I knock on the glass, peering inside tentatively. This looks like the right place. “I’m looking for Donna or Jack”. Donna tskes me into a large, bright room and introduces me to Petra.
The first day at a new job is always hairy; you’re anxious that nothing be amiss but you’re looking hard for anything that could be. I was overdressed, looking more like a lawyer than a graphic designer. The agency had made it clear that this was their biggest client and they wanted me appear as business-like as possible. I, of course, carried out their request fully because this was a real graphics job in a real print shop. No more answering phones and filing with a bit of design on the side.
Petra shows me my station, the layout room, back into the noisy shop with all the presses running, through the warehouse where the printed material is stored ending up in the staff lunch room. “You can be part of the coffee club” Petra explains, “you just have to pay into it whenever they need more beans.”
“Oh yeah, I’m a coffee drinker,” I laughed. In fact I could use a cup right now. But Petra wasn’t offering so I decide to wait.
We're chatting in the doorway as a tall fellow washes his hands. I say “Hi, how are you?” when Petra introduces us but he just grunts, kind of like ‘yeah yeah’ and doesn't even look at me. That's pretty rude; I make a mental note to keep track of his attitude. Better get a grip on the characters I'm going to want to avoid in the future.
Petra laughs and makes excuses for the fellow. “Oh, Adam likes to think he’s anti-social but he’s really just a pussy cat.”
I smile back at Petra, she seems nice enough so I want to be friendly with her. Just then Adam looks over at us, probably about to make some sarcastic remark, but stops short. Petra and I drift out of the lunch room; she shows me where the fax machine is then we stop in front of the staff bulletin board. Part of it is dedicated to personal photos or announcements; we're looking it over as Petra points out some of the other people that work in the building. Out of the corner of my eye I see Adam fastidiously drying his hands while obviously staring at us. I don’t turn his way though. Such rudeness is uncalled for, particularly in the workplace, not matter how hot you are. Or how hot you think you are.
That ends the tour and we return to our computer stations.
Introductions all Around
I’m temping while Fiona is on a year’s maternity leave, and I plan to make such an impression that they won’t want me to go when my time is up. Bit tricky though, since all Fiona has to do is want to come back to work and I am out, so I’m hoping she likes motherhood and decides to stay home. This large, semig-government organization produces workplace safety material. The design work is hardly cutting-edge but I like the content much better than a studio or ad agency. I’m not really about creating glossy ads to sell more toilet paper.
I'm familiarizing myself with the computer files and the servers while people keep sliding by politely asking if I am covering for Fiona. There’s too many to keep track of right now so I’m being friendly with everyone but mostly keeping my head in my work. One woman though, from back in the shop, speaks to Donna briefly then comes to introduce herself. Her name is Hana and she is a fellow Czech, so we exchange a few words in our language. Funny how such a small coincidence creates an instant acquaintance.
I’m still chuckling about this when Max comes around the corner laughing. I look over as Petra keeps her back turned, engrossed in her computer screen. Max walks up to us boldly, spewing greetings then seems to hesitate and stops by our desks looking lost.
“How’s it going, Max?” I tease, returning to my work.
Petra turns around to say hi and Max says to her, “I have a question to ask Keta but I’m not sure if I should.”
“You can ask me anything you want, Max, I just might not answer.” I say this to give an impression of my coolness. Does it work?
Petra is more encouraging, “I think you can ask her Max. She won’t freak out.”
Hmm, what’s this then? Something is up.
Max giggles and says, “Well, we were just wondering . . . we were back in the shop and Hana told us you were Czech . . . and we were wondering if .. . we wanted to know . .. . they told me to ask the sexy new girl to say something in Czech!”
I burst out laughing. Max seems relieved and Petra grins that her estimation of my character is correct. I think I see a tall shadow glide around the corner at the other end of the layout room.
“Ok children enough with your games, I need to get back to work now!”
Well, it seems like my personality might be a good fit here.
An Excersise in Futility
I'm focussed on closing off whatever small amount of work was left on Fiona’s projects before her departure, and just doing some tiny catch-up. Learning the mysterious workings of this organization, that kind of thing. Petra doesn’t want to train me, she considers it “not her problem”.
Jack should have had the sense to hire you when Fiona was still here."
Petra’s up to her eyeballs in the annual report, so I don’t hold it against her, but it’s pretty silly and counter-productive since there is no one else to ask for help. There are only two typesetters on staff here; Petra and Fiona (now me).
Jack (our manager) has told me a few basic things, otherwise I am figuring it out for myself or by muddling through some phone conversations. I don’t need any help with the computer, it’s already clear I know the software better than Petra; but I do need to know protocols and procedures, who to send proofs to and how to keep records. That sort of thing. Oh well, things will probably work themselves out eventually.