Monday, August 23, 2010

The price of nosiness...

Ok, I've been in my new Department a good five or six months now. I know how most things work so far and I suppose I'm generally content. Some things make me wonder, though.

I'm not usually a nosy person, I don't give a fuck about the tedious minutiae of the lives of others (I am not, or have ever been, a Stasi agent). However, all this went out the window one evening last week when I was returning to my desk after having been to the toilet. I was working back a little bit later than usual and think I may have taken my colleague, the previously mentioned Trappist EO by surprise.

The Trappist EO was on the phone! He glanced up as I returned to the room, with an expression akin to that of someone caught by the Bishop having a wank on a Richard Dawkins book at the back of a church. The conversation was terminated very quickly at that point, and the consternation of the other party was audible from my side of the room before the receiver was replaced.

"Hmmm..." I thought. "What the feck was all that about?"

The next day, the Trappist EO had returned to form. Nothing was said. Lunchtime rolled around, and I expected the Trappist EO to vacate the room and make his way to the canteen before the one o'clock rush, as is his daily, unchanging routine.

One o'clock, and he was still there, meditating on a pile of forms. "He's up to something," I thought, and decided to delay my own midday outing purely for the reason that he might be waiting for me to get out in order to make another one of his furtive calls. "I'm not moving until he does," I resolved.

Unfortunately, the two cups of coffee I had earlier were making their presence felt, and nature was calling, loudly, but not quite shouting. Yet.

1.30, and both of us were still manning the office in silence. He was shuffling bits of paper around his desk with an inscrutable expression. I was trying to hide the fact that I was pressing my legs together while wiggling in order not to reveal the fact that the flood gates could open at any moment. Fuck. What was I doing to myself? A ruptured bladder just to hear the Trappist EO making a call?

1.45. He was finally off. Maybe he gave up. Phew. Now came the hard part. I had to negotiate an open-plan area full of COs and a corridor with some APs' offices off it in order to get to the toilet. I rose, steadily, keeping my legs crossed. I grabbed a bundle of forms that I could pretend to study if I had to make an emergency stop along the way. Waddle waddle waddle, through the open plan area. I stopped right on the threshold of a double door, a group of COs parting as they passed me on either side on their way back to work. I felt my face going red. More waddling, until I reached the door to the toilets. I ran a gauntlet of gossiping civil servants before finding an empty trap.

Aaaah, major wazz. Crisis averted! And not a drop spilt!

As I sat there, I thought, nosiness is never worth it. Just think of the embarrassment I could have suffered had I had a major accident in the Department! I'd have to look for a transfer back to Squeaky Doors, a fate worse than death!

No, next time, I'm just going to drop a "listening device" in the office and save myself the hassle.