*That’s “Monday through Friday,” peeps, not “Mother [Effing].” Well … occasionally both. I work in the Chicago Board of Trade, also known as The “CBOT” or, simply, “The Board.” You may remember it from such films as Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and The Dark Knight. Check it out:

It’s an icon in the Windy City. A National