Archie was told that with the office move, it was all about sharing. Things that were once his now belonged to everyone. And by this decree, things that belonged to others now belonged to him.
When the packers came, everything that once belonged to Archie was put into crates with everything that belonged to everyone else. The packers seemed delighted, in a job that brought little delight.
In the new office, everything was the same. Same desks, same chairs, same lamps, same cupboards, same wires. He looked at his workmates, surveying the common sea in bemusement, and against the backdrop they looked even more irregular.
People who once all looked the same in a world of difference, now all looked different in a world that was all the same.
Archie struggled through the first day. He hid amid the confusion of cardboard, garish crates and lost umbrellas.
The following morning, the desk he had been sitting at was already occupied by Martin. The chair he had set for himself and wiped his sandwichy hand on, was being compressed under his heavy frame. The stapler he had filled and used was being used by Patsy, as she tried to force the hapless pin through a biblical report that no-one would read. And in the kitchen, Carmen was helping herself to a second portion of Archie’s Cheerios.
Archie had saved some tippex from the digital cull. Within the crevices of the day, he wrote his name carefully and obviously on the chair, the stapler and the cheerios. Flags in the sand.
The next day, Melvyn was leaning back in the chair with Archie’s name on. Cherie was clip-clipping finance statements together with the stapler on which his name peeped beneath her painted nails. Derek was pouring his Cheerios, bleary-eyed, distant.
The lines had been drawn in a different place, but were now invisible.
The morning after, Archie settled at a desk and calmly removed all of his clothes, folded them and laid them on the back of the chair, sat down, and logged on. He belonged to everyone else. He had a lot to get through.
No-one seemed to notice.