Of mice and men: returning to the office
After months of lockdown in countries across the world, a few of my banker friends are now slowly heading back to their offices. It is not easy.
It’s not just about transitioning back to daily commutes or being forced to wear some clean clothes after working in pyjamas for the past few months. It is the people. Everywhere, all around, so many people.
At this risk of this column being a diary of a misanthrope, there was something glorious about the relative solitude of Covid-19. Bankers are now being forced to confront the depressing reality that they work with other bankers.
Food left in drawers for months will have developed a crusty mould that might well be the source of the next pandemic. Half-drunk bottles of wine in office pantries will have turned into vinegar. Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am stuck in the middle with flu.
Nor is it just fellow humans that deserve our opprobrium. One banker told me about her return to the office.
She and her team were banished from the office the day after her birthday. During lockdown, she had left behind on her desk – unopened – a box of sweets given to her as a present.
When she returned this week, she saw that mice had not been deterred by either Covid-19 or plastic wrapping. They had devoured the sweets, leaving only enough detritus to encourage a gang of cockroaches to follow in their tracks. This minor zoological exhibition had left behind it the inevitable by-product of confectionary digestion – or, as the banker put it, “they pooped everywhere!”
No three words could better encapsulate the year we’ve had so far.