Thursday, April 22, 2010

What I See Through The Smoke


It's been over three months since I posted something here. Sorry about that!

It's not that I didn't have anything worth writing about. There's always something interesting happening at Marketing Messages, and the people I work with are fascinating and extremely talented. It's just that I was unable to get at what I wanted to say in a concise manner that would do the subjects justice. For instance, I began a piece concerning regional pronunciation, but the more I wrote, the more I found that I wanted to dig deeper in order to give it a treatment of which I could be proud. And as I continued in that direction, it became more unwieldy than I preferred. Likewise, I'd like to walk you through the entire process of making a Messages-On-Hold production, from the time a client contacts us until our final delivery, but I don't want to bog you down with minutiae of real interest only to someone within my profession. It's a matter of finding the right balance of fact and observation without becoming pedantic. I promise I'll publish them both, in future, but I don't want to put them out here until they're the best I can give you.

In the meantime, in order to keep this space from being completely dormant, here's something a bit lighter. It's a collection of photos taken outside of our building, with commentary. First, though, a small explanation concerning its genesis, as well as the title of this post.

Some of you are aware of the fact that I'm a smoker. No need to upbraid me about it; I know I'm an idiot, and I hope I'll quit before it kills me. The important point here is that smoking is discouraged indoors. And I have no problem with that. I have no desire to pollute the work space of anyone else. As a consequence, when I feel the need to replenish my nicotine levels, I take a trip outside of the building. And, since I do so perhaps 5 times a day, I figured why not make use of that time in a semi-constructive manner? So, I brought along a camera on a few of the trips outdoors. Here are the results.



This is our building, as seen from the parking lot out front. I've always thought it had an interesting look, especially for someone, such as myself, raised in an Irish Catholic neighborhood of Boston. The style of brick used in our building is immediately recognizable to any attendee of a parochial school in one of the city's neighborhoods. Most Catholic schools in and around Boston used much the same material. On occasion, when giving someone of my approximate age and background directions to our place, my final instruction has been to look for the building resembling a school. And they've always found the place, so...




A couple of different views of the building, showing more of the style of construction (as well as Roddy The Wondercar!)




A view of Winchester Street from the front door.




On the left side of the building is this loading dock. It is unused, as neither we nor any of our neighboring businesses take deliveries of such bulk that it would be needed. It is, however, a lovely spot to sit in when the sun is shining. Thus, it is my own personal outdoor smoking lounge. So far as I know, I'm the only person who makes any use of it.

I've always had a love of old industrial spaces such as these. I think it goes back to my childhood, when the Bakers Chocolate factory was located on the banks of the Neponset River only a few blocks from my home. They moved when I was 4 or 5, and the factory became a place for us kids to explore and play in. The loading dock there was similarly a quiet place to sit in the sun sorting out the thoughts of the day.




A picnic table adjacent to the loading dock. See the odd angle of the eating surface? Kids with skateboards will sometimes come to our parking lot, after hours, and turn the table into an impromptu ramp, lining it up with the loading dock. It would be nice of them to return the table to its original level condition after they finish with it, as it appears otherwise relatively unharmed by their activities, but they don't.




To my right, as I sit at the loading dock, soaking in the sun and sucking in the smoke, is this barn-like structure. Inside are huge pieces of heavy machinery, steam engines and such. The fellow who owns them is a collector, and he occasionally comes by to tinker with his treasures. He invited me in for a look one time. Fascinating stuff, relics from the early part of the previous century. He belongs to an organization of such collectors, and he will sometimes display the machines at their meetings. How he gets the things there, I have no idea. They are massive metallic beasts, much larger than the truck in this photo.




The MBTA (Boston's public transit system) has train tracks behind our building. It is a section of the Riverside branch of their Green Line.




Streetcars go by every ten minutes or so, which makes for a pleasant diversion.




And, when I've finished my smoke, I go back inside. Those of you familiar with my alter ego may wonder if the "small dog" sign refers to me. No, it doesn't. I'm the BIG dog. The small dog (dogs, actually) are owned by my boss, Richard Snider (and, by the way, if you want to see some good photography, you should visit his site. My efforts are tragic when compared to his.) Anyway, the dogs visit the office every few weeks, and we don't want any human visitors surprised by their presence, thus the friendly warning sign.

Oh! I suppose I should explain the photo at the top of this piece. As I sit at the loading dock having a cigarette, the view is of a pleasantly green ancient graveyard. It is closed for business, nobody fresh having been planted there for perhaps a century. It's a jolly sight to ponder as one is ingesting carcinogens, though.

See you soon!

33 comments:

  1. A lovely collage of photos! I enjoy seeing the sites of your workplace, and I can only imagine (with you being a transportation buff) that seeing those streetcars passing by every now and then makes working there a pleasure.

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  2. Nice tour. Workspaces have always fascinated me, work itself much less so.

    As your friend I'm compelled to give you a warning, Jim. You know I quit the ciggies three years ago and only gave them up reluctantly... coz I loved the filthy habit. I'd still be smoking the damned things if it weren't for the Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD), which is (a) incurable and (b) makes all nearly all physical activity next to impossible, even with the prescribed drugs. I'll quit while I'm ahead... you should, too. Shorter: I'll leave it at that.

    Sorry.

