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BY lalone

09/01 Direct Link
On the way to my first day back in the call center I stop at the Tesco for a banana.
Seeing them at only 18p each I decide to buy 2 so I'll have one for morning tea and a spare one to look forward to in the afternoon.
When it's my turn at the checkout I try to hand the bananas to the cashier but she throws her hands up as if I've pulled a gun on her.
'I can't touch them,' she screams, I don't know why.'
'Jesus,' I say, staring at her, frowning, 'they're bananas, not snakes.'
09/02 Direct Link
This afternoon, with little else to do, I browse one of our client's magazines. 
Features include successful female entrepreneurs, marketing consultants and jewelery designers talking about what they eat, where they holiday and what they spend on their looks.
For example, Fiona, who owns her own organic yoghurt works in Hampshire, spends £200 on botox and £350 every 2 months on Restylane Lip filler.
Despite all this attention, her lips are surprisingly wafer-thin. 
Reading on I see she's had cancer and a divorce and self-esteem 'on the floor' so I decide not to email her telling her she's been ripped-off.
09/03 Direct Link
This afternoon I open Paint and make desktop wallpapers that I can mail around to other members of staff.

The first one I make, which is for Charlie, features a banana with the phrase 'Banana Lover' written across it. 

The second one I make is of cacti in a desert setting. 
I call this 'Sunny Cactus'. 

I mail the banana drawing to Charlie and then set the cactus drawing as my desktop image and with Word open, I set the animated office assistant to the dog and out of pure boredom, move it around the three cacti with my mouse.
09/04 Direct Link
This morning Maria is circling the computer island with a pad in her hand.
'Any of you on the phone?' she says.
3 of the 6 of us sitting at our desks look up at her and say no.
'Come with me,' she says and we follow her into the small meeting room.
I sit down next to Maria and Jane, James and Antoni sit opposite.
'Right,' she says, 'we've got a new client and we need some overtime from you,'
No one says a word.
Then Maria says 'It's 14 pounds an hour.' and everyone starts talking at once.
09/05 Direct Link
Desk, O Desk,

Door, Oh Door,

Grubby carpet on you, Floor.

Light, Oh light,
No day's sky,
What my nature made for eye?

White of wall,

Venetian blinds,

Too Straight Slats

To straight the mind.

Plant in pot,

Not chained by soil

Toward the sun,

Not bothers toil,

Air Oh, Air,

To my lungs clean

From Frigidaire

Come cold, unseen.

Phone Oh, Phone

Your ceaseless voice   

Whilst you scream

Doth you rejoice?
Desk, O Desk,

Door, Oh Door,

Grubby carpet on you, Floor.

Light, Oh light,
No day's sky,
What my nature made for eye?

White of wall,

Venetian blinds,

Too Straight Slats

To straight the mind.

Plant in pot,

Not chained by soil

Toward the sun,

Not bothers toil,

Air Oh, Air,

To my lungs clean

From Frigidaire

Come cold, unseen.

Phone Oh, Phone

Your ceaseless voice   

Whilst you scream

Doth you rejoice?
Desk, O Desk,

Door, Oh Door,

Grubby carpet on you, Floor.

Light, Oh light,
No day's sky,
What my nature made for eye?

White of wall,

Venetian blinds,

Too Straight Slats

To straight the mind.

Plant in pot,

Not chained by soil

Toward the sun,

Not bothers toil,

Air Oh, Air,

To my lungs clean

From Frigidaire

Come cold, unseen.

Phone Oh, Phone

Your ceaseless voice   

Whilst you scream

Doth you rejoice?

Red, Oh Red

Partition bright,

Encase my soul,

Bind her tight.

