The Unexpected Neighbor

My first year as an intern for TVA, I worked in their engineering office in Norris, TN. This was a bit of a drive from my parents’ house where I was living in the Summer, but it was where they needed me. It did have one significant perk though: I got my own office.

To be fair, it wasn’t entirely my office; I shared it with another guy. However, he was almost never there. I have no idea what he did. What’s worse, he actually did show up two or three times and I talked to him and asked him about his job and I still have no idea what he did.

In any case, I wasn’t given an office because of any status I had or appreciation for my skills. I was given an office because most of the lab was taken up with mechanical engineering apparatus and there were very limited places to put a desk and a computer, so they shoved me in a semi-open office. Worked for me.

There were a number of people working in that building, most of whom I had no idea what they did (even less so than my officemate). I wasn’t the most outgoing individual, so most of the time I kept to myself and didn’t go out of my way to meet people I didn’t know. Some days I could work an entire day without talking to anyone at all.

One day, I needed to call someone I didn’t know in order to accomplish some task. I think he needed to give my computer account special permissions to do something or other; I forget. In any case, I called him. He answered the phone, and I introduced myself and began explaining what I needed.

He interrupted me and said “you’re that intern working at the Norris plant, right? The one sharing an office with Bob?”

I indicated the affirmative. Then he said “you can just pop on over if you want. I’m in the office right next to yours.” To punctuate this point, I heard him bang on the wall behind me.

Since that incident, I’ve always bothered to look up the person I’m contacting in the corporate directory to see if a short walk might be better than a phone call.

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