Office Archeology

You know, you work in an office environment for forty hours (or more) a week, and you start to become immune to your surroundings. Same gray walls, same tan carpet, same beige cubicle wall fabric.

However, when you are new, you tend to notice the odd stuff laying about, but being new, you don’t say anything for fear of sticking out like a sore thumb.

So you go along to get along…but you wonder. Oh you wonder.

Today, I had all my afternoon meetings wiped off the ol’ calendar, and found myself with some time on my hands (a very dangerous thing for a mind such as mine).

So I went on a walkabout to document some of the more puzzling items I find about my new office environment.

Put on your Indiana Jones hat and join me, won’t you, as we engage in an office archeology and sociology expedition.

Let’s just begin with the number one item that perplexes me on a daily basis.

It’s a pair of keys that go to a cable that secures a laptop against theft.

They are lying atop of a bank of filing cabinets that line a well-traveled thoroughfare at work. Meaning, these aren’t in a cube, they are actually far from anyone’s cube home, laying by the main doors to our floor.

I always ponder…WHO owns these? Do they know they are missing? Is there a laptop somewhere that is forever shackled to a piece of modular furniture with no means of escape? OH THE FUTILITY!

Seven months I’ve been here and these keys haven’t moved a centimeter. I often wonder how long they were there before I found them. Every day, there they sit.

Along the same lines of “something left on a bank of filing cabinets”, we have this:

I hear you saying, “What’s weird about that, Karen? It’s a stapler!”

Yes. Yes it is. A high capacity stapler. Yup. You could affix about 50 to 75 pages together with that big guy.

It’s sitting on a public thoroughfare, on top of cabinets that are at least chest high (and I’m fairly tall), so you can’t even get good leverage to push the handle to make the staple.

And the location is very, very far away from any copy room, copy machine, printer or other such device (it is right outside of a conference room, actually).

I mean, one of these high capacity staplers sits in every copy room. I’ve checked all the copy rooms on the floor, they all have one, so this guy isn’t lost or misplaced.

I have never seen a single person use this nice stapler.

There it sits. Lost and forlorn, unable to be useful for anyone’s stapling needs.

All alone. Maybe I should introduce it to the keys?

Ok, on to the stairwell. I happen to sit a floor above my boss and the rest of my team, so this stairwell is very, very well traveled.

Wait, what’s this?

Let’s go in a little closer, shall we?

Oh, it’s just a bit of rubbish, right? A bit of a Heath bar wrapper. Yup. What’s odd there?

One of our coworkers had a bag of mini-Heath bars in his office that was descended upon by office vultures. Sure, no biggie. Janitorial will just get that when they sweep the stairwell.

Trouble is…we haven’t had Heath bars in the office for TWO months. At least. Maybe longer. And I guess janitorial doesn’t sweep the stairwell because that bit of wrapper has been there for those two months, not moving a hair’s breadth to the left or the right.

Plus, I think it might have been me that dropped it, I’m not sure. I do remember a bad day where I was madly unwrapping and gobbling mini-Heaths as I stomped up the stairs, mad at my boss.

I keep thinking this wrapper will go away, but no, it’s become part of the landscape. (I know, I know…I *could* pick the damn thing up myself)

Ok, from the stairwell, let’s move on to the copy/supply room. Nothing odd there right? Paper products, binder clips, sticky notes, highlighters, and these:

Big deal, right? Simply those Vis a Vis dry erase pens that you use for overhead transparencies. No big deal, an office necessity, right?

Well…except that every conference room in the building has the kind of overhead projector where you hook up a laptop, not the old fashioned push a slide on there and write on it kind.

No one uses clear transparent slides anymore. As far as I can tell, they haven’t for some time here.

And we have a full stock of pens.

So you say, “oh fine, those are just leftovers”. Sure, I agree. No big deal. I took a couple packs for use at home (nice fine point pens! Yes!).

And this week, I notice the stock has been replenished.

For pens that no one uses.


Ok, big finish.

Despite the fact there is MUCH more that I could document here, I’ll draw to a close with the piece de resistance, the coup de gras, and some other French phrases I can’t think of but are probably fitting….

We have to go to the thirteenth floor for this one.

Here we go:

It is probably hard to see from the crappy iPhone photo, but that there is your standard office environment exit sign. But on the left of the sign is a clingy sticker thing that portrays…the bones of the human foot.

Now sure, we are a biotech company and interested in medical things…but we don’t do anything that involves feet. At all.

I have NO idea why the foot is on the exit sign or what it means? Is this some puzzle from employees past? Are they telling me to beat feet for the exit? Are they saying, “walk on!” Am I being told to think on my feet or I’ll be made to exit?

WHAT!?! What are you telling me? Speak to me, wise ancestors! I have to knooooooow!

Ok, I’m getting whipped up, so that must mean that’s enough for today’s scientific analysis.

Join us next time when we’ll explore “that stain on the cube wall” and “storage room, from dust bunnies to gold”.

Thank you, and good night.

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  • Natalie

    I love vis-a-vis pens. But they are totally old skool.

    The foot thing is really bizarre but o-so-very-special!

    You totally cracked me up with this one!

    word verification:

    License plate-speak for "Cluttered."
    How appropo.

  • Karen Fayeth

    Yeah, I love the vis a vis pens too. A lot. Always did. It's why I stole a couple packs. They write nice on paper too! Very juicy, which is nice.

    You always get the *best* word verifications! Love it!

    You could start a soothsayer business based solely on word verifications! Like casting rune stones….only bloggier! :)

  • TGM

    I love the vis-a-vis pens so much, some of them made their way to our house.

    But, really, that Exit sign rocks! Part Jurassic Park, part Acadmey of Sciences.

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