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!