Conversations in my Office Kitchen: a Depressing Vignette

Tis but ten o’clock in the morning. A big meeting has just let out. The table in the kitchen is littered with snacks leftover by people with far more prestigious jobs than I. (The apple pie looks nice, but I daren’t be so presumptuous as to take a slice under the careful eye of all these VIPs.)

I am waiting for the kettle to boil. I just want my tea, dammit. This kettle is likely older than me; perhaps even the first electric kettle some industrious young thing ran down to the patent office in a time long forgotten. Naturally, ice ages come as go while it works its way up from room temperature to lukewarm. As an old adage comes to mind (something about a watched pot), I consider going back to my desk to await The Boiling.

But alas. In this office, abandoned kettle water is a filthy whore that gives itself out to whomever happens upon it first. It doesn’t care if your mug and tea bag have been waiting on the counter ever-so-patiently. No. I must wait this out.

Ten o’clock is a high-traffic time for the winsome office kitchen. I am forced to yield to that most gargantuan beast of awkwardness personified: Idle Chitchat. For me, the most remarkable attribute of Idle Chitchat in the Office Kitchen is the ever-widening gulf between what I want to say, and what I actually end up saying.

That, and how much of a dick it makes me realise I am. I am not built for normal conversations with normal people.



ASHLEIGH stands by the soon-to-boil (but not soon enough, dammit) kettle, arms crossed in a do-not-talk-to-me stance. CO-WORKER enters, getting something from the fridge. Low-fat coffee creamer, perhaps, sugar-free yogurt. Something like that.


ASHLEIGH: [Please, let’s not go through this again.] Hi.

CO-WORKER: So, any plays you’re directing now?

ASHLEIGH: [Actually, it’s film that I do.]  No, not really.

CO-WORKER: Oh, really?

ASHLEIGH: [I really don’t want to have to get into the intricacies of my creative life with someone who thinks the height of artistic expression is photographs of babies in flower costumes.] Just kind of helping friends out with some of their projects, you know.

CO-WORKER: Why not any of your own movies?

ASHLEIGH: [First of all, the fact that you call them “movies” pains my cinema snob heart. Second of all, why the fuck are you asking me this?! Are we on a goddamn date or something?] No….

CO-WORKER: Why not?

ASHLEIGH: [Honestly?! Are you my mother?! Well, if you must know, it’s because writing always has been my first love. Also, the creative space I’ve found myself in lately really lends itself more to the solitary exploration of storytelling from a personal perspective, i.e. quiet prose. Also, film has many external forces the creative individual finds themself unable to control; it is essentially a collaborative medium. This requires a team of like-minded individuals just as dedicated as you. While I know many of these people, I’ve found that the logistics of organizing a film shoot can outweigh the satisfaction garnered from the creative process. In short, right now, it’s too much work for too little. And it’s damn expensive. Contrary to popular belief, I’m paid far less than the amount of work they have me do around here might lead you to believe.] I’ve been writing a lot.

CO-WORKER: Oh! Movies?

ASHLEIGH: [Two novels, actually: one a post-modern masterpiece of genre hybridization that acts as a meta commentary on how we create stories from the collective swamp of pop culture and fabricated history, or, you know, Pirates in Space; the second an emotional eulogy told from the point-of-view of a deceased eighteen-year-old boy as he watches his family implode in the wake of his death in recession-ravaged Britain, or, you know, Step-Siblings in Love.] Just short stories, mostly.

CO-WORKER: And can you sell that?

ASHLEIGH: [Please fuck off and die a death as horrible as the emotional one I’ve been forced to endure over the last ten minutes.] Kettle takes a while, eh?


UPDATE: I went back and got some apple pie, goddammit. So in the end, all was bittersweet. With just a hint of cinnamon.

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