#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.
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:
GET SOME BLINDS