Today, I would like to make a stand. I would like to voice an opinion that may not be taken very well by some. I may be losing friends here but I feel someone has to say what many people are muttering under their breath: The workplace is no place for babies.
I work in a very sociable office with some lovely people. Some of these lovely people meet other lovely people and they fall in love. How lovely. They then exercise their right to make with the jiggy-jig and lo, after the leaving cards have been signed and the baby shower has been showered, the mummy-to-be pops out a sprog and she is to-be no more.
Even though it is clear to all that the woman has gone on maternity leave to perform birthly duties, for some reason, it must occur to these new mothers that we might not have believed them. Much in the way that we’re uncertain if a lady on the train deserves our seat because we’re not sure if she’s up the duff or has just paid too many visits to the cake shop, the new mum thinks that perhaps we’ve been looking at her for the past nine months, thinking that she’s actually just a porker and the “prenatal scan” appointments have all been a pathetic ruse to spend time face down in a trough of Cornish pasties.
She must be so concerned that we’re all sat at our desks, cursing her for defrauding us out of the price of a babygrow/bib gift set that will soon be pawned for chips, that she can’t sleep at nights. There’s only one thing for it, she has to prove that yes, someone found her attractive enough to lie on top of her and no, she didn’t claim to be on maternity leave just so she could get liposuction. To prove this, she’s bringing the evidence, the bundle of joy, into the office!
Now, I would like to point out here to all my beloved chums who have recently sprouted childlings that I adore you still. I am delighted for your news, I am very happy that you have increased your gene (paddling) pool and I would still very much like to see your wonderful self again in the future and yes, I understand that this may almost certainly involve you having a person-shaped appendage and half the attention span, but please, can that social interaction not take place in my office?
The things is, dear woman, and you remember this from when you too spent your day pushing paper instead of pushing a pram, that I’m rather busy and I have many grown up work related things to do that require no small degree of my concentration and some cooperation from my colleagues, which, upon your entering the building, I am no longer afforded.
The sound of a baby crying is one of the most skull piercing, nerve jangling noises known to humanity. It’s supposed to be. It’s so you don’t forget to check which end of your offspring requires loading/unloading or that you’ve left it on the roof of the car before you drive off. It is also one of the few noises guaranteed to make me want to staple my ears closed, evacuate the building and seek refuge at the bottom of a bottle of wine, which isn’t conducive to reducing my towering in-tray before it topples over and kills a colleague. No matter how adorably docile your bouncing ba-ba might be at home, under the stark strip lighting of a corporate beehive, your tiny treasure is merely a ticking time bomb of noise pollution.
Now, I say that “one” of the noises guaranteed to see me run for the valleys of Loire and Napa is a baby’s shrill wail, the other is a sound, not that the baby itself emits, but a sound that it generates in another way. You see, even if your teeny tot isn’t shredding its lungs and my ears with sonic blasts of a bowel-evaquating frequency, there is still an unbearably deafening noise coming from the area surrounding it that makes answering a telephone or holding a basic thought simply impossible.
“OOOOOOHWOOSIEWOOSIE AHHHHHOOCHIECOOCHIE DIDDUMMYGOOGOO SOOOOOOO SWEEEEEEEEEET!!!!!”
That, ladies and gents, is the collective sound made by a group of women surrounding a pram. In fact, no, that is the sound made by a herd of women streaking across the office, sending sheets of paper flying like a snowstorm, desperate not to miss the chance to see a small infant. If you listen carefully, you can also hear the sound of 20-30 uteruses creak with longing.
Once these high-pitched harpies have taken a hold of the child, the mother can do nothing but watch helplessly as a game of “aunty” rugby ensues, where each hormonal office worker snatches possessively at the swaddled sweetie and darts off back through the maze of desks in a bid to shove it in as many co-workers’ faces as possible, in case they hadn’t already been alerted to the fact that yes, what’s-her-face in accounts really was preggers.
Amidst all this babe-induced screeching and coo-ing, some of us are still trying to run the company. I’m pretty sure that the gentleman in Chicago who called London long distance from his mobile phone, with an urgent life-dependent query, could do without being deafened by a sound that would explode a bat’s eardrums. And besides, he, like the rest of us, probably already saw the 300 pictures of junior on FaceBook.
I don’t take my computer to a crèche, so please, dear parents, don’t bring your family to my desk. I assure you that we didn’t think you were just fat (and even if you weren’t pregnant, keep the babygrow gift set and we’ll say no more about it, no harm done), but if you do still feel the desperate urge to parade your offspring for all to see, may I suggest the glitzy world of child pageantry?