July 8, 2010

The wide, weird world of the office atrium

Alternate title: You do know we can see you, right?

I work for a large corporation, and the building where I work (one of many around the world) is huge. Enormous. At any given time, it houses about 8,000-10,000 employees. It's a sea of cubicles, and you and a friend could easily work there for years without running into one another.

And instead of being your typical high-rise, it's...a low-rise. It's no more than four floors high at any given point, and I've been told it's about the same length as the Empire State Building lying on its side.

The result: We have this great, open, skylighted atrium running all the way through the center of the building, connecting all the different wings and hosting a Starbucks, a bunch of other little shops and common seating areas.

Employees use those common areas to take a break with a co-worker, take a personal call, meet with potential new hires or just chill for a moment. All perfectly appropriate.


Some employees don't seem to grasp the concept that, not only is this a public place where people can, in fact, see you, it's also WHERE YOU WORK. It's an extension of your office. Unless they work in another location, your boss and his boss and her boss could walk past you at any time.

And yet, I saw these things in the atrium JUST YESTERDAY:
  • A woman in a chair, with her shoes kicked off, in the fetal position, sleeping. Possibly drooling.
  • A grown man picking his nose and then looking at it intently before wiping it on his pants.
  • A girl wearing a cutoff sleeveless shirt and much-too-tight pants that showcased her belly rolls (again, this is a corporate office), while YELLING at someone on her jewel-encrusted cell phone.
  • Three people high-fiving each other and laughing hysterically and loudly, then leaping over a group of chairs to go back to work.
  • Three 30-something men playing hacky-sack as they walked from Starbucks back to their wing of the building.

I don't work for Google, or a dot-com start-up, where we have pinball machines in the break room and our employers encourage a sense of whimsy when traveling around the building. This is a global financial corporation. Where, presumably, professionals work.

If you only went by what you see in the atrium, you'd think this was the mall, where people just come to hang out.

Or possibly the circus. Because I also saw these things in the atrium yesterday:

  • An 80-year-old lady wearing red high-top sneakers and a flowered hat.
  • A man with a handlebar mustache and a red armband (I think he'd just finished giving blood, but he could have been one of those old-timey weightlifters).
  • A woman in a purple velvet pantsuit.
  • A lion tamer.

OK, I'm probably lying about that last one. But the other ones were absolutely true. And I'm almost positive I saw a dancing bear in the gift shop. Or maybe that was one of the tech guys.

3 backtalk:

Wendy said...

Ha HA! That was funny! I'd like to see photos of the circus! Especially the handlebar moustache dude, I've got a thing for handlebar moustaches.

Jealous you have a Starbucks there!!

Trophy Life said...

i'm a conference call and did start laughing quietly (mostly an air-through-my-nose laugh) when i read the mall and circus parts...


wrestling kitties said...

HAHAHA! awesome! How are people SO unaware of what they do in public?! Maybe because one of my favorite hobbies is people watching I am really aware of my actions in public because I don't want someone blogging about me because I was scratching my butt or picking stuff out of my teeth in front of everyone!

Game: what do you think the nose picker was thinking while he was looking at his nose gold?

"Ah, now that feels better."

"Ah shit, what do I do with this now? Can't hide it under the couch like at home."

"It is looking a little green, maybe I need to eat more fruit."

"That one was up there good."

"Should I eat this or not. Nah, I am full from lunch." (scrunch face and say ewwwwwwww now!) teehee

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