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Three things I don't miss about the office

Columnist Steve Lange has been working from home, mostly, for two years. But there's plenty he doesn't miss from the office.

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Three things I don't miss about working in the office.

1. Walking in on awkward conversations.

In 2010, in Chile, the world watched and hoped for rescue as 33 miners were trapped for 69 days in an enclosed space 2,300 feet underground.

At one point, during this period, I walked in on a conversation in which the women in the Rochester Magazine office were wondering aloud whether, faced with a similar situation, they could overpower me in order kill and eat me.

For three to four years afterward, I felt anxious if any group of three or more of them were standing behind me at any one time.


2. Being the focus of awkward silences.

ME [quietly singing "Lose Yourself" at the copier].
JENNIFER KOSKI: Please, stop. You’re too old for that.
ME: You’re never too old for Eminem, girl. Not when you’re from the D.
[Awkward silence from entire Rochester Magazine staff.]
ME: The D is Detroit.

3. Getting awkward at-work physicals.

For years, our annual work physicals took place in the company training room and consisted of blood pressure checks and blood draws and BMI assessments.

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These situations, of course, can be awkward, mostly because your colleagues have the opportunity to overhear your weight. Or to hear the kind of sounds you make as your blood is being drawn. Or to see your bare feet.

One year, our health assessment required you to remove not only your shoes but your socks as well. This was so they could measure your body fat by sending an electrical impulse that travels up through one of your feet and through that leg then across your pelvis or wherever and then back down the other leg and foot.

By measuring the resistance — they call it bioelectrical impedance — they could then input your height and weight to determine your "body type" on a chart.

I was not prepared for the sock removal. In fact, at the time, I was dealing with a foot issue that required me to liberally lather my feet in a salve that looked very much like zinc oxide, the incredibly white substance lifeguards put on their noses.


One of my coworkers at Rochester Magazine at the time, Vicky, was immediately behind me in line for her health assessment and, through the small opening in the curtain, she saw my feet. I saw her looking at them in horror, clearly concerned about what she thought was the unnatural whiteness of my foot skin.

I had to decide whether to yell something like "My feet are not dead! They are covered in lifeguard nose salve!" or to stay silent. I decided to stay silent.

Later that day, I walked into the Rochester Magazine area to catch Vicky breathlessly revealing to the other women in the office that my feet were "blindingly white. Like they have never ever seen the sun!"

I tried to explain about the zinc oxide, but that just made it worse.

For years, if anyone mentioned the whiteness of someone's skin, all of my coworkers would instantly glance at my feet, then giggle and nod knowingly at one another.

Steve Lange is the editor of Rochester Magazine. His column appears every Tuesday.

Opinion by Steve Lange
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