Directly opposite the Wardour office there is a Peabody Estate (Victorian council flats, essentially) that has been shrouded in scaffolding for the past couple of months. At some point during the renovation works a roofer, having finished his milky tea with five sugars, has upended the polystyrene cup and stuck it on one of the finials – the pointy bits of ironwork that decorate the roof.
And it’s driving us mad.
Being located on the fifth floor, we’re probably the only people who can see it, but when you’re sitting facing the windows in Meeting Room 3, the cup is directly in your eyeline. Once it’s been pointed out to you, you can’t not see it, and I’ve actually noticed colleagues wincing when they enter the room and find that the cup is still there.
I’ve been trying to work out why it bothers us so much. Like any company, we have our share of people who suffer from OCD to a greater or lesser extent, but I think it goes deeper than that.
As a marketing and communications agency, we pride ourselves on the creativity that surprises and delights clients. The essential counterpart to that creativity, though, is a rigour and precision that encompasses all our roles. The writers take pride in ensuring they use (and spell) every word correctly, with not so much as a semi-colon out of place. The designers work with templates (invisible to the reader) that ensure that every page, printed or online, is pleasing to the eye. The developers know that, when writing code, a single wrong character can prevent an entire web page from displaying properly. And the account team stand or fall by the accuracy of the quotations, schedules and other documents they produce.
So we are all instinctively offended by any blemish on an otherwise perfect item, be it a typo in a document or a rogue polystyrene cup on a newly restored roof. The problem is, while we can correct a typo, we can’t do anything about the cup.
Worse still, the scaffolding has now come down, and there’s a very real possibility that the cup may be a permanent fixture. I fear we may need counselling…
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