Cup of Coffee: Office Space

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“Where’s your office this year?”

112 Spring Street. Across from Spring Street Deli. Carpet. Conference rooms. Kitchen. A renovated school, it has charm, efficiency and comfort. We are back in Patrick the Mailman’s territory for the first time in years. Did I mention it’s across the street from Spring Street Deli?

It is by far the best office in the 14-year history of The Saratoga Special. After 14 years of renting and bartering office space from one end of town to the other, that’s like being voted the best manure pit on the backside. 

In 2001, our first year, we rented a space in the Palio Building at the other end of Broadway. Cool building, easy access for decompression walks in Congress Park. A fitness center before a newspaper office, it had walls of mirrors, a shower and no furniture. We were trying to sell The Special. After a week, we had furniture, stacking up leftover newspapers like they were Legos. I hung my sport coat on the chin up bar and slept under my desk.

The next year we rented an office in the Arcade Building, after a recommendation from our friends at Lyrical Ballad. Cool location, on Broadway. Big glass windows across the front, felt like we were in an aquarium but it was at least professional. The office was tight, like a bingo hall. The parking was tighter, sliding into the back alley. Quint Kessenich bounded into the office the day before Opening Day. A former All-American lacrosse goalie, he had emailed me weeks before. I told him to show up. He showed up – and saved the day, spending more time on the beat than in the office, which was handy because he didn’t have a desk.

Not sure if it was the next year, but we moved up town to the Chamber of Commerce building. It was better, more room, professional, spacious parking lot but we learned that crossing Broadway after 6 was like crossing the Gaza Strip. We ate meals from the Getty next door.

Somewhere along the line, we decided we could save money by renting one place for an office and a place for the staff to live. What a mistake. We rented a house, for sale, on the other side of Lake and put Jim Mulvihill, John Lies, Jamie Santo and his bulldog Floyd upstairs and the office downstairs. A bat flew into one of the bedrooms so one of them (I think it was Lies) shut the door and moved to another room. We hung sheets in the windows and poached wireless Internet off the neighbors who figured it out and were cool, “We’re glad you are just writing a newspaper, we were worried you were the CIA.” The real estate agent tried to show the house – once.

After that fiasco, we tried the dual-purpose arrangement again, renting a back condo off of Union Avenue. It was being renovated so we set up our tables, like Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving and went to work. Travis Stone lived in a room next to the office, did a radio show from a closet and Santo lived upstairs. Yes, Floyd came along too. Great location, we had porch parties on Sunday nights and drove the golf cart up and down the back alley to the track.

The house near Five Points. The nadir of our real estate moves in Saratoga. We rented a newly renovated house, it was cheap, and put the staff upstairs and office downstairs. “It’s so well insulated, you don’t need air conditioning.” That lasted about an hour. The landlord, new to the rental business, came to the house with air conditioners and asked for our help. First he grabbed a beer out of the fridge (he hadn’t cleaned out his food) and sat down at the kitchen table. Then he proceeded to drop the air conditioner out the window. We laughed until he got mad. Katherine smashed Dave’s car in the driveway and Floyd made another trip to Saratoga, he got meaner each year. It was the last time we shared a house and office.

After that fiasco (seeing a trend?), we split the house and office and spent a couple of years on Broadway, trading advertising for space. One year, we walked past bums on the back stairs, another year we walked through a yoga studio to get to our office, another year we were joined each night by a bagpiper (I never knew how much I hated the bagpipes). Last year, in a bind, we wound up in a partially renovated building (they say life comes full circle) with construction paper as carpet. Like living with your parents after college, clients would ask to meet in our office and we would run out the door to meet them on Broadway.

This year, it’s like we’ve finally made it. No bums. No bats. No Floyd.