Marilyn and the penguins


“it’s just illogical” observed one of my colleagues today after our manager had left at five on the dot “Six people dealing with hundreds of calls”. Very true I concurred. Yet another day of wall-to-wall calls and even though opportunities to communicate are near non existent you don’t need to talk to people to get a good sense the effect being worked to within an inch of our sanity is having on all of us. My afore-mentioned colleague was seen with his head on his desk at regular intervals and the tone of exasperation was evident in his voice as he spoke to customers explaining the same things, listening to the same complaints and grumbles again and again and again. You can witness it everywhere, the shortness with customers, the weary despair on people’s faces. It really is a vision of hell, in fact one former colleague studying for her philosophy degree once described the office as a ‘ version of Hell in strip lighting masquerading as work’ if only she could see it now I wonder. Now graduated she is currently happily unemployed.

There is something else I noticed today too; the pictures on the walls. In the back-half of the office adorning the walls there are three or four framed black and white photographs of Marilyn Monroe whilst in my half of the office there are several framed pictures featuring cartoon penguins, one even riding a whale, all drawn in a fuzzy, pastely, cutsey-kitsch style you’d get on a cheap greetings card – the kind which shed glitter by the bucket-load. I have in fact noticed the pictures before and even pondered there strangeness, but like a dream I usually forget all about them within five to ten minutes and will then go months unaware they were ever there.

Just sometimes though you can remember a dream, or a nightmare even, it will suddenly pop back into your head when you least expect it. This has happened to me with the paintings. It is very troubling. What seems illogical to me is the juxtaposition of the two sets of pictures, Marilyn and the penguins? Was it intentional, or accidental? Is their positioning  the result of a long forgotten compromise; you have your pictures on that half and I’ll have mine in this half? Or else was one person responsible for placing them there and if so what were they, or their subconscious trying to say???

On one hand a beautiful icon with a tinge of tragedy, on the other cartoon penguins. I don’t think the most surreal of surrealists could have done any better.

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