Saturday, March 11, 2006

Everybody’s Gotta Learn Sometime 

My colleagues Terry and Mike are trapped in Bloke Hell, their conversation forever concerned with the specification of things: voltages, resistance, miles per gallon, kilobytes per second, revolutions per minute, tenths of a second from nought to sixty, watts per wotsit - anything so long as it can be quantified. Their spiritual home is Maplin.

Show them an MP3 player and they’ll happily discuss disk life expectancy and the relative merits of lithium versus alkaline batteries, but will be completely unable to offer any critical insight or appreciation of the music on it.
It’s as if they once heard that cliché about men being interested in objects while women are interested in feelings, and they all too eagerly adopted it as a blueprint for living.

Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise. Who would actually want to hear Mike droning on about chocolate addiction, skincare products which fail like so many of us to deliver on their promise, and how Terry only ever phones to say he loves him when he’s drunk? No, I don’t believe you would.

On Friday morning - and with no hint of self-consciousness; they’re both irony negative - Mike used the word “differential” in a discussion about hot kettles and frozen windscreens.
When will I ever learn to disengage?

“What are you talking about, you anal retentive morons?” I enquired politely.
“Nobody casually drops the D word into every day conversation like that.
Hey, I’m going into town later. Can I fetch anybody anything differential?’”
It was met with a frosty silence.
“‘Check out the new girl on the help desk. She’s totally differential.’”

Blank expressions. Eventually I blurted “Why can’t we talk about The Apprentice like they do in normal offices?”
They stared at me for twenty minutes like I’d suggested we all go skinny dipping at lunchtime, then moved onto the whys and wherefores of the M6 toll road.

I cracked open my soup early and left them to it, taking comfort in the certain knowledge that Stella, my eighties style yuppie witch of a team leader, would have had something curt or pithy to say in support of my views, had she not been at home all day servicing her plumber.

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