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Late-Night Work Bender
The past few days at work, I’ve been doing one of my favourite work things (information modelling) under my least favourite work circumstances (four-day deadline for what was truly a four-month job)—with all the back history and negotiations and frustrations and blinding insights and occasional outbursts of singing that authoring by committee brings with it.
Today, I was on the phone at eight, off the phone at ten, in to work at twelve, getting somewhere by two. Alone in the office by six, with the occasional status update interstate. By nine, Interstate and I had declared what I like to call the Optimal Iraq Strategy: “Declare Whatever The Hell Happened A Victory, And Go Home.” Maybe on a global scale the work wasn’t done, but the door on this phase of work had creaked shut.
Save, Post, Done. I IM’d my goodbyes; I checked a couple of links for tomorrow’s tasks. I turned off the harpsichord Goldberg Variations: too preoccupied to have been listening anyway, and interrupted too often for them to run their course. I unplugged the laptop, one peripheral at the time: Keyboard, Screen, Network, Power. I shrugged on my coat, I pocketed my mobile; I switched off the light. Door Release, Staircase, Passageway, Door Release. Night lights in Parkville.
As I paced into the street, and followed students onto the tram, I was hit by a wave that occasionally swells at the end of an occasional twelve-hour work day, or a nighttime lecture. Night and yellow street lights summon it, and bleary eyes host it. It’s bleak and spent and slightly peeved; it’s envious of those walking past, surely having more of a life than it does; it’s subdued. It needs a coffee or a beer or a game of charades; more than that, it needs someone to share it with, and it’s not going to get it. It’s going home to crash; it’s done. And yet, there’s the corner of a smile about it. Not joyful, God no; not really even happy. Relieved, I guess. Relieved with a soupçon of potentiality. A memory of future expectation, a still awareness: “Now, now that’s over. Now… now I can do something else.”
Which is to go home to crash, yes; but still. Now I can do something else.
Twenty years ago, this would have been a poem, every bit as self-conscious as this post is. Ten years ago, this would have been a brewski, because I had a colleague who worked late too. Ten years hence… well, who knows where any of us will be, ten years hence. Right now, this post, too, is over. Now I can write something else.