Are they having a laugh?

Going to work this morning was a nightmare. There were people bloody everywhere, and the bus was mobbed. But that wasn’t the worst part of the day, it was feeling like I was back in school.

I spent the better part of the morning attempting to memorise all the sales and publication information for upcoming non-fiction books. After yesterday’s bollocking, I’m going to be prepared for next Wednesday’s meeting.

Just before lunch NFEditor came over to my desk to tell me that she had this brilliant idea that she wanted me to implement. She went on about how not only would it revolutionise the office but that it would add such kudos to my role that it would make my CV naturally shine, or something to that effect.

Anyway, her big idea was…get this…for me to ‘make a list of every nonfiction book that’s been written.’

Yup. That’s exactly what she said. I, of course, thought I was hearing her wrong, so I asked her to explain.

She said that if she had a list that she could put into a book or a file and cross reference, then when a new manuscript came through she could use the ‘Book of nonfiction lists’ to see if one like it has ever been written before, because:

If a similar book hadn’t been published:
       Why not?
            Is it because no one’s interested, and it would be a flop?
            Or is there just a gap in the market that needs to be filled?

If a similar book had been published:
            Was it successful?
                 Why or why not, and could we market on that?

There is no doubt in my mind that these are sound marketing and commissioning practices, but what is not sound is putting together a list of ALL NON FICTION BOOKS…EVER. That is ridiculous.

I asked her why she just couldn’t use Google, and she said ‘Oh, I use the internet as little as I can.’

This is when I discovered that she prints out all of her emails to read them. She does no editing of manuscripts electronically (hand marked with a pencil). And that she writes out all letters, correspondences, etc before then typing them in and printing them out. I had no idea people like this still existed. (Kind of explains why her office looks like a paper explosion.)

But back to her NonFiction List. I talked her into only making a list of Non-Fiction books that had something to do with Scotland (published in Scotland, written by a Scot, about Scotland), in the last ten years. There’s no need to go beyond Scotland, as MNM only works with books that have some sort of Scottish link. I also talked her into letting me put it into an excel spreadsheet so that she could cross reference by theme, author, etc.

She wasn’t too keen on the spreadsheet idea, but I promised that I’d show her how to use it.

Then Boobs rocked up to my desk, heaven forbid there may be some chat going in my general vicinity. Boobs and NFEditor had a bit of a chat with me and told me a little about themselves, but I’ll leave that for another post.

They also started reminiscing about their London days and took to the credo that unless there were copious amounts of drink and multitudes of coke it was not a night worth mentioning. There were stories about famous people shags, drunken stumbles into the Savoy in which they were mistaken for prostitutes and asked to leave, and other general stories about how coke used to be so much fun.

NFEditor ended with, I swear to God, the phrase ‘Good times.’

Now, I’m not a prude, but let’s be honest. Should they really be telling me about their drug fuelled youth? They are my bosses, and for all they know I could go off and tell someone. (I don’t know who I’d tell, but they don’t know that I know no one.) Also, these little stories seemed quite sad. Sure, I have stories that revolve around drink induced mayhem, but they were with my mates. The main warm and fuzzy feeling wasn’t about the action of being annihilated, but being annihilated with people I loved and cared to be with. Boobs and NFEditor’s stories weren’t like that. They were mostly about doing illegal things with famous people. Kind of made me feel uncomfortable.

Then they asked me what I used to do when I lived in London. I explained that I’d never lived in London, I lived in Surrey. I also went to Uni not far from where I grew up. (I was born in Devon, and moved to Surrey when I was four, but I don’t really remember Devon.) They seemed disappointed and then Boobs said, ‘Well, you must have gone into London to party. You’re right there.’

I explained that we didn’t go into the city that much. It’s not such a big deal when it’s on your doorstep. I usually just hung out with my mates at our local, or at each other’s house. In Uni we did a lot of stuff at the Union. I told them that my boyfriend and I went into the city on occasion, but usually it was for a quiet dinner and maybe to the theatre or to an exhibition. Sometimes my friends and I would go into London to shop.

Books and NFEditor were properly disappointed. The look on their face was as if they’d smelled something bad, then NFEditor started laughing. Not proper ‘ha ha’ laughing, but that smirky kind of laugh that sounds like you’re trying to blow something out your nose. Then Boobs joined in and they shared a good laugh over me. Eventually Boobs said, ‘It’s just sad really. Quite tragic. To be so close and so cloistered.’ And then NFEditor added, ‘It’s like an Austen cliché.’

What fucking cows!

'Oh no! I'm not networked!'

After their right good jolly, Boobs finally told me why she came to my desk in the first place. She said that Intern2 needed a new computer, and ‘He can’t keep using his personal laptop, just because some people turn up on our doorstep like a stray. It’s just not fair.’

What a fucking cow!

Then she said that he needed to be networked into the shared drive, so that he could access the fiction manuscripts. She added that I was to ‘sort it out’, which meant ‘go buy a computer’.

To this NFEditor responded, ‘What’s a shared drive?’

I’m supposed to buy little pretty-boy suck-up kiss-ass Intern2 a new laptop. I had no idea how to go about doing this. How much was I to spend? Is there a preferred store I buy it from? Is there a company credit card to buy it with? So many questions, which I didn’t feel comfortable asking after yesterday’s ‘Take some initiative’ fiasco.

I went over to Intern2’s desk to see if he had been given any instructions, and he was as unhelpful as usual.

This is when HarryPotter came over. (On my first day, he was the guy wearing the red Harry Potter t-shirt with the yellow bolt of lightning. Because of that t-shirt he will now be known as HarryPotter.)

HarryPotter, as it turns out, is the graphics guy. He does all in-house design: covers, layout, typesetting, website, marketing, posters, etc. A pretty big job. But he is also the unofficial office tech guy. Lucky for me, he heard me asking Intern2 about what kind of computer to buy. HarryPotter is the guy who networked the office and buys new tech equipment when it’s needed, so he said that he could sort everything out, and that he uses a local PC store that will invoice.

I was so relieved. I thought this was going to be yet another ‘fail’ on the intern register, but because of old HarryPotter I’ll come up looking like roses.

I guess it’s true what they say. ‘You like a job because of the people you work with, not because of the job you’re doing.’


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