Wednesday, June 28, 2006

My 'Orrible Orifice

I hate my office. Yes, my office, or 'orifice' as I'm starting to regard it - I hate it!

My lovely boss, Queen B, and I have to share an office that was, up until six months ago, the second floor ladies toilet within the heritage-listed building.

Here in Australia, anything that is 'heritage listed' is to be treated with reverence because, apart from some Aboriginal cave paintings that are 60,000 years old, we don't have anything older than 150 years in these parts. Hell, even my 10 year old station wagon is considered vintage. As such, the building I work in looks absolutely beautiful from the outside... but is a shocking mess on the inside - weird floor levels, poky servants' rooms, unnecessarily high ceilings, a widows' walk that's sealed up, kitchen only a doorway wide etc.

All this 19thC frippery-that-must-be-retained means that sensible things like decent office rooms, clean toilets, functioning kitchens and windows are not possible. Because our office was recently the girls 'Drops and Plops' room, the windows are five feet from the floor, thus preventing us from looking outside when we're sitting at our desks trying to remember our inter-library log ons.

Despite the lack of view, we do get regular sightings of Dean, the builder, who is regularly sanding, painting, blasting, washing or setting up scaffolding right outside Queen B's window. We get a hint that he's about to appear when we see a diet coke on the sill, followed by a fragrant puff of cigarette smoke and a burp. "Darren! Dazz, where the f**k are the rivets? No, not those you meat head, those ones, down there!" It's a darned shame he's not a looker because we are regularly treated to close-up views of his beer gut squished up against the glass when he's wrestling with the 'stupid f**ken gutters'.

The mens' toilet, however, is still on our floor and right next door. The room is tiled from floor to ceiling with only one cubicle and a wall-length metal trough/urinal. This means that it is perfectly equipped to provide the best acoustics: good enough to break through our walls and treat us to the sounds of, ahem, ablutions, grunts, farting and tuneless whistling. Just the stuff for accompanying our thorough proof-reading and editing efforts!

To make matters even more annoying, the heater conked out on Monday. This may not sound too dramatic for a climate as temperate as South Oz, but with record -1C overnight temperatures and only 10C daytime maximums, it was freezing. The entire building was out and we all spent the day walking up and down the stairs with our shoulders up around our ears, trying not to shiver uncontrollably. My hands were too numb to use the keyboard properly, so a lot of my emails that day started with: hoafduar hwoerue qoeirndx..... Probably made a bit more sense, and may explain the increase in xxx-rated spam I've been getting.

And yesterday, there was another nail in the coffin that is this 'orrible orifice' - an unidentified smell. No, it wasn't Dogadoo's now dried-up puddle from last week's visit, but it's a sort of lingering, dead-rat-under-the-stairs kind of smell that's probably been mercifully toned down a bit by the lack of heating. However, just five minutes ago I had some visitors up here, who, judging by their wrinkled noses and quizzical looks at me, could also smell it. Concern for my own reputation for acceptable hygiene overtook my professional maturity and I immediately blurted out with, "It's not me, I didn't pop off - it's starting ponging like this since yesterday - this office is haunted!" I'm not sure that they believed me, but the phrase 'orifice' is starting to become more and more appropriate.

I'd send an online request (as per their instructions) to campus maintenance to investigate the problem, but of course I can't. Why because our server is down, and the printer connections to our building have decided to take a flex day and leave for sunnier shores. Not being able to email, surf or print has unfortunately provided me with more time to fixate on the increasing odour and develop a strong urge to open Queen B's window and push Dean off the ladder.

Luckily for me (and Dean), I've just been summonsed to a morning tea - with chocolate cakes!

5 comments:

Deep Kick Girl said...

I know all about mysterious bad smells in offices. My sister and I (and occasional children) share the office/reception area at front/downstairs of our two storey office building (which was once a rather ugly house). Right above us is the "executive" bathroom (i.e. the loo in the "board" room - we have no board). Due to an ongoing, though long unidentified, plumbing problem whenever anyone used the upstairs loo we would be treated to a smell best described as Au De Sewerage (they don't call it "toilet water" for nothing). We more or less got used to it after numerous years but visitors would often look at us very curiously at these times.

Chestnut Mare said...

How Dreadful! & it's such a beautiful building on the outside!

Our office is also an old house, but only old enough to be a bit of a dive without any of the charm of something older.

Toilet sounds & smells are a constant distraction for us too. We have a lot of truck drivers visit us & they seem to have trouble aiming at the INSIDE of the toilet bowl. All this appears to be a common phenomenum......

durante vita said...

Sorry about your office. At least there is history there, even if it is that it used to be a restroom.

All my office has is asbestos.

The Artist said...

Do hope you get the smell problem sorted, and all is warm again. But even with the draw back heritage listed sounds `good' from the new and shiney Gold Coast. Do you have air conditioning for summer? with best wishes, The Artist

SCHMaNiCa said...

I CAN TOTALLY RELATE TO YOU ABOUT AN "ORRIBLE OFFICE" I HAVE ONE WINDOW IN MINE ABOUT AS BIG AS A TEA-TOWEL AND IT'S WAY UP NEAR THE CEILING. IT HAS A WHOLE WALL OF SHELVES THAT HAVE BEEN "CREATIVELY POSITIONED" TOGETHER, AS THESE SHELVES ARE MADE OF OLD BOOKCASES AND RANDOM PLANKS OF WOOD. THE ANCIENT HEATER HAS BEEN DEAD FOR SOME YEARS NOW AND IT'S LIKE A FRIDGE IN HERE. THE COMPUTERS ARE OLD AND SLOW AND THE PHOTOCOPIER LOOKS LIKE A TIME TRAVEL MACHINE...
ANYWAY...LOL
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