Lesson from a Creepy Chair

Juxtaposed objects can be scary

Chair in the old boiler room.

The Backstory

I currently work in a building on the National Registry of Historical Places that used to be a factory. It was built in the 1920s and is built so sturdy out of brick, concrete, and iron that it could be considered a fortress.

I was on the team that renovated the building into a modern, open office facility, so I have the opportunity to manage all of its nooks and crannies… including the basement.

Many people find it really creepy… it’s dark, unpainted in most areas, and full of old stuff never removed. I don’t blame them really, as it does have the eerie feeling, especially in the old boiler room, now elevator and electrical room.

Knowing how people feel and I like to have fun at work, I fully take advantage of the creepiness vibe. I give facility tours and folks a peak behind the old, heavy blast door that is still on its hinges. I turn on the light as they step in… they see a scene straight out of a horror movie.

The Object

There it is. The creepy chair.

An old school desk chair sitting in the middle of an old boiler room covered in rust and dirt.

Centered, alone. An unknown story of how it got here. A chair clearly designed for kids is locked behind a massive door.

It amuses me that people get this feeling as a first reaction, moments before I tell them the backstory.

It’s not what it looks like.

I found the chair during renovation of the building, which was previously occupied by an afterschool support organization where they held classes and social groups.

When the basement was under construction, the chair was used by the workers, and it was placed near the main water lines and related plumbing fixtures.

The utility room, now hydraulic/electric/security/fire room, was the place it ended up. Over time, it gathered dust and sat under the old leaky (since replaced) pipes that left pools of water in the chair. Rusty pools of water.

I left the chair in the room and regularly use it during my elevator inspections twice a year. Once using it is complete, I put the chair back in the middle of the room, so it awaits the next set of unsuspecting visitors.

The Lesson

I always take great pride and responsibility in continuing the legacy and stories of places, and this old building is no different.

I find it is one of my responsibilities in life to share stories that create experience for others; though in my case, I’m better at creating and showing experiences for those stories rather than telling them.

The Takeaways:

  • Objects from opposite places put in the same place are the creepiest
  • Never miss an opportunity to create a place to share a story
  • Not everything is as it seems

People always look at me weird when I put the chair back in the middle of the room before leaving. I say, “This is where it goes.”

It’s purpose is to create feelings and inspire the stories for other people, and I get the enjoyment of being the one who helped shape a future memory.

How awesome is that.

The infamous, Creepy Chair.

Written by Shaun Holloway.



Business and life learning from everyday objects and common questions

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Shaun Holloway

Lessons from Ordinary. Business and life learning from everyday objects and common questions. http://www.srholloway.com