Thank God it's Friday

21st February 2003 at 00:00
MONDAY It's 8am and I'm walking into a modern office unit in a business park on the outside of town. Three weeks ago and 25 miles away would have found me, like the rest of the staff at my previous workplace, scurrying round for resources or trying to jump the queue on the staffroom copier.

Now, I'm at "the office". It's quiet, with acres of desks and files and, importantly, swivel chairs.

TUESDAY Twenty-nine years in schools have taught me never to show surprise, but the culture of the open-plan office is an eye-opener. I complain to Dave, my amiable colleague and neighbour, about my chair. It's a worn "apology" compared to the gas-elevated, open-weave thrones around me.

WEDNESDAY Dave tells me that when the team was set up, the new chairs - in royal blue - were given to everyone. My desk, empty since July, "definitely" had one. Leanne in resources invites me to look at the catalogue. We settle on a royal blue with adjustable arms. I've leapfrogged everyone and am approaching a "manager spec". I hope I'm not over-stretching myself. I can't help noticing Leanne's chair - royal blue, high-backed, non-adjustable arms and gas-elevatedI just like Dave's.

THURSDAY Leanne has persuaded Alan, a colleague, to bring in a tool kit and is now removing the arms on her chair. Was this prompted by our "arms" discussion yesterday?

FRIDAY Disaster. "Upstairs" won't sanction my replacement chair. Partial compensation comes in the form of Jane from facilities who wheels over a high-backed, buff-coloured, mechanically adjusted swiveller. Three weeks ago I would have been happy to sit on this; now it leaves me strangely unfulfilled.

David Finch is a former teacher who has recently started work as a monitoring and evaluation officer in a southern authority

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