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news and thoughts on and around the development of the iCite net
by Jay Fienberg

Day three in a big company: life on the 13th floor

posted: Aug 20, 2003 10:11:03 PM

This will conclude the formal coverage of my new job (see also day one and day two coverage). Regularly scheduled programming should resume following this post.

But, today was my first day in my cube with a view on the 13th floor, and, like all good 13th floors, the one I am on seems to be cursed. So, I thought this would be a good subject to close out this coverage—sweeps week and all.

First of all, I should mention that I never have spent a lot of time in high-rise buildings, and the whole concept of being totally enclosed up-high in a skyscraper isn't that appealing to me. So, when I figured out this job was going to be in a big building, that was a little freaky for me.

Maybe I saw Towering Inferno when I was too little a kid, but that is the kind of image that comes to mind when I think about big buildings. (And, hey, just found out that Towering Inferno was filmed in San Francisco!)

But, then when I figured out that my job would be on the 13th floor, I thought that had to be a truly ominous sign. But the really funny thing is that people in the company are also kind-of unenthusiastic about the 13th floor.

When I tell people what floor I am on, they try, but fail to be upbeat when they say, "oh, the 13th floor" and force a little extra latitude in their smiles. And, a lot of conversations on the 13th floor seem to begin with "let's go down to the 12th floor and talk about this more".

Yesterday, I was talking with some people who work on the 12th floor, which is really nice. And, they were talking about how the 13th floor almost looks deserted, but it is nice and quiet. They obviously were being nice and quiet about the general comparison people make between the 13th floor and a creepy haunted house.

So, this building I am in has more than twenty floors, and all of them have been refurbished and made bright and festive except the 13th floor. The 13th floor has dim lights, and these old gray cubicles—many of which are deserted and filled with ancient, er, business machines, I think they might best be called.

Now, I don't know the true nature of the curse, but everyone seems to know about it. So, I think this is like being in a movie where no one wants to tell you what the curse actually is and they just hope you won't get sucked into it—and I just have to find the right old geezer that everyone thinks is crazy and listen to what he says about it.

Well, actually I am exaggerating—er, you know, to get attention. I cleaned my cube this morning, enjoyed my view over San Francisco, am going to bring in some plants [and, shhh, keep it secret, some evil-spirit warding decorations from places that know how to deal with this stuff, like Bali and Haiti and Italy] and I think things will be fine. I mean, it is nice and quiet . . .

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