Skrip - tyur' - i - ent: adj. Possessing the violent desire to write.


#132 In which our hero accessorizes his office.

When I first came to Cleveland and started work at my first real big-time ad agency, I moved in. Big time. I had books and toys and plants and pictures on the walls… way I figured it, I was there to stay. Unfortunately, my employers had other ideas.

When I was laid off, it took three trips to clear all the crap out of my office.
  1. Pack a cardboard box full of stuff.
  2. Take the elevator down 17 stories to the lobby.
  3. Walk out the building and down the block to the parking garage.
  4. Take the elevator up to the 5th level, where I was parked.
  5. Return and repeat twice more.
So yeah, that sucked. And ever since that lay off, I’ve told myself to keep personal effects to the bare minimum, so I’d never have to repeat that painful walk of shame again. I’ve followed this personal credo through the last four jobs, and it’s paid off. When I get laid off I collect the few things I have at the workplace (book on grammar, photo of The Scientist, cell phone recharger) shove them in my bag and get the hell out. It’s served me well.

So, naturally, one of the first things I did at my new job was buy this:

"Luxury seating"

Yeah, I bought a sofa for my office. Before my probationary period was even over. If I get fired now, it’s going to be a huge pain in the ass to get this thing home.

Allow me to explain. At my last real agency job (I don’t count the junk mail place) my boss had a small leather loveseat in his office. Of course, his office was big enough to accommodate a big piece of furniture, but anyway… I loved it. It was fantastic to lounge on a comfy couch instead of the standard plastic and nylon office chair. I swore that if I ever got a real office again, I’d invest in a sofa.

So when I started here, I eyed-up my space and thought, “y’know, take away those chairs, and I bet I could squeeze in a loveseat right there.”

Now, I never expected to actually find a piece of furniture that I both liked and could afford, but I figured I’d give it a shot. My plan was to check out some used furniture places around town, see what I could find. I had no freakin’ idea how I would get the damn thing from the parking lot into my office (not an insignificant walk), but I’d cross that bridge when I got to it.

On a lark, I googled “cheap furniture” to see what I could see. And that’s where I discovered Home Reserve.

Not to turn this into a big commercial for these guys, but I nearly crapped my pants when I found this site. Not only were the prices reasonable (and affordable to my non-existent “office décor” fund) but they had a butt-load of choices AND they would deliver the stuff right to my office. Kick-ass!

Now, I’ve pretty much never bought a real piece of furniture in my life. Everything I’ve owned has been pressed particle board, assemble-it-yourself junk. This is shit that would survive one move, maybe, before falling apart. But it was cheap, and I kept buying it.

So, it was with this dissatisfaction in mind that I perused the site. I thought I might be making a mistake and a big, steaming turd of a loveseat might arrive, but I was willing to roll the dice.

So it arrives and I hump it into my office and start to assemble it. The frame of the thing is made of the same shitty pressed wood (actually, it’s “oriented strand board,” which the company assures me is NOT made with formaldehyde) so my first reaction was, “Shit. There’s no way this is going to hold up.”

However, it went together extremely easy, and the finished result is simply amazing. It’s remarkably stable, and doesn’t creak or flex at all. You would never know I put it together myself in my office.

It’s the “Classic” loveseat in “Gracewood Tomato Chenille” fabric, in case you’re curious.

Now, honestly, when I bought it, I thought people might think it was cool. But what I didn’t expect was that it would cause a minor furor in the agency.

My office happens to be outside the kitchen, so there’s a fair amount of foot traffic past my door. And since the offices at this agency don’t have actually doors, and in lieu of a window I have a large glass panel, it’s easy to see my sofa.

People would walk past and I would hear them down the hall saying, “… that guy has a couch in his office…” A few brave souls would come in and ask me how the heck I got it up here, etc. A couple of people even sat on it, pronouncing it “very comfortable.”

Once the sofa was installed, a couple of people asked me, “Does B. know about this?” Now, B. is the HR guy in charge of office supplies, furniture, etc. Since I wasn’t asking the agency to buy the sofa for me, and I didn’t think anyone would really give a shit about what was in my office (it’s not like I wanted to put it in the hall) it never even crossed my mind to ask permission of B., or anyone else. B. had actually stopped by and given me a “what the hell?” but that wasn’t an atypical response, so I didn’t think much about it. But now I was worried that I might have to disassemble this mutherfucker and take it home, so I go to B.’s office, and have this conversation:
ME: Hey, do you care that I put a sofa in my office?
B.: Nope. As long as [the General Manager] and [the President] don’t say anything, I don’t care.
ME: People keep asking me if I got your permission to have a sofa.
B.: That’s because I’m a Nazi, didn’t you know that?
ME: I did not know that.
I don’t know what this guy’s done to other people, but he’s put the fear of God into them, that’s clear. He was nothing but pleasant to me. Then again, he did come in the following day to take my one remaining guest chair.
B.: All right, since you have a couch, you won’t need this chair. I can use it elsewhere.
ME: You’re taking my chair?
B.: You have a couch, for God’s sake!
ME: But I like to give people a choice of seating.
B.: Craig, this isn’t a talk show.
And he absconded with my chair. Later, the GM stopped by and told me how she had a couch in her old office, and how great it was when she had to bring one of her sick kids to work with her, etc. So I took that as an endorsement of legitimacy. And I don’t think the president could pick me out of a line-up, so I’m not worried about him swooping in and demanding that I remove furniture.

Time passes, and everyone becomes accustomed to seeing it, and it’s not a big deal any more. However, what I didn’t know was that my sofa had become a bit of a sensation on the third floor.

Now, at this agency, the fourth floor is where all the creatives are, and the third floor is mostly account staff. The account folks aren’t up here that often, and the creatives rarely go down there. Matter of fact, during my orientation, I was shown the stairway down to three and told, “That’s accounts. You’ll never need to go down there.”

A week or so after I brought the thing in, an account executive sticks in his head and says:
AE: Great couch!
ME: Thanks. I just got it.
AE: I know. Everyone on three is talking about it.
ME: Really?
AE: Oh yeah. Now, you built this thing yourself?
ME: Well, yeah. It came in a kit in the mail.
AE: Oh! People downstairs are like, “dude made that himself out of foam!”
That night, The Scientist says to me, “You’ve become an agency urban legend!”

So I guess I’m “couch guy.” I can live with that.


Blogger Lil Kate said...

That's awesome that you are the envy of TWO floors of people. And the couch does look comfy in your picture. Congrats on your kick-ass find. :)

4:19 PM


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