Other than the Men’s toilet room, my desk is the furthest point in our office. Since I take full responsibility for the layout of my office, I am going to confess to you that I wanted my desk in the far back corner for a myriad of reasons.
- I would be the last person required to sign for packages,
- My desk is a “destination location.” Nobody walks by my desk on their way to something else,
- I walk by everybody else’s desk so that I can see what they are working on, and
- This is the perfect location for storytelling.
I’m not sure that “storytelling” is a consideration for most people when they are designing their architectural office, but for me it was a solid starting point. If I wasn’t trying to unfold “storytelling” as my topic for today, I would have made it number one on my list of architectural office design criteria. If I’m being completely honest, it’d probably be the number’s two, three and four reasons as well … except for office invasion, I’d probably still have that one somewhere on the list. I like to tell stories – most of which involve me looking silly. My predilections for telling stories works out okay if you have an outlet like I do … I don’t think you could have a website like Life of an Architect if you weren’t a talker.
The fact I said “talker” and not “writer” probably explains a lot regarding my grammar usage, doesn’t it?
This is our office – 1,600 square feet of “where the magic happens”, and by magic, I’m talking about my stories. If you refer to the diagram above, you can see where I sit … the blue area in the corner. As far as I am concerned, all of the remaining space in my office radiates out from this point. This is where
the coworkers my audience sits, waiting for me to regale them with whatever happens to pops into my head.
If you are going to sit in an open floor plan, you have to be prepared to deal with the nuances of people and their personalities. In my office, that means you
have get to listen to my stories – which have included such important topics such as why I think leprechauns are jerks, why tagging an architectural post with the keyword “duck confit” is a bad idea, or as was recently the case, a story about green bell peppers.
Even though I know you want to hear my thoughts on leprechauns, I will share with you the bell pepper story (you kind of need to be present to hear the Leprechaun story … it involves gesticulations).
When I was a child, I didn’t eat a lot of vegetables. My parents didn’t force them on us and as a result, there were considered “voluntary” … which means I didn’t eat any. Fast forward a long time and I’m now a recent college graduate and I am dating Michelle, the woman who would eventually become my wife. Michelle was a vegetarian and like most graduate students, she didn’t have a lot of expendable income. At the very beginning of our courtship, she offered to cook me dinner – a very nice offer, but one that gave me some concern since I didn’t really eat vegetables. Since my wife is extremely attractive and has genius level intellect, I concluded that despite the confusion I had eating a meal that didn’t include any meat, I would willingly eat a vegetarian meal.
This was a simple meal – quite lovely in its presentation. It consisted of beautiful green bell peppers that had been stuffed with made from scratch Mexican rice (the kind that requires you to toast the rice) and then baked. I was around 25-years-old at this time and my only life experience with green bell peppers up until this point was a dish that my mother used to make where she would take ground beef, form it into a ball, stick into a green bell pepper that had been cut in half, salt and pepper to taste, and then bake at 350° until done. As children, we would carry our plates over to the meat-stuffed bell peppers, stab the meatball within the bell pepper, lift it out of this now soggy-with-meat-grease bell pepper … then eat the meat.
So here I am sitting with my future wife, about to eat the meal she had painstakingly made for me. She placed two large bell peppers full of rice on my plate, and one on her plate.
Did I mention that I don’t like Mexican rice? Doesn’t matter, I am going to eat it.
So, it’s 20 minutes later and I’ve eaten all the Mexican rice that was baked inside these green bell peppers, I told my beautiful future wife “Thank you, that was delicious.” She looked at me and said:
Michelle: You hated it.
Bob: No, I didn’t. I loved it. See? (pointing at the empty bell peppers) I ate every single piece of Mexican rice from both of these bell peppers.
Michelle: You didn’t eat the bell peppers.
Bob: [pointing at the empty bell peppers] You’re supposed to eat those?
Can you believe that I was 25-years-old and that I didn’t know you were supposed to eat the bell peppers?!? I thought they were simply there to act as a vessel to keep the rice from sliding around on your plate.
She married me anyway.
I know that I talk a lot and that people would probably get more work done if I didn’t tell some random story
five times once a day. But this is part of the culture that exists in my office and I really like it … I just hope my captive audience feels the same way.
Remind me to tell you my asparagus story sometime … it’s ah-mazing.