Dear Office, We Need to Talk
We had such a great run.
We had such a great run.
I still remember getting to know you. I came riding my bike in what was, so far, sunny weather. Suddenly, things turned for the worse. The weather went to crap, and it started to pour for thirty minutes — the exact thirty minutes I was riding my bike to meet you.
It was not a good start. Even though I looked like crap and cursing queen Beatrix, Victoria, and Margrethe II, you still welcomed me with open arms. You were warm and comforting, had hot chocolate, offered me some toilet tissues so I could dry off my hair. Nice touch. We were off to a great start.
My colleagues were not so kind. They called me “wet pants” for a full morning. But hey, that is the banter you taught them! This is how we roll when walking your walls. The days here are a blast. I met so many interesting people, a lot of folks that sometimes share a lot with me, sometimes not.
I think it depends on the convenience, but we still get along. We have to. Also, so much gossip! In your corridors, I learned that Marie is divorcing John, that Eric is getting promoted to a role that he did not deserve. Can you believe that? Apparently, he has an affair with Janice, Head of HR, but don’t tell anyone.
We had such extraordinary times together. I did the math: it was 780 hours per year invested in commuting to meet you. Not a bad deal considering how much you invest in keeping that prime location: over 1.5 million pounds a year!
Whew! Very generous of you. As we are close confidants, I will not mislead you: the coffee could be better quality (as I do have a Nespresso machine at home), but hey! It is for free! And I never say no to free coffee.
We also mingled in the Christmas party, that day I got blasted with you and then pissed off to meet my mates afterward. How can I forget that New Year’s Eve we stayed together finishing the Accounting month-end close for December?
And that Christmas, I got home late because I was reconciling two different managerial P&L reports? Tough times, but great nonetheless.
You taught me so much. You did show me how to be a better person and professional. You showed me the power of routines. Carefully scheduling our agendas and painting it with an array of colorful themes to remember their importance. With you, I understood the power of politics.
Learned who should I please and who I can dutifully ignore. Which times I should hit the gas and which ones I can just sit back and relax (let’s repeat: bonus time is working time)
Ah! Let’s not forget the magic of “face-time.” No, not the communication app I use to talk to my mom. It is more old school than that: the trick of looking busy when everyone is watching and reading sports when not—carefully scheduling emails to go out late at night. You know, that old perception of being working more than we are. Such an inspired tip.
I love your discipline. You and I always meet at the same time on the same days. It works for me: I like to wake up around the hours you tend to socialize. It is not a blast for Tom, though. He is a night guy.
But over the years, between red eyes and an insane amount of coffee (your treat!), he got over it. I am sure he accepted by now. I told him to forget that circadian rhythm bullshit.
After meeting you, I now do my things at the same time. As a fellow human, I love the routine: I leave my house at 8:30, get there at 8:50, at my desk at 9:00. Say hello to everyone, take a coffee, go chit-chat a bit. Read emails until 10 a.m. and then check my schedule until 10:30 a.m and get ready for the day ahead! I like how you keep the monthly meetings the same and keep things under control.
You enlightened me with manners. Before I met you, I was a bit rough on the edges. I laughed too loud. I ate with my mouth open. I cursed a lot and improvised too much.
With your careful and watchful eye, I found my balance. Now I don’t eat tangerines during the day anymore as the smell is annoying. I don’t cook fish in the microwave for the same reason. I make sure to smile at shitty jokes, am always on time to meetings, and know EVERYTHING there needs to be known about the weather. Cumulus Nimbus, canceled flights, pollen swarm from Germany, you name it! I know it all.
I also am cautious when planning my vacations—choosing the right time to ask, and the perfect time not to disrupt the aforementioned routines. I call it Vacationlogy, the science of finding that sweet spot between monthly meetings.
The one exactly matches my partner’s availability and does not overlap with the rest of the team’s. Hey, sometimes I can do it near a few holidays and save one or two days out of my yearly quota. Winning, that’s the spirit.
