Thursday, 13 February 2014


Just wait in the office, please Madame.
This particular Waiting In An Office was at our local MOT station, or 'control tecnique'.
While the car was being electrocuted, poked and made to run on a treadmill, I was invited to wait.
I'm always intrigued by garage offices, well most offices that are attached to some other activity — not just offices in their own right: massive acreages of open plan or cubical'd space (depending on the current thinking at the time of the office's interior construction) with a million computers and posture-correcting chairs. Yes . . . what? Oh, yes, the humble, usually dingy small room where you wait, flicking through a few tired copies of Tyre monthly and wondering how much money is about to be requested.
I think this particular MOT station has been running for about twenty-five years in our town; the main man cheerful and helpful for someone who has to stand in a often, freezing echoing space, breathing in car fumes and occasionally nipping into the luxurious warmth and refuge of his . . . small dingy space.
Twenty-five years of the same bone-coloured walls, and strip-light. I'd imagine that's a pretty new filing cabinet and looming black cupboard, but otherwise It's probably always looked like that.
A certain part of my brain sometimes likes to calculate odd facts to do with time — strange for someone who got grade five CSE in maths.
How long might I have stood in the post office if I had to do it all in one go in my life? Three months?
How many cakes has Mark made — we did work that one out once; I think it was about twenty thousand.
How many years laughing, or months sneezing.
One's about sex are quite fun.
How many baths? How long have I sat in one?
How many days have I spent saying where's the tin opener/that pen I was using/the car key.
Etc . . .
Anyway. I suppose I was thinking how long would this man have spent with his feet up, or down, in this small featureless office.
Over twenty-five years . . . say two hours a weekday = ten per week. Fifty two times ten = shit someone's moved the calculator somewhere, er, five hundred and twenty? times twenty-five years . . . well, an awfully long time to be staring at blank walls and a frosted glass window.
A pot plant or two? A few posters of mind-numbingly beautiful cars like the Citroen DS, or a nice mural of a sparkling bay fringed by palm trees? A small comfy sofa? A cat?
I suppose it's just not important, but if I was going to spend several years worth of time in that one space, I think I'd want it to feel a little bit welcoming.

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