Don DeLillo on Office Politics

“In the early afternoon it was always quiet, the whole place tossing slowly in tropical repose, as if the building itself swung on a miraculous hammock. And then the dimming effects of food and drink would begin to wear off and we would remember why we were there, to buzz and chime, and all would bend to their respective machines. But there was something wonderful about that time, the hour or so before we remembered. It was the time to sit on your sofa instead of behind the desk, and to call your secretary into the office and talk in soft voices about nothing in particular – films, books, water sports, travel, nothing at all. There was a certain kind of love between you then, like the love in a family that has shared so many familiar moments that not to love would be inhuman. And the office itself seemed like a special place, even in its pale yellow desperate light, so much the color of old newspapers. There was the belief that you were secure here, in some emotional way, that you lived in known terrain. If you had a soul, and it needed to be rubbed by roots and seasons, to be comforted by familiar things, then you could not walk among these desks for two-thousand mornings, nor hear those volleying typewriters, without coming to believe that this was where you were safe. You knew where the legal department was, and how to get a package through the mailroom without delay, and whom to see about tax deductions, and what to do when your water carafe sprung a leak. You knew all the things you wouldn’t have known if you had suddenly been placed in any other office in any other building anywhere in the world. And compared to this, how much did you know and how safe did you feel, about, for instance, your spouse? And it was at that time, before we remembered why we were there, that the office surrendered a sense of belonging, and we sat in the early afternoon, pitching gently, knowing we had just returned to the mother ship.”