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Work Space: the Final Frontier

June 05, 2005|DAVID WOLLOCK

Whether or not you read "Dilbert," the word "office" conjures up cubicle labyrinths, fluorescent lighting, blaring phones, bosses from hell, water-cooler banter and pencil-stealing drones. Some of us avoid this by calling ourselves writers and spending our day in cafes. Others clock in at theOffice, a communal work space in Santa Monica where, for $5.95 per hour, scribes, students and telecommuters can rent a desk and an Internet portal. We interrupted the daily grind for some office chitchat.

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Jason Mercer

Writer

Venice

What are you working on here?

The next great American horror movie. I make a living in advertising.

Why are you here today?

My girlfriend moved back from New York. She's going to cooking school, so she's around the house all day.

Why not go to a cafe?

Cafes are noisy. Here you let everything go to voicemail. If we could just get rid of the Internet, we could actually get something done.

Have you worked in a real office?

I used to be in investment banking. We had elaborate schemes to get out of work. We'd leave clothes so people would think we were still there.

Have you ever had a boss from hell?

A boss in banking used to be a linebacker. He wanted us to run tackling drills in the office. He would say, "You gotta know how to take a hit."

Do you dress differently here?

Green shoes. It's key.

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Anne Niven

Magazine editor

Point Arena, Calif.

Why are you working here today?

We're on vacation. A director at the New Zealand consulate said to get our immigration application in today.

You want to move to New Zealand?

Yep. I said, "I'm between hotels." He said, "I know this place . . . . "

Have you had a boss from hell?

I could be the boss from hell.

What kind of magazine do you edit?

I have three: newWitch, SageWoman and PanGaia. They're pagan, New Age titles.

Do you have a regular office?

We have a virtual office. I have editors and writers all over.

Give us a good office gossip story.

The husband of a woman working for us ran off with someone else working for us. This other [employee] said, "Hire my son." We said no, so he quit too!

Were people talking about it?

Well, yeah! It was pretty incestuous!

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Kate Gersten

Actress and writer

Beverly Hills

What are you working on today?

I'm writing a screenplay. It's a love story between an immigrant and kind of a Park Avenue princess.

Are you from Los Angeles?

I'm from New York. I've been in L.A. for six months.

Is this space like a real office?

I don't know. I never worked in a real office. I've visited my mom at work.

What about all the screenwriters?

People strive to be creative here. I don't know why anyone would live here if they weren't in the business.

Any water-cooler moments here?

Maybe when I look at the trades and someone else is too, and we sort of acknowledge each other.

Is there a type of writer you hate?

I hate it when people type loudly.

What's an office stereotype?

People look at cubicles like they're wasting their lives in the dark. Some people in cubicles would beg to differ, but I just can't imagine.

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Stephen Schwartz

Retired attorney

New York City

What are you working on today?

I'm writing letters. I'm stopping in L.A. en route out of the country.

How did you find out about it?

By accident. I'm staying with friends nearby.

What do you think your "co-workers" are working on here?

Everyone seems to be writing scripts, writing reports. I'm sending e-mail.

Is it funny to you that people are all tapping out screenplays?

No. The whole country's trying to write the great American screenplay.

Any water-cooler moments here?

I've noticed very little interaction. Dull as toast. Frankly, that's what people are looking for: a nice, dull, quiet place to work.

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