An interesting aspect of my new job is the surroundings I now find myself in.
In fact, that was a detail I was asked about, casually but with poorly-hidden concern, when I interviewed. The staff member who showed me around that day was familiar with the place I was leaving and knew how it compared to this place.
My prior 13 years in church ministry took place in an immaculate building in the upscale suburbs. I’d recently moved into a state-of-the-art, beautifully decorated new office just down the hall from a bright and attractive new cafe area.
Now I drive to a ninety-year-old ex-firehouse every day. The scarred paint on the walls ranges from dirty white to an off-yellow shade to a grubby grey. The upstairs floor (where my new office is) sort of waves up and down so you have to walk carefully if you want to keep your balance. Ten people or more share a one-hole bathroom. (Actually, two holes – a toilet AND a urinal in the same room. The luxury of choice.) Years of accumulated grime on most surfaces.
What my tour guide on that interview day didn’t know, though, was that I was actually thrilled to leave the pristine trappings of privilege and get out into the real world. The gleaming affluence I’d been surrounded by for so long was wearing on my nerves, as well as my conscience.
A couple of weeks after my tour, I moved in and started creating a cozy little nest for myself here in the firehouse. It’s become a gathering place for friends on staff to hang out, have lunch, or just spend a minute visiting.
I love my new digs.
But there are Smells.
Not every day, mind you, but often. Today, for example, we have a killer melange of stale cigarette smoke, overpoweringly strong men’s cologne, a touch of weed, and poo stench wafting from that communal staff restroom. This disturbing aroma originates from both volunteers and clients. How it manages to hover in the hallway outside my office door and waft into my office, I have no idea.
I’ve battled the worn-out visual enviroment with friendly decorating touches. And I fight The Smells with a plug-in wax melter and scented cubes. Pumpkin pie in the fall. Douglas fir for Christmas. Orange spice, currently.
I’m making the most of my home-away-from home.