I’ve recently returned to work after a long period in another department. Having previously experienced some, how do you say, ‘challenges’ in my old role, I was determined to be optimistic.
The morning started out on a great note. I saw a friend in the street and we walked together, laughing and joking on the way. So far, so good I thought.
I made my way over to my old desk, waving at old chums as I went. As I sat down I was met with a chorus of ‘YOU CAN’T SIT THERE!’. Shocked, I dropped a handful of belongings on the floor.
I was then ushered over to a reception desk of sorts. There sat a lone computer monitor. No keyboard. No mouse. No phone. No network connection. Ah yes, I thought, off to an excellent start. I looked skyward and hissed to the heavens ‘WHY DO YOU HATE ME?’.
After weeping silently into my hands for 5 minutes, I knew I had to take action.
Step one – find a working phone. I dialed the number for the ironically named ‘help desk’, and so began my descent into corporate hell.
It rang a few times. As I started to settle myself in for a long wait, the phone was picked up immediately. Excellent.
I explained my situation. ‘Are you in Rockhampton?’, he enquired out of the blue. ‘No, I am in Brisbane’, I said, to which he replied ‘Are you sure you aren’t in Rockhampton?’. I looked around and mouthed to a colleague – ‘Am I in Rockhampton?’. He shook his head, just as puzzled as me. ‘Yes I’m sure’, I flatly replied, ‘In fact I’m positive I’m not in Rockhampton’.
He went on. ‘Well, if you’re not in Rockhampton, we don’t know who you are. In fact, the computer says you don’t exist’.
I didn’t exist…at all? Like ever? Was this just at work or was it a universal problem? Had I ever existed? Was my whole life one big fantasy? Did anything exist? Was I the figment of someone’s imagination? Was this ‘Fight Club’? Was I Tyler Durden? What was going on?
I was snapped back into reality with an impatient ‘Are you still on the line??’.
I starting seeing stars behind my eyes. ‘Listen’ I said, the urgency in my voice becoming more apparent, ‘I assure you I exist and I’m going to need access today to do my job’, my patience starting to wear thin.
‘We’ve got a lot of work on today, is all’, he replied with as much disinterest as he could muster. ‘I’m saying it might not happen today’. ‘I understand’, I replied, starting to feel myself blacking out. ‘I’ve probably downplayed the seriousness of the situation. I. Need. To. Work. You need to connect me. I understand how busy you are, but you seem like a smart man. I’m sure you can see my dilemma’, I responded in a low, murderous tone.
I felt that it was only then he became aware of the urgency of my situation, like he’d woken up out of some sort of fog and smelt danger. Cautiously he replied ‘ Well I guess we can log this job as an emergency and have someone up there in half an hour?’. I could sense his relief when I hissed ‘Perfect’.
It was at about this time that it dawned on me – I hadn’t been paid. Step two – payroll.
As it turns out, they hadn’t been advised of my return either. Shocking. I really was in ‘Fight Club’. They were sympathetic. I was informed the only way to fix it was to log on to the system and fill in forms that I could only access from, you guessed it, THE SYSTEM I HAD NO ACCESS TO.
When pressed on how I would obtain these mythical forms, they were bewildered. ‘We’ve never even heard of this sort of thing before!’ they exclaimed. ‘Well that’s unfortunate’, I muttered. I felt my eye starting to twitch. ‘Before we go any further, I should disclose I’ve been on the phone to the ‘Help desk’ and I now have a red hot anger growing inside me like a tumour. Perhaps we can talk later when I calm down’. We all agreed that might be the best solution for everyone.
That night I went home and lay down for a long time. That was Monday. By Friday, someone had stolen my chair.