Rubbish Bin Oh Rubbish Bin

Envelopes, Banana Skin

Coffee Cup,

Plastic knife

Can of Coke

Office life.
09/06 Direct Link
This morning I arrive late and, flustered from hurrying, it's about 10 minutes into the shift before I realise the phones aren't ringing.
'Has someone turned the phones off?' I say.
'No,' says Jane spinning in her chair and sucking at the eraser end of a white pencil, 'they just aren't ringing,'
Deciding to take advantage of the silence, I ask Alex if he got around to mowing the lawn on Saturday.
After he says no and we spend the next few minutes inquiring about each other's weekends until eventually the phones start ringing and we can do some work.
09/07 Direct Link
A woman calls up to tell me about a wooden tray and a clutch-purse she's received from the over-priced bags and tatty-shit Catalogue Company.
'It's been a series of disasters,' she says, sucking on her cigarette.
'Oh dear,' I say each time she lists another of the screw-ups with her order.
'And to tell the honest truth,' she says 'the tray is stapled together and is a piece of fucking crap,'
I start laughing and she takes another drag on her cigarette.
'And the purse I paid 48 quid for' she coughs, 'looks like a piece of cheap fucking shit'.
09/08 Direct Link
Today I’m on 9-6 so I get to see Alison, who’s still working nights. After we’ve hugged and gotten our catching-up out of the way she asks how I’m finding being back. ‘Dull,’ I say, ‘but at least the people are nice,’ ‘All except one,’ says Alison, ‘who I despise for calling me a big-titted slut,’ ‘What?’ I say my jaw dropping. ‘Yes,’ she says and then names of one of our male colleagues. ‘Well, you have got big tits,’ I say looking down Alison’s cleavage as she leans forward to turn her computer on, ‘but you’re hardly a slut,’
09/09 Direct Link
At 12.05, bored, I spin my chair slightly to the right and stare through the window of the large meeting-room. Inside are three people, 2 who I know from the last time I worked here and one who I’ve not officially met but who I’d come across in the kitchen earlier this morning talking to a guy from IT that was leaning up against the notice board with a cup of tea in his hand. ‘I’m lucky I’m here at all,’ I’d overheard her say to him, ‘I’d already had a bottle of champagne when the cops pulled me over.’
09/10 Direct Link
Just after lunch a customer calls up from the Overpriced-Third-World-Made-Tatt Catalogue Company. ‘I’ve just received my order,’ she says, ‘and I’d like to send it back,’ ‘Oh dear,’ I say, ’was it damaged in some way?’ ‘Not so much damaged,’ she says, ‘as dangerous,’ I take the woman’s order number and see that she’s ordered some kind of wooden notice board. Before I can say anything the customer launches into a description of the item. ‘It’s shabby,’ she says, ‘and rough and unfinished. I got splinters all up my hand just taking the bloody thing out of the packaging,’
09/11 Direct Link
An elderly Scottish man phones looking for left-handed underpants. ‘Hellooooo,’ he says, ‘d’ya sell left-handed underpants?’ Thinking it’s a test-call or a joke, I start to laugh. ‘Let me put you on hold,’ I say, ‘and check,’ ‘Och, shame’ he says when I tell them we don’t stock them, ‘y’see, I’ve only got one arm and I’m taking water pills and I’m 75 years old and…’ After this I tune-out but for the rest of the day I’m stuck with the unpleasant image of an old, 1-armed man struggling to pull his penis through the front of his wrong-handed underpants.
09/12 Direct Link
Along the treed and flowered lane my heart did go,
Blown through the boughs, like a Tesco bag, shredding
Embedded as that M-emblazoned ochre polystyrene in dewy threads
Rocked by the winds hand, as that Faded-label Gatorade bottle
Like the crushed coke can that tyres weight has made
Healthy choice low fat past tub, a moistened slug in the path of its cracked bow,
And the crumpled head of the Milky Bar Kid nods
My heart along this treed and flowered lane does go,
Along this lane that, lined with shit of pigs and horse, would once have been yours
09/13 Direct Link
‘Remember when I worked here before,’ I say to Claire when she gets back from Tesco with her lunch, ‘you used to buy bags of carrots?’
‘And look what I got,’ she says laughing and pulling carrots from her shopping bag.
‘And look what else I got,’ she says holding up a jar of gherkins and unscrewing the lid.
‘Ooh, I love them,’ I say putting my fingers in the jar and tugging on a gherkin.
Suddenly, the gherkin, which is lodged horizontally in the jar, snaps and flings itself across the office, raining vinegar on Claire’s boots and jeans.
09/14 Direct Link
It’s Saturday afternoon and with only me and Lucy from the day shift in the office, Clare starts filling me in on the gossip I’ve missed out on.
First she tells me about an unpopular girl who used to work here, and who still works with Clare’s husband.
‘She’s a dirty skank,’ says Clare, ‘she fucked her married boss in his front garden,’
Next she tells me about someone else who used to work here, someone she fell out with.
‘I hacked in his tube of Pringles,’ says Clare laughing, ‘and put the mouthpiece from his phone up my bum.’
09/15 Direct Link
Around 4.15, hearing a noise I look up from my desk to see everyone from the other departments gathering behind Emma's desk.
Then Sharon, who is about to make a speech for Maria who's leaving to have a baby, clears her throat.
Then Maria, who is reading the front of an envelope, looks up and sees everyone. 
'Oh, no,' she says.

