One of my first jobs was a fry cook at a fast food restaurant. As part of the humiliation for earning $4.85 an hour for scraping gunk out of vats of scalding oil and neatly arranging bacon on hamburgers, I was given a uniform to wear. A saucy pair of stiff, navy blue pants complimented the striped button-up shirt. Tellingly, putting the uniform on, wafts of grease cascading over my skin, I felt like a tool.
Turgid pits of dried meat congealed with condiments leaving scabs of gross that even bleach couldn’t erase. Tellingly, one of my similarly garbed co-workers thought it was funny to dunk my hairnet in a vat of pickle brine. I was never given another.
Adulthood was similarly disappointing.
My first real job was working for a national park. The uniform I was given this time around was green.
Now that I am working in an office, it gives me great pleasure to wear a tie. Once seen as the noose of the white-collared chump, I have become an Olympic tie wearer. No longer at the mercy of spontaneous mayo fights, I wear expensive shoes and tap dance through the cubicles while rolling up the sleeves of a checked-pattern dress shirt.
Even better, when I am decked out it completely masks the fact that I am vaguely incompetent. But I seem fashionable, which is vexing in some weird way.
My new motto: Kill your enemies with confusion.
At the grand opening of The Two Twenty office spaces, located in heart of Riversdale in Saskatoon, smartly dressed musicians minced with sueded-out bohemian types, artists, poets, journalists and lion tamers. Free champagne complimented the swish of skirts and beers cheersed became all the more gentlemanly when mashed together by handsome men.
Musicians and performers were part the spectacle but maybe only because they were louder than everyone else – the audience looked pretty fucking hot if I may be so bold.
And while I am more than a little freaked out to wear a shirt that says “Rogstad” on it I do find them mildly entertaining. Like watching somebody trip and then look back to see what they stumbled over sort of entertaining.
Elsewhere in the building, which at times looks like nothing like a proper office at all, DJs spun beats while poets espoused words of encouragement. Similarly, the wall with projected Tweets kept everyone giggling – like passing notes in elementary school but the teacher is gone and the principal is drunk.
It occurred to me at one point in the evening that I had always hated my jobs because of the uniform, but also because of the singular attitude of the space itself. There is hardly anything challenging about cheap desks and cubicles – we already know that. So why do we kill our creativity in the ugliest of spaces day after day? But if this is as true as I suspect, we should expect amazing results coming from The Two Twenty work space.
Even better, it is already happening.
The days of scraping crud, however, don’t quite seem to be at an end. Apparently someone thought that eating a haphazardly balanced bowl of cold vegetable soup in bed while still wearing the dress shirt-and-tie uniform would be a good idea.