Workplace Retrace

Someone recently posted a photo on Facebook of their office walls, and that caused me to think about the offices I've had over the course of my career(s). In four decades of work, they've run the gamut from yuck to bling, and in looking back I've realized that some were pretty noteworthy.

  • The Introductory Bullpen - I started as an accountant trainee for an oil company in Dallas, and my first workplace was a desk in a large open room which housed a dozen or twenty others. Cubicles didn't yet exist, at least not in our offices. Our desks were pushed together in groups of four, and we shared a single phone. You learned to filter out all but the most interesting personal conversations.
  • The Voyeur's Paradise - A couple of years later, I was supervising a group that was responsible for implementing the accounting system that would allow us to comply with the newly enacted Windfall Profits Tax (aka the Oil Accounting Full Employment Act). Our offices were located in a high-rise that overlooked a huge atrium containing a shopping center, ice rink, and hotel. In fact, our office windows directly faced the hotel windows, less than a stone's throw away. Although potentially intriguing, in reality nothing too personal was ever revealed. As a footnote, while working under some challenging deadlines, we rented a few of those hotel rooms for employees to get a few hours of sleep while working 24/7.

  • The Architectural Horror - Fast forward a few more years, and I found myself working in Midland with the same company, in a downtown office affectionately known as the Belt Buckle Building because of the Totally Sixties architectural design featuring huge concrete rectangles bolted to the exterior. Those rectangles were particularly attractive to roosting pigeons, making for some pretty gross views from our windows. A few attempts to poison them allowed us to trade dead birds for messy birds, which wasn't an upgrade.

    That same building also featured windows that "breathed" when the wind blew, and of course, the wind always blows in Midland, Texas.  Seriously, you could see the glass panes on the west side of the building move in and out during particularly strong winds. It took one of them imploding and shredding an office chair (fortunately the occupant of the office was not present at the time) before Plexiglas panes were overlaid to reinforce the glass.

  • The Highly Convenient Office - Our group later moved across the street into an office suite in the Fasken Towers, and we inherited the arrangement vacated by the previous (and unknown) tenant. There was nothing too unusual about the layout, except that the supervisor's office had a private restroom attached to it. That might not be unusual for some of you, but it was just weird for us, and to my knowledge, it was never used.

  • The Awful Horrible Office - I'm now in a custom-designed office building in the Vineyard development and it's among the nicest facilities I've seen in my career.  In particular, it's a wonderful contrast to the one we moved from, a Seventies-vintage, absentee-landlord structure with plumbing, HVAC, electrical, and pest problems galore. There were times when the smells in the restrooms tempted us to order Porta-Potties for the parking lot, as they would have been preferable. And speaking of smells, on at least one occasion it took a while to find the dead rodent in a first floor office that had everyone on that end of the building gagging.

  • The "Feels Like Home" Office - Of course, the office that was most comfortable and most like home was, well, the one in my home during my website design phase. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't looking forward to once again occupying that space, now that my career is starting to wind down. I've kept my current place of employment intentionally spare, with almost no decoration, as a reminder that the office is not my home. Different people have different philosophies about what best gets them through the day, and some like to have reminders of who or what they're working for, but for me at this point, my office has no more or less attachment than that first bullpen desk.
Do you have a favorite office story? Feel free to share it on my Facebook page which is conveniently linked here.

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This page contains a single entry by Eric published on May 6, 2015 9:43 PM.

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