Wednesday 1 August 2018

Office palaeontology

I work in an accountancy function for a very large company. It is, as you would expect, a barrel of laughs. Mandatory compliance training, new regulation issued by the European financial regulator, wall to wall meetings and self appraisals. Every now and again however something genuinely interesting crops up. Today we discovered archaeology.

It is fair to say that it is within the recent record, however what it reveals about the habits of my office co-workers is truly astounding. Let us for a moment imagine that I have two colleagues called Kerry and Neil -  random names to protect the subjects of this research of course. They are creatures of habit, and wedded to their work they eat most of their daylight meals at their desks, sourced from the staff canteen and transported upstairs on trays. I learned earlier this week whilst examining the record stack of used trays (27, we keep stats) that Neil always and without exception picks an orange tray and that Kerry always picks a red tray. Hah! This revelation allows us to use the fossil record to piece together their lives. Study for a minute the following photo. What does it tell us?

For starters it tells us that most employees don't use trays as the majority of the supply is currently at the end of the bank of desks where Neil and Kerry sit. However moving on from this we can tell that Kerry has been on holiday recently - there are seven orange trays in a row towards the bottom of the pile. I questioned Kerry if she had been anywhere recently, and she had indeed been on holiday. Incredible! She was only back for one meal however, unless Neil was particularly hungry on one day, but then again she does also work from home one day a week, could this be it? Yes, it transpires that this is exactly what happened. For a while normality reigns. Neil, Kerry, Neil, Kerry, and then it looks like Kerry went out for lunch as we revert to orange. This really throws a spanner in the works, as does the discovery that Neil and Kerry don't always have breakfast. Nonetheless the last four days have been extremely regular. Neil always has lunch first, almost always at midday, meetings permitting. Kerry always eats later, hence the red tray right on the top. If ever the wall-mounted clocks fail I can simply glance at the pile of trays and work out roughly what time of day it is. One day of course there is remote possibility that a cleaner might clear away the pile, but as the days go by and the pile increases in height that becomes less and less likely. This is about three weeks worth and I think we are probably past the point of no return. I've been at my desk when the cleaners come round on their nightly shift, and the amount of vacuuming that occurs is roughly 3% of the floor area so a large pile of trays is likely to be far too much effort. 

I know what you are thinking. What colour tray do I use? I don't. I bring my lunch up in a pathetic recycled cardboard container. I am unfortunately wholly lost to science.


  1. And for those of you with colour vision deficiencies, he lies. Four of those trays are green. I blame Janet.

  2. Twenty thousand years into the future, archaeologists will be digging up items and declaring to colleagues, '21st century Armitage Shanks! what a load of old toilet!'

    1. What was that Indiana Jones quote about burying a cheap watch in the sand?