A couple of years ago, I’m working in an office building called Montgomery Park, in Portland. The reason it’s called Montgomery Park is that it used to be a Montgomery Ward’s warehouse, and by not changing the name much, they got to keep the huge lighted sign on top and just change a couple of letters.
This is not your average ex-warehouse.
It used to be a massive concrete cube nine stories high. It’s still nine stories high and looks like a concrete cube from the outside, but the inside… they did some pretty impressive stuff with it.
They knocked out the center portion of floors three through nine, leaving office space all around, and installed lots and lots of glass, so it has this massive open atrium in the middle, a largely open floor on the second floor, and then conference rooms and exits on the bottom floor. There are four glass elevators that look out on to the atrium… it actually hits everyone with a touch of vertigo the first couple of weeks you work there but it is really pretty.
Here’s a couple of tiny pictures.
The first is looking down onto the second floor from the glass elevators, the second is a view from the front of the building with the glass elevators in the background.
Now, the first and second floors get used for a lot of events after business hours and on weekends, so when I went in to work one Saturday and saw people setting up tables and chairs on the second floor, it didn’t really register with me. Honestly, I was kind of cross about going in to work on a Saturday anyway and just kind of focused on getting up to my desk on the ninth floor and getting stuff done and then trying to get out and save what little of my weekend I could.
I worked for a few hours and headed out.
I get to the elevator lobby on the ninth floor. There is a Montgomery Park employee holding an elevator door open, which is not service normally provided to random office workers. I process that, and then I process the older gentleman in the tuxedo and the young woman in the really elaborate white wedding gown.
I kind of stare at them a bit. It’s Saturday, I’m a bit worn out from staying up too late the night before. The only thing that comes to mind is “With the guy holding one elevator open, am I going to be able to get another elevator to come up to this floor?”
The Montgomery Park employee, displaying uncommon levels of understanding, interprets my look of absolute confusion correctly and pushes the call button. Another elevator immediately opens. I get in, push the first floor button, and walk to the back of the elevator so I can look down.
There’s an awful lot of people on the second floor, and an altar, and a minister.
The elevator door closes. As it starts descending, I hear music… the wedding march, in fact, and that is when everyone on the second floor looks up at me.
At this point, the confusion clears for me. I realize that the whole point of the bride being on the ninth floor is that she was supposed to be the person descending majestically into the wedding. Everyone looking up is expecting a young woman in white and her father, not a 30-something geek in slacks and a t-shirt.
I don’t know what the established custom is for this particular situation, but I managed a little half-hearted wave. I’m sure the videographer cut it out of the official wedding video.
I’m just really glad that I was going to the first floor, not getting off on the second floor in the middle of everything.
I left the building through the back doors.