Workplace Etiquette: The Trailer Office

I’ve been relocated at work from the grimy old cubicle I used to occupy on the second floor of our building out to a trailer. They’re finishing up our office building renovation, and accommodating all the personnel that had to move meant that my group ended up in the Trailer Office.

Grimy old cube. That I actually miss.

Grimy old cube. That I actually miss.

The Trailer Office is really two trailers, mashed together. In what seems to me an entirely illogical decision, management set the trailers up with the front of the second trailer facing the back of the first trailer. The two trailers are identical, though, so this particular placement means that the only windows in the back trailer are only about a foot from the front trailer and let in almost no light. The “front doors” of the back trailer have been marked off with caution tape and a sign from some clever previous occupant about Platform Nine and Three Quarters. (Except unlike Platform Nine and Three Quarters, these doors actually go nowhere and are in no way enchanting or magical.) Communicating doorways were engineered between the two trailers to either side of the back trailer’s actual doors.

005The trailer is filled with cubicles that look a lot like the one I left behind, except older. They are missing parts and the inimitable “cubicle cloth” is fraying and trailing threads in certain places. Drawers don’t stay open because (although I’m sure they tried their very hardest and best) the floor isn’t level. And as my group got stuck in the back trailer, there is no natural light.

Also, the trailer has no running water and no bathroom. Management rented two “deluxe” port-a-potties (an oxymoron if ever I’ve written one), one for men and one for women. They’re considered deluxe because they have sinks and “flushing” toilets. When the port-a-potties get pumped out, the trailer fills with the smell of sulfur and excrement. Supposedly the pump-out is supposed to happen on weekends but the last time it was a Monday morning.

I’m told that mice are a problem out here. Spiders also randomly drop into our cubicles. When it rains really hard, the rain drumming on the steel girder that sits between the two trailers is quite loud – and if it rains very hard for enough time, the water pooling on the steel girder starts to leak in through the Doors to Nowhere.

I knew that working in the trailer was going to be absolutely terrible and had been dreading it since we were told we would be coming out here: no ability to wash your hands, unless you use the port-a-potty (you have to go outside to get there, and as long as you’re outside, I maintain it’s just as easy to walk into the building). I’ve stocked my desk with Wet Ones and Clorox wipes.

But far and away the worst thing of all about the trailer – which I was not anticipating — is the lack of white noise. And my coworkers (who, don’t get me wrong, are great people) are a talkative bunch, much of the time just to themselves as they think something through. One in particular recently had a nearly day-long self-monologue which ended with, “Okay, it’s time to go home.” They’re nice people. But their contribution to my difficulty focusing is driving me batty.

As another coworker said to me, “I have yet to find a way to be productive in this environment.”

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