Safe under the duvet

I'M starting a new job tomorrow.

If that sounded a little muffled, it's because I currently have a duvet on my head.

The new job is a Scary Thing, and of all the traditional mechanisms of scary-thing denial '“ comfort shopping, playing solitaire for five consecutive hours, eating an entire trifle '“ I've decided that hiding under my duvet is the best way to cope with this one.

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I realise it's pathetic, at the grand age of 21-and-11-months, not to be able to start a new job without having to hide in a fort made of bedding.

After all, I have started plenty of new jobs in my time. I am a practised job-starter.

I know the drill '“ relentless enthusiasm, alternate the words 'sure', 'great' and 'yup' when having things explained to you, and, if in doubt about food protocol, eat your lunch in the loos.

And it's true that of all the jobs I've started, none resulted in me breaking anything, hurting anyone, or being ejected from the premises by a massive boot on a spring.

But I didn't have to worry so much, eat as many trifles or build as many duvet dens about those jobs, because they were just that '“ jobs.

There was never much resting on them.

I had the beautiful buffer of full-time education to save me if everything went wrong.

But now things are different, because I need this job. I need it to, like, live, and eat and things.

There's also the slight chance that if it goes well (i.e., I manage to look like I know what I'm doing for seven hours a day, and don't accidentally kill the boss's dog), it might form a stepping stone on the path towards my dream job.

Or towards Waitrose to get a week's shop in, whichever is a more attainable goal.

So, yes, it's pretty important that tomorrow goes well.

As my starting point for new job success, I will refer to my granny's advice to my mother on her first day at school: "Just make sure you know where the toilets are, and how to get out."

Next, I will prime myself for potential office politics, such as the eternal hot drinks conundrum.

Which is: when getting up to make a coffee, do you offer everyone else one? Is it the done thing?

And if so, how many do you offer to do '“ just the people either side of you or everyone within earshot?

Will you end up trapped in a perpetual drink-making cycle, never get any work done, and end up having an unsightly breakdown one day when someone asks for a latte?

The other option is never offering anyone anything, which gets you out of the whole milk-and-two-sugars rigmarole, but also might make everyone hate you.

Then there's the can-I-can't-I-go-on-Facebook dilemma, the have-I-been-here-long-enough-to-join-them-at-the-pub quandary, and the does-that-guy-hate-me-or-is-it-a-facial-twitch predicament?

Which is all without considering how rubbish I might be at the actual work.

In fact, the more I think about it, the more I realise I should have opted for a career that didn't involve interacting with people.

I should have been a professional online poker player. Or a trappist nun.

On which note, I'm finished. I thought that discussing the whole thing with you, dear reader, might make me a little bit calmer.

Sadly, it hasn't. (If anyone comes looking for me, don't tell them I'm under the duvet).


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