The day starts with the sound of the ocean gently, steadily and, alas, digitally getting louder and louder until I can do the sums required to turn it off. It’s followed by a lot of hot water, a few cuts to the face, a walk past a church cum Indian cultural centre cum Ingress portal before I take a short ride getting way too familiar with the sights and scents of commuters’ armpits. If I took the slightly longer route, I’d walk past the place Gandhi lived when he was a law student, but I won’t because it’s hot and I’m carrying fifteen pounds of kickboxing gear on my back.
Victoria Station is vast and frenetic. Everyone is in the way. It is impossible to not be stressed here. Well, maybe Gandhi could have managed it. I’m hungry and everything smells of bakery. I don’t eat much bread these days, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to leap the counter and forcefully grab a half-dozen croissants. The Japanese couple struggling up the stairs with suitcases twice as large as themselves misinterpret my snarl. I really should offer to help, but the moment passes.
I shuffle slowly through the Tallest Glass Revolving Doors in Europe, fishing in my pocket for my ID to show to building security. Every time I see any security guards or bouncers these days, I wonder what it would be like to fight them. There’s one guy here who I reckon would be vicious. He’s small and looks maybe forty-five or fifty, but he’s always weirdly alert. When I say “Good morning”, he seems to regard it as a distraction from his watch.
Once I’m through, I get to my floor. By now it’s familiar to me, but I still take the time to appreciate it. The corridors aren’t just soulless tunnels, but rich, interesting places with colour and texture. The deli & micro-kitchens are cosy and relaxed. My desk maybe technically possibly counts as a cubical, but hasn’t ever felt that way to me.
The first thing I do is get coffee, which Shakespeare would have called the chief nourisher in life’s feast if he only knew what he was on about. The coffee from the push-button machine isn’t great, but it works enough to get me ready to use the espresso machine for my sophomore cup.
I worked from home for about eight years, in one way or another, and mostly enjoyed it. Now I’m here, I don’t miss it at all. Well, sometimes it’s a bit noisy, but there’s a beautiful, dark, quiet room where I can escape. The food is better, my computer is better, and the company is better.
That is, one of the things I enjoy most about my trade is sitting around with a team, working together on something interesting. At my previous job, even though we worked from home mostly, we’d occasionally get together in some random city, sit in a room and hack on something for a solid week. Those weeks (NB: not the weeks where we sat around planning things) were the most fun times in a job that was overall a pretty fun job. So why not do that all the time?
The day starts to wind up, I slug my kickboxing bag over my shoulder and head out. There’s a different, friendlier security guard on duty, but I only really see his back and I think we’d both be uncomfortable if I turned around and said “Good morning”. I get to Victoria Station, and though it shouldn’t be mathematically possible there are even more people here, and they all hate me for lugging this great bloody thing around, taking up precious standing room. As I’m shoved onto the train to Euston, I can’t help but think that I love this city.
This post is part of the Alphabet Supremacy project, a collaboration between myself and Bice Dibley. He chooses next week’s word.