Book Excerpt: The Office

I unlocked my office door and stared out two walls of windows over the dreary scene of King Street on a January morning. Red and white streetcars click-clacked along their rails seven storeys below. Taxi horns blared, impatient with the car making an illegal left onto Yonge Street. Throngs of men and women in dark overcoats streamed into the Financial District’s office buildings.

I hung my coat on a wooden hanger on the back of my door, grabbed my lunch bag, and headed out into the darkened reception area. My heels clicked across the tiles, past the tall, marble reception desk, past the leather sofas and glass coffee table of the waiting area. The big boardroom loomed ahead of me. I made a mental note to stop back in later to test the audio-visual connections with my laptop while the IT guys were still around and then moved towards the kitchen.

The Office Kitchen

The kitchen and all of its smells and sounds were contained behind another glass door. Audit staff gearing up for busy season were already in the office, making coffee at the fancy coffee machine, shoving lunch bags into the industrial-sized, stainless steel refrigerator.

Two tax staff sat on stools at the long white island in the middle of the kitchen, reading newspapers. The fruit bowl overflowed with apples, pears, and oranges. Three cookie jars were full.

The cookie jars were a problem. They were always full with Chips Ahoy three chip cookies, maple-flavored sandwich cookies, and chocolate sandwich cookies. I had no willpower as a stress eater and so trips to the cookie jars were a daily occurrence. It didn’t seem dignified as a CFO to eat store-bought cookies in front of partners and audit staff so my trips were often clandestine, after hours, when the kitchen was less busy. I’d wrap two or three cookies in a napkin, make a cup of decaf coffee, and shuffle sheepishly back to my office berating myself for succumbing to the sugar sirens yet again.

I took a quick peek in the dishwasher. Full and dirty. I loaded a soap tab into the slot and turned on the dishwasher. The sound of water filling the machine drowned out some of the quieter conversations behind me.

Dull grey light poured in through south facing windows. The white kitchen tables with white mod chairs at the back of the kitchen were empty. They would be busy as lunch time with staff not allowed to eat at their desks.

I’m writing a career change memoir and I’d love your feedback as I post small ~300 word blurbs. What do you want to know more about? What works for you? What doesn’t work for you? Comment below or e-mail me.

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