Bathing With Piranha
Dawn. The water is still, nothing moves. Light breaks and with it come shapes, colors.
People arrive. Some hesitant, some bold. Some with false bravado. Just like the swimming hole back home, the people test the water. A toe here, a finger there -- this one plunges straight in without sampling.
A phone rings, and the piranha begin to feed. Swarming; each wanting just a mouthful, no more. Every one hungry.
I wonder when I first noticed the resemblance the workplace has to that far off stream where piranha are commonplace. Maybe it was when I experienced the 'aura of the desk' and sat in a supervisor's chair. Or maybe it was when I moved from one end of the building toward the middle and sat across from a team leader. Or maybe there wasn't a defining moment, but a gradual building of small nuances.
Whenever it was, I can't help but notice it now. Early morning, a few people -- the early risers -- filter in. Coffee, doughnuts, a quick stretch. These are the ones that test the water, swim cautiously. Midmorning, a steady stream of people. Hustle and bustle as they settle in to work. These are the ones who come boldly to the riverside to collect water for the daily chores. Late morning, the stragglers, the ones with excuses. These are the ones who dive right in, because they must.
The desks around me with their hordes circling, waiting. Each little pond with it's own school of fish.
I've done my bathing for today. Home, safe, I stretch. Nibbles, scratches, bites, paper cuts. All are one. Badges of honor from bathing with piranha yet again. And surviving.
(Disclaimer: I like my job, I like the people I work with, but the writer in me sees comparisons everywhere I go and this one's been with me for a bit. Next time there are three people standing at your desk and the phone rings, come tell me you can't see the piranha.)
Copyright 2013 Michelle Hakala