You gave me priorities and values. Before you, I thought all that mattered was getting to know the world. All my valuables fit my backpack. Can you believe that? I could go for a month with three-hundred dollars, feasting out of one-pound meals at McDonald’s and taking shits at Starbucks. I met random strangers from different backgrounds and countries in hostel lobbies.
I got drunk with a 36-pack of Keystone Light. What a tool! This was before I met Michelin-starred restaurants, 10-dollar smoothies at Joe & The Juice, and 5-pound warm pints at The Coach & Horses.
Now I calibrated my values and have to say growing up is indeed a blast. I did not care a lot about what others thought about me. I could rock earrings and a Brazil National Team shirt. My values and ethics were rigid, very like my parents. Very different from the flexibility I rock now — changing it to the amount of pressure applied by the partner in charge.
I also have very clear that PowerPoint presentations are the way to go, no point in wasting my time on personal projects. Forget about that blog, quit the professional athlete dream. Now you have a lifestyle to sustain. Focus!
You showed me how to act my part. While sharing days, weeks, and years with you — I learned to wear the clothes I needed to fit in. No more Metallica T-Shirts!
Retire your Chelsea kit! Now it is time for a blue shirt, khaki pants, and brown shoes. No exceptions or risk being mildly bullied by your colleagues. Yes, like in high school, but now they do not tell to your face.
You bestowed me with unique wisdom on how to act: calm, collected, measuring my words. Being social in the amount and matter required by the team you are working, carefully crafted, a bit like high school again.
If it is with the Finance Wizkids, be ready to find mistakes in PowerPoint presentations a day before. Also, keep it in your pocket to point them out at the meeting, a.k.a. when they matter. Read The Economist and quote one of two random lines of an article. If it is the cool marketing guys, time to go a bit “loco.”
Throw a few words around like “design thinking,” “creativity,” “media waves,” and “AdWords.” Make sure you read some articles and tell what product the competitors are launching and how the focus group still preferred ours.
Remember when you got famous? You got your own NBC show I love so much. It was even named after you! I spent countless hours watching a perfect depiction of your day-to-day. It was a bit satirical and borderline offensive sometimes but almost on target.
Throughout our stint, I met so many Jims, Pams, Stanleys, and so many Michaels! So. Many. Michaels. It is unbelievable how the writers nailed it. The closeness to your charisma is what made it a huge success. These were nine seasons where the world got to know you a bit better.
You gave me a lot. I was introduced to some of my best friends due to you. Hell, I am even the best man of a couple of them. When you were not looking or were busy with something else, we sneakily socialized, like an underground culture.
We kind of broke your hierarchy (sorry) and met each other due to affinity and not politics. Sneaking in weird times, we build our subculture — and I have to say: we did bond. Between coffees and meetings and on karaoke nights after sending that late-night report.
I laughed so much when you were not looking around. We joked, told inappropriate stories, and got back a bit to our old ways. It felt a bit like those backpacking days, where a random group of people got together due to affinity and a small bit of convenience. We traveled together, got to know each other, and I still talk with the ones that abandoned you.
I slowly learned that what brought us together was you — but something more robust and more profound. I have to say I felt like a bit like a transgressor. Especially when the Chief Controller told me we have to keep it professional, as you taught me.
Unfortunately, this letter ends up with not so great news. I am writing down to tell you we need to go our own ways. I have to say: this is a classic “it is not you, it is me” situation. During the last weeks, in these unprecedented times, my view of the world suddenly and swiftly changed.
I found someone else. I found someone who allows me to wear my pajamas all day with no regrets. I found someone who does not judge me my lack of hygiene on Mondays or my Yoga classes on Tuesday afternoons. Someone that is flexible and allows me to be my best when I can deliver my best. Someone who accepts me for who I am, not some crafted version of myself.
It is still kind of a long-distance relationship, but we are getting to know each other well. We are even planning a trip around the world.
The technologies that I got to know in the last days with my nerd nephew allow me to keep in touch with you, as I want us to remain friends. Don’t take me wrong. I do need you in my life. Just not the way it used to be. I need some space.
I hope you understand.