Empty Offices

I love an empty office. After the cleaning crew has come and emptied all the wastebaskets and turned off all the lights. I love to sit at my (temporary) desk with just one light on. It feels like night. Windows are two rows away and it’s a snowy day. It’s so quiet; I can hear the printer hum. All I hear is my own typing. I like knowing that the people who are usually here aren’t. They’re in their homes, probably just getting up or having coffee. I like that nobody knows I’m here. 

I wonder if my love of empty offices comes from memories of my father taking me to his when I was a kid. He traveled a lot during the week and would often go to his office on weekends. I don’t remember who initiated my going, but I sure am glad it worked out. 

He had a corner office with huge floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking one of those man-made, office park lakes. He’d let me sit at his secretary’s desk and play with the phones, the intercoms, the rolodexes, the papers. The typewriter! How I loved the typewriter. I’d take that plastic canvas cover off, plug it in and neatly stack my paper next to it. I was an expert at using those little correction paper strips that were fancy-new-fangled at the time. I’d place a strip over the wrong letters and type them again and they’d disappear. It was magic. And the office supplies! Forget about it. Hours. I’m still like a kid in a candy shop at the mere mention of the office supply cabinet. 

I ran the halls, looking in everyone’s office, getting to know them. I touched their stuff, looked at their pictures, sat in their chairs, and imagined their lives. Knowing that they couldn't possibly have the wonderful life I did. 

And here I sit forty years later in an empty office. I still look in other people’s cubicles. I still open up the supply cabinet just to window shop. I still correct my typing, just in a very different way. It’s so quiet that I can hear the clock on the wall ticking with every second. I’m sure if I closed my eyes long enough, I could hear my father calling my name from his big, important office, telling me it’s time to go home.