Sirens and Excrement

January 20th, 2011

Whenever you move to a different place you expect to encounter some things that take a bit of getting used to. Even more so when the place you move into is 104 years old and part of a building complex with residential and retail tenants.

We’ve been in our new digs about 20 days now and the box mountain has been whittled to a mole hill. The place ain’t pretty yet, but it is definitely habitable.

We are loving the locale and the space. And we’ve already had a lot of comedic moments and experiences that are creating new agency lore.

This was a before picture (soon the after photos), but you can see the floor is very old.

There’s the floor. It’s a beat-up-104-year-old-solid-wood floor that looks really cool, but is not level in any sense of the word. We knew that going in and our architect and furniture builder planned around it and created leveling systems because it’s historic and city code said we couldn’t do much with it. It does make rolling from space to space pretty easy if the route is downhill.

Then there was the flood. This was on day 3. Apparently some pipe broke in one of the lofts several floors above us (on a weekend) and it flooded that unit, the one below it, and the one below that, before it rained down on us. Luckily we were down there moving around stuff and caught it pretty early with trash cans everywhere or we would have had a major problem.

Then it was the heat. Five furnaces heat the place, but three gave up the fight one day THEN the one in the parking garage below us went out, so the floor temp was something like 42 and the air temp in the place was barely 60. The thermostats didn’t work. We couldn’t figure out how to regulate the system. (We’ve been keeping the service people in business.) Finally we’ve mastered the temperature system and got everything working smoothly¬† — sort of — a couple of the conference rooms were too hot today.

But there have been two subjects that have created the funniest experiences and most bizarre stories. The first is our new security system which we’ve managed to set off something like 14 times in 2 weeks.

We had an office tutorial, but like most things, hands on experience is a better teacher. We set it up to auto arm late at night in case it didn’t get armed by the last one out or by cleaning crews. What we didn’t realize was that if someone came in late at night to work, and disarmed it with their electronic fob, that the system would eventually automatically re-arm itself.¬† (The thing has motion detectors.) The first person to find out about the auto re-arming was a web designer who came in late at night to work on something. After an hour or so, he got up from his desk and all hell broke loose. After getting it shut down and dealing with the security company, his email (I was in a hotel in KC when I read it) said ‘I now know what the alarms sound like. I stood up from my desk and nearly crapped my pants.’¬† I was laughing so hard I nearly cried. His tweet was equally amusing.

A couple days later, a client crash and burn project meant a team needed to work into the wee hours. They set it off four times that night. Another night we set it off a few more times. So there’s been several late night/early morning calls to our cell phones from the security company. I doubt any of us will forget the secret code now that we’ve had to use it so many times. (I’m sure our neighbors in the lofts above us don’t like us too much right now.) We’ve re-done the alarm system to avoid that chaos in the future. Who knew? Our old space had total building security with cards and computer-controlled elevator access, so we never gave it much thought because everything was managed by full-time building staff. But in an older space, where you have to retro-fit stuff, it becomes more of a trick to get it just right.

Then there is the subject that is generating the biggest gross-out-factor, the biggest laughs and the most rank jokes around the place. Crap. Literally. Of the animal and human kind.

Turns out a lot of tenants in the lofts have dogs. And they take them out to do their business right in front of our space — in the lawn, in the parking lot and even on the sidewalk. And no one (or very few) picks up after their dogs. There are landmines everywhere. And come Spring, the smell is going to be pretty ripe.

We had pee (as evidenced by the yellow snow) right in front of our door today. And a turd about 10 feet from it. I love animals, as does most everyone in our office. I have several pets and I cry at those ASPCA commercials, but I can’t imagine NOT picking up after my pet. One, it’s the right thing to do. Two, it’s the law — by city ordinance you must clean up after your pet. We need to figure out a solution to this one before the thaw.

Of the human kind, you are wondering?

Well…during an internal meeting in one of our new conference room there was a nasty smell. People looked at one another and denied culpability. We brushed if off the first time thinking that, he who dealt it was just too embarrassed to fess up. After the third or fourth incidence, we started looking around the space. We had an architectural half ceiling created in that room when it was built to make it more cozy, and as we looked up into the loft space above it, we saw a pipe labeled ‘waste’. (Our contractors must have labeled all the pipes during construction.) We thought maybe it was leaking, but that wasn’t the problem. Finally after crawling around, we discovered the source. Turns out the bathrooms sit right next to this conference room, and their vents go nowhere. They just vent into the open loft space, with the pipes just laying loose on top the restroom roof. And because of the airflow in that area, it pushes the smells right into our conference space. Double gross! We inherited that problem. Apparently it’s been like that. Needless to say, we have HVAC people from HVAC Gatineau coming in to fix that problem. In the meantime, that room isn’t getting much use.

Despite all the craziness and odd things, we are enjoying the ride. And we’ll get it all resolved. Eventually. Our punch list of to dos is still long, but everyday we make major progress and hope to be photo and tour ready in a couple weeks.

P.S. Last night our entire email system crashed and it wasn’t until 4pm today that Matt was able to get it back online. I don’t think that had anything to do with the building, but between being e-mail free today (and feeling less stressed as a result) and getting a great welcome gift from Bliss, it was a good day. Bring on tomorrow!

One Comment