Then Sharon makes a speech in which she talks about herself more than Maria, everyone claps, and then Caroline brings out three big gift-wrapped parcels and then my fucking phone rings and I don't get to see the unwrapping.
09/16 Direct Link
This morning when I get to work my fingers are so swollen I can't get my rings off and to make matters worse a new account starts today and none of us have been properly trained.
'We're going to be getting calls for the animal charity,' says Sharon standing at our computer island, hands on hips, 'so make sure you've read all your bump. Bumph, I mean,'
Everyone starts printing out 'bumph' and running to the printer to collect it, and suddenly, unexpectedly, I'm in a foul mood.
'I'm in a foul mood,' I say to Alex, ignoring my ringing phone.
09/17 Direct Link
After lunch I feel weak, almost limp, as if some bone-sucking machine has come along and taken out those bones necessary for keeping me upright.
The phone is silent and as Alex has been sent to the warehouse, I sit limply eavesdropping on a conversation between my young colleagues, James, Jane and Lucy.
Then the vending machine maintenance man comes in and I watch him try key after key in the lock of the hot drink dispenser until my attention is diverted back to my young colleagues who are now talking about nudity, teen-pregnancy and throwing-up drunk in rose bushes.
09/18 Direct Link
'I had liver and, um, bacon yesterday.' Alex says as he passes me on his way back from the toilet, 'Haven't had it for ages,'
'Oh, yeh?' I say looking up from my monitor.
'Yeh,' he says, 'my mum gets bargains from Sainsbury's, so she got it for us,'
'Oh,' I say, 'nice,'
'Yeh,' he says, 'we had it with some mash and peas and gravy,'
'Oh, right,' I say, as my phone starts ringing.
'Yeh,' says Alex says sitting back down at his desk and smiling at me, 'just thought I'd mention it, you being a vegan and all.'
09/19 Direct Link
I'm eating a second banana when Lucy looks over and sees me.
'You're making me hungry,' she says.
'You want a banana?' I say, 'They're natural anti-depressants?'
'Nah,' she says, looking in her computer cupboard for something to eat, 'I don't really like bananas,' 'Jesus,' I say, 'I'm shocked. What kind of fruit do you eat then?'
'Normal fruit,' she says, 'like, just, like apples and stuff,'
'Pineapple?'
'Never had pineapple,' she says, shaking her head. 'What about mango? Have you ever had mango?'
'Nope,' she says opening up a pack of Quavers she's found, 'never eaten anything like that.'
09/20 Direct Link
I'm eating peanuts and raisins and listening in to a conversation between Alex and what sounds like a difficult customer.
'I'm sorry, Madam, I'm afraid there's nothing I...' says Alex, the customer obviously interrupting him.
'I understand that, Madam,' Alex says, 'but it's been stated by the bigger people that...'
I lean forward to catch Alex's eye and smile at him.
'Yes, madam,' he's saying, shaking his head, 'but I'm afraid I can't...'
Alex has his head down now, rubbing his temple with his thumb.
'Yes, and I do understand that, Madam,' he's says, resuming the battle, 'however I can't...'
09/21 Direct Link
A woman calls up looking for a handbag she's ordered from the Million-Dollar-Handbag-Rip-Off Company. 'Hello, good morning, hi,' she trills when I answer my phone, 'I'm looking for a bag I ordered a few weeks ago that should have been coming in,' Just as I say to the customer 'let me look into it for you', Alex, not realising I'm on a call, leans across the partition to tell me some news about his mother. 'My mother's got water on her foot,' he says. 'Water?' I say laughing and putting the customer on hold, 'don't you mean to say fluid?'
09/22 Direct Link
I'm sitting at my desk, absent-mindedly spinning in my chair and eating my third banana, when a girl from Finance whom I'm about 97% sure is called Zoe, heads my way wearing a pair of classy 1940's style pleated trousers. 'I really like your trousers,' I say as she goes past my desk toward the front door. 'Oh, thanks,' she says, stopping, looking down at her pinstriped, wide cuff trousers and giving them a self-conscious wipe with the palm of her hand. 'Yeh,' I say, 'really, really nice,' 'Oh, cheers,' she says, resuming her journey and smiling back at me.
09/23 Direct Link
