Anatomy of Crime

You see, this British little life of ours is so absolutely perfect, we knew it was just a matter of time until it went to the dogs.

Last month, our amazing, indecently expensive, shoebox of a flat was broken into.

I’m sure this is a common occurrence for the more adventurous of you, but it’s a first for me and V. After all, we do come from peaceful, filthy rich Romania, where people use banknotes as wallpaper and never ever steal from each other. Not. We’ve just been stupidly lucky I assume. But I digress.

We’ve been renting this flat for about two years. It’s in a pretty nice neighborhood, if being part of the only dodgy flat complex in a sea of £1.000.000+ houses with Bentleys parked in front stands for nice in your book. It’s got windows, so it gets freezing cold in winter, and it’s on the top floor, so it doubles as a super duper sauna in summer.  We need to religiously watch our weight or we won’t be able to move around the kitchen, and every other family in the building has about half a dozen future opera singing toddlers. Perfect, I tell you.

One fateful evening we got home to a broken door and what seemed to be the aftermath of a tornado. Every single piece of clothing we owned was piled up in the middle of the bedroom, while the living room floor was covered in books, CDs and other trinkets. As V. was turning his Hulk mode on, I quickly evaluated the loss. Two brand new laptops, a DSLR camera with half a dozen lenses, my Kindle tablet and some family jewelry. I later found out they’d also taken one of my t-shirts. It may sound weird but no, don’t get any ideas, they used it to wipe their fingerprints on their way out, and obviously decided to keep it realizing how sexy it was. We also had tons of cash in the flat: a €5 note and about £300 worth of Romanian currency. They only took the €5 note, which says a lot about their sneaky standards.

For the first time since we’ve moved to London I’ve had the pleasure to chit chat with the Police, and it really was an experience to remember.

Apparently, we’re the epitome of super duper prepared and responsible victims. There was a working CCTV camera above the building entrance, and a strong door with a working intercom system. There was also a CCTV camera in our flat (Told you we’re prepared!), which the visitors didn’t notice as they probably were too distracted by that €5 note lying in plain sight. So not only did the detectives get their fingerprints (My sexy t-shirt didn’t help much!), but also clear video footage of the events. “Fingerprints, footage! Oh, we’ll definitely investigate this!” said the nice detective, and I thought, don’t ALL these things get investigated anyway?

Nope. They don’t.

Growing up is no easy thing, I tell you. I took a day off from work to clean up the mess and wipe the leftover fingerprints off my shelves. I discovered t-shirts and jeans I’d forgotten about, some of which I still fit into. So it was a good day, I guess.

For a couple of weeks, my life’s been this heartbreaking, black and white, indie drama. I was afraid I’d come home in the evening and walk in on super friendly people going through my drawers. I seriously considered buying a baseball bat, but I couldn’t find a pink, Hello Kitty one! (For now I’ll let you know when I’m kidding, at least until you get to know me better. So, kidding!) Now that I’ve got a new laptop (and a better hiding place for it!) and we’ve pretty much replaced everything else, life’s all pink and glittery again.

I’ll keep you posted though, I’m sure we’ll get them! It’s only a matter of time until I run into one of them wearing my sexy yellow t-shirt on the streets of our posh crime friendly neighborhood!

We’re So Perfect and You’re Not!

As I’ve been saying, I am currently working as sole web developer in a small Design team. Now, this team of mine is of course the best Design team on the planet, but within the company there are other Design people, teams and departments who click and cut their days away for the same boss. What you don’t know is that all these other designers, all their ideas, products and even personalities, suck. Big time. They are only after our jobs while in fact, they are superficial, unoriginal, overpaid and should be fired on the spot.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never even met most of these people. I doubt I’ve ever seen their work. But I know, I KNOW their designs suck as designs and they themselves suck as individuals. And how do I know that? Well, it’s the subject of hourly meetings and debates within my team.

My three designer colleagues gather around a screen, or a screen printed in color on a huge sheet of paper (These people despise trees. Not as much as they despise other designers, but still!), and end up destroying it one pixel at a time, irrefutable arguments and all, as per below:

“This is crap!”

“And they call themselves designers!”

“Look at this shade of blue! Look at this border!”

“Some people make insanely more money than they deserve!”

“This is crap!”

I am NOT a designer.

I try to match my outfit to my nail polish color when I don’t forget. I look at designs in terms of what and when needs to be clicked by the end user. I couldn’t care less about absolutely-identical-but-not-really shades of blue and why a 2 pixel border is better than a 1 pixel one. Or why borders are needed at all. I sometimes worry about lousy Internet Explorer, but it passes soon enough and I’m back to being my carefree non designer self.

So what I’m unsuccessfully trying to convey here is that, well, I don’t care why this company seems to hire so many sucky designers. But I must say I’m lucky beyond belief, surrounded as I am by the only capable ones, and absolute geniuses the three of them for that matter. Life is good.

Yay, Let’s Discriminate Together!

So. I work in central London, in this multinational corporation where people worry you’ll run crying to the Human Resources Department if they as much as sneeze in your presence. I’m Romanian, a geek and a girl. I have yet to run crying to the Human Resources Department.

But there are other things you should know about me. That is, unless my colleagues have somewhat jokingly mentioned them already:

  • I steal. It’s gotten quite bad, actually. Make sure you hide your Magic Mice and smartphones if you see me sneaking by. Oh and be careful! I might also attempt to steal your job when you’re not looking. In fact, it’s in the Romanian Bible: Blessed are those who steal everybody’s jobs, for they shall inherit all European Union countries. Look it up.
  • I don’t actually do any work. You may see me typing away at times, which you may innocently take for coding, but in fact, all I’m doing is dispatching instructions to an army of real, proper coders in Romania. I pay them each half a penny an hour to solve my every task, for which they are eternally grateful. Did you not know £1 can get you a five bedroom house in that God forsaken country?
  • I’ve got this master plan to bring my entire family and all my friends over across the Channel. Don’t worry, it will only be about fifty or sixty of them. We’ll all be living in the office, sleeping on and under your desks. They’re nice enough people, it’s going to be fine. It’s true, they steal (we are family after all!), are lazy and only use soap on February 29th, but you’ll grow to love them, I swear!
  • Other than that, I’m just your regular female geek. Utterly unfit for social interactions, dreading any form of outside contact but desperate to get married (an enigma, don’t ask), uninterested in participating in any of the decision making, but happy to type away in her little cocoon, surrounded by flocks of pink, imaginary butterflies.

A pleasure to meet you.

Bad Bad Speedy Gonzales

This is how my life works.

People give me projects to code. We talk them over in a million meetings, we bicker, make decisions and change our minds, then I retreat back to my geek cave, where I click and type until I’ve got what we call an end product. People then look at it, like it, hate it or don’t understand it, and the bickering resumes. It’s pretty straightforward.

Now, since I’m repeatedly ruining my beauty sleep to go to work every day, I might as well, you know, work. I mean, tea breaks, gossip sessions and Facebook stalking are fun and everything, but at the end of the day we’re here to get the job done. It might just be me and my silly Romanian, communist roots. Either way, this annoying habit of mine to work when nobody else feels like working is openly frowned upon in our office.

At first I was replying to emails too quickly.

“Wait for a couple of hours before you reply. People will expect you to always be available.”

Then I was delivering tasks too quickly.

“My golden rule is: never deliver something within the same day. Yes, even if it’s just a typo fix. Always give it a couple of days at least, or even better, a week. The client will feel you haven’t rushed their work.”

Then I simply wasn’t a team player.

“It makes us look bad when it takes us three times as long to finish our slice of the work. Outside people don’t understand our jobs are different and demand different amounts of effort and attention to detail.”

My life today involves a lot of sitting around and resting my fingers until Steve gives me the green light to let people know everything’s done and ready to be reviewed. If anything, it gives me time to think my life over. So many lessons learned, and in such a short time. For one thing, speed means different things for different people. Just like work. Then, speed is dangerous. It makes people nervous and feeling like they have to do things they don’t want to do in order to protect themselves. Oh, I’ve also learnt that apparently, I’ve got the easiest job in the office.

It figures. Everybody else works as a tester for Facebook.

Book Readers Are People Too

OK, so there’s something I haven’t yet mentioned about myself. It’s kind of embarrassing, actually, but here it goes.

I am not the image of perfection.

I don’t just spend my days sipping lattes, painting my fingernails and watching The Vampire Diaries marathons. In fact, I sometimes read. Books. Lots of.

Yes, I admit it, I’m a reader. I own a Kindle. And about a million or so paperbacks, crowding our already crammed flat, until one day, V says, we’ll be using books for pillows and we’ll see how I like it then!

This reading thing isn’t new. I’ve been doing it since childhood. And yes, we did have television in Romania. In fact, by the time I was in my early teens, my family even had a dial up internet connection. Who would have thought!

But books were always in the house as well. Exciting stories of explorers traveling the Earth and witches throwing spells at little children. I read them all, though back then, we all did. Or at least we all knew the stories, so I wasn’t too much of a geek among my playmates. As the years went by, I definitely became one. A proper loser this time, who still read books in spite of computer games, roller blades and MTV. Somehow, I found the time.

Weirdly enough, I still do.

When I was attending Uni back in Romania, I used to travel a lot by bus. I always had a paperback in my bag and most times spent my bus trips reading. I was alone. People would sometimes be leafing through newspapers or magazines, never books. More than once, fellow commuters interrupted me and asked me if I was reading the Bible or a book of prayers. Romania is becoming less religious these days, but still people assume someone reading on a crowded bus can only be a Bible Studies expert or some hopeless girl praying for a marriage proposal. I definitely didn’t look the part of the Bible Studies expert, I’ll tell you that!

I later moved to London and found that other people read on buses and tubes as well, and not just the Bible. Finally, I belonged.

But then, there’s my office. Not a reader friendly place, that’s for sure. In fact, if I occasionally forget to hide my book/Kindle in my drawer/bag as I walk in, I end up stuck in super-duper-why-on-Earth-would-someone-read conversations. Lines vary from “Oh, I get so bored/sleepy when I read!” to “If only I had more time, I’d be reading books myself! Facebooks! Facebooks, get it?”. Then, as I’m leaving the office at the end of the day, I can almost hear them: “Don’t forget your book!” “Hurry up, you’ve got six chapters to finish by tomorrow morning! There’ll be a quiz!”

Insert exasperated geek face expression.

This is where we stand. In a world where books are better used as doorstops, I am the epitome of loser. I should be pointed at and ridiculed into changing my ways. Breaking my back carrying that Kindle around all day. Ruining my already screen damaged eyes. Who will ever marry me like this? For my own good, I should stop.

Today in the office, my native English speaking manager asked how accommodate is spelled. Three different equally native English speakers shrugged. One suggested g-o-o-g-l-e, and people smiled. 

*

Some book reading dudes broke into our flat and stole our laptops, cameras, and my Kindle. Serves me right for succumbing to peer pressure and leaving it behind for the first time in years. If only. I forgot it like a complete IDIOT! I even realized it as I was walking out, but was in a hurry and thought I could survive without it for one day. Now I’ve got no choice but to not be a complete loser until the new one arrives. Yup, I’m riding with the cool, can-only-spell-google kids these days. Yay.