Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Musical Chairs

The music has stopped in the Office of Athletic Communications, and almost nobody is left in the same spot as before.

This has been a busy, and somewhat confusing, week in the OAC. 

When last we left Diana Chamorro, she was jumping off the top of the 10-meter platform one day and moving back to California the next. When she left Princeton, it opened up a prime work station in Room 9 of Jadwin, and that's when the musical chairs began.

Now, a short time later, four people have different places to sit, and Diana's replacement will be sitting in a different place than Diana did, bringing to five the number of people who are relocated.

The complicated part was all the phones. 

The people from the telephone office came and changed everyone's number at once, even though nobody had actually moved yet. As a result, each person had to set the phone to forward calls, which works for incoming calls but not outgoing ones.

In that case, the phone display - or the email that says there was a missed call and this was the number - comes from the wrong person.

So Kristy McNeil is moving to wear Yariv Amir used to sit. And they both forwarded their calls so that they would ring back to their old desks, which is where they were still sitting. And that worked fine.

The problem came when they tried to make a call and the person didn't answer. The message told that person that the call came from the new work station, so anyone Yariv called who didn't answer got a message saying he or she had a missed call from Kristy McNeil.

It was all very confusing.

The biggest change to the OAC is the arrival of the first outsider that TigerBlog can remember sitting there. Director of Track Operations Mike Henderson has moved upstairs from C level, so he is now close to the track offices. And the field ones too.

Henderson actually started the carousel moving, and he now sits where Diana used to sit. When he was doing his work, TB walked up behind him and pointed out that he now has a window and a view of the outside, something he didn't have in his old space.

The OAC used to be completely self-contained within Room 9, even if there is an "8" over TB's door.

When TigerBlog first started working there, his desk was where Yariv just left and Kristy just moved in. Eventually, his desk moved to where Craig Sachson - who isn't moving - now sits. Since 2002, he's had the big office next to the mailroom.

TB still has the same desk and chair that were there when he moved into the office, which formerly belonged to Kurt Kehl. In fact, there are also two big black-and-white men's basketball pictures on one of the bookshelves that were there when it was Kurt's office.

That was 12 years ago, by the way.

Of course, the pictures are of Chris Marquardt and George Leftwich, two TigerBlog favorites, so he sees no reason to take them down.

TB also has these old faded-red upholstered chairs that were Kurt's. He got rid of a few of the a few years ago when he added the futon to the office, and in all the time since, he's probably sat on the futon less than five times. And he never sits in the red chairs.

When TB first started in the OAC, he looked out his window and could see a big green field, beyond which was Palmer Stadium, the old home of Princeton football and track and field. Palmer Stadium was a big horseshoe, and the open end faced Jadwin.

When it was built it 1914, that spot was chosen because it offered an unobstructed view of the lake. Of course, that view is now obscured by Weaver Track and Field Stadium, Jadwin Gym, Faculty Road and a bunch of trees that presumably hadn't been planted yet when the old stadium was built.

TigerBlog remembers when he first sat at his desk in the OAC and looked out at the stadium and thought about how cool it was that he found a job in a basketball arena that had a view of a football stadium.

What could be better? Now, all this time later, he still thinks it's cool. It's not a Fortune 500 office building, but it's still cool to look out the window and see a stadium.

When all the moving was going on around him, TigerBlog began to wonder how much time he's actually spent sitting in the OAC. He's coming up on 20 years as a Princeton employee and 25 that he's worked on the Princeton campus.

He's not sure where he would even begin to calculate it. Maybe he'd start with 40 hours a week and multiply that time 50 weeks a year and then multiply that by 20 years.

Doing that gets you to 40,000 hours. That's a long time.

Maybe it's less. Of course, the 40,000 doesn't count his time at the newspaper and the times that he'd be there for way more than 40 hours a week.

Those days are gone, of course. The OAC produces so much more content now than it did 20 years ago, but technology makes it easier to produce that content - and to produce it from places other than the office.

The modern workplace varies radically from the place that TB first came to work just 20 short years ago. It's because of that fact that it doesn't really matter if the track operations director is sitting in the OAC and OAC staff members are spread out a bit.

It's harder and harder these days to figure out when people are working and when if ever they're not. And where they do it from hardly matters at all.

Still, to TB, the little piece of real estate that sits between the mail room and what is now the office of men's basketball coach Mitch Henderson has been a big part of TB's life, and everywhere he looks he sees memories of people, games, funny moments, long hours of work and any number of other great memories. Even Mitch's office and the compliance office of Kelly Widener next to it are part of the OAC, or at least at one point were.

It's a cramped work space, and it's hardly cutting edge in design or furnishings.

But it's been a second home for TB for a long time, and he is very much at home there.

TB has been asked by a lot of young people about career choices, and he always says the same thing: You're going to be at your job for a long time, so you better find something you like to do.

That's been the case for TB ever since he started at Princeton.

He better like it, right? It's been 40,000 hours after all.

That's 40,000 hours, in a very, very special little place.

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