It’s 9am. I’ve got up by this stage (I’m not sleeping so much recently) and got into work. My office is on the fourth floor of a 1960’s-era apartment in Rača (a very desirable location and quite the “up-and-coming” area of Bratislava, haven’t you heard?) No? You’ve clearly been moving in the wrong circles.
We currently don’t have any receptionist. There’s not really anywhere for them to sit, except on the stairwell, and they might be disturbed in their duties, of course, by the house manager who likes to start on the homemade fruit brandy reasonably early in the day. And there’s no lift unfortunately. You’ll have to walk up and knock.
Up, passing the pot plants and the small yapping dog (don’t worry, he never comes out, bursting your ear drums is the only way he can hurt you) and you’re there: Englishmaninslovakia’s office.
It’s very hot in here right now – we catch the morning sun – so we have a policy of “as few clothes as you like”. I personally am rarely seen in the morning when it’s hottest in much beyond underwear (the jeans and the shirt go on for the Skype calls). The music is not loud, but it is very much a background sound, and because we despair of nearly all modern pop music it’s generally REM, the Cure, or right now Marek Brezovský (a stupendously talented – and tragically dead – Slovak composer who makes the Cure seem upbeat) so if you are not already taken out of your comfort zone by the office; well; I guess you might be now.
Another thing we do is coffee, myriad cups in the morning (I make a mean frappe BTW), then fine to graduate to beer or becherovka after midday – particularly if there has been stressful communications with editors.
Aside from a Wifi connection and a Mac (I’m using the Mac so you’ll be on the typewriter – the exact model Hemingway used and sporting surprisingly little rust), you’ll probably find this office wanting for certain things too. There are piles and piles of books, for example, but no printer, no scanner, no teabags (I hate teabags). It’s quite old fashioned here, in other words.
On the bright side, stopping work in this office for major sporting events (today’s snooker final for example) is totally allowed as is thinking f*** it, enough of this, I’m going off into the Malé Karpaty (Small Carpathians) for a walk/run/muse. Also allowed, of course, is going on vacation with little or no warning (that is part of the job of being a travel writer, after all). The proviso here is that you are then prepared to work kind of crazy hours, sometimes as late as 1/2am if you’re on deadline – quite often at weekends – and that you are quietly accepting of the fact that if you are sick or get run over by a bus, you’re not going to get much in the way of compensation.
As for Health and Safety? Forget it. The coffee cups/becherovka glasses sometimes stack up here for days unwashed.
You see? There’s a reason you can’t visit some offices…