That Is Not Your Office! (A Brief Rant)


Yes, I know San Marco probably has office staff. But that’s not the point. 

This is a short one. But it’s something that’s been bothering me for a long time. It’s mostly about musicians, and isn’t meant to cause offence.

So: my pet peeve of 2015 is when someone posts a picture of a gorgeous cathedral or concert hall and says “My office for the day!” or equivalent. It makes me crazy.

I used to have a 9-6 job at a research firm, and I’ve never felt more psychologically and spiritually downtrodden in my life than I did during those few months – because I wasn’t cut out for it. That’s why I became a singer, to get away from what my brain reacted to as crushing monotony.

Some people are cut out for those jobs, though, and they love them. They do meaningful, crucial things like working on dictionaries (shoutout to my friends at OUP), and cancer research; they teach (I can’t even begin to say how important teachers are, and how undervalued); they do freight theft investigations; they write for websites that help women talk to each other about Stuff (shoutout to Eleanor); they run construction companies; they respond to pleas for help from constituents, or refugees, or people at the other end of a suicide hotline; they translate. Some of them do things that would seem really boring to other people, things that are still incredibly important. People in these jobs are really lucky to have benefits and a regular income, and the freedom to see their families and loved ones every day, because they’re not on the friggin’ road all the time.

But creatives are lucky too, because we’re able to make a living doing the thing that we love, even though it periodically makes us tired and miserable just like everyone else who does a job. We have freedom of movement and a regular change of scenery. And we make music, or art, or words at a high level on a regular basis, things that move people and change their lives or the way they think.

But musicians shouldn’t pretend that a cathedral is an office, because it’s an appallingly self-regarding kind of humble brag that belittles people who work in regular jobs: “Oh look, poor me, off to the daily grind in the Leipzig Gewandhaus/Bath Abbey/Insert Name Of Stunning Building Here etc! It’s just like any other job, haha! #soblessed #sohumbled.”

It just makes me feel a little sick every time someone does it. Acknowledge how lucky you are, take a picture, be a little smug that you got to see the back end/vestry/whatever bit of the place the public normally wouldn’t get to poke their noses into — but don’t call it an office. People who actually work in offices might love seeing those pictures and hearing about your exploits, but they might also be dying inside, just a tiny bit, because they wish it was them doing that job. Maybe they’re the version of you, in a parallel universe, that stayed in a full-time job because you couldn’t afford music college or art school, or didn’t have family who were willing to let you live at home until you’d made it in the arts.

That is not your office. Please stop it.

And finally, I know that nobody who does this is doing it maliciously. I’m overreacting SO MUCH. Apologies.




3 thoughts on “That Is Not Your Office! (A Brief Rant)

  1. Thank you. Office work is soul-destroying, more so every day as open plan and hotdesking and *shudder* agile working remind us that we’re a resource to be dumped down wherever our overlords choose and kept visibly at work for every moment they can wring out of us. Don’t get me wrong, there are a thousand things worse than office work. But if you’d told me this is what my education would amount to, I’d have skipped university and grad school, and learned something practical and marketable instead.

    Liked by 1 person

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