Overcoming Adversity: A Tale of Tight Quarters and Noisy Neighbors

R.J. Conlin Office

I began interning three days a week at R.J. Conlin on Jan. 6.  While I was still learning the ropes – trying to remember everyone’s names and figuring out what goes where – tragedy struck.

Michigan winters are always rough, and this winter has been no exception.  The extremely cold temperatures can cause tons of stress on everything: people, cars, and even, sadly, water pipes.  A sprinkler pipe above our office burst on Jan. 14, flooding our entire office, destroying paperwork, some electronics and most of our office furniture. Thankfully, no one was hurt.

Because of all the damage, we relocated temporarily to the only space available for us in our building – a conference room on the other side of the first floor.  While we were thankful that we had somewhere to go, the accommodations were a bit more “cozy” than our regular office space. The conference room has one long table with nine chairs around it, and we added one smaller table with two computers for two of our designers.  The long table is now covered in laptops and cords and papers and any number of other things. Seeing as everyone else has to share this workspace, keeping things organized has been a challenge. For people who are used to working in their own cubicles or offices, this was quite the adjustment.

To add to the fun, we had some less-than-quiet neighbors the first week in the new space. While we weren’t exactly sure what it was that they were trying to accomplish next door, it certainly provided us with endless opportunities for some interesting discussions.  Their loud music would start at 9 a.m. (be it Jimmy Hendrix, or heavy metal, or anything else), and it was typically accompanied with people yelling and bells ringing and all other sorts of sounds, and would finally subside around 4:30 p.m.  At one point, someone yelled from the other side of the wall, “We have a broken robot arm over here!” and we all burst into laughter.

The tight quarters and loud neighbors seem to have taken a toll on everyone’s psyche.  Here’s some sample topics we’ve discussed (in one conversation) while crammed together: astrology, mushroom scientists, the New England Patriots, and mostly, “what on earth is going on?” in the suite next to us.  Needless to say, we’ve all gone a little stir-crazy.  While the circumstances may not be favorable, we’re all working through the challenges and learning that we can get great work done, in any situation.

Next week, we’ll be back in our office. We’re all ready to return to our own space, but our time in the small conference room has been a great bonding experience. While unplanned, this situation helped me get to know everyone and learn a lot about what everyone does here because I got to see it all first-hand. The past month and a half has been an exciting learning experience, and on Monday when we’ve all settled back into our space, this adventure will become just another footnote in the R.J. Conlin story.