Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Have a good day!

The view from the bathroom windows is amazing, but the computers suck.

I'm in the room that will be my office for the coming two months, on the 37th floor of the Secretariat building. No window, but some posters of lands far away. There is one other Rebecca in the room, and two more will join us. I don't know if they will be Rebeccas too, but if they are, it would be kind of unnerving. If it's a coincidence, cool, if they planned it... I'm taking the next flight back home. Haha.

So I found out what the acronyms on my offer letter stand for. DPA is the Department of Political Affairs (but this much I had figured out), PPU is the Policy Planning Unit (news for me) and OUSG is the Office of the Under Secretary General (should have known). So that's where I am now.

My supervisor Ms Anne Wu is still nowhere to be found, but somebody said she's coming in later today. Hope so, because so far I'm sitting here feeling kind of lost and insecure and... well, frankly bored. The computers suck, as I said, and mine took like 30 minutes to start up. And even now, everything is super slow. Not only that, the keyboard is gray with filth and the desk is dusty.

Welcome on board, Ruby.

I have a growing sensation that this might not be the place for me. This morning as I was walking to the subway station, a construction worker, taking a break from constructing and whatnot, smiled at me and said:

"Have a good day!"

A good omen, you might think. For sure I smiled and said the same thing back and felt kind of good about the whole thing at first. But now I'm sure it was more of a "This is going to be a trying day, so please don't forget to do your best to have a good day in spite of it all."

You know, I started having my doubts already a couple of weeks ago when Ms Anne Wu didn't bother giving me the slightest clue as to what I'll be working with, but I thought I was really only getting nervous about the whole thing. And perhaps that might still be the case--I probably am nervous, it's just that I've been drinking so much Koppla that I don't realize it. (Koppla is a drink made from a bunch of soothing natural herbs that relaxes you during stressful times--it's just lavendar and I can't remember, but it's mild and safe, and it actually works. Love it.)

Anyway, I think this building is far too big for me, and I just feel lost and small. In that little office in Jenin on the West Bank this summer, with Henry the French intern, Mahmoud Abbas of Faqqo'ah and Abu Samer of Al Jalameh, things never felt really formal. Not even when my supervisor Nasser was in did I ever feel like I couldn't walk out of my room and go to the bathroom or whatever. (Which might have something to do with the fact that I spent the first three nights at my supervisor's house, to get settled in properly, and the very first night after having dinner, we sat in his living room and listened to music and he had a beer). But here, oh here I hardly dare to chew gum.

Luckily, I went to the bathroom the first thing I did when I got out from the elevator, so I don't really need to go now. (That's when I saw the view--a breathtaking view of New York streets and the Chrysler building that kind of makes me wish I had my office in the bathroom instead).

Memo to self: bring water to office. You know you'll get thirsty, and you know you won't go out and try to find the bathroom to have a drink.

Oh, and one more thing: the real reason I don't dare to go out of my room is not actually so much that I fear my new co-workers, as it is my incredibly crappy sense of direction. I have no idea from which direction I came this morning, no idea which direction the elevators are, or the bathrooms, or anything else. And I don't want to seem too stupid on my very first day (or my second or third either), so it's better to wait until maybe the other Rebecca is having lunch. Perhaps. I got lost enough for one day as it is, trying to find this office to begin with.

I will navigate around the UN intranet now.

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