“It’s quiet,” they say.
“Sort of dull,” they say.
“Feel free to work on your own projects,” they say, “we’re all multi-tasking all the time around here.”
What they mean is: “look busy.”
And so you start trying to look busy.
Reading a book won’t do—you’d been reading before, when they started commenting on how quiet it is.
Sitting there with your thoughts won’t do, either. Each time they catch you doing that, they ask: “Is everything all right?”
You’re not allowed to randomly browse the web, or to check personal email.
So what should you do?
You decide to open up Word, create a new document, start writing.
There is some concern that people will see what you are writing, realize it’s not connected to the work, and disapprove. Much of what motivates you is fear of disapproval.
But they told you to “feel free to work on your own projects,” and writing is the one project you’ve got that seems most likely to satisfy their desire for you to look busy. You’re guessing that sitting at the computer, typing, will look more productive in their eyes than reading a book or sitting with your thoughts seemed to look, to them.
But what should you type?
You’ve been working on a mystery novel, about a homelessalcoholic in Waikiki who is investigating the murder of his sponsor ( Dry Shores: A Hawaii Crime Novel) Much of the book involves scenes of violence, of drug and alcohol abuse, of generally degenerative behavior. The characters use foul language freely. They sit in the park drunk and belligerent, or sprawl in alleyways and doorstops, in various states of disarray. Such material doesn’t seem entirely appropriate for the office environment in which you are presently trying to look busy.
So what should you type?
You open Word, create a new document, and sit there with your fingers poised on the keys.You start typing:
'"It's quiet," they say.'