(a tragicomedy in two acts)
So, after patiently ‘hot-desking’ for one whole month (one of those annoying sugar-coated expressions that attempts to pointlessly garner excitement from the miserably dull and supremely uninspiring practice of sharing desks with everyone and their empty coffee cups) my buddy and I, working together on our latest broadcasting caper, finally manage to get our very own desks. Hurrah! Two empty desks. All ours. Not anyone else’s desks. No seats left uncomfortably warm by unknown bums. No mysterious coats over chairs. No dirty mugs beside keyboards smothered with buttery breakfasty fingerprints. Nope. Two fresh, clean, empty desks devoid of any suggestion of previous habitation and intended for the sole use of us both. Time to plant a flag and claim these babies as ours - one twelfth of a year later and we finally got them. And considering the insane bureaucracy we’ve been privy to during this time maybe we should consider one month as being quite an achievement.
We got no phones. Well, we got phones, two of them, one on each desk, but neither of them actually in working order. A condition compounded by the fact we’re also in an area that has no mobile phone coverage, we’re basically on the dark side of the moon. Except on Earth. And the desks have no power. Like the phone situation, there are plug sockets in attendance, several of them smiling away under the desk, but they don’t work. Nothing works. Nothing actually works.
So we mention that neither of our desk phones work and that our desks have no power. We mention this to several people. Repeatedly. A lot. We repeatedly mention this a lot. To a lot of people. And finally it gets “elevated to a higher level” and we’re told that we need to put in a proper request to the relevant people.
Let’s start with getting these phones working…
Okay. How do I do that?
Phone them. Here…
(writes number down)
… here’s their number.
I stare at him as he holds out the post-it note with the number on it. He smiles, nods, and holds the number towards me. Embarrassed for him, I take it.
You want me to phone them?
Yeah. Just mention my name as a reference if there’s any problem.
Right. Thanks. You want me to phone someone to report my phone isn’t working?
(I’m thinking to myself as I’m looking at him, "Well, I’m no psychic, but I can already predict there being one massive problem with that suggestion." But I’m looking at him and he just isn’t getting it. I should point out that this is also the same bloke who one month ago suggested I email the IS department to tell them that I wasn’t able to log onto my computer.)
Yeah. Seriously, if you get any hassle just put them onto me.
I won’t be able to phone them. My phone doesn’t work. I can’t phone them.
I follow his lead and stare at the defunct phone on my new desk, both of us willing it to do something to get us out of this mess…
I’ll phone them.
It was a further TWO weeks before the smiling phone man appeared and my phone was networked to the BBC system and finally up and running. But only my phone, not my fellow workmate’s. Once the phone man had finished pressing my buttons and explained some phone functions that I can’t imagine anyone ever needing, I then pointed him towards our other phone that needed doing, a phone less than three feet away on a desk opposite and attached to mine.
You’ll need to put in a request for that one.
For that phone. You’ll need a request for that phone.
We did. That’s why you’re here. We already put it in.
No. I only got a job request for one phone. This phone.
But we got these desks at the same time. Two weeks ago. And neither phone was working. That’s when we put in the request. Two weeks ago.
I only got a job request for one phone. You’ll need to put in another request for that phone.
I’m sorry if it wasn’t made clear. It was BLOKE who put in the request for us, obviously we couldn’t because we didn’t have a phone, and I’m sure he would have put in a request for both phones because he knew we needed both --
I only got one job request for one phone.
-- so maybe he got it wrong or didn’t explain himself properly, and if that’s the case I do apologise, but --
You’ll need to put in another request for that phone.
(one… two… three… four…)
Can I put in a request now, then? To you? Whilst you’re here? The phone’s right there. Please? We would be really grateful. Really. It only took a couple of minutes to do this one.
We look at each other…
He looks towards the other phone…
Looks back to me…
The suspense is killing me...
Sorry. I only got one job request for one phone. You need to phone a request in for that phone.
An internal primal scream threatens to blow my eyeballs out of their sockets. Thankfully, years of regimented study in several Japanese martial disciplines has taught me well. I take a deep breath and instantly calm my inner psycho. It’s only a phone. A phone. It’s not as if it’s anything actually important. Yeah. I'm cool.
Do you need the phone number?
I decide right there and then to kill him.
Tune in soon to WORKING AT THE BBC - Part 2 where you’ll find out all about POWER MAN: the man in charge of powering up my new desk. He’s a real hoot, that one, a right barrel of laughs.