Me, Me, (Me)
So I’m into my 32nd day of a three month ‘holiday work’ filing stuff at a local doctors’ surgery.
I was warned at the interview that it was mind-numbing stuff. And it has certainly lived up to its billing. It's the kind of thing I was doing in my first job 20+ years ago - and at the same hourly rate, I'm sure.
During my shift I file about 40 pieces of paper. Everyday another 50 make their way onto the pile. There is a six month backlog. I’m sure there is a proverb or wise saying by a Greek Philosopher/Deity/Native American/Peter from Family Guy that encapsulates my situation perfectly, but at the moment I can only think of a large Scottish bridge and a pot of paint
I've become one of 'The Girls,' a homogenous group of females that aren't Doctors or Nurses. Pre-degree I would have accepted this title without further thought. During my darker hours, however, the older, (grumpier?) Student Me sometimes reflects that it is in fact a semantic device used to perpetuate a hierarchy and keep us all in our place – but I won’t mention that at tea-break time.
Still, for all the connotations attached to the title 'Doctor,' the bottom line is that they do appear to spend most of their time examining the wrong end of the alimentary canal. Sometimes I feel mightily pleased to be a 'Girl' who only has to contend with the internal workings of a photocopier...
Of course, Student Me is interested to see the marketing that goes on in a surgery, and in common with other workplaces, mugs seem a popular way for manufacturers to advertise their products. This strikes me as odd, as, even at the best of times, I’ve always considered them a pretty feeble method of advertising. I mean - has anyone ever lifted a promotional mug to their lips, seen the product name and felt compelled to place an order? And in a surgery there must be some things you don't want to think about as you eat and drink? But I guess that it is more subliminal than that, with reps clinging to the hope that Doctors will unconsciously absorb their product names as they sip their coffee. They probably don't realise that the mugs are used mainly by ‘the Girls,’ - and most of us are blissfully unaware that we are advertising the latest innovation in haemorrhoid creams as we dunk our chocolate hobnobs.
Of course, I say that I have become one of 'the Girls' but I haven't gone through the final part of the initiation ceremony - the uniform. Apparently after a three month stint you are given this outfit to make your disappearance complete. I tried not to let my disappointment show as I explained to a colleague that I wouldn’t get to wear the fetching homage to polyester and nylon.
'Oh I said that,' she replied, 'but I've been here two and a half years.'
‘The Girls’ are the friendliest, nicest group of people I've ever worked with. The tea is plentiful and the chocolate biscuits never-ending. But, try as I might, I couldn't suppress the shudder that went through me. And it wasn't because navy blue doesn’t suit me.