There is an exhibition at a London art gallery that is full of photographs of writers’ rooms. But you are more interested in the rooms of GoobNet writers, so we decided we’d share with you.
Unfortunately, everyone refused to have pictures of their offices posted online. I was planning to sneak into their offices when they weren’t around and take pictures, but it seems everyone expected me to do that. They’ve all been locking their offices when they leave.
However, they have allowed me to take notes about their offices so that I may describe them in great detail.
The GoobNet SPEED’s work area is much larger, and much more luxurious, than it has any business being. There is a meeting room with a wood table surrounded by eight fake leather office chairs. This meeting room has windows along one side, which offer a wonderful view of the alley behind our building. One wall has a projection screen, and the projector is connected to a computer that is controlled by a wireless keyboard and mouse at the far end of the table.
Two other rooms are adjacent to the meeting room, both with lounge chairs, coffee tables, and stacks of newspapers and magazines leaning precariously against the wall. One has a kitchenette in the corner, and the other has a television set. When I visited, the television was showing Epic Conditions, but nobody was watching.
These three common rooms all flank the main work area of the GoobNet SPEED, which contains eight cubicles, including three spares. Wen’s cubicle is closest to the main entrance, and the cubicle across from her contains the printer and stacks of papers, some in binders, some not. The next two cubicles are Jhonny’s and another spare, which contains a number of reference books like dictionaries, atlases, and a few volumes of the 1994 edition of the World Book encyclopedia. The next two cubicles are Gaby’s and Nina’s, followed by Rich’s and one that is filled almost entirely with cardboard boxes, some folded up, others not.
Wen’s cubicle is done up in a sort of jade green. Green paper covers the corkboard walls, green streamers are stretched across the top, and nearly everything on her desk is green. Even her monitor frame is green.
As the most junior member of the GoobNet SPEED, Jhonny has a cubicle that is still somewhat sparse. A picture of Gabrielle, from Xena: Warrior Princess, is the only decoration on the wall. When I ask Jhonny why they need these reference books when their computers are all connected to the Internet, he replies, “We don’t. Did you notice what else is over there? The thick layer of dust on all those books?”
Gaby’s cubicle does not have any Xena paraphernalia. Instead the walls are covered with pictures of many different people, all with one thing in common: They are showing a middle finger to the camera. I ask Gaby about this, and she replies, “Yeah, I just go around and ask for pictures of people flipping off. You’d be surprised how eager people are to show a middle finger.”
Nina has a hinged plywood door blocking the top couple of feet of the entry into her cubicle. She claims that Rich doesn’t mind this alteration. Inside the cubicle, the desk surfaces are filled entirely with cardboard boxes, much like the spare next to her. I ask her what they contain. She points to one and says, “AC power adapters.” She points to another and says, “Transformers action figures.” She points to a third and says, “Twenty copies of A Million Little Pieces. You get the idea.”
Rich’s cubicle has a coffee cup filled with paper clips, a hole punch, empty binders, and various other office supplies. I ask him if he has anything personal in the office, and he starts to shake his head. But then he says, “Well, there is one thing I like.” He clicks something on his computer, and I hear a ticking clock. I stare at him, but he just holds his finger up, as though I am to wait. Eventually the ticking stops with three buzzer sounds. “It’s from Millionaire,” he says. “Phone a Friend.”
“What for?” I ask.
He says, “Well, whenever one of them comes here to ask me a question, I give myself thirty seconds. I think if a question can’t be answered in thirty seconds, they shouldn’t be asking me in the first place.”
Edvard, of course, is not here often, so his office is sparsely furnished, much like Jhonny’s cubicle. On the wall, in a frame, is an orange jersey with the number -1 on it. He says it is from his dynamite eating days, and he tells me that most of his memorabilia from the dynamite eating era is in his office at the museum in Utrecht. His desk has a number of blue folders on it. He says they all contain questions for his periodic Stump Edvard column. When I ask him what this month’s topic will be, he says, “I don’t know. It’s probably going to be something to do with the economy. A lot of people have been asking how low the Dow is going to go. I’m like, Who cares? If you lose your job, what difference does it make if the Dow is going up?”
At first I think that Reg’s office is smaller than the others’, but it turns out that he has what he calls an “inner office”, which contains another PC, a rolltop desk, and a cabinet full of baseballs. I mention that he doesn’t seem to be with the times, seeing as how rolltop desks haven’t been fashionable since 1874, and baseball hasn’t been fashionable since 1986. He insists that both rolltop desks and baseball will be coming back soon. “Besides,” he says, “baseball was fashionable in the late 1990s, during the McGwire-Sosa era. We were all too stupid to imagine that they weren’t juicing, but still, baseball was briefly fashionable in that period.”
Deb’s office has several posters on the wall: Austin Powers, Family Guy, Office Space, Arrested Development, and various other instant classic comedies. I ask her which poster is her favourite, and she points to a poster of a Rolling Stone cover with Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, which claims they are “America’s Anchors”. She says, “Well, Stephen’s supposed to be a pundit, but still, the point remains.”
I respond, “Have you noticed lately, Jon can always get a huge cheer from the crowd, just by mentioning the amount of time left in the Bush administration?”
“I still want to see him interview Bush,” she answers.
“Will never happen,” I say.
“Of course it will,” she says. “In a couple of years, the Bush era will just be a nightmare fading away into our national memory, and it will be safe for Bush to appear on The Daily Show. Or so he’ll think!”
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