Friday, December 19, 2008

Up or Down? (Or miniscule minutiae about an office building)

I do temp and contract work around town and every office is a new and alien environment, while at the same time they are all very much the same in some form or fashion.

But I have to say that some things at my current gig threw me for a loop.

I once worked at a place where the toilets flushed automatically. And everyone who worked there remarked on how spoiled we all were--when we went to other public buildings, we kinda expected this task to be done for us, forgetting that we were not at the office.

Well, where I am now, not only do the toilets not flush--they expect you to make a decision about HOW to flush them. Bathroom visitors are instructed to lift the handle up for a "light load" or push it down for something a little more cumbersome. This was set up to save water.

But the soap and the water shoot out automatically, so at least that is done for you. Although, if the soap dispenser's motion sensor discovers your presence as you run your hands under the water, it will shoot soap at you just as you are trying to rinse it off.

The other systematic surprise for me in this building was the elevators. Traditionally, you can run to an elevator that is almost closing and make it in, especially if someone is kind enough to hold it for you.

But in this oh-so-smart building, that wouldn't matter. Why not? Because you have to press the buttons for the floor that is your destination on a numbered keypad (each floor does not have its own button) while you are outside of the elevator and wait for the electronic gizmo to tell you which elevator will take you there. (For a while, I couldn't figure out just how people knew which elevator would open, but then I saw the flashing lights telling me to take elevator A or B or C.)

As I'm writing this, I am thinking that smart buildings actually require a lot of thought on the part of the user. Not that I'm complaining, though. Enough of already sleepwalk through life as it is.


Sharon said...

I encountered these types of elevators on a recent visit to D.C. What sheltered lives some of us live.

Katia said...

Wow! :-)