Roofs and Cigarettes

Roof Gardening
Now here’s something to think about: Today I saw a guy on the roof on the opposing part of the inner court yard. Being a curious kind of guy, and not easily phased, I spent some time figuring out how to get to a vantage point where I could see what he was doing. It took some time to bypass the usual security barriers. But finally, I got up the top floor of the western segment, the only place where it is possible to see the roof. To my astonishment, it was a gardener tending to colorful plants and exotic flowers growing in neat rows on the roof.

Now, it immediately sprung to mind that this somewhat of a complete waste of money. I mean, this is an investment bank not a centre for botanical experiments. But it was quite pretty to look at. Fascinating concept actually; extravagance that nobody can see. Well almost nobody. Hey and then it hit me: I must be on the floor where senior managers entertain themselves to tolerate another hard day at the office. But no! The only people able to view this wonderful garden was the workers’ council.

And there you have it. It all makes sense. What better group could there be to arrange a secret garden, than the group whose true function nobody has ever understood in the first place. Except maybe admin. But admin is too much under pressure, sitting in meetings to decide on the timetable for the carpet replacements on the 2nd floor, and deciding who should have the right to choose which external firm will be engaged to measure the distances between the desks and the wall for compliance with office space directives.

Please do smoke
I used to be puzzled by something. There is this strange group of middle aged zombies that I first noticed by the extreme smoking stench they would emanate whenever I happened to have the pleasure of sharing the elevator with these individuals. Fascinated by the frequency with which these people are seen in elevators going down for a smoke, I could not help but use a bit of basic probability theory to estimate the percentage time these people spend smoking instead of working.

Based on a short survey of my colleagues, I came to the rough estimate that they go on average about 3 times an hour for a cigarette break. Each cigarette takes 7 minutes to smoke. Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and say they pull like mad on their cigs, so that they finish within 6 minutes (which might explain their pale complexion). Travel time is about 3 minutes one-way (our elevators are kind of dumb). So we arrive at 18 minutes per hour. That’s 30%, folks. Not bad. Now, what puzzled me was that the company tolerated this. A mystery in today’s age of downsizing and redundancies.

Now here is where I think the company is being extremely clever: Firing these people costs money. So what could be an alternative? Right! Let ’em smoke. That works. Of this group of 5 cigarette junkies, two have already died this year. Even better: This has apparently not phrazzled the survivors: They are still a permanent establishment at the building entrance.

Bringing it all together (brought to you by Rheumatismo …don’t ask)
Suggestions for the future: The Bank sets up a dispenser at the entrace. You swipe your card and if you’re not welcome anymore, you get a free cigarette. Filterless. As often as you like. Russian ones. Right next to the smoking area, a parking-bay is installed, slightly longer than your average parking-bay, leaving behind to the passer-by a slight puzzling and worrying impression. Written on the pavement: “Hearse”. And now the roof gardener also makes sense. The roof is converted to a cemetery and the gardener grows tobacco there for its future inhabitants.

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