Thursday, November 16, 2006

Porn in the Workplace
So this afternoon at work I was minding my own business, involved in some mind-numbing project, when the phone rang. The caller identified herself as being with the building management company (a well-known property management company that has a particularly ridiculous ad campaign on WTEM, with sell-out Andy Pollin doing fake interviews with a company executive whose judgement is so warped he thinks people are interested in hearing about his insights on, say, the commercial real estate market in the Tysons Corner area).

Her: I just got a disturbing call from someone at the AFTA, next door to you. Someone in your office is looking at porn on their computer, and the AFTA people can see it, and it's bothering them.

Me: Huh?

She reviewed. At this point, I want to go officially on the record as not viewing porn at work. It would interfere with managing my fantasy teams, reading Deadspin and, uh, blogging. Nevertheless, I instintively glanced at my computer, which confirmed that the last thing I had done was run a Google search for "Matsuzaka," "Red Sox," and "gyro-ball."

I didn't really understand how the people next door to us would be able to see a computer in our office, as our building has this innovative feature that separates different suites, known as "walls." I told the woman that a) I didn't think anyone in our office would do such a thing (they're usually too busy playing internet poker, except for the one guy who's had a baffling internet solitaire addiction for like eight years -- there's a zillion damn things on the internet, yet he plays solitaire over and over...), and b) I didn't really understand how our neighbors would be able to see computer screens in our suite. She said that the complainant was actually in the building next door, and was seeing the porn through a window, because the alleged porn viewer had his blinds up.

Me: Well, there are only three people here today, and two of them have offices that overlook K St., and if anyone is able to see those computer screens then, well, I think the issue of them spying on us outweighs the issue of what they see when they're spying.

Her: What about the corner office, next to the alley?

There is, indeed, a corner office that has windows looking out on K St. and an alley. That office is inhabited by my boss, whose idea of internet craziness, I'd guess, would be using Mapquest. Also, his computer screen faces away from the window. And his blinds on that side are always closed because, apparently, the pigeons freak him out.

I explained all of this to the woman, who assured me that the building engineer had "checked the blueprints" and that they were confident that it was someone in our office. I assured her that it wasn't, but invited her to stop arguing with me, go a little crazy and walk away from her desk and take the elevator up two floors to view the configuration of our office. She finally said she believed me, and ended the call.

I, of course, immediately walked into my boss' office, told him what was up, and we pulled up his blinds and peered into the office in the next building. We didn't see anything. I think we were both a little disappointed not to see the outraged faces of, say, Rush Limbaugh, Donald Rumsfeld and Bill O'Reilly, pressed against a window on the other side of the alley. No sign of any humanity, though. We concluded that the accidental porn viewers, while adept at snooping on other peoples' computers in completely different buildings, erred on either counting floors or counting windows.


After work, I walked out to the alley and looked up. The window configurations made it evident that the alleged porn viewer was in the office next to my boss, in the neighboring suite, which is used by some "financial people" (one of whom looks like the love child of Beavis and Butthead). I feel like slipping a note under the door, suggesting that the person in that office get a Stop Snitchin' screensaver.

2 comments:

cleavers44 said...

A coworker of mine actually got fired a few years back for surfing for porn at work. Gay porn. In an office he shared with two women.

My company's offices overlook two sides of an alley downtown, and the reflections in the windows do tricky things. You can see very clear reflections of offices that you don't have a direct view of. And we also have a view of some dental offices across the alley, where the dentist and his hygenist got rather un-hygenic several years ago.

Shedd said...

I once worked for a company whose Sales VP had two vices he attempted to hide from his co-workers, internet porn and smoking. He would drive his Volvo station wagon around the block and power smoke a couple of cigarettes to satisfy that vice. And, he would turn his laptop around to a funny angle facing away from his office door when he surfing for porn. An inquisitive co-worker of mine, affectionately known as Peppermint Tatty, busted the Sales VP on both his vices. Shortly thereafter, she got Sales VP's name in the office Secret Santa pool. Peppermint Tatty decided her gift to him would be an ash tray in the shape of a woman, inscribed with "WE ALL KNOW". Unfortunately, Peppermint Tatty's boss got wind of this and stopped her from follwing thru. What's the world coming to?