I've been thinking about looking for a new job recently...you know, the instability of non-profit funding can be be quite taxing at times. AND THEN I went for a meeting at the [NAME HAS BEEN REMOVED TO AVOID BEING SUED...Let's just say a well known federal governmental agency] and I was reminded how well off I am in my current situation.
Upon arriving to that crazy little soul-sucking experiment, I was greeted by armed guards who escorted me to the "Name Tag Station." Behind the counter was a man whom evidently finds his complete and total human worth inside the very important title of "Name Tag Station Agent." He very meticulously scanned my driver's licence asking questions about the worn spots and my status as an organ donor. Once he was satisfied that I was, indeed, Ms. January Elisabeth Newbanks, he began the process of taking my picture with his weird little webcam devise.
After the third picture was complete (he thought my face could be clearer than it was in the first two), he asked me to fill out my personal identification card. Knowing that I was in danger of being late to a very important meeting, I hurried to fill out the form and handed it back to him. Making no noise but a pronounced huff of air, he thrust another paper in my direction punctuating his severe motion with the slap of a pen on top of it. I was confused and I think I mentioned that, however, I barely had a chance to let it register when he informed me in a roar that my handwriting was UNACCEPTABLE.
Being the smart-ass that I am, I v...e...r...y s...l...o...w..l...y filled out yet another form with painstaking thoroughness, and as delicately as I could muster without laughing, I placed the paper in front of him as if it were made with fairy wings held together by unicorn kisses.
At this juncture, he printed off my little name badge with an exceptionally clear picture of my face and I was FREE.
Arriving on floor eight, I stepped off the elevator into the world of cubicles...you know the one. The one where the size of your paycheck is directly correlated to the distance you are from the one window that looks out on the cement building next to your cement building. I was directed to go to conference room 803 by the troll at the front desk, but when I found what I thought was conference room 803 it was actually break room 803. Following the colored arrows in the carpet (which a very strange random woman explained to me on my way to the wrong room) I made my way back to the elevator and took another stab at it. I failed. I actually landed in the cubicle maze.
I had to fight off the shivers as I walked around the various cubes which the employees had tried their best to humanize with bad computer print offs of grandchildren and pets. I finally found my host's desk a few minutes later and I think he had purchased the entire line of those bad corporate inspirational poster/figurine things. You know the ones, they say things like LEADERSHIP, TEAMWORK, and EXCELLENCE coupled with a badly photoshopped picture of a row team paddling off into the sunset in perfect unison. I apologize if you like those and find them inspirational, but they make my soul wither just thinking about them.
Once my host and I finally made our way to the conference room, he jokingly handed me a plastic purple brain in a clear container that, based on the smell, clearly used to contain some form of egg salad. Making some sort of joke about the brain's presence being a stand in for his own brain (followed by a very corporatey laugh), he also handed me a 5X7 square of bubble wrap to help me with my stress.
I believe leaving that meeting...nay, that building, was perhaps the best thing to happen to me all day. Thank God for my office to which I wear jeans and think about ways to help people learn to read. I think I'll stay a bit longer.
Last weekend when I was supposed to be studying, I, instead, joined my friends Phil and Andy as they explored an old factory that had been destroyed by fire and left unattended to. We went for the purpose of taking pictures, although I would suspect the boys were equally drawn the prospect of destroying anything their little hearts desired.
I did pretty well avoiding any potentially fatal activities. There was a particular staircase I was almost positive would be my demise, but alas, I live to tell the story. Phil valiantly took the lead as we took on the stairs and made our way to the roof. I think my favorite quote from the day is, "Hey guys, come on up here. It doesn't feel safe at all." Andy and I, of course, could not resist such a prompting so we followed. We may have made it out alive on that day, but it is, however, a distinct possibility that we will all die of cancer as a result of this little excursion. There were signs everywhere from the factory's active days warning of the presence of asbestos and dangerous chemical situations that required masks and such. We didn't have masks or protective clothing. Woops.
I was reading an article about the factory this morning which informed of environmentalists removing barrels of dangerous chemicals from the premises in hopes they would not contaminate the water in the area. Lets hope those guys have done a good job.
Overall I would say it was fun, but a little creepy at the same time. Many rooms are still intact...charred, but intact. It reminded me of those end times movies where the rapture comes and everything is "left behind." There were offices with bookshelves still full and desks with office chairs pushed up to them as if someone would be returning on Monday for work. I always get creeped out by abandoned buildings. It leaves me feeling the same way I do after a good ghost story. This experience was no exception.
Here are a few pictures from the day. If you're interested, you can view my the complete digital collection (I like the film photos better but I can't show you those) here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/januarynewbanks/sets/1172171/
Andy and Phil have better pictures I think, so I will provide their links as well (hope that's ok, guys).
Andy's collection: http://www.flickr.com/photos/andrewmsoell/sets/1090915/
Phil's collection: http://www.flickr.com/photos/philboltz/