Monday, April 8, 2013

a corridor is a terrible thing to waste

Don't you think so?  I do.

I just started work at a new client.  On the floor where I work is a long corridor.  And I mean long.  It would take me (or just about anyone) at least a minute to walk it end-to-end.  My desk is located in an open workspace just off one end of the corridor.  The restroom is nearby, but to reach the kitchen, which is home to the machine that dispenses coffee, tea, hot chocolate, tomato juice, etc., I have to walk the corridor for what seems like an eternity.  On my journey there and back, I usually cross a person or two, usually someone who I don't know or even recognize, and very often no words are exchanged, not even a "Bonjour".  Eye contact?  Rare.  This would all be considered normal, since you should only talk to people you know -- or so it seems.  Me?  I found this a bit awkward.

So I decided to inaugurate an operation called "Infinite Corridor", in reference to the corridor of the same name at MIT.  Basically, the idea is to interact with random passers-by.  No filtering -- as long as I pass you along the corridor, you are up for a surprise encounter.  Once I have approached 10 people (or groups of people) in the course of a day, I can stop and celebrate my achievement.  And this twice a week.  After getting over the fear of starting something new and especially doing something different, Operation Infinite Corridor is under way.  So far, I have started out with just saying "Bonjour" and have taken a certain delight to it.  I even have a mechanical counter to keep count.  How I love pushing the button on that thing!

I admit that I am a bit apprehensive about saying "Bonjour" to groups of more than two people, especially if they are engaged in cheerful banter.  But I expect to get over this in time.  In any case, I am looking for various ways to develop the interaction, especially if they will help to increase my comfort in social situations and potentially amuse people.  I have thought about saying something out of place, like "Hello", or even "Hi", without forgetting to smile.  Or perhaps something like "While open workspaces and meeting rooms get all the love, I am just trying to restore the glory of the corridor as a place where colleagues, familiar or not, can experience fun, even if for a moment, thus dispelling the absurd notion that work is just an inevitable chore designed to earn money."

At some point, I'll gain more clarity about why I am doing this and hopefully settle on an end goal to channel my efforts better.

If you have any ideas or comments on this, please share them below.  I would like to hear them!

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