Summertime at the office: When even the computers communicate in silence
Essay by Dilek Güngör, writer and journalist from Berlin
Our office has two bathrooms. One of them has a shower, the other one even has a bathtub. I’ve never seen anybody bathing in it and have never bathed in it myself, which is a pity. I love taking baths. It’s not the water that I like about it. It’s the heat. Heat turns me into a pleasant, friendly, and cheerful human being. I can’t deal with heat without water. When I’m not sitting in a tub, heat takes a toll on me. It turns me into a tired, heavy blob.
Most of our visitors make fun of our bathrooms. But they envy me for the windows behind and on the sides of my desk. There are windows all around it. I have a great view of the sky from my desk chair. It’s nice. After all, writing is more about gazing and thinking than it is about actually typing.
I only see the sky during one half of the year. As soon as the temperature rise above 20 degrees, we close the blinds. We close the ones behind my desk in the morning and the other ones after lunch. The more glaringly the sun shines in, the tighter I close the blinds. Then I turn on the light on my desk and gaze pensively into the grey in front of my window. People say that closing the blinds early prevent the office of heating up. This is not true. The heat will effortlessly pass through anything; through walls, cement, glass, and especially blinds. Not a single blind in our office will prevent that. One day, probably some day in August, if not this year then the next, I will simply melt and stick to my chair. I won’t ever be able to get up again because the weight of my ergonomic desk chair will pull be back in.
Come June, nobody envies us for our office anymore, not for the sky view, or the hot darkness. But the bathroom envy returns. We cool our heads and legs under the shower. On a humid day, we might take a full bath before we leave the office to meet our friends. Our towels dry on the hangers and the shelves are stacked with shower gels and deodorants. It creates a sense of intimacy in our bathroom, makes it feel like home. Sometimes my colleague’s swimwear, sunscreen, and goggles hang out of their bags, which adds to the effect. They grant a small peek into their other lives, which, of course, you know about and hear about but rarely see. In the morning, we put watermelon in the fridge, grapes in the freezer, eat ice cream and cold yoghurt. We put the frozen grapes in our water or down each other’s shirts.
Finally, when it feels like it can’t get any hotter and every day is the same kind of hot, when you have almost gotten used to the heat and it wouldn’t bother anyone if we’d wear our bathing suits at the office, that’s when everybody stops coming. The office goes silent, no one comes, no one goes, no one holds their head under the shower. People stop calling and even the computers communicate in silence, exchanging out-of-office messages. The two of us remaining, those who haven’t gone on holiday, can now just sit in the tub. If we bend our legs, we could even fit a third person. We could do bathtub breaks together or take our laptops and put them on the bathtub rim. Adding cold water and eating watermelon. We leave the doors open, open the blinds and gaze into the sky.
Dilek Güngör, writer and journalist from Berlin, for Adlershof Journal. Her latest book ‘I am Özlem’ (Verbrecher Verlag) was recently published.