Any time there are new surroundings, such as the new office suite my company occupied at the beginning of this year, there are adjustments required. Our previous digs were three separate rented offices at a Regus center, a place that had an atmosphere that resembled the land of the misfit toys. There was a mish mash of personalities and nationalities as well as backgrounds, all melded next together in our little rented rooms. I quickly learned the intricacies of living at the Regus center — kitchen etiquette, who naturally avoided eye contact out of shyness and who avoided eye contact out of culture (or a lack of proper English skills), how loud to play my music, when to say hello in passing or simply bow my head, who liked the Cubs (bleah), and who enjoyed stopping for conversation. The front desk receptionist at the Regus center had a wicked sense of humor and adopted me as her big brother from another mother. There were certain times of the day when she and my friend Mayank required me to meet with them at the front desk, exchanging barbs and stories. Annie, the receptionist, dubbed Mayank and I the “Mayors of Regus”.
So when my three person company decided that we would move to a less expensive, more business appropriate suite of offices in another part of town, parting was difficult. I and our office manager had adjusted to life at Regus quite well in the time we were there. We had made a lot of friends, liked the atmosphere and diversity that the center offered. Our boss joked that moving to the quiet, private office suite would be an adjustment simply because I would lose that social life I enjoyed in the closeness of the Regus center.
And I do miss life there, somewhat, although our new place is so nice that I do not miss the closet like office that I had at the Regus center. My new office has windows from floor to ceiling at the front, facing an airy courtyard with high exposed natural wood ceiling and skylights. Each person in my company selected their own office furniture before we moved, so I have a spacious L shaped desk with a large matching credenza. The natural light from the ceiling skylights allows the large plants in our office to thrive. My office manager and I have offices next to each other with an open ceiling between us, enabling immediate communication we didn’t have before, when either of us had to leave our office and walk down the hall to work on something together. There is a little library in the middle of our suite, with our boss occupying a generous office that overlooks a pond below, his office big enough for a six chair conference table and large screen TV. There is a large storage closet which means that my office is no longer the company stock room. Our company name is on our front door, a banner announcing our company name and a featured product greeting us each day in the lobby.
It’s our home. No longer are we wandering misfits looking for a place of our own.
No one in my little company is surprised that I have met all of the people in the suites that surround us. If our new neighbors didn’t stop by to introduce themselves, I dropped in on them and introduced myself. Those introductions have already paid off in the form of IT tech assistance from our next door neighbor, a borrowed fax machine from the insurance broker’s office on the other side of us, and a notary from the title office below us.
As I said, there are adjustments required at the new place. Every place seems to have their own little rules or nuances. Our new office center has its quirks, little bits of unwritten procedures that you need to follow.
You’re not doing it right! was my fear for the first few weeks in my new office. Like Michael Keaton’s character in Mister Mom (old enough that many may not get the reference — but there is no chili on the walls yet), it took a while to learn the right way to do things, but quickly enough I am getting it. The rules are a lot more simple at this new place.
A lot of the rules seem to involve the glass fronts on most of our suites. Some people don’t like to make eye contact when someone passes by, a bit like those people I passed in the halls at Regus. Some like to catch my eye as they pass my office, smile and wave hello. Others only make eye contact and say hello if they see me in the hall.
And no one talks to each other in the restroom. It’s not a guy rule, although most guys are freaked out if you talk to them when you are standing next to them at the urinal. I have to admit, if a guy talks to me then and he is looking down, it is a little creepy. At Regus, though, I had several friends that I knew well enough to have loud conversations with while standing in tinkle town. TMI?
Some of the adjustments at the new office has to do with using the men’s room. Our suite is on the second floor, the one bathroom accessed with a key attached to a large blue plastic tag. Traffic through the bathroom is light compared to our previous place, just a few people using the men’s room.
There is meditation boy, who always enters the only stall early in the morning, stays there for an eternity. No one is that constantly constipated.
Matchstick man is one of those fastidious OCD types whose compulsion reaches to the threat of his own stink. His presence lingers for at least an hour after he has used the facilities, the stench of Sulphur from the match he lit during or after his poop lasting nearly as long as meditation boy’s stay earlier in the day. There is always a lone matchstick floating in the toilet bowl, further announcing matchstick man’s visit. I entered the men’s room as matchstick man was leaving a few days ago, a book of Caesar’s Palace matches and a novel under his arm. The guy was carefully groomed and creased. I’m not sure if he was embarrassed or what, but he didn’t even acknowledge my presence in the small room.
I am going to leave a box of matches for him some time, as a peace offering.
My boss and I also got a sick laugh out of the facility manager’s placement choice of a bulletin to announce the death of the building maintenance man. It was appropriate, I suppose. She wrote a nice eulogy, placed it on each bathroom door in the building.
I’m sick, I know. So is my boss. He chortled maniacally when he saw the announcement.