Monday morning, 8:30 a.m. I’m as ready as I’ll ever be. I curled my hair, included a bra in my outfit (I know, shocker, but that’s life as a dairy cow on maternity leave), found a home on my desk for my Dwight Shrute bobble-head (right between my phone and first monitor so that he is always in my line of sight), have a nice healthy lunch packed and under my desk (because I guess sharing space with my feet is better than the fridge in the kitchen, I don’t know), and hey, speaking of feet, I even put some fresh new foot powder in my flats so I don’t spend all day sweating over how smelly my feet are making the office. Plus the sweat just makes it worse, it’s a horrid cycle….
Anyway, the point is, I’m ready. Ready to dive back into the confident, accomplished, “I know what I’m doing” legal assistant. The break was nice, but I’ve missed her if I’m being honest. I’m ready.
8:31 a.m. I turn on my computer. What’s my password?
8:35 a.m. Okay, eighth time’s the charm. I guess I should have checked my NUMBERS LOCK the first time my password was rejected…. Someone walks by my desk, “How is your morning going?” “Oh fabulous! Diving right in!” That was a close one. Okay, it’s fine. I’m in now. Oh my… that’s a lot of stuff on my desktop. Okay, what do I do first? How do I get to my time-card again? Maybe there is a link in my Outlook. Where the heck is my Outlook? Wait, maybe I should log on to our system first, start running a timer. What would I name the timer? “User error on everything.” Accurate.
8:45 a.m. Okay, I started my time-card AND my timer. Deep breath in, deep breath out. Everyone else is already making phone calls and being effective little worker bees and I still haven’t even located my Outlook… there you are! See! I got this! Oh my heaven to Betsy, 791 emails… here we go.
1:00 p.m. One staff meeting, almost 800 emails, two phone calls and five mini panic attacks later, it’s time to pump. I have my sign (of course, the dairy cow “In Use”), I have my supplies and I have already done this earlier this morning so just rinse and repeat, right? Oh my jeez, was that someone’s face I just saw reflected in the TV I’m facing with the girls out?! Holy hell, someone pulled the blinds down lower than when I was in here this morning and I didn’t notice! Someone tall just walked by the conference room and I’m praying they didn’t see anything we both were not ready for them to see… and now I’m sweating, where is my deodorant?! I always keep an extra one… sh**! It’s not in my purse! Okay stop panicking! Breathe…fan armpits, everything is fine.
3:35 p.m. Note to self: stop filling awkward silence with awkward one word exclamations. It’s weird, and the new interns don’t know you. Please try to make a better impression.
4:00 p.m. I am pleasantly reminded how wonderfully important it is to sit next to one of your best friends, so that verbal exchanges like “What is wrong with you over there?” “My earhole.” make perfect sense.
5:00 p.m. Wait, it’s five?! I have barely done anything today! Oh my lord I am exhausted. My heel has a blister because it’s been so long since I have squeezed into these shoes, and my face is extra greasy from all the mask breathing I have never had to do thus far and… dear lord, what is that smell?! Oh, it’s my stress sweat. Great. I really can’t forget my deodorant tomorrow.
Aaaaaand that was my first day.
Fast forward five days later and I have a small list of lessons I had time to learn on my first week back at the office. Okay, here we go:
- When you pour water on a microfiber cloth in order to clean your Rocketbook, you should cup the cloth in your hand so that that water doesn’t roll off the cloth like it was made of oil and spill all over the ground, where you and your co-worker just stare at it in silence for a full minute before either of you move.
- “Cupping” isn’t actually a bad word.
- Burping in the middle of a sentence is gross… and I’m sorry okay? It’s been a while since I talked in front of civilized people.
- Spotify’s Summer Rewind playlist is crap. When you say “rewind” I expect a nostalgic transportation back to when listening to music was the only responsibility I had, and in turn, become extremely happy and motivated to do my work. Instead, they ‘rewind’ it like, four years, and the only thing it does is give me anxiety thinking about my last office job. Thanks.
- Nursing bras do NOTHING in the means of protecting against cold rooms and embarrassment for the wearer. Who is me. I am the wearer. Is ‘wearer’ a word? It just sounds weird. “Wearer.” “Wearee?” “Worer?” Whatever, you get it.
- Diarrhea is not a part of the “Covid Checklist” you are supposed to ask clients before they come into the office. But honestly, if they have diarrhea, I prefer they stay home anyway.
- When someone asks you a simple question, best not to launch into your whole life story. They just stare at you and then there is that awkward silence that seems to be following you all day and just STOP SAYING THE FIRST WORD THAT COMES TO MIND! “It means lumpy” doesn’t make sense to other people!
- Do more than one load of laundry during a normal work week.
- People don’t really notice you’re wearing the same shirt twice in one week, as long as you change the pants up. But seriously, start doing laundry.
- Milk of Magnesia is a laxative, so telling everyone that it’s the street name you earned from a guy on the hard streets of Compton, CA (it was actually a street performer on Santa Monica Pier, but close enough) isn’t really that cool. Even IF you are proud as hell of it.
- Always pass on eating ice cream bars in front of the rest of the staff during the “ice cream social” on Friday. It’s really just you trying to look normal while your ice cream is melting and the chocolate part is not breaking, but when you try and break it with your teeth it just slides all over your upper lip and you literally have chocolate under your nose like a toddler, and is there really a smooth way to wipe that off? But you can’t leave it on. And you can’t really lick it off because then you look like a cow. So just… don’t eat the ice cream.
- Stop trying to use big words to impress people you don’t know well. You probably used the word wrong and end up pausing awkwardly in your sentence while you’re trying to figure out in your brain if you used it right… and then you forget what you were talking about, and when you come to, the poor victim of this exchange is just kind of staring at you, waiting for you to finish that last sentence and look! It’s your old friend, awkward silence.
- And last but not least, smile and nod. Just…smile and nod.
Anyway, that’s about all I got. I thanked my lucky stars for the drip coffee in the kitchen during the four days in a row I didn’t have time to grab an espresso (gasp!) and the patience of everyone as I remembered my way around the copier, the calendar, and figuring out how to best serve clients during a pandemic….
Cheers to being back at work! And here is to starting fresh next week (and also hoping no one thinks I’m a wackadoodle).