Monday, February 14, 2011

The Pent Umbrage of the Tempy, Part XXXIV

Most of the mailroom area looks much the way you imagine it looked one and a half centuries ago: in some places the hard rock from which the space was excavated is still exposed and used as wall. No covering, nothing. So, in a way, there are places in the mailroom which not only look the way they did one and a half centuries ago, but the way they looked millions of years ago—if there had been someone around to look at them.

You've never been physically uncomfortable down here, though. It never gets too cold, too hot, too humid—none of that. The air is never dank down here, even when lots of people are packed in working (though that’s a rare situation, for sure.)

There was that one time when power outages mid-summer transformed most of the city into a sweltering nightmare…Old people died of the heat. You'd expected it would be cooler down in the mailroom. You are under a lot of ground down there, after all. There’d be a “root cellar” effect.

The air was not only cool, it was virtually unchanged. Unchanged in temperature, humidity, whatever. You then learned about THE FIRM’S remarkable auxiliary power systems. Scattered in several urban locations were independent power generation plants, utilizing more than one kind of power source, and wired back into the building utilizing several separate feeds. It turns out that all of the building's support systems are similarly, elaborately backed up.

You place a message in a capsule and into the brass pneumatic tube, for delivery to room 6969 on floor 1313. This particular pneumatic tube is bolted vertically to one of the largest of the hard rock walls of the mailroom. Fluoup! Air pressure within this vestigial, obsolete, but perfectly serviceable technology carries the message upwards and away.


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