Memories of office life: as a temp, I was self-conscious and disillusioned – until John arrived | Life and style

The office was a unusual and alienating terrain for me when I arrived in it at 23. I had dropped out of college years earlier than, anticipating one thing to occur to me that may focus my future and concurrently bestow a nice windfall. It hadn’t. However I was sick of being poor and I had a boyfriend I needed to play home with. When a momentary admin contract at a medical establishment in Dublin got here up, I jumped at it.

Instantly, I felt overwhelmed, and self-conscious about my silly little outfits – pastiches of what skilled ladies put on, which I had cobbled collectively from Topshop sale racks and charity retailers. I was prickly, cautious of saying the fallacious factor, unable to calm down.

All the pieces modified when my pal, whom I’ll name John, joined the corporate. He wasn’t a shut pal, however we had been half of the identical social scene in what I nonetheless thought of to be my “actual life”.

Megan Nolan
‘John made the office into one thing that didn’t terrify me.’ {Photograph}: Linda Nylind/The Guardian

At first, I was involved that having him round would expose me and my hokey efficiency of “office worker”. In actual fact, it did the other. Lunchtimes, which I had beforehand spent consuming yoghurt alone at my desk, grew to become one thing I seemed ahead to. We developed a routine, visiting the close by “fancy burger place” as a Friday deal with (the place I would order a unhappy, bread-free beef bowl, meals in my early 20s being largely characterised by a lump of protein eaten smugly whereas mumbling about carbs).


As soon as, on our break, we went to the pub and ordered frozen margaritas, which turned out to be flamboyant comical issues, whipped into extreme domes. We had been so happy with ourselves that I requested a stranger to take a picture. We went on a work hen do collectively, the place everybody wore nurses’ hats and waved grotesquely lifelike penis toys. After we left the work crowd, we received a rickshaw down Grafton Road, speechless and wheezing hysterically.

I don’t imply to recommend that John splintered us off from the broader office: he was immediately, effortlessly favored by everybody, and working there by no means appeared to trigger him the anxiousness it did me. Reasonably, it was by John that I discovered office solace. He was an abundantly inventive particular person – taking part in in a number of of the perfect Dublin bands, carrying an interesting lopsided smile and a denim jacket I coveted – however he didn’t appear affronted by the truth that he additionally needed to work in a job unrelated to his creativity. It modified my perspective: I’d barely produced something inventive in any respect, however had arrogantly and pre-emptively felt afraid that I by no means would if I was working in an uninspiring job.

I’ve since written a novel, which was revealed final 12 months. I’m nonetheless horrible at being in places of work, nonetheless nervous I’m going to be “came upon”. However, in all of the years since, I’ve by no means felt cooler or extra half of a gang than when taking benefit of built-up flexitime to clock out at 4.30pm on a Friday and depart with John, denim jackets on, to go to debate the occasions of the week. He not solely made the office into one thing that didn’t terrify me, however made me comfortable and hopeful, too. I’m but to satisfy anybody else succesful of such sorcery.

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