As I near the end of my cup of tea, I look up from my computer and gaze furtively at the small office kitchen.
I want another one.
But how, oh HOW, can I go and make it and avoid anyone else so that I don’t have to make god-awful small talk? You know the kind that nobody wants to do because the only thing worse than that is the clangering silence of clinking teaspoons and nothing to say.
I think my fear of tea/coffee-time small talk has grown, irrationally some might say, to a significant level. It isn’t helped by the fact that I’ve made absolutely no effort to get to know my work colleagues.
I’m a temp, you see, and as all temps know, when the sword of damocles is always over your soon-to-be-terminated contract, it’s not really necessary to settle in and enjoy the setting. But I spent eight months in a state of about-to-leave and as a result am now in a limbo place where I haven’t bothered to get to know anyone and yet I’ve seen them everyday for a loooong time. It means I know absolutely dick jack about any of them and yet I should – so I have to grabble with whatever loose fragments of civilised conversation are floating around in my head.
In a head that is usually wondering what the best topping on cheese on toast is or who I would choose to win in a fight between Charlie Brown and that demon baby in Blair Witch 2 : Book of Shadows, civilisation is a bit hard to come by. What comes out is usually something awful that makes me sound like I spend my spare time disembowling homeless people in alleyways like ‘This spoon is really brown isn’t it’ or ‘So you’re drinking coffee then?’
That’s aside from the awful ‘tea/coffee dance’ where you’re both making your drinks side by side but using the same utensils and milk so there’s a lot of ‘Oh sorry, let me just reach past you and get that’ and nervous laughs that accompany the ‘Shall I leave the milk out for you’ . You can just imagine if somebody who had grown up in a cave or had just emerged from a Chilean mine they would presume that our principal way of communicating was by tinkling tea spoons furiously, making ‘mpfhh’ noises and looking down.
If you are one of those socially adjusted people who has no problem whatsoever with tea time chit chat then I applaud you but I don’t want to talk to you. You are who I will spend half an hour avoiding, only to go and make my tea and find that you are there and have already started clinking and talking about how you used to like soy milk but now don’t mind drinking normal milk but occasionally still drink soy milk but only if you’re in the mood and how many calories are in soy milk anyway. God help us.