signs of life in an office job

In addition to being a student, I have a very mundane part-time job in agricultural market research. What is agricultural market research you say? (I’m assuming that’s what you say..but maybe you didn’t) Basically, my role consists of calling up farmers around Australia and asking them about their ‘crop protection’ (AKA the chemicals they spray on their crops).

The Moorabin office where i work is basically a caricature of itself. Motivational framed pictures of phoenixes and people running up hills don the walls, a half-alive plant sits in my boss’s room, and at one stage all office workers were required to play daily ‘team building’ games which involved building towers out of pieces of paper.

In the world of office-work, the most dull events become exciting intervals in an otherwise repetitive and meaningless day. The other day the vent in the office started releasing fumes which i wouldn’t be surprised if i were told were signs of asbestos. It took one of my colleagues twenty minutes to find the source of the smell by sniffing every corner of the office and yelling ‘it’s not here, it’s not here!’

The excitement was almost unbearable.

Another momentous event occurred when my boss went a little nuts over the fact that the office forks keep mysteriously dissapearing. “How can i eat my lunch if there AREN’T ANY FORKS?!” he exclaimed. I had to hand it to him, he had a point.

During another seemingly endless shift, one conversation with a particularly beautiful farmer touched my bored, little heart. I forget his name, but for the sake of clarity let’s call him John (99% of the farmer’s are called John anyway.)

In his thick, aged, Australian accent, John told me of how he had beaten cancer with the help of some special miracle vitamins called ‘Mannatek”. He explained to me how after being told he would almost certainly have to undergo chemotherapy, and with what he termed the “unbelievably down to earth faith of my wife”, he found his way to ‘Mannatek’ products and has been cancer- free for 5 years.

While John started going on about the miracle of ‘glyconutrients’ and how Mannatek can cure almost everything, all I could hear running in my mind were the words: ‘PYRAMID MARKETING SCHEME, SUCKER! SUCKER!” But while these products may indeed be bogus, i asked myself if really had any right to tell John that his faith and belief were misguided. Who knows, perhaps something that sounds as dodgy as ‘Mannatek’ ( it really is an awful name) is the solution to the world’s ills. For some reason something about his warm, wide-eyed kindness made me not want to hang up.

John’s story is one of the many which I’ve heard during my time at the call centre. I’ve chatted to climate change skeptics weary that i might be another one of ‘those crazy environmentalists, I’ve had the pleasure of learning about local political land battles in Queensland, talked to exhausted farmers’ wives about the affects of constant drought and have even been informed recently by one farmer of a grassroots farmers music/sustainability workshop in NSW (invite and all).

It’s these convesations that add the extra colour that the highlighters in the office just can’t possibly cover and they prove that you can experience meaningful moments in even the most dull of places.

Unfortunately the office plant hasn’t had the same rehabilitative experience as I have, and it continues to cling for life.

But I’ve got faith.


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