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


#275 In which our hero keeps his eye on an odd office in his building.

The building I work in used to be a big warehouse. At some point it was refurbished and transformed into offices. But they cut away the floors in the center of the building, leaving a really cool open atrium kind of space. Some of the offices have windows that face into the atrium.

There’s also a breezeway from the parking lot across the canal, which is where I park. I walk across the breezeway every day, past an office that has a row of windows looking out into the atrium. But by the way they’re positioned, they’re also looking into the walkway. So anyone sitting in that office is pretty much at eye level for people walking in to work.

This is going somewhere, so stick with me.

So, this one office space was vacant for a long time (there’s also an office on the opposite side, but the tenants of that space were smart enough to install blinds, which they never open). One day when I was walking in, I saw that a business has moved into the space; architects, judging from the rolls and rolls of blueprints.

The space is basically one big open room, with a conference room (which also has a window opening to the atrium) and a couple small offices with doors on the far side. There also appears to be a small waiting area and reception desk, but I can’t really see that from the walkway.

The new tenants moved eight or so big wood desks into the space, abutting them back to back, like an office environment from the 50s. I thought it was interesting, and looked forward to seeing people sitting in those desks, staring across at each other, sketching architectural renderings longhand and smoking Lucky Strikes.

But no people ever came.

Days, then weeks went by, and I never once saw a person in the office. I supposed it was possible that they were out in the field, overseeing construction or something, and only occasionally came to the office. Maybe after 5pm, when I was already speeding north.

So I took note of one desk in particular, which had a fat, loosely rolled blueprint atop two small, tightly rolled blueprints. I watched to see if they ever moved.

Every day, as I walked in, I took note of the blueprints: one fat on top of two tight. No lights were ever on in the office, no signs of people having been there. And the blueprints never moved.

Now, it wasn’t like the place was just a storage area, there were desks with chairs, a big conference table in the conference room, staplers and the like… clearly people were meant to work there.

But no-one ever did.

This went on for months and months. One day I took a side-trip around the corner to look at their front door. It had the company name stenciled on it, and they were commercial architects, as I suspected. There were no lights on, and I wasn’t brave enough to try the door.

Almost there.

Then one day, I came walking across the breezeway as normal to find a work crew in the office. They were hauling out all the big 50s-era desks and replacing them with modern-style cubicles. On my way out I saw that they must have installed a dozen of these cloth-lined cubies, each with its own desk, overhead drawers, chair and computer.

And still, no people working there.

I found this all more than passing odd. I asked a couple of people at work about it, but they were as clueless as me.

Then! One day, I came to work and saw a woman working! She was sitting in one of the cubies, with her computer and chair positioned so that she was looking out the window. She had brought in a picture to hang on the wall, and some deck doo-dads to personalize her space. It looked like she was going to be there for a while.

And now we get to the part that bugs me.

Every morning when I come to work, if she’s already there working, I’ll glance over at her, and she’ll look up over her computer screen, and she’s give me a dirty look, as if to say, “What are YOU looking at?”

She is literally the only person in an office FULL of cubicles, all but three of which do not face this window, and run no risk of having the occupant accidentally make eye contact with another human. If you’re so annoyed that I’m peeking in on your own private work world… then move. Anywhere. Or just turn your computer so that it’s not facing the window. It’s really that easy!

The odd thing is, I still haven’t seen anyone else there. Just this one woman with the miniature stop sign and photos of (presumably) her children on her desk.

Maybe I’ll get a sheet of paper and write a little sign to hold up next time I pass:



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#274 In which our hero sorts a great many comic books.

The Scientist and the girls are away for a week (!) visiting the grandparents. This left me with a lot of time on my hands in the evening, so I decided to undertake a big chore that I’ve been putting off for a long time: organizing my comics.

I’ve been collecting comics since I was in 5th grade. This means that a large portion of my collection is old superhero comics that no longer hold any real appeal to me. Not that I’d throw them out! So I have a bunch of longboxes in my basement filled with bagged and boarded comics that I haven’t looked at in years and years.

All of my books are alphabetically sorted and, honesty, that’s the problem. See, if I start collecting a new comic that starts with the letter “A” then if I want to file it properly, I’d have to find room in the “A” box for it. Add enough new comics and you have to displace some into the next box. Displace enough of the second box, and it cascades down and down until I’d have to fuss with a dozen boxes or so. Ugh.

So, instead, I keep a couple short boxes and file away my new comics in them. The idea being that I’d let them fill up, then have one big sorting session and put everything where it belonged.

That was about three years ago.

And, as I’m still getting new comics (not a lot, I probably get 2-4 books a week) I had something like 400 mixed comics in shortboxes; some in the basement with the rest of my collection, some in my bedroom.

I knew it was going to be a major undertaking, so I didn’t enter into it lightly. And I certainly wasn’t going to leave a bunch of my comics around where the kids could get at them. So, when it was decided that The Scientist would be taking the girls with her, leaving me alone in the house for a week, I knew it was time.

Step one: haul all boxes up out of the basement.

I suppose I could have done this in the basement, but I knew I’d be spreading out all over the room, and it would be more comfortable in the living room.

As any serious long-time collector can tell you, the photo above doesn’t show an overwhelming number of comics. I never bought a huge number of books, even in my hey-day. And as I got older and typical superhero books started to lose their appeal, I bought less and less. And there was one point where I decided that comic books were kid stuff and I was done buying them. I think that was around age 19. I think it lasted all of a year.

Why this is such an ordeal is that I have to pull out every comic, make sure they’re all in numerical order within the title, organize all the titles alphabetically, then stick them back in boxes. And, of course, stop and read a comic every now and again.

That’s what sucks up so much time, of course. If I just buckled down and powered through, I could probably finish in half the time.

But these comics are, in a very real sense, the only tangible reminders I have of my childhood. There are certain issues, or moments within an issue, that stick with me today. The death of Dr. Doom. Yellow Jacket sabotaging his career. The Invisible Girl having a miscarriage. Jesse finally kicking Jody’s ass. Dream challenging a demon to a battle of wits to retrieve his lost helm. Rorschach unmasked. The Bowel Disruptor.

And so on.

So I get sucked in and find myself reading. And reading. And while there are a lot of books that still hold a special appeal to me, I also come across ones where I'm like, "why the hell did I ever buy this?" And I have to read it to try to figure out the answer to that question. Bottom line is that it always takes way too long to get this chore done. I'm lucky that I had an entire week.

ABOVE: halfway done.

Turns out I have a comic for every letter of the alphabet (thank you Quantum & Woody and Y: The Last Man) and I also have a robust "S" section. Long runs of Sandman, Starman, Sin City and a surprisingly large assortment of Spider-Man and Superman comics; surprising only in that I've never really gone out of my way to collect those titles.

ABOVE: 95% done.

The clock started to run out, because the girls come home on Sunday, and I was busy all day Saturday. So Friday night I buckled down and finished sorting, and boxed everything up again.

ABOVE: 1:30am, done! All that's left is to hump all these boxes back into the basement.

Until next time.