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Learning the Ropes.

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on July 31, 2010 in News & Opinion |

Starting a new job, as you probably know from experience, is nothing like the first day at school and for this reason alone I am glad to have an opportunity to take a look around before everyone else appears. They have the advantage of working here everyday and know the building and routines inside out. I haven’t even had a real summer job before, not even waiting tables to get pocket money, and would probably be completely lost.

The offices are open plan. There is a short hallway from the street to the company door which leads to a smaller hallway and reception area with a few chairs, a table and a glass partition. In the main office, overlooking the reception, there are six desks each with telephone, computer and everything else anyone could wish for. To one side is the office boy’s room with storage space, a post sorting desk with photocopier and printers and a small kitchen. Next to this are the washrooms and then, at the back of the office, a door leading through to what will be my office. Right at the back is Martin’s office with its own washroom; anyone visiting Martin needs to come through the main office, then my office before being allowed into the hallowed sanctuary for an audience with the man himself, which makes me as much a glorified receptionist as anything else. Everything is neat and tidy, airy and light but, at the same time, it is not really an office atmosphere. At least, not one I had imagined. People don’t just come here to work in a cubicle: there are plants and photographs in every free space and a mass of personal items on the desks themselves; most people here have family photographs and even cuddly toys. I don’t yet know who sits where, that has to wait until Monday morning, but at least I have a good idea of what my fellow workers look like and where their interests lie.

One of the first things I did in my office, aside from going through all the drawers and checking out the filing cabinets, was move the desk. It struck me as strange that my desk was facing the window and away from the door to Martin’s office with the filing cabinets behind me, although I am sure my predecessor had their reasons. I prefer natural light falling across my desk from the left hand side, since I am right handed and, being a glorified receptionist, think it better that anyone coming into my office to visit Martin is forced to stop by me first. And I can now see out into the main office through the glass partition and the mass of cables now run to the wall sockets across an area where no one will trip over them. My monitor is also on the left side of the large desk, making it just as easy to see what is on the screen without reflections from the windows. A good session with a vacuum cleaner will remove the indentations in my carpet, but that is the least of my concerns.

Today I will buy myself a coffee mug in town and a few small picture frames; not that I’ve got any photographs to put in them yet but I have been out and about with my camera and I’m sure one or the other of my snapshots could be good enough to have printed.

Yesterday was my big shopping day. I discovered that it isn’t so easy to find decent bedsheets in town, but the ones I did buy will suffice until I can get into the city and find real sheets. For some reason only fitted sheets were on offer, which may be very popular with Germans but I hate the struggle of trying to get sheet corners to match mattress corners. I also bought myself a small selection of cutlery, crockery, pots and pans and, far more important, something to put in my refrigerator alongside the usual soap and other bathroom things. There are four supermarkets in town – which are so small compared to those in the States – of varying quality and a good selection of other shops; including two bookshops right next to one another and a photographer. There are three banks, three chemists, four bread shops, plenty of clothing stores, a music shop, cosmetic, hardware, three stationery shops and a pet store. The only thing missing is evidence of a decent nightlife here: the bars I saw all looked dingy and dull from the outside, hardly inviting at all but there is a cinema with two screens and quite a few restaurants along the cobble-stoned main street. If I’m not too fussy about what I want to buy, as with my bedsheets, this town has practically everything on offer despite its small size. Perhaps it has a nightlife hidden away somewhere too.

Love & Kisses, Viki.

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