Given the choice, most people would not elect to spend a cold Friday morning on an industrial estate just outside Wolverhampton.
I certainly had no choice in the matter, and so found myself walking across my employer’s manufacturing site with only a few inadequate layers to shield me from the wintry climes. A group of us were trekking across to another warehouse, and along the way my heart lifted as I spied an unwanted office desk sitting abandoned on a patch of unused ground.
It lifted because I take great joy in out-of-context things. They appeal to my creative side, to the part of me that knows these things wouldn’t be half as effective if they had been done deliberately. They appeal to the same creative side that wishes it had taken photos of all the abandoned shopping trolleys I saw around Macclesfield town centre once upon a time.
After seeing what needed seeing in the warehouse, I hung back from the group as we retraced our steps. I wanted to snap a quick picture of the desk, but without making a big fuss. Although I’ve become more open with people about my creativity since the turn of the year, I still don’t feel as though I can adequately explain it or ‘prove’ it (until such a time as I hopefully finish my cinema tour book, at least!). Thus, I still perceive the occasional ‘funny look’ whenever I indulge in a spot of creative talk.
The only person behind me was a friendly chap called Jim who has spent 30 years installing roofs and is a pro at bedding roofing felt in hot bitumen. The iPhone blurted out its mock-shutter noise and, with a chuckle and the slightest hint of sheepishness, I explained that I simply couldn’t resist taking a photo.
“Well, it’s abstract isn’t it?” said Jim, and merrily continued on his way.
In my last blog post, I mentioned some of the creative/business books I’ve been reading. I’m nearing the end of The Icarus Deception now, and one of Seth Godin’s central themes is the ‘connection economy’. The world is no longer about manufacturing goods for a faceless consumer population. It’s about making an emotional connection with like-minded people, however much of a minority those people might be.
As a result, I’ve started to look harder for connections I can make. I could make more, certainly, but these things take time and I’m also trying to see the connections that other people make, so that I might learn from them. The connection I made on that West Midlands industrial estate was only short-lived, but it was a connection nevertheless. And it was a perfect illustration of how they can be found in even the most unlikely places.
As an aside, one of the other appeals of this abandoned desk was the image it formed in my head: an image of Monty Python-era John Cleese sat behind it, wearing a dinner suit, and saying, “And now for something completely different.”