Returning to work this morning after being away last week, I expected to be immersed once again in the serious business of Intranets and Virtual Learning Environments, and I was. But not without being wrong footed by the slightly surreal atmosphere… Apart from the odd member of staff missing due to their being stranded in far flung locations, ranging from Dubai to Greece, I was struck by the eccentric nature of the e-mails that were sent last week. Certainly during the previous week of the Easter break the college was largely desserted and some members of staff might have found they weren’t experiencing the usual number of demands made of them, but I had no idea that this had lead in some cases to extreme paranoia and schizophrenia…
The first in an epic and gloriously irreverent thread began simply with the plaintive “Just sending an email in the hope of a response and confirmation that I am not the only person working today?”
The sender turned out to be having issues with the college’s lighting which is designed to sense movement and so remain on (to allow work to be possible in the windowless bowells of college), except that last week there was no movement so they would periodically be plunged into darkness. Someone else suggested that they had heard “Reports of Gremlins in [the] new building going around switching off lights“. When it was suggested that the weekly badminton session be observed (despite only about three people working last week) it was someone else’s inspired comment “Maybe the gremlins would fancy a game too, you never know?!” that prompted this superb announcement and piece of photoshoppery:
“Security have just informed us that the surveillance cameras in the main sports hall were mysteriously vandalised last night sometime after midnight. In an attempt to identify the culprits, security have released the following screenshots from the time of the attack“:
So far so daft. Quality use of time – morale is boosted. This was apparently not an isolated instance of slight madness and excessive creativity. A new member of staff made the questionable descision to ask a colleague for my whereabouts so that I could carry out a spot of training for the software I help maintain (Microsoft’s SharePoint) before receiving this rather curt reply:
“I am glad that you are… ready to seek the ways of the enlightened.
The oracle of wisdom that you seek is James Leahy, the Sharepoint Administrator who dwells in the dark forest (aka the Quality Department). Enter the great white Tower block and there you will find the portal to the clouds. Press floor 5 and pass through the doors on this level. You must not turn left, no no, as this will take you to Performing Arts and this is a land of whirling dervishes and creatures so alarmingly different from other mortals you blood will turn cold. Do not look upon them for their spells may entice you to break out into spontaneous interpretive dance and then I fear you will be lost. No, turn right fair maiden and proceed through the gates of wisdom and into the realm of quality and assurance. Once you have passed through these gates you will encounter the gatekeepers. These are solemn, tired creatures feasting on stale coffee and biscuits (and maybe a cheese and pickle sarnies if on sale at Sainburys). The one you seek is behind the file cabinet to your right. He can be identified by the very pretty Mac computer that he greedily hoards to himself.
Raise thy hands to the stars and speak clearly ‘I seek the ways of Sharepoint!’ and he will set you free.”
Does volcanic ash have properties akin to opium? Possibly. It’s just excessively pleasing to return to work and yet, return to nothing like the standard day you were expecting. Thank you colleagues for brightening my day… You absolute weirdos 🙂