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Neighbors

Downstairs from the Fortress of Employment, there's an office that's been a couple of different businesses now since Yours Truly started here 14 years ago.

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Downstairs from the Fortress of Employment, there's an office that's been a couple of different businesses now since Yours Truly started here 14 years ago. It was an architecture firm for a long, long time, but that moved. After that, some kind of tech outfit moved in for a while; redid the sturdy, workaday office so that the joint looked like it had been decorated by a methed-out kindergarten teacher, every wall a different primary color, every chair a different rainbow hue, a cheery red British phonebooth in the kitchen, and several of the windows featuring frosted films (say that three times fast) that, in turn, featured a bunch of "tion" words: invention, creation, innovation, and — our favorite — disruption, a word that has apparently gone from being an outcome to be avoided to some kinda wunderkind shorthand for upsetting the old fogeys' carefully built apple carts and introducing a little profitable anarchy into the economic situation. The Observer, try as we might to get our cobwebby old brain around things from what we could see through the door, never really got a handle on exactly what the Disruptors were doing down there in their Crayola womb that was clearly the product of somebody else's money. So, when they were themselves disrupted around a year after they moved in, we weren't too busted up about it. Such is the invisible hand of the free market. We did get a touch of that long, weird German word we can never quite remember how to spell, though, when we walked by one day to see that "Disruption" was the first word to be razorbladed off the glass. The Observer, a great lover of words since the days when disruption was something you dreaded happening to your telephone landline, has never been a fan of those Word of the Moment words, which get rolled around in cynical mouths for a while before being spewed out, used up as a wad of six-hour-chewed bubblegum. We were hoping they'd have a going-outta-bidness sale, so Yours Truly could stroll up and say: "Greetings, future dwellers! I'm from the steamboat company upstairs. How much for a desk chair?"

The new outfit in that space is another tech company. Something to do with texting or some damn thing. They've been there a while, but there rarely seems to be any body in residence. The previous tenant's vomit of primary colors has been swapped in and painted over with a more subdued and classy color scheme, the phone booth trucked back to Her Majesty's realm, the offices full of modern and lovely furniture, the walls featuring nice art, a perfect, glassed-in hive for busy bees poised to flit boldly into the 21st century, a space to put the flotsam-strewn and dingy hovel of our newsroom to shame. But where are the bees? There is the rare sighting of someone downstairs every once in a while, like a juvenile Bigfoot. But beyond that, all we see is just the lovely space, appointed, furnished, outfitted and ready, but rarely a human being to run or appreciate it other than a passerby.

The weird, expensive ghost ship of an office has cranked the curiosity of the tumbledown steamboat company upstairs to 11. They've got a website, but none of us can quite puzzle out what they're up to, even when it's spelled out in pixels. The possibility of it being some kind of Yakuza front company has been floated, but you'd think you'd see more heavily tattooed Japanese guys hanging around if that was the case, so that's probably out.

We shall soon know, however. In the elevator on Monday appeared a flyer, inviting "every employee of every business" in the Fortress of Employment to come tour the ghost ship, with promised food, drink and a tour. We suppose that includes us. These folks have obviously never seen how thoroughly reporters can abuse the word "free" when it comes to food and drink.

The Observer is both intrigued and somewhat worried about this Willy Wonka-esque development, Golden Ticket now in hand. While we're hoping for a line of dour Pacific Rim mobsters, what we believe we'll get instead is something altogether ordinary. And where's the fun in that? We may have to skip the tour, just to preserve one of the spots of mystery in our altogether explainable life. No sense knowing everything about everything.

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