Office Spaced

October 1, 2010

Besides part-time work as a double-decker bus tour guide, I am a legal assistant at a small landlord-tenant law firm on Fifth Avenue up the block from the Flatiron Building.  The spare characterlessness of the office space is a result of the obsessive-compulsive habits of my boss, a single practitioner.  All white walls with a few generic framed photographic prints of the old city, not a trace of knickknacks, a set-up of individuality without individualism: the product of a seasoned, smart and sometimes undealable New York control freak.

Metropolitan Life Insurance Tower, 1909Last week the office got a call from a former employee, recently laid off from a big firm, who wanted to see if there was any work to pick up, and there was.  The woman hasn’t worked here in 5 years, and so for her first days back on the 17th floor of the Croisic Building, I ended up training her as a new old employee.  The training was surprisingly fundamental – she took overly detailed notes about tasks which she herself had showed me how to do when I started work there in 2004.  I made a joke, “you must really have blocked this whole place permanently out of your mind!”  Except it wasn’t so funny.  In keeping with the pallid countenance of the office – staid, track-lit, no music, shelves of leather lawbooks unconsulted – nothing had really changed except a faster computer, an updated MS Word and the use of a scanner.  No new clients, no new verbiage, no new forms lists, no new furniture.  I re-trained the step-by-step processes as if for a first time to an old employee now new who had showed me the same the first time.  Duly perplexed, I fought the urge to denigrate the common senses of people.  In NYC, one fights that urge much much, it can easily become a dangerous game played with one’s own good faith, dug into the synapses like bedrock for skyscrapers. I suppose it was my own common sense, to have put myself in this schizoid circumstance, which I really questioned.

As a countersignature, my desk does yield a transcendental view of Madison Square Park and the full Venetian ziggurat of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Tower, built in 1909 and the tallest building in the world for four years.

Print Friendly

3 Responses to “Office Spaced”

  1.   » History is a Good Cheap Sublet Campus Whits said:

    […] opportunity has proven ripe to act like a desperate know-it-all dumbass.  In the L/T law office where Campus Whits has labored, we have had some obnoxious cases.  In one instance, a friend of the landlord’s young […]

  2.   E-Cig San Antonio said:

    “wow, awesome blog post.Thanks Again. Cool.”

  3.   Webster said:

    you’re actually a good webmaster. The website loading speed is amazing.
    It sort of feels that you are doing any distinctive trick.
    Furthermore, The contents are masterpiece. you’ve performed a wonderful activity on this matter!

    Feel free to surf to my blog Webster

Leave a Reply