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  3. This is a very nice view of your workplace. And yes, you should put out the cancer sticks and chew gum instead. Yeah, I know you're aware but I feel the need to tell you anyway. The loss of your quick wit and significant storytelling skill would be a severe blow to the rest of us left behind.

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  4. Maybe I'm weird (or just nosy), but I love seeing what other people see in their daily lives. Cool post!

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  5. I like the cemetary pic. I wonder how many classic epitaphs can be found.

    Maybe another post for another day?

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  6. so how often do you board back there? smiles.

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  7. I went online and listened to the music your company offers. The Latest New Releases. Hypertension and Move On In are my favorites. You have a fun job. The house we rent is on a cul-de-sac and right behind is a wonderful cemetery. It is so quiet here, that is why we wanted to rent this place.

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  8. Far be it from me to criticize you for your smoking habits! Got my own demon -or monkey on my back -with the darned things too so that would be really hypocritical for me to crack on you then, wouldn't it?
    That was quite a nice, interesting tour of the hot spots around your workplace though and the picture of the ancient graveyard, really a nice touch too.
    There has to be some correlation though of the little dog in the cup to writing but what it might be is totally beyond my brain today!

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  9. I just noticed that the 'button' for this page at the bottom of my computer screen isn't quite big enough to display the full name of this blog, so it abbreviates it to 'The Talkback Butt. . ."

    Which is simply hilarious on so many, many levels. . .

    ;)

    And, uh, thanks for the tour; it was fun. . .

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  10. Thanks for the tour.

    I love seeing where you are employed and the views whilst you inhale shit that will clog your veins and lungs and leave YOUR WIFE without anyone to take on blind dates.... GAH I am a whiny bitch but us who no longer smoke are the worst ..

    shutting up now.

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  11. Nice place! I'd take pictures of my work, but I work out of the house, and the place could use some straightening out... and I'm not feeling quite that energetic right now.

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  12. Having lost a very dear male friend in his late forties to throat cancer, I join Buck in his entreaty.

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  13. Oh! It all looks so familiar...wonder why ;)

    I used to use that loading dock too..so perfect on a warm summer day.

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  14. very industrial - I was a smoker years ago, and now my body is cancerous.you've heard it before.I think toxic pollutants got me however. Happy Earth Day and gald to see you at Talk back live hahah

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  15. The loading dock reminds me of my youth as well... my first job was sweeping a warehouse for .25 cents an hour! The pay wasn't great, but it sure helped with batting and throwing. It also introduced me to the interesting world of wine-os and rail-riders, which at age 11 was quite the eye-opener. (It's a good day for hyphens!)

    I have always enjoyed the serenity of graveyards. The older the better.

    Great photos!

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  16. Nice pictures. But please quit smoking! I like your writing and want to continue reading it for a long time to come. OK, end of my rant on the subject. Glad you work in a pleasant location.

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  17. The photo with the steps is an interesting, artistic design all by itself - well spotted!

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  18. This was fascinating! Love the history about the bricks...architectural facts like that are so intriguing...And actually, you had me smiling and laughing as I read about the picnic table and the cemetary...your workplace looks like a great one! I can imagine that you all have a lot of fun together!! And, my friend, I must say...that whatever you write is always both informative and entertaining...I'm sure the other two posts will be terrific! ~Janine

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  19. Any work place that allows dogs in is obviously a good place to be, I should know - my little Bessie Boots (Border Collie) was a fully paid up member of staff at my office, sleeping under my desk until her lunch-time run on the common. Smoking. Pah. Easy to give up, I've done it hundreds of times..

    Great tour love, thanks for allowing us a peek!

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  20. What a fun post. It's like a Take Your Blogging Buddies To Work Break Day."

    I'm fighting my instincts to not comment on the smoking part. It's a struggle.

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  21. Nice tour. I love seeing where people actually live instead of just having to imagine. The building really does look like a school!

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  22. Another little bit of the puzzle slips into place...not being stalker-like or anything but I do like to imagine blogger's surroundings.

    I'll try and stop if you do...I think!!!!

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  23. Smoking, I mean...not stalker-like behaviour which I am not doing anyway.I think.

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  24. I would offer hints on quitting smoking, but it took me over... well, it took like forever, so I'm a poor example. Besides it is less than two years since I quit so it remains to be seen if it will last.

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  25. Very nice tour and commentary!

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  26. i'm strange and the space i'd most like to explore is the cemetery. thanks for the little tour.:)

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  27. So this is where it all happens in your work day, huh? Well, except that cemetery :).

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  28. I like seeing pics of where people work. (reminds me of the Office) I am super nerdy and think it would be fun if we all posted pics of our workplaces.... sorry, I know. That is one of those thoughts I should just keep INSIDE my head. =)

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  29. Love the pictures.

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  30. Love the photos of the 'hood. I never knew what the barn was for. I wish you had included the purple day care, tedeschis with a cop car in the lot, and the empty for more than a year tweeter. I did see that you got the roof of the Sunoco, tho.

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  31. Thanks for the peak into your work surroundings Jim. Liked the title: "What I see through the smoke". As smokers ourselves you won't get any flack from us.

    Growing up in NYC and attending Catholic Schools for 12 years I can sooooo relate to those bricks.

    ~Ruth~

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  32. You've professionally nicotine-stained the old loading dock. I expect the hungriest people sit at the lower end of the picnic table?

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