I am seven weeks into my first seat in the planning department and as the title to this blog may have given away, I am enjoying it thoroughly. My knowledge of planning law was very limited when I requested my first seat and naively thought I would be dealing with irate neighbours 24 hours a day. Not only has the work been so much more diverse than I had anticipated, the planning team have been incredibly supportive and dare I say it (at the risk of sounding horribly square), really good fun to spend a working day with. I have received a perfect balance from them, between sarcastic teasing and checking I’m not actually having a meltdown – as well as being given responsibility, whilst ensuring I don’t feel out of my depth.
An open plan office means that it is so much easier to talk to people in the firm, whoever they may be. Asking people the inevitable stupid questions that come up is so much easier when you don’t have to knock on an office door before you humiliate yourself. This layout encourages people to come and speak to you too, which gives you a real sense of inclusion and security within the firm. On the other hand it does also give rise to a few embarrassing moments. For me anyway. For example, once, when I ever so suavely glided across to our secretary to ask her an abovementioned question, (propelled backwards in my chair by pushing off my desk), I then realised that I couldn’t push myself back to my desk, (social etiquette unfortunately does not yet dictate stealing much needed momentum from someone else’s personal space) and consequently had to employ a crab like movement in order to get back to my starting point. Needless to say this lacked the degree of elegance which I had hoped to radiate to everyone else sat around me and since I have always got up and walked to my destination as opposed to glide/crabbing.
Another issue is that I have to check and double check each morning that no one is listening before I record my voicemail message. My acute phobia of sounding like a moron every day has only increased since Jack snuck up behind me once trying to overhear my overly enthusiastic ‘telephone voice.’ Similarly, dictating has been a bit of a work in progress. My supervisor has insisted I dictate everything in order to get as much practise as possible. This has meant that I have to practically put the Dictaphone into my mouth each time in the hope that it will pick up my self-conscious whispering. Should I make the mistake of stopping mid-dictation, I will never know again where it was I left off, as I am too worried that everyone around me will be laughing at my awful dictation voice, to dare to utilise the play-back function.
I think we have all started to fall into a routine of sorts now. Us first year trainees appear to have a fairly religious one o’clock lunchtime together (workload permitting) and the time is valuable for sharing stories from the morning and fears of the afternoon. Nowadays, without fail, I get a demand from Charlotte at 12.55 to remind me that imminently I am due to escort her to the Conservatory to oversee the consumption of her butternut squash soup. As a self-confessed creature of habit, I can honestly say that my Michelmores routine is one I’m settling into comfortably, albeit clumsily.