On boredom

Haaaaaaaaaaaah ‘tch-nhuh.

That’s the sound of me sighing as I settle into another morning as Acting Librarian and PA to Dr Dick.

I’m boooored.

OK. Not as bored as when I was working in HR on a system so slow I could read three pages of a book about Bradford Scoring in the time it took each window to load.

Or the time I was a security receptionist in the mental hospital and reduced to playing Patient Poohsticks (betting on the order in which service users are rounded up after fire alarms).

Certainly not as bored as the morning I drank a litre of filter coffee purely to distract myself from the tedium of the MoD database I was working on. The coffee subsequently turned out to be an espresso blend. I went home at lunchtime suffering from palpitations.

It’s just, you know… meh. After a hectic few weeks, this particular temp role has solidified into an uneasy stability. Since the argument (see last post) Dr Dick has been being eerily nice to me. Admittedly this is evidenced mostly in the addition of a ‘bw’ tagged to the end of e-mails, but I no longer feel a twitching in my sword hand when our paths cross in the corridor, which can be no bad thing.

The ceasefire brings with it an altogether more sedate pace of working life for both of us. Now that Dr D no longer views our meetings as confrontations from which only one party can emerge victorious, the flow of work from his office to mine is becoming regular and manageable. Requests are increasingly reasonable and issued with the vaguest whisper of a hint of acknowledgement that my hours, though part time, pass at the same rate as others at sea-level.

Unfortunately, while I have enough bits and pieces to be getting on with for twenty hours a week, not much of it is demanding enough to engage my full attention at all times. If you read D for Dalrymple’s Guide to Successful Temping you’ll already have learnt a variety of coping mechanisms for such an eventuality. Needless to say, I’ve comprehensively ignored my own advice. It doesn’t help that I have my own office and therefore few opportunities for social interaction, mischevious or otherwise. Alone in the deserted library, I generally find myself using fifteen seconds in every minute to perform almost, but not quite entirely unproductive tasks. Like e-mailing. Twatting (sorry, tweeting). Measuring myself (5”4.33’). Conceiving of and obsessively monitoring imaginary ailments (hayfever, arthritis, tetanus). Becoming overwhelmed by the conviction that my thumbs are not as other thumbs (they really aren’t). The list goes on.

To put it another way, the single most exciting event of last week was on Tuesday when I received an e-mail from Dr Dick flagged for my urgent attention. Subject line: ‘Stapler disaster’. I rolled my eyes, collected the offending device, Twatted nonchalantly about the lack of drama in my job, and promptly proceeded to lodge an industrial staple deep in my own hand.

Panicking, I ran to my friend Tracey’s office and thrust my thumb – now bleeding freely – into her face. Tracey took a deep breath, dry heaved, and shouted for her boss, the Director of Clinical Services. Reluctant to signpost my incompetence to senior management, I panicked some more, but as chance would have it none of the doctors were around. In the end Tracey appealed to the office muscleman to help, presumably on the basis that anyone hard enough to run to and from work would also be able to cope with minor surgery. I’d only met the man twice before and on neither occasion had noticed any remarkable skill in manipulating small objects, but proffered my hand nonetheless.

One side of the staple came out quite easily, while the other appeared to have made contact with bone and proved harder to budge. It finally came out with a sharp yank, accompanied by a comical spurt of of blood and a *thunk* as Tracey passed out. Muscleman stared at his bloodstained hands in disgust. This would be a hard one to save. I plucked the staple from his fingers, smiled maniacally and gaily trilled ‘worry not – I don’t have hepatitis!’ before skipping down the corridor to fetch hand sanitizer. (In case you were wondering, I’m pretty sure that I actually skipped. Like Alice in fucking Wonderland. Fail to the power many.)

All in all, a success. That little episode occupied me for, oooh, let’s say eighteen whole minutes, if you count the time spent awkwardly discussing hand cleaning techniques with Muscleman and jumping up and down on the stapler. Plus, this week’s quasi-hypochondriacal faffing is all taken care of: there’s a small black spot on my thumb which may or not be a bit of staple, so I’ll be able to research the possibility of it working its way through my veins to my heart and KILLING ME DEAD. Then of course there’s the sheen of unadulterated glamour that subsequent retellings of the story have lent my social life.

On the other hand, thirty people in the Regional Secure Unit now understand me to be an attention-seeking self harmer whose requisitioning and use of basic office equipment should be strictly monitored.

Roundabouts and swings.

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About Christina Kenny

Christina Kenny is a music journalist based in London.
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One Response to On boredom

  1. Charles Kenny says:

    As your financial advisor (unpaid and unwanted), I’m surprised that you haven’t sued the National Health for whatever DC has left them. This could be the answer to all your (work) problems.

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