feel equipped, dear attentive listener, to deal with any future meetings that you will inevitably have to attend if you are to remain in this grown-up life. There is, of course, the catalogue of Plausible and Implausible But Always Mega Excuses to Avoid Going to a Meeting, which you should carry around with you at all times, particularly for those unscheduled meetings that managers like to spring on employees to make sure they’re still alive.

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