There are some upsides to working in a small office: quite easily, everyone gets to know everyone else, and you can quickly identify the tics that indicate whether someone's going to make a pleasant colleague for the day or whether they're going to be about as patient and amenable as Pete Doherty going cold turkey. You learn much more, much more quickly, and the bosses are generally a bit more receptive to the foibles of their staff being human and needing to take the occasional long lunch to run errands.
But a small office does, of course, have its drawbacks - the workloads can be a touch on the heavy side at the best of times; there's no avoiding the client you'd happily see whacked up in front of a tribunal for such horribly sexist attitudes that his female PRs want to shed their skins in total revulsion; and there's absolutely nowhere to hide as far as the office gossips are concerned.
Halfway through last week, I was having a total shocker of a day.
Not going to be able to do drinks tonight, I fired off in an email to Hot Flyer Boy. As if I weren't already having an epically bad day, have just been told I'm working tonight and it's going to be a late one [I probably shouldn't bitch and moan when my late night at work was mandatory attendance at The Strokes' secret gig, but it's my prerogative and I'll bitch and moan if I want to. Because, if I'm honest, all I really wanted was a quick gin and an early night. But there you have it]. See you when you're back from hols. xx
No worries, came the reply. Don’t work too hard. Speak soon. xx
Sitting at my desk a while later, in walked a familiar figure, scruffy in untucked shirt and slightly stubbly face.
“Hey you,” he sauntered to my desk and kissed me on both cheeks.
“Hot Flyer Boy! What are you doing here? And how did you get in?!”
“Front door was open. Not great security you got there. Anyway, you said you were having a bad day, and these are guaranteed to cheer me up when I'm feeling a bit rubbish.” He handed over a pint of milk and a large packet of M&S chocolate chunk cookies. “I mean, I've never done the American thing and actually had milk and cookies, but I figured it's probably quite nice. The cookies are the best, anyway.”
“HFB, that's so lovely. You didn't need to do that.”
“No I know. But I wanted to. I should shoot off. See you when I'm back, yeah? And don't work too late.”
With which he disappeared back up the stairs into the evening.
“So, Blonde. Why exactly are you not with him?” My boss had turned in his chair and was giving me his best I-want-to-be-Jack-Bauer face.
“Because he's Boy, and we’re just friends,” I said.
“That's the second boy who's brought you cookies in here!” Liver Bird squealed, beside herself with excitement.
“Yup, and I'm not dating the other one either.”
“He loves you!” she squealed happily.
“He doesn't,” I said, to deaf ears.
“Just wait till Intern’s back tomorrow,” she continued to squirm. “Oh my god! I can't wait to tell her.”
Really, I should have counted my blessings. At least there weren’t more people she could tell.
River Café, Hammersmith
17 minutes ago