Have you ever worked in an office without windows? I don’t know how common it is. I lay down to write this with the thought in my head that I’d never worked in a windowless office before this week, but I’m realizing now that I have, when I worked in the basement financial services office during college. I called it the dungeon, though I don’t remember if I coined that. It might’ve been D or V. A basement office can’t be expected to have windows—an excuse which doesn’t absolve so much as further implicate the institution. In a totalizing digression from my original diaristic agenda, I’ll explain:
In a windowless office, there are no windows because there is no need for windows. The corporation didn’t think to put windows into the new building, or, when it was renovating the old one, it didn’t think much about covering them up to fit more cubicles. It was a bottom-line, productivity-driven non-decision that reduced all of the employees to numbers. There could have been windows, and perhaps one day there will be, it’s just that windows don’t make business sense right now, sorry. A windowless office is a depressing but ultimately morally neutral reminder of corporations’ indifference and inhumanly dissociative neglect of humanity.
A basement (I keep accidentally typing ‘dungeon’) office, however, is necessarily and therefor willfully windowless. A basement is not a floor with covered up or unplanned windows—it’s a floor which cannot and could never have windows. And if it did somehow get windows, they would only provide views of inorganics and death. A department is not assigned to a basement office so much as sent and dragged down into it to pay penance for … something, anything, nothing. Where a windowless office is filled despite workers’ humanity, a basement office is filled because of workers’ humanity, and to the same exploit will their limbs be tuned on the rack. In almost all matters, it is a greater feat to dig than to stack; a basement office is a sadistic, horrifying reminder of a pervasive cold, wet, and psychopathic intention.
A conclusive illustration:
Pretend you are a child who has just discovered a pond in a nearby park. It is teeming with wildlife unlike anything you’ve found in your backyard. In particular, you like the frogs, and you’d like to collect them in all their funny shapes and varied mottles. So you run home, grab an old plastic margarine tub, bring it back to the pond, and capture a frog or two in it before taking it home. The next day, you do the same, this time with an old cottage cheese container. Your excitement peaks, and you continue to do this until you’ve run out of makeshift terrariums. But your mom doesn’t want you having animals in the house, so you’ve hidden these in your closet, and because your closet isn’t so big, you’ve stacked them upon one another. After a day or so, your room starts to stink, which leads your mom to the frogs. It turns out, in your excitement, you didn’t think to poke holes for air and now they’re all dead. It’s okay—you’re a kid, you didn’t mean any harm.
Now pretend you are a child who has just made that same pond discovery, and are equally excited about it, but instead of just capturing and inadvertently sealing frogs in air-tight containers, you first get your mom’s sledgehammer and smash through the floorboards of your closet and into the concrete foundation beneath the house just so you can throw a few of them fuckers into the dark and lifeless abyss before carefully sealing the floor back up and then stacking the rest of the frogs in their containers directly on top of their friends while their faint, desperate ribbits are absorbed by the temperate stone which entombs them.