Scenes from a Hallway

The Setting

The interior of  an old, crumbling federal government building – not old enough to be a heritage building – just old enough to be falling apart; old enough that no one wants to spend any money on it. In fact, it has been awaiting demolition seemingly forever, but there is no place to shunt the hundreds of people that flock to this building every day.

While no big money is being spent on this near-ruin, a great deal of little money must be  spent on it regularly to keep it habitable.

The band-aiding is ongoing. Office workers intermingle daily with maintenance staff, electricians, carpenters, painters, plumbers, floor guys, ceiling guys, wall and window guys and a variety of duct tape experts.

Scene I

As the scene opens,  a melancholy, not-insubstantial Work Man is on his hands and knees in a hallway. A strip of carpeting about 6 inches wide and 4 feet long has been taken up and the floor laid bare. It has clearly just been slathered with glue. The glue glistens wetly.  The Work Man is surrounded by debris — boxes, cardboard, plastic, bits of carpet, a miscellany of tools. His hand clenches a knife. It seems to be having difficulty cutting a piece of carpeting.

Scene II

From stage left, an Office Minion walks down the hallway toward the Work Man.  She is bemused. It seems as if she has walked this hallway and encountered this carpet repair dozens of times before — as if rehearsing over and over and over for a play that is never produced.

As the Office Minion approaches the Work Man, he raises his head slightly.  He seems to tense like a wild animal sensing danger. Without looking back at her he frowns and says, very loudly and clearly:

Work Man: STEP OVER PLEASE

Scene III

The Office Minion looks puzzled. She had had every intention of stepping over the gluey floor. She checks to see if others before her had perhaps stepped in the glue and left sticky tracks. She doesn’t see any.

Office Minion:  Why do you have to tell people to step over? Do people step on the glue?

Work Man: Yes. They step on the glue. They step on my tools. They step on my fingers.

Office Minion: (horrified) People step on your fingers?

Work Man: Yes, they step on my fingers all the time. They don’t see me.

Work Man guy shakes his head resignedly.