After hours

After hours
As the sun rises on Office Block 060, the central walks of the corridor sit empty and quiet. For all the romantic hues and soft sensations of morning that perfume and permeate the outer realms, 060 is just as clean and fresh as ever. This cleanliness is, according to a majority vote, most noticeable at sunrise as, exactly an hour before the night fades from the sky, the air conditioning units slowly hum into action. These units, a industry standard, keep unwanted sensations away from busy producers but, most importantly, offer a buzzing, background noise of vitality that is felt to be necessary in any office environment. The problem however is that as these units stir into activity, this sudden noise detracts from the peaceful asylum of 060. And even though there are most probably no people in the building at sun rise, it seems to make a clear cut division in the day, between very little sensation and none at all. Thankfully this is not a problem that the co-habitants of 060 ever have to face as by the time even the earliest of producers have key-carded themselves into their offices (some as early as 7:00, the latest polls show!), the melodies of the air-cons are so consistent, that it would seem foolish to even question whether they stayed on all day and all night. It is these units that give 060 the distinctive sensation that has come to be associated with the ********* Company and all respective contingents. This sensation however is not notable for its particular aroma, if you will, but rather its lack of such a thing. In fact when a small conglomerate of bright minds were brought in to help decide how to define the smell of 060, one word prevailed. This word, as chosen by a group of random testers, unnerved the upper staff of 060 as to whether they should be pleased or insulted. The word was absence.
At 7 am, the first inklings of life appear in 060. They do not come in droves but rather trickle through, always the same people who arrive just that bit earlier, some with extra work to do, or with a magazine tucked discreetly under their arm. The automatic doors shudder open and close leisurely, accommodating a fraction of what they will later in the day. The early producers make light conversation among one another before disappearing into their offices, only to reappear when the working day has ended.
The Electric Doors are now chomping and gnashing, feeding workers into the building one at a time with precise indifference. The doors move like a gauntlet, allowing a single worker through then pausing for the briefest respite of a half second. They fly open once more as another taps his key-card to the panel, stepping through and joining the migrating masses towards their offices. The 7:45 rush has hit and 060 is now filling like a balloon under a tap. The official working day accelerates to a start with a whirl of hydraulics and shoes on carpet. The producers walk their own respective paths, inhaling the morning adrenaline shot of vitality and teamwork. They stop, they talk, they promise to catch up later, then continue on once more. They hang their coats on the stylish hooks of their office walls and prepare themselves to sit. They check for new papers on their desks, updates or messages. Some roll up their sleeves. Some kick off their shoes, quietly under the desk. A co-worker walks by on the way to his office but pauses for a moment to share the final anecdote of the morning. The co-worker leaves and they sit down in their chairs, fingers stretched. Good morning 060.
By 8:30, the gentle rhythms of the building have nestled into the collective subconscious. The train is running at full capacity, pounding a driving path down the walkways, past the offices and the workers. The seemingly unimportant sound effects of the working day all of a sudden take on epic importance. The single personal-clock beeps in rebellious harmony with the scattered clickings of so many mouses that mingle with the pounding rhythm of a single stapler, piercing a file. Beep-Click-Click-Click-Beep-Beep-Crsh-Crsh-Click-Beep. Thus the symphony of 060 is born, an ever-changing, ever-growing being that sighs and exhales cool, odourless breaths that swirl around the atmosphere of the building like fog on a mountain top. This symphony seems to serenade the building, the workers, the air-cons and makes what would otherwise be mindless noises into a force of nature. No words are spoken. In fact, to this day, no one has ever actually noticed this most enduring of melodies. Perhaps it is because no one worker can equal the song, that they are just bricks in some unseen wall. And if one person were ever to hear the song (and really hear it), that the thought that such a thing of beauty could exist, in the staplers and mouses of men, would be so unfathomable that they would be reduced to nothing but a pile of circuitry and bright sparks.
1am, lunch break and the inevitable whirr of the food-cars as they pass by, offloading their contents into the hands of hungry workers then disappearing to perform their duty elsewhere. A passing glance will notice on the user-friendly plastic shell of the module is emblazoned “Eat well, Work hard”. The workers seemed to have stop noticing it, too busy with their chilled pasta salads, that some days have tomato.
Time hums by at a working pace, not running or walking past the offices but rather strolling determinedly. The working day is on its last lap, the finish line is in sight but the distance between closing time and now is not yet small enough for it to be consequential. The workers of 060 go on relentlessly, not just yet watching their clocks till the day will be over. The offices in which they work are standard size, a cross between enclosed work areas and ancient ‘cubicles’. A 4×4 metre space, complete with desk unit, instant garbage disposal and other vital office amenities. These workspaces all come off the central walkways of which there are many, running like lines in some vast, ultra-efficient piece of equipment. The single barrier between the world outside is the automatic door, ready and willing to zip closed at the merest pressure of the fingers. A dimmer switch sits on the wall which can, with one turn, block the noise outside completely and with another, opens the floodgates of sound and music and random noises. Devoid of all distractions, all over the building, people lean over and notice the time.
Chairs roll backward and forward then backwards again in the rush to complete something, anything, before the next few minutes click by. Fingers run on keyboards, making numbers and letters on white-as-snow desktops. Pages jump in and out of files, organizing, checking, then reorganizing. The final work is completed with a collective sigh of satisfaction and countless automatic doors zip up. Shoes trample carpet and other shoes on the way out of the building. Chatter lights the walkways, under the friendly glow of the halogen spots. The air-cons look on, disinterested. Their quitting time is still a long time away. The workers continue to talk as they walk, as they pack their things, as they key card their way in to the Electric Doors. The pounding noise of the doors comes not with an air of early morning yawns but with frenzied excitement. For the workers of 060, sunlight is just metres away.
The next few hours pass in a tedious acceleration. There are few people left in the building, but there are still some and they are busy. An occasional smattering of keyboard taps or chair rolls break the peaceful atmosphere. Work is finished. The last worker crawls from the building at 9:45 pm, home to a cold bed or a warm spouse. It is 10:00pm and the air cons suddenly and impressively, stop. On their own the lights go out, doors die, from something comes nothing. No noise comes from the air-cons as silence permeates the straight walkways and the identical offices. 060 lies down and readies itself for a night of peace. Stars twinkle outside. Things persist.

After hours

Jamie Fraser

Joined November 2007

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Artist's Description

A short story

Artwork Comments

  • pijinlane
  • Nathalie 2day
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