Thursday, May 26, 2011
Shakespeare in the workplace
Whenever I have time to come up for air these days, I occasionally have time to reflect. I probably spend at least 14 hours a day conversing with people through an electronic medium and maybe 20 minutes talking to people face to face.
I wonder if it makes me antisocial because I panic in everyday situations. I become a mumbling mess at drive throughs because the owner of the voice in the grill can never tell what I am saying so I routinely end up with the wrong order, but am too socially inept to tell them because that would involve face-to-face interaction.
Better still if I can take their email address and forward my complaint while watching them pick up my electronic gripe in the drive-through window.
My other concern is that social networking, texting and the like is killing the English language. When you have a character limit, as you do with Twitter, you don't have much space to expound.
Imagine Leo Tolstoy trying to write War and Peace in 20 characters.
With this sad loss of our linguistic heritage looming large, not to mention the fear that the inhabitants of some of the more remote Shetland islands are losing the Gaelic tongue, I'm thinking of a campaign to bring Shakespeare into the workplace and to play a part in everyday situations.
Take the old elevator gas passing gaffe. You let one off when you are alone on the elevator and it's Sod's Law the door will open and someone will march it, only to be felled in their tracks as if they have been hit by a 2 by 4.
You have been caught red handed. There can be no other culprit. But who ever apologizes on the spot? Instead we mutter, cough, and look around for an imaginary person who we can blame.
I suggest in future we take it on the chin in true Shakespearean fashion.
O, my offense is rank, it smells to heaven,
It hath the primal eldest curse upon't—
A brother's murder. Pray can I not,
Though inclination be as sharp as will.
It's amazing how Hamlet can prove pretty useful in everyday situations.
Or try this one from Macbeth when you are standing in the lunch line and you casually pick up your knife.
Is this a dagger which I see before me,
The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee.
I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.
Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible
To feeling as to sight? or art thou but
A dagger of the mind, a false creation,
Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?
I see thee yet, in form as palpable
As this which now I draw.
Thou marshall'st me the way that I was going;
And such an instrument I was to use.
Mine eyes are made the fools o' the other senses,
Or else worth all the rest; I see thee still,
And on thy blade and dudgeon gouts of blood,
Which was not so before. There's no such thing:
It is the bloody business which informs
Thus to mine eyes.
By now a large line of sighing fellow employees is gathering and it's cue for the grouchy server to yell: "Get on with it you soft headed idiot. Your dinner's going cold and you are holding everyone up."
Still I can't help but feeling there's a place for soliloquies in the work place and we are missing out.
So rather than silently griping about the managing director or sending hate filled instant messages, is it not better to take the nobler course and to grab and cardboard box and stand on it outside Mr. P's office to address the whole office.
Friends, photocopiers, colleagues, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Mr. P, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Mr. P. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Mr. P was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
(even though it netted him a BMW and a prime parking spot)
And grievously hath Mr P answer'd it.
In short I don't think one can get enough Shakespeare in the work place, not that this post was helped by the typo in the title. Well it was written late at night. So log out of Facebook and dust off a copy of King Lear now.