'I'm still feeling dizzy,' Jane calls out from her desk on the other side of the computer-island. Jane went to the fair last night and it seems something's made her sick. 'If you went on one of those rides then your brain's gotten sloshed from side to side in your skull,' I say. 'I went with my cousin,' says Jane, ignoring my comment about her brain. 'The one that's having an affair with the married man?' says Lucy. 'It's over now,' Jane tells us, 'he said she was too young and that all the fun had gone out of it.'
09/24 Direct Link
'I'm on your website trying to order a bag for my daughter-in-law,' says a woman-caller. 'Yes?' I say. 'It says it's out of stock,' she says. 'Yes?' 'If it comes into stock will I get it by October 30th?' she says. 'Yes, madam, that leaves plenty of time,' 'Will I need to sign for it?' she says. 'Yes, Madam,' 'What time will the courier deliver it?' 'Madam,' I tell her, 'that's up to the gods,' She laughs. 'I'll say a prayer for it then,' 'It'll need it,' I say and we both laugh until I say bye and hang up.
09/25 Direct Link
This morning I'm so hungry that I've eaten 3 bananas and my emergency sandwich before 11 am. 'I'm starving this morning,' I say to Lucy. Jane, who I can't see because she's on the other side of the computer island and has her chair quite low today, says, 'I'll take a 12 for lunch,' 'No,' I say back, 'I'll take the 1,' 'Yes,' says Jane, popping her head up like an emu, 'that's what I said,' 'Oh, I couldn't hear you.' I say taking the wrapping from a toffee apple and pistachio cereal bar I got from the vending machine.
09/26 Direct Link
All morning my legs have been aching so that by the afternoon they're literally throbbing. 'My legs are killing me,' I say to Lucy who's sitting back in her chair, sucking on the end of a black pen. 'Do you want Maria's foot rest?' she says, leaning under her desk, pulling out Maria's footrest and holding it up in the air. 'No, it's okay,' I say, 'I'm using a cardboard box I found in Sue's office. It's taller and my feet need to be higher than my arse so the blood drains back into the main section of my body.'
09/27 Direct Link
Alex is in the kitchen talking to Sharon and making me coffee when I hear Sharon say to him, 'Are you making Andy coffee?' As I hear Alex say no I slide my chair back from my desk and call -'No, he's making me one,' Then Sharon says-'That's Andy's cup you're using,' I'm aware that the cup, a silver heat-retaining mug from Starbuck's, might be Andy's because I've seen him walking past me from the kitchen to his desk with it. 'Don't use that cup, then,' I call to Alex, 'I don't want any IT guy getting upset with me.'
09/28 Direct Link
From where I sit, just past the entrance to the toilets, I can see the company bigwigs gathered in the kitchen, talking in low voices about important things that don't concern us, the lowlife phone answerers.There's the company director wearing a 3-piece suit, the head of the warehouse wearing a green fluorescent safety vest and the head of something else wearing a white, frilled shirt, reminiscent of the era of the New Romantics. The hot drink dispenser is grinding coffee so I only catch a few words of their conversation, -'Essential', 'crucial', 'anticipate', 'fulfil', 'deadline', 'logistics' and incongruously, 'shit'
09/29 Direct Link
First thing this morning Alex and I have a conversation about breasts. 'So...are you a tit man, then?' I ask Alex after he's mentioned something about his wife's breasts. 'Um, I don't know what it is about men and breasts,' he says, 'they um...' 'They're trying to get back on them,' I say, interrupting him, 'it's a mother thing,' 'Hmm,' says Alex, 'maybe it's because they don't, um, have any of their own?' 'Maybe,' I say, 'don't know. I think it's about breast-feeding. They're trying to get back to mummy-suckle love,' 'Hmm,' says Alex frowning, 'that's, um, that's an idea.'
09/30 Direct Link
Tina calls out from her desk that it's time to leave the personal planners and go back to my phone. 'It's time to go back to your phone,' she calls to me across the office, 'so Jane can go on lunch,' I never thought I'd say it, but I'm glad I'm going back to answer phones because the desk where I've been sitting faces the finance department and one of the guys there, whose name I won't mention, has a cold and spent the morning coughing god only knows what germs over the top of the red partition at me.