Writing Exercise: Setting


INI311 – Exercise 3 – A real setting, known well to the writer, without much in the way of characters
Logan Bright – Professor Sharon English


The layout is the same as ever but the people have all changed. Sure, familiar faces remain, but they’re few, lined, and grey. Now it’s mostly young professionals in pastel suits and flower-print blouses. Even the name of the place has changed – a ‘rebranding’ – though the work is pretty well the same.

The reception area has a television screen, a big flat one that owns the wall it’s installed upon. It should play company propaganda, one would think, but it’s dark and silent. There’s a padded bench perpendicular to the TV, facing a frosted glass window that used to be plain, and is now decorated with colourful dry-erase: ‘welcome!’ and ‘happy birthday Lyndsey!’, that sort of thing. This window looks into a mini-office for four that now has five crammed in there, all facing away from one another, in case the employees want to glance at one another’s screens. The fifth, the odd one out, is in the centre of the room, and while it’s probably fine, the desk’s position calls to mind the fire code.

In the centre of the office proper there’s now a big roundish table, blue-grey like the rest of the furniture, and this table is the most obvious change. On certain mornings the staff gathers round it and undergoes a team-building exercise overseen by the CEO. She asks each person to list a strength and a weakness, or something like that, and when the circle is finished they all have Timbits. The CEO has moved out of her big office, now a conference room – it’s the biggest and the blue-greyest of all, consisting as it does of wall-to-wall carpet, a table and chairs, and a beautiful view of the sky north of Dundas Street. The CEO’s taken a smaller office, still big, but she’s rarely there. The fluorescents bother her eyes and she has two young boys, twins, and anyway, she can work remotely.

The office doesn’t get a lot of natural sunlight during working hours but if you show up early enough the sun blazes through the eastern windows, coming up over city hall and painting the roundish table a powerful gold. This is before the employees arrive, generally, so the bothersome fluorescents take up the slack.

The media production wing has been shaken up as well. The coordinator’s desk has been moved out of the hallway into the manager’s office – it’s so hot in there now that a fan runs, even at night – and a big mirrored closet has been put in just outside the studio. Now people can check their appearances and store their coats. It looks more respectable now, with the coordinator out of the hallway. People no longer mill about his desk, shooting the shit. They call him when they need him, rather than walking down the long, dim corridor in single file.

One office off this corridor has been cleared out, and now holds a bookshelf full of board games, a blue couch, and a small table with two chairs. This room is meant for break-time relaxation, but is almost always empty. The employees don’t go out for lunch much anymore: they eat at their desks.

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