It may come as no big surprise to you that you can’t make a sustainable living off of a free fortnightly blog that generally only family members read—but it came as a real, genuine bummer to me. I’d always wanted to be a Writer. Mainly so I could spend my working day reading books, for research, and so I could get a free pass to say pompous things like ‘Alas’ and ‘Indubitably!’ in everyday conversation. Alas. Writing words and sentences is something that everybody does every day—we are all of us Writers—and so no one’s going to give me money for rent, groceries, and a Disney+ subscription just for writing silly fiction about psychic delinquents, or to recount a nightmare about being harassed by my green bin.
In order to be able to do nice things like eat, travel, and pay way too much money for ‘Durable, Hyper Arch Supportive’ footwear from the Internet, we need an income. Indubitably! For this reason I am employed.
I do Marketing. Specifically, business-to-business Content Marketing—content as in pieces of copywriting, not content as in happy or at peace. Over the last year or so I’ve come to learn that Marketing is actually a thing that everybody hates, in that we all resent being advertised to, we are suspicious of brands that try to be cool on Twitter, and that, like how contemporary poetry is only really read by contemporary poets, the main consumers of B2B Marketing are other B2B Marketers looking to steal one another’s ideas. For these reasons I don’t love it, but durable, hyper arch supportive footwear isn’t cheap.
One aspect of my current job involves spending a lot of time on LinkedIn. This is not my favourite place to spend time. LinkedIn has got all of the disingenuousness, fakeness, and humble bragging of other social medias, except its being done by a global community of what feels like grown up versions of the smug, self-righteous, self-congratulating members of whatever student-run governing body you had at your high school. There is some interesting stuff happening on LinkedIn , but you really have to trawl through a pile of major bogusness to find it.
Because one aspect of my job is to try to understand how LinkedIn’s algorithm and post reach works, I was told to throw something onto the Pile of Major Bogusness. This was hard, as I don’t really have anything of corporate value to say about my industry, role, or company. I did about ten different drafts of posts that were all some disgusting combination of overly earnest, uninformed, a waste of everyone’s time, overcompensating for earnestness by swearing too much, or excessively and annoyingly preachy. Ultimately, I gave up and just wrote about the lifts. Bing bong.
So anyway, this is just a very long and obviously self-conscious disclaimer to say that I posted on LinkedIn and here are those posts for you to read because I kind of like them. My goal is to get weirder and increasingly less work-related in my LinkedIn posts, eventually just posting some of the more out there stuff from this blog.
55 Clarence Street is an eighteen story building serviced by six shiny elevators that arrive at their destination with a playful bing bong. A disembodied female voice will say ‘Going down.’ She is factual but not rude. She is friendly without being nice. Inside, the call buttons are circular with a blue glow, but on the outside the buttons are red and square—once you see this it can’t be unseen. Bing bong. I’ve had some of my best ideas in these elevators. Worth noting that Terem is only on Level 2 and I’ve also had some of my worst ideas in these elevators. It’s very up and down (sorry).
There are some multi-story, multi-elevator buildings out there that have little LED screens to provide bright, neurotic, real-time updates on the exact position and direction of each of the lifts in its fleet. Not 55 Clarence Street. Luck of the draw. It’s the Wild West. And so quite a fun addition to any coffee run is to hit the button and confidently stand in front of the lift you think you’ve summoned.
I have been meticulously tracking the lift summoning statistics, as well as my own guessing accuracy. As I said there are six lifts, and they seem to be governed by standard elevator logic. After a few weeks of data analysis, experimentation with technique and timing, and some light astrology/luck potions/actualisation, I’m very happy to announce that my strike rate is approximately 1 in 6. Bing bong.
In Douglas Adams’ ‘The Restaurant to the End of the Universe’, Ex-Galactic President Zaphod Beeblebrox finds himself in an infuriating conversation with a sentient elevator. The Happy Vertical People Transporters of the future have been granted very dim psychic powers as well as a mind of their own, so that they arrive before you call them but rarely want to help you. Adams says:
“Not unnaturally, many elevators imbued with intelligence and precognition became terribly frustrated with the mindless business of going up and down, up and down, experimented briefly with the notion of going sideways, as a sort of existential protest, demanded participation in the decision-making process and finally took to squatting in basements sulking.”
This is what I think about five out of every six times I summon the lift. Spare a thought for your elevator next time you’re in the office.
The weekend is to the corporate world what lawn care is to Dads—a universally interesting and unifying thing that we can always talk about at any time. My understand is that it’s appropriate to talk about the weekend just gone until as late as Tuesday morning, and the approaching weekend is pretty much fair game from Wednesday at dawn.
But there’s an elephant in the Zoom. Around ye olde watercoolers, if a coworker was telling a story about the minutiae of the heated second set of the tennis match they played with their brother on Sunday afternoon, you just kinda had to cop it. Now, we can throw out a ‘So how was the weekend?’ into the aether, tick the checkbox on our weekly social contract, answer a couple of emails, and allow the blow-by-blow retelling of our coworker’s quadruple deuce service game to wash over us.
Sometimes we talk about the weekend just to assure one another (and ourselves) that we have object permanence, and that we continue to exist in interesting, worthwhile ways when we’re not at work. Lazily tossing out a ‘Any plans for the weekend?’ in a Thursday stand up when you clearly don’t really care all that much about the answer is the corporate equivalent of asking your Uber driver if their night has been busy. I think we can do better!
So here are some strategies to counteract insincere weekend chat to get the ball rolling.
Write down ‘I took a really great class on theatrical mime’. Proceed to charade-style act out your entire weekend until they leave (don’t forget an over-the-top wave goodbye!)
Answer their question with a question of your own. This will make you seem smart and philosophical, even if you are neither. The more hectic the question the better.
Steal the plot of your favourite niche movie, and claim that that was the narrative of your weekend. Either your colleagues think you’ve had a thrilling 48 hours, or they’ve seen it and you can bond over the 1997 black comedy crime film ‘Grosse Pointe Blank.’
Describe your weekend activities in three distinct sentences, two of which are true and one is a total lie. Whether or not you explain that you’re doing this is up to you.
Share your screen and deliver a 15-minute PowerPoint presentation on a topic that interests you, like quokkas, or the History of Pi. Maintain control of the meeting by regularly saying ‘It circles back to work in a second.’ If you’re in the office you’ll need to bring your own laser pointer, which can be weaponised if people lose focus.
Refuse to answer in anything other than cryptic similes and haikus, e.g. ‘My weekend was like an asteroid caught in the orbital path of a small moon,’ or ‘Don’t burn sausages/Please, I bought cheap furniture/From a far Bunnings.’