The Worst Building on the Campus

Some of my offices have had peculiar shapes: 6 feet wide and 30 feet long with a sloped ceiling (once part of an attic); 8 feet square and — if you peeked above the suspended ceiling — perhaps 50 feet high (a ventilation shaft).

I once had an office that was like that strange floor in Being John Malkovich — I had to duck to enter the door. I still have nightmares about one building that did not seem to have a single right angle; my office induced back pain, nausea, and existential dread. Working there was like being in a German Expressionist film from the 1920s. I was starring in the The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.

I once had an office — a cubicle really — in the physical-plant building of a major university. Gigantic machines rumbled all around me. My coffee mug sometimes vibrated off my desk. I used to pretend that I was an oiler in the engine room of the Lusitania. The room was well below ground level, and, during the rainy season, the entire floor would flood, sometimes to a depth of 18 inches. There were high water marks on the cinder-block walls from previous inundations. Mold ascended the fabric sides of my cubicle until, finally, it looked and smelled like a forest floor in the Pacific Northwest. –“Thomas H. Benton” —The Worst Building on the Campus (Chronicle)