WE should be totally stressed out at work because we’ve just moved.
Apparently, moving premises is up there with death, disaster and drought as stress- inducing, which surprised me, because I have never failed to enjoy a move.
The minute I know I am going to leave a premises, I tend to fall out of love with it.
The minute I move into the new place, I have difficulty remembering the rooms in the old building, although my sentimental car did try, a couple of times, to take me to the old HQ.
Our new corporate home took swift revenge. The inch-high spud to which the car park gates attach had a lethal go at my underside. Well, at my car’s underside. We can’t figure how such a tiny obstruction could tear out an entire exhaust system, but it did. Anyone want a 12-year-old Lexus with a traumatised bottom? Great for parts.
Other than the exhaust pipe, not a thing got broken. Each of us got marked boxes for our stuff, so not a thing got lost, either. It did prove, however, that, since we started the business five years ago, we’ve failed to create a paperless office.
We had stored enough paper to print an entire issue of the Irish Examiner. Piles of carefully folded sail-like sheets from a flip- chart covered in notes someone obviously thought too valuable to toss, none of which made any sense. Gorgeous presentation documents for pitches we’d forgotten we’d made. Thank you cards with signatures we couldn’t make out.
We found cuttings about ourselves going back 30 or more years with pictures of fashion errors we’d made at the time and — on the back of one of them, from the 80s — a news report to the effect that the Department of Social Welfare (as it was then called) was embarking on a crackdown operation to find social welfare cheats. Some things never change.
We unpacked. We carried boxes up and down stairs. We argued about what should go where, and I’m still sulking because the boss wouldn’t let me hang a luxurious towelling dressing gown in the shower room.
The bloody thing cost a fortune but has never been used by the man in my life (for whom I bought it) or me because it’s so heavy it brings you to your knees and you need to call in a neighbour to help you get out of it.
I thought clients just before they head to a TV station would love the spa-evocative warmth of it after a quick shower, but was told to take it back home.
I’d have put in a bigger fight, but I was already in the dog house for using a fire- extinguisher to hold open a door, so I and the towelling robe went quietly. Which meant me missing one of the workmen balancing a wheelbarrow on his nose.
This man’s from Mongolia, where he was a circus artist, and when someone discovered his past and asked him to do a circus thing, up went the wheelbarrow. Beats resting on a shovel, you must admit.
During the move, when we got tired, we ordered in pizza and imagined what we’d put in the freezer to enable us to produce gourmet breakfasts at a moment’s notice for unexpected hungry clients.
We noticed oddities. The hand drier in the men’s loo is branded Hubris, which I would have thought was rather judgmental. The drainpipes in the car park don’t go anywhere. What I mean is that they don’t have drain-away grids under them. They just pee directly onto the ground, in a neatly committed way.
In addition, the new building has so many stairs that you encounter people on landings clutching their chests and mopping their brows. They’ll have to get over it. New research suggests it’ll be people who lose the most weight that are people who don’t sit down much.
They fidget, get up, stretch, run upstairs and move with impulsive but constant irregularity, thereby burning up more calories than the ones who postpone getting up because filing one document doesn’t seem a good idea when they could wait until three or four have accumulated.
So the stairs must be viewed positively, although one of my colleagues who’s just had his knee done is struggling a little with this. He says it’s OK coming down. Isn’t it always?
The other thing the new building demonstrates is the scientific rule that hot air rises. The people in the topmost office, by mid-afternoon, occupy something close to a sauna. They get a drowsy look and take a long time to answer quite simple questions. If you text them, ditto.
Of course, because I’m down on the ground floor, half the time I’m texting questions like “Are you up there?” which may confuse them.
EVEN more confusing was when one of our staff decided to save time by deploying a generic answer to emails and texts. The first few times he replied “Great. Thank you”, we were all delighted with the speedy affirmation. When he sent that same response to an email about a mutual friend doing very badly after surgery, it seemed so harshly chirrupy I asked for an explanation and we agreed that visiting each other, even at the cost of climbing a lot of stairs, might be more productive.
The old building did have advantages, one of which was that it was next door to a chiropractor, which in turn led to friends dropping in after they’d paid to be beaten up next door.
People fresh out of a chiropractor are astonishingly good-humoured. God’s in his heaven and so is their wandering patella. And since anyone who’s just delivered a training programme is invariably intoxicated with a heady mixture of relief and pride, trainer’s high meets pain-relief high.
BUT an adjoining chiropractor is a minor boast, compared to the fact that the new building is an old synagogue. The oldest synagogue in Dublin city, in fact. Where former Israeli president Chaim Herzog made his Bar Mitzvah. Where Louis Elliman was married. Probably where Leopold Bloom worshipped.
You couldn’t mistake it for anything other than a synagogue, with its two big black doors and its byzantine windows; Google has pictures of it. It was de-consecrated more than a decade ago because of the contraction in the numbers of the Jewish community in Dublin — indeed, in Ireland. We have less than a quarter of the Jews we had half a century ago.
Because of Jewish contribution to communication, whether in literature, entertainment or the visual arts, we want to create a mini museum to its past within the synagogue. We’d love to hear from anyone with memorabilia which might be shared or copied.
Offers for an elderly Lexus that passed its NCT just before losing its undercarriage will also be considered...
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