Sunday, August 05, 2007

Plants Banned at my New Job

I OWE THE LOYAL readership a post on my first month of service with the new employer, but while I have the computer warm, I'd like to issue a blurb about the most noteworthy negative of the joint thus far.

When I visited the office for my interview, I noticed it had a newly furnished look to it, like the company had just moved in. This was true; up until November 2006, they had been based in an adjoining town, a short drive away. There was still a faint whiff of new-carpet smell in the air of the new office. But another feature, which I didn't immediately register but which I somehow knew in my gut, and which I had confirmed for me once I read the employee manual, is quite surprising.

The company does not allow plants. Not in the offices, not at the desks, not even in the lobby. That's why the place looked so sterile: No green shoots popping up over the cube walls. No life other than human.

This is the first workplace I've had where plants were forbidden. My dad, from whom I inherit my green thumb, had to bring a few of his home when his company moved, but I believe that was only because they didn't want to burden the movers with any inessential labor. At both of my previous workplaces, I did my best to fill my cubes with greenery. I met my greatest success with the ubiquitous and unkillable pothos. When I left my first job, I took a large bucket of trellising pothos vines, and left behind its parent, itself trailing several feet of lovely green and yellow leaves. Its tendrils continued to engulf the cube in my absence.

Lugging home the plants from my last job was a multi-trip burden. I assumed they would endure a short stay in my apartment — which has only filtered eastern exposure — before bringing them into the new joint. I also planned to buy a brand new plant, as I had at the last job, to mark the months and (possibly) years of my stay there. Again, a pothos would be a perfect start; they hit new offices with a running start.

So you can imagine my disappointment when, which paging through the pile of HR bafflegab that arrived before I started, I spotted an entry about how plants were banned. They cited bugs and mildew (from spilled water) as the reasons. I can only imagine how truly serious they were. Had they sustained such a horrible infestation at their previous location that they had to bar all new flora? Was someone overreacting to an article they had read on the horrors of that house-eating black mold? Did someone trip over a stray vine, and issue an overreacting ukase against plant life, ordering all syngonia and schefflerae, all spathiphylla and sansevieriae, to be burned, Burgermeister Meisterburger–like, in the public square?

Neh, probably just corporate idiocy and paranoia over future exterminator bills. Sad. The beneficial atmospheric effects of indoor plants are well known; and with recent info in the press about aerial particulate toner being hard on the lungs, the more absorption of toxins, the better. Especially for an office where the furniture and rugs are still off-gassing volatile organic chemicals.

So for now, I will concentrate on the positive aspects of this office and the job I hold therein, and reserve judgment on this odd quirk. Perhaps, should I stay there a while, I could organize a petition to overturn it. With a garden center just down the road, populating my cube with greenery would occupy about half a lunch hour.

Photo: Golden Pothos by Elvis Ripley. Some rights reserved.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That's absolutely crazy. CRAZY.