Natalia Garakhanova, Baku
If you have a small ‘home’ office, a cleaner comes on Sundays and communication with her is limited to scolding messages on a crumpled piece of paper that cleaning the toilet is finished. If the office is big and your boss is neat, the office cleaner will be a full-time employee. Although, she will be more than a mere employee.
Our office cleaners are from a special caste. Part of a kind of a little world called “the bees’ secret life. These are secret pleasures, fruity rumors, small passions, but the main thing is the aspiration to become “Big Brother” to subordinate the poor office to her inflexible, strict but fair will.
This really unique sample of pseudo-religious traditions, narrow-mindedness and ability to think in categories may serve as a daily mirror of social phenomena and mass uproars in our society.
Their activity is versatile, but 4 main trends can found, let’s call them the ‘ministries’ that are reverently controlled by Big Brother, the tyrant from George Orwell’s novel “1984.
The ministry of truth
Yes, yes, here is the basic think tank of the keepers of tidiness.
If you have a cleaner in your office, you should be ready for the fact that she will know everything about everybody. She will know where everybody lives, when everybody was born and the management’s attitude towards each employee.
They have mastered virtuously the art of manipulation. A necessary word is uttered there, a hint is made to this person there and then to another one who will blab about everything. They keep somebody’s secret, concoct a plan and tell its to someone else adding her own conclusions. As a result you may turn out to be in the center of such a whirl of rumors that you may be ready even believe that’s how things happened.
They work out an algorithm of social assessments in their brains and after several questions have been asked you will be included into a certain social group, and correspondingly, a behavior model about you will be developed.
Where are you from? Are you from Baku? Are you from the region? If yes, what region are you from? All these are of importance. Were you born in Baku? That’s good. From a large settlement? Well, we will put up with that. Are from a village? So many intruders at our workplace! By the way, what do your father and mother do? Do you have any famous relatives?
The peace ministry
This ministry reports on recent military events. Having just taken a dive into the abyss, filled with avid curiosity, you learn who has wronged someone, who was scolded, who took whose place in the parking lot, who didn’t greet whom in the street, who was sacked, etc. You will know who doesn’t get on well with somebody, who is someone’s archenemy. You should not be surprised to find yourself on these lists. You may have severe rivals who have resentment towards you since you didn’t wish them a “Happy New Year”.
The love ministry
Each office cleaner is also a marriage broker. She will want to know your marital status by whatever means necessary. You will be surprised with her questions which are based on a strict algorithm. If you are a woman:
• Are you married? – Yes. – How many children do you have? Have not you got any? Why? Do you have any problems?
• Are you married? – No.- Why? How old are you? It’s high time to get married. Were you engaged? Let me find you a boyfriend. Our neighbor’s son has a friend….
If you are a man:
• Are you married? – Yes- How many children have you got? You have no children? Why? Does your wife have any problems?
• Are you married? – No.- Why? How old are you? You think it’s it high time to get married, don’t you? Maybe you have a girlfriend but your parents don’t like like her? Let me find you a good girl. Our neighbor’s friend has a daughter….
What is to be done in this situation? If you have got into the spider’s clinging grips, you should break the algorithm. You must invent something to stop this train, running at full speed, otherwise, as the group Nautilus Pompilius sang, you will be “wind around love wheels. For example, you may tell her confidently that you have been promised some secret young man (possibly to a distant relative as that adds intrigue to the story) according to your parents’ legacy. At the present time this young man is abroad to earn money for his future family’s prosperity. Or you may say that you have been promised to some young person, naturally to the daughter of your father’s close friends. You await her patiently to finish her education like all honorable girls do. We are, after all, educated people!
Being full with respect towards you, you will be left alone.
The ministry of wealth
Very often office cleaners manage the economy and because of this, mass terror occurs in most cases. It’s as if there’s always something lacking in the office, though with one look everything is fine as is. They don’t ask you how much soap you use, but rather “Do you eat it or what? They also say not to use so much toilet paper because “We should not exceed our budget. She creates a situation by saying “I will order the water at the beginning of the week. This is how I’m used to doing things, so this water should last you till the end of the week. Sometimes she says “Don’t walk in the corridor, I have just washed it. As a rule, it happens in the middle of the working day when you need to print important documents. If you want to survive in such conditions you should start a “cold war”. You can force the enemy into retreat by starving her.
Orwell also wrote: “If you observe small rules, big rules may be violated. Thus, if a position of conformism is observed and you play by office cleaner’s rules, it’s possible to guarantee yourself-to some extent-a calm office life where you will be able to focus on work. If a spirit of riot roars in you, that calm life-so to speak-will not last, though there is a chance that your territory will be recovered and you will no longer be approached about issues like laundry detergent or unequal marriage. Whatever you choose, remember, Big Bother is watching you.
Do you think that the cleaning woman is a calm woman with a mop who does nothing but washing the floor? It only seems like that to you. Here in the Caucasus, the office cleaner is the second person in the company after the director general’s driver.