There’s a glare reflecting off the exposed HVAC system over my head. The trouble with converted industrial space is often unexpected since no one ever considered there would be a skylight cut into the ceiling. So as this wonderful late spring morning sun flares above, it reflects off the silvery exposed ductwork and right into my damn face. It’s very distracting, annoying, and all together dumb.
I have no idea what this industrial space was before being converted into the current business offices I am currently employed with. I like to imagine it was something important, maybe making buttons for WWII G.I. uniforms, or pewter soldiers for a child’s classic play set. Perhaps it was a Twinkie factory or maybe a glass company. It’s been so stripped down to the bare brick and wire and old coal chutes that it’s impossible to tell what it was.
I’m also aware of the irony of sitting in a cubicle in a space that might have been occupied by another worker tasked with some mundane chore like painting eyes on a doll a billion times a year. I imagine a long line of hollowed out men and women all standing or sitting in the very spot I now reside all sighing deeply with the yoke of “this job” hanging over their worried brows. It’s like that infinity picture when you hold a mirror in front of a mirror and it reflects back and forth and back and forth forever. A long line of discontented, dissatisfied, worker bees all lined up through history, griping about the sun glare.
It’s curious though, with the amount of light that now pours into this place from the skylights. I have to imagine that at one time, this place was very dark inside. Before the skylights it must have been a dark hole people went into for 6-8 hours a day as they tried to do better for their families or hot stripper wife. You remember the guy, the one with the wife that was way too hot for him and everybody couldn’t figure out how he got her to marry him. He kept her in the black with all the finer things in life, thanks to his soul crushing factory job, where my carpeted cubicle now sits. He toiled in the dark spaces of this building while she stayed home, thinking of the milk man.
I wonder about the thick layer of cigarette smoke that probably used to hang in the air in this old factory building. I bet at one time it was so thick you would need an industrial chainsaw to cut through it. It was a thing. The smoke probably got a paycheck. That makes me think of some stingy old industrialist guy, smoking a cigar, top hat wearing, black suit, standing over the dirty faces of his slavish employees, grinning as their efforts earned him more gold for his pockets. I can imagine him, watching the workers and then turning to some sycophant and saying, “These boys aren’t working hard enough, tell them they can’t leave until they produce 8000 more units, otherwise, they’re fired”.
“But sir, it’s Christmas,” one lean accountant would mutter.
“You’re fired,” the industrial fat cat would reply.
Yes, I bet this building I now work in has a pretty impressive personal history. I can’t help but think of the grimy faces of the workers here before me. It makes me wonder who’ll be here after me. And if they’ll have the sun shining in their stupid, worker bee, sucker faces.