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Restricted Zone

Today I found myself on an errand in Shenton Way at a quarter past one. You might remember our second commentary of Y5 English A1, completed before Mr. Connor arrived. (B.C., perhaps?) In that passage from Brick Lane, there was a description of a revolving door ‘sucking people in’ and ‘wafting people out’. Perhaps the idea was in my subconscious, because entry into the tower did feel a slight bit ominous. It could also be the contribution of the necessarily obvious security checks, which included a metal detector and visitor’s passes.

Upon entry, I realized the obvious. Jeans and a T-shirt during office hours? I was the only one not in uniform. I felt like I was in danger of getting a booking. But the intensity of the feeling was at a scale of no_badge:no_uniform. The fact that I knew I wasn’t going to be booked was no mitigating factor. I use the word ‘knew’ in a relative sense here, since I half-expected to be asked to leave.

On the other hand, when I use the word ‘uniform’, I’m being entirely specific. The shoes are invariably black leather for the men, and are almost invariably black for the women. No dark colors for the shirts and no light colors for the pants, which are all a shade(?) of black. These might be excusable as ‘dress code’. Perhaps the hair styles as well? And the complexions.

There’s also the ‘purposefulness’ that Monica Ali observed, and other things which she describes infinitely better than I can. The weather this afternoon was type-perfect, though. It was overcast in every sense of the word. It really was threatening to rain. It started to before I left.

It’s strange, and ironic, to be experiencing incredulity that I’ve ‘experienced’ before. I would have thought the property of novelty would be definitive. Then again, the distinction between experiencing and ‘experiencing’ is probably similar to that between ‘knowing that’ and ‘knowing how’.

Styron’s description of the oppressive work environment of ‘his’ first job in the beginning portions of Sophie’s Choice was something I could not completely be convince by. (I say ‘his’ because the book was written as though it was autobiographical. That said, I don’t know to what extent it is.) In particular, I did not imagine that the phenomenon described in the conversation below could be literally real:

‘”I notice that you don’t wear a hat,” the Weasel said.

‘”A hat?” I replied. “Why, no.” I had always been lukewarm about headgear, feeling only that hats had their place. Certainly, since leaving the Marine Corps two years before, I had never thought of hat-wearing as a compulsory matter. It was my democratic right to choose, and I had given the idea no further thought until this moment.’

‘”Everyone at McGraw-Hill wears a hat,” the Weasel said.

‘”Everyone?” I replied.

‘”Everyone,” he said flatly.

‘And of course as I reflected on what he was saying, I realized that it was true: everyone did wear a hat.’

The claim that ‘Everyone’, with no exception, wore a hat was one that my inner skeptic couldn’t easily believe. It’s very believable now, though. Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli has an opposite effect, interestingly enough. Descriptions of non-conformity were a lot easier to believe than assertions of total conformity, even if said descriptions were fantastically styled and imagined. Though naturally, direct claims to reality are harder to accept.

I think I’d be much more likely to heed the following warning from Sophie’s Choice:
‘”A narrow escape,” said Farrell later, reinforcing my metaphor with unconscious precision. “People have been known to drown in this place. And they never even find their bodies.”‘

I think that could apply to life in general.

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Categories: Reflection, Writing
  1. reks
    20 November 2007 at 7:28 am

    “before Mr. Connor arrived. (B.C., perhaps?) ”

    nice one

  2. Cuthbert
    20 November 2007 at 9:05 am

    Not that we needed ‘saving’ from Florence or anything haha.

  3. reks
    20 November 2007 at 10:01 pm

    i would have kicked her out myself.

  4. 20 November 2007 at 10:08 pm

    i wonder what AD means then… :P
    have fun for your EE if you know what i mean

  5. melbatoast
    21 November 2007 at 12:31 pm

    HELLO!
    haha… drop by to say hi. =D

  6. Cuthbert
    21 November 2007 at 8:18 pm

    Jeremy, AD sounds ominous. I lose for EE then.

    And Hello!

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