Finally, finally, I got home from the library on Friday night, pulled my Personnel File out of my bag, and hunkered down in a beanbag for some serious analysis.
After about 10 minutes, something became horribly clear to me - I didn't have the context to decipher what it was I was holding. For starters, it was all colour-coded, and my photocopies were in black and white. At the top right of each set of documents were, on my copies, a series of one, two or three small grey dots. I could recall from my photocopying session at lunch time
that there had been a few different colours - blue, red, orange, green, blue - and each one no doubt held some important meta information as to the content that it was attached to.
All my performance appraisals, for example, had two dots on them. My original letter of application had three, and my aptitude test had two. The many (so many) pages of my blog that had been printed out each had between one and four. And, in one case
, there were five grey dots of differing shades bustling for space in the top corner, screaming out their incriminations in a language I couldn't understand. I spent an unfruitful hour or arranging and re-arranging the various pages on the floor of the lounge, trying to discern the shades of grey from each other, and decide which ones were 'good', which 'bad', and to glean any nuance from the remainder. It was to no avail, like one of those terrible IQ and logic puzzles
I sometimes feel compelled to do online, which invariably involve dots, grids, sequences thereof, and what comes next. I never
know what comes next.
So I tried to make some sense of the other clues. At least three different people had made a few notes in the margins of the blog entries. I figured Mrs Darjeeling and my immediate boss, Mrs Liddesdale were responsible for two of the sets I could find, but who was the third? Most of the notes were just small ticks and question marks scrawled in the margins, but I could plainly make out in Mrs Liddesdale hand, on this entry
, the words 'Made up'. In Mrs Darjeeling's beautiful cursive script on another entry
was the note: 'Substantiated, irrelevant.' The unknown hand had written on this entry
: 'Policy should be reviewed'.
Even re-reading my performance reviews, of which I was always provided a copy anyway, usually to be thrown into a dusty archive box at the back of my cupboard after a quick read-through of the usual platitudes, was now an exercise in unbridled paranoia. Just how much did Mrs Liddesdale know when she wrote '...can be distracted a little too easily'? What did she mean, when, only three months ago, her recommendations included, '...some thought to your career, considering you probably won't want to be doing what you're doing now in the long term.' At the time I thought she meant the cataloguing shift I had been doing, but maybe she meant librarianship in general.
The back-breaker was the cross-referencing. This was the easiest to decipher, but the most difficult to comes to terms with. Down the margins, often near a clustering of question and exclamation marks, another sticker had been affixed, with a three letter/three number code...
Oolong. Nonsuch. Farnum. There were others, too, some of which were referred to people or other files I couldn't recognise: TYR013, PER323, TUL592. I could see from my own files that each section, as well as being colour-coded, was also numbered. My file was up to 062. Presumably then, in other people's files, not open to be perused by me, was information relevant to the sections that had been tagged. Obvious things like this
, and this
. But also less 'controversial' (to the library, anyway) things like this
It was all too much. I threw the folder to the floor, poured a big glass of wine, drank it, then another one, and felt miserable. Despite the fact there was nothing particularly incriminating in the file that I hadn't aleady discussed with Mrs Darjeeling, I still felt there was sword hanging over me. Maybe another talk with her on Monday might help me understand where I stood. Maybe the weekend break would give me a chance to recover from this terrible cold, and help me get gain clarity on what I had seen in my file. Maybe I'd win Lotto on Saturday night, and the whole situation would become moot.
Or maybe not.