During my initial days of my internship, I found my new work environment confusing and unique from any internship I’ve had at home. As I read further into Kate Fox’s Watching the English, specifically the chapter on work, I began to understand that the things I found “weird” about my workplace, co-workers, and bosses are simply a part of English culture. Exemplifying the English “importance of not being earnest” that Fox stresses throughout the book, my bosses create a relaxed and friendly environment in our five-person studio. Unlike the typical American workplace in which workers sit at their individual desks and plow through work without really talking to their co-workers, my workplace is a very social and integrated environment. We all talk and help one another with work, and we sit down at a large table in the middle of the studio to eat lunch with one another everyday. We generally avoid talking about work while at lunch, making me feel as if I’m sitting down to eat a family meal. Even when I worked as a swim coach at Rice University last summer, the coaches, lifeguards, and I usually ate lunch individually, and our boss definitely never joined us.
While my bosses at my internship care about their business and getting efficient work done, they are also very lenient with arrival times. I attempt to arrive on time at 10AM everyday, but even on the days when I’m running late, I’m often the first one to the studio. My co-workers arrive late almost everyday, and my bosses occasionally run late as well. This further demonstrates Fox’s point that the “importance of not being earnest” rule in English culture extends to the workplace. Fox discusses the fact that if you’re work is interesting, then you are allowed to be interested in it. The nature of my bosses work makes itself thought provoking- they write articles and interview a wide variety of people in the community who they believe challenge the status quo of society. Thus, according to Fox, it is socially acceptable for them to act interested in it. However, Fox also states that while it’s acceptable to act invested in you’re work if it’s interesting, workaholics are still regarded as “sad and pathetic.” My bosses’ relaxation with arrival times and the friendly culture they create in their studio demonstrates that as interested as they are in their work, they avoid the English taboo of being workaholics.
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