It’s your first day at your new job. You got the nice new suit on that your mum bought for you out of Mark’s and Sparks and she even ironed the shirt. Sandwiches under one arm, notepad under the other, you were even writing stuff down during the induction. That’s how keen you are.
Welcome to the big world of work.
At some stage of the proceedings your new colleagues will send you out to get coffee. Don’t panic, this is a good thing; it means that they like you. After making sure the order is right and struggling under the combined weight of at least a dozen cups of Starbucks you finally make it back to the office, only to face your first real test of employment.
When they signed you in this morning they probably gave you a plastic envelope thing with your name written on it. Remember? It was the thing that took you ages to figure out how to pin on to your suit jacket. The girl at reception may have just given you one or you may even have had to fill out your own one out of the big stack of tear-able ones that she keeps in a big book.
No you don’t have to write the word BUS in to the bit that says number plate.
But you realise there is a major problem as you stand there intrepidly holding on to your cups of coffee. The pass you got is made of paper and doesn’t seem to open the security door.
Now what you need to realise is that this happens to everyone. It’s not just because you are the new guy or because they don’t like you. Everyone that joins a new company has to suffer the indignity of not having a security pass.
What this generally involves is having to lurk sheepishly outside the security door, praying to the gods of officedom that someone is coming in or out soon because you have been waiting for at least five minutes now and it’s really getting boring. All you need to do is flash the paper pass they gave you at whoever opens the door for you and they should let you in. Chances are they don’t bother to look.
There is no point complaining about this fact. You just have to put up with it. Now you are in full time employment you will need to get used to this idea a lot.
Don’t go moaning to your colleagues that they have not got your pass yet. Don’t hassle your manager about how it has not been done yet and how he really should get on to that. Under no circumstances phone up your colleagues on your mobile and ask them to come and open the door for you.
They all had to wait and now you have to wait as well.
To make matters worse the security door is usually stationed near to where the toilets are. Now as well as suffering the first indignity of not having a security pass you now get funny looks from the women in the office who think you might be a pervert.
They don’t, you have to be a certain level of management before they start to really think that, but you can’t help but think that spending all this time hanging about outside the toilets can’t be doing your office credibility any good. You are right, it’s probably not.
You also get the occasional strange odour drifting your way. Those toilets seem to have quite a high footfall. It’s certainly not pleasant.
There is a temptation to ask the “guy who sits next to you” if you can borrow his pass but be warned. In some offices this is quite acceptable behaviour but in others it can be classed as a serious security breach. If you work for a financial institution then the last place you want to be is sitting in the security officer’s room having to explain where you got the pass and why it was never your intention to impersonate a 40 something bald man.
The thing to remember is that this happens to all new employees. It’s just the way that it’s done. In time you just have to suck it up with the rest of us.
Once you have got the hang of it then it just becomes part of the routine anyway. It’s that knowing shrug of the shoulders to the girl who works round the corner from you as she opens the door. Yeah, I know, they haven’t got my pass for me yet. She has seen you about; she knows you work in her section; you might even get a bit of chat.
Having to lurk outside the security door by the toilets is just one of the many indignities that the world of work will put upon you. Nowhere gets you a pass on your first day and if it happens then get down on your knees and pray to the office gods for upon that day you have been truly blessed.
It is important to understand that meaningless routine is just part of the game when it comes to work. Companies have plenty of other ways to torture their employees and no doubt you will experience a few of them during your career.
Now wait till I tell you about online compliance questionnaires, then there’s team building away days…don’t get me started on staff appraisals…
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