Every open-plan office it has ever been my misfortune to work – or as often as not loaf – in has one of them. At least one. The blind puller. You know him, they are usually men, he who like an automaton lowers the blinds and turns the lights on the moment he gets in. And once he has got that blind down – it’s staying down until he leaves. He is frequently also the one who insists on opening the windows on the coldest of days “to let some fresh air in” just before he goes to lunch, closing them and carefully lowering the blinds again the moment he returns.
His twice-daily appearance on whatever pitiful corporate stage he is on begins with his familiar entrance of lights on, curtain down. His theatrics paradoxically playing out the opposite, almost as if to deny the existence, of what one would find in a Theatre of the Arts. An appropriate entrance then, for that theatre of the absurd otherwise known as the corporate office. Wherein the curtains stay down all through the performance, only being raised after the actors have left the stage.
One can comprehend a desire to work in a smoke-free atmosphere, but must the natural light of our Sun also be banished, to designated “shining areas” outside if not complete prohibition? Why would anybody choose to sit in a room without a view out of any window under artificial light all day? I don’t know how it is down under, but up here they will even blind over the North-facing windows. Why keep the blinds down on cloudy days or through thick fog? Is the sight of a foggy day outside too painfully close to what they experience on the insides of their heads? Could it be they imagine themselves in space-ships spinning around space? In a prison, perhaps, chained to a desk one loathes with a passion precariously short of postal?
Do they do it because secretly they resent – much as I openly do – having to go to work, and do not wish to look out of the window and risk seeing more fortunate souls enjoying the sunlight that to us office-workers is denied? Thus we spend our days in the gloomy rooms of the corporate House of Pain. Should we, then, fear such demented behaviour?
I once thought it was a manhood thing: Saying of the Law. A testicular gesture of superiority in compensation for a lack of seniority in the organization. A testosterone-fueled tribal display of potency; bearing witness at dawn to the erection of a gigantic phallus that blots out the Sun. The blind’s lowered position essentially representing am inverted penis which, to the guy whose hand holds it, is psychologically equivalent to spending his day in the office strutting balls-out with all the trimmings of a stallion in heat. Like the ancient Scots warriors of yore, instilling fear and commanding respect by painting their balls blue and raising their kilts en-masse to the enemy.
The modern day allegedly civilized office warrior asserts his masculinity through the medium of the lowered blind. An item of pseudo-communal furniture that he, and he alone, controls.
Then I thought that they were just kind of like vampires living in fear of exposure to the Sun. The CEOs and executives bilking the companies they work for are unarguably vampiric in their nature, so why wouldn’t some of their minions wish to emulate the bloodsucking ways of their masters? I toyed with the idea of taking in cloves of garlic and with them polluting the environment around the blind control if for nothing else other than to make the point. The notion, however, that corporations other than banks are controlled by vampires and staffed by reanimated corpses seems rather fanciful – in spite of all the mounting evidence supporting such a claim.
Then one day, on a cold dark Winter’s morning, this happened at night. It wasn’t quite the night-shift but I like to start my day early. I’d be in the office at 06:30, and being the kind of guy that considers workaholism to be a dangerous and debilitating form of mental illness I’d be out of there eight long-ass hours later. The DBA sitting two desks away also came in at that hour, and the blinds would be lowered immediately thereafter. I asked him what he was doing. Lowering the blinds, he told me. Yes I can see that but why, it’s nighttime. He reckoned that later on it would be daytime and then the Sun would come up and shine on him. He made it sound as part of some crack military operation whereby a pre-emptive lowering of the blinds will forestall the Sun’s flanking attack. And when will this attack happen I asked.
So the vampire theory was back to the fore and there you have it: The open-plan offices of the world’s Fortune 500 companies are populated, at least in part, by the living dead.
Do you have an irritating pain-in-the-ass blind-pulling pasty-faced daylight-avoiding asshole-motherfucker in your place of work? Are you mad as hell all day but too polite to not take it any more and intervene? Then use the form below and vent your spleen.