Office life is not a bowl of cherries, but neither, in spite of my frequent grumbling, is it just the pits.

Certainly, there are exceptions to almost every pet peeve.

I will admit to having encountered some very tasty dishes at the company cafeteria.

The interoffice mail does make it across an entire floor in a matter of hours sometimes, instead of days.

I've seen men's rooms where the used paper towels never overflow the trash containers.

At least once I was told, "Take as much time as you need" by someone who meant it.

I've also been asked, "Can I put you on hold?" by secretaries who have waited for an answer.

There are actually people in other departments who take the time to send me a note praising a job well done, with copies to my superiors. nd there are those who pick up the phone to inquire politely about a project that is overdue, instead of sending a nasty memo with a "CC" to my boss.

I'm also privileged to know a few folks who don't make any excuses for something that's wrong or late. They personally lay claim to the blame, instead of ascribing it to a computer, a fellow worker or a stupendous workload. And it's amazing how endearing it is when someone says, "I goofed."

I've submitted a realistic budget that was accepted as such, instead of being trimmed on the assumption that I had padded it.

On occasion I've called other companies and talked with people who couldn't answer a question I had, didn't know who could, but did not transfer me to someone else; instead they found out the answer and called me back, or had the right, knowledgeable person return my call.

All in all, the only aspect of office life I can think of in which bad conduct or a bad result is inevitable are those sporadic group coffee-making ventures. he secretary of the small department I'm in is convinced that he has refuted the column that I wrote on this subject a while back. All by himself he has been providing a superior alternative to the local coffee machine. He furnishes the pot. He buys the coffee. He makes it himself. We pay the machine price but get a far better brew. And periodically he rebates the profits in the form of free pastries.

What I had contended, however, was that squabbles always arise when several people share the responsibilities of such a venture. So I'm still convinced I was right.

Sure is nice having a saint around, though.