Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Second-Floor Office

This story takes place several years ago. It was the year 2007, and it was Winter. What was funny about the winter of 2007 was the lack of any snow on the ground until March of that year.

One weekend, I was playing a sport called football in the fields north of Sir Robert Borden High School. We were playing in those fields because they were located in the general neighborhood my father, uncles, and friends had grown up in, and Robert Borden had been their high school (which most of my cousins currently attend, like their fathers before them).
It was a very windy day that Sunday. The game was filled with action and contact, and I'd even managed to get myself a touchdown, something I rarely, if ever, accomplish in sports. I still don't know how I managed to get past my eldest uncle on that run.

On Sunday night, when I was back at home with my mother, I'd come to realize something really unfortunate. Due the rough playing, my keys were no longer in my pocket. They were probably somewhere in the grass of the expansive fields north of the high school.

Now here comes the better part of the story. Eventually it became known that my house keys were found and dropped off at the Robert Borden main office. My cousin Olesia, then in grade 11, attempted to retrieve them, but lacking any knowledge of what they looked like as the office had several in their care, the keys remained there.

It gets more exciting. Soon came the day for me to get them myself. My grandpa drove me to the school, which, incidentally, is located on the same road my backyard backs onto, but around 12 kilometres too far north, and I for the first time entered the building my father, uncles, and current cousins all attended. I'd point out that I'm the only lone cousin who was the first to go to a different high school (Merivale) instead of follow, literally, in my father's footsteps. 

Walking into their main foyer, I almost collapsed. It seemed that their foyer had a sunken-in floor surrounded by shallow steps, for whatever reason I could not figure out. Walking around this floor pit, I came to this hallway that consisted of odd rows of lockers. I say 'odd' because the lockers weren't exactly in rows but arranged around each other in a sort of "U" shape, creating a kind of walk-in cove, bordered by lockers. What got me was how narrow they were. At Merivale the lockers had been at least five inches wider than what those lockers were.

My intention was to locate the main office, but there was no office in sight. Considering that I'd entered through the main entrance, I was baffled that there wasn't one off to the side, like there usually is. Most schools have their office right next to the main entrance. Not all of them do. Not even at Merivale - the office is in the eastern portion of the building, not next to the foyer. It's still in a major hallway though, and you can tell where it is from the outside.

But, as I expected the school to be like most schools, my bafflement is justified.

I continued, clueless, all the way until I came to what seemed to be a hallway that simply went around in a circle. I walked all the way around it, the saying "you're walking in circles" becoming quite true. I was going nowhere. What kind of floor plan was this anyway? Sunken floors right as you walk in, mindless circles at one end, an auditorium that seemed to resemble a wide hexagon on the other (at least it's what it looked like on the school map). I tried walking around the rectangle, which consisted of weigh rooms, but that got me nowhere as well. I didn't go near the gym. That would just be walking around in bigger rectangles.
Eventually, I did the same thing on the second floor, walking around mindlessly in circles and rectangles and parallelograms and trapezoids until I came to an open space. At the other end was what looked like an office.


I walked in and inquired about the missing keys. Being able to point them out, I left the office feeling proud of myself. I'd found it - the big, quadrilateral, second-floor main office of Sir Robert Borden High School.

I met my grandpa back in the car with my retrieved keys and we drove back down to Barrhaven. For some reason he didn't ask why I took so long. Maybe he'd expected me not to know where I was going, even when I looked on the maps (on the first floor, the office was never listed on it, for obvious reasons). 

It taught me something: Be glad I was not going to Borden like all my cousins, and attending Merivale. While a lot of people complain that it's hard to figure the Merivale floor plan as well, it doesn't consist of wacky, unnecessary shapes built with flourish and confusion. It's just two simple rectangles with one building shaped like an "H" with a library in the middle. All the halls are straight and direct. The lockers are wider.

There's no sunken pit in the foyer. 

The only confusion I'd ever think anyone would have is the fact that the T wing enters into the A wing basement instead of the main hallway above it, like all the other entrances from the other buildings/wings.

Besides, my old school has a lot more features than Borden does - like additional basement gyms, a little theatre, and its own auto shop. What does Borden have? The grand old office of the school board to sit next door. That's great. It's like a reason for additional discipline, because the bigwigs are next door and the school has to look good, right? Oh, and the fun of running around in circles, hexagons, trapezoids, and many other quadrilaterals.

Justin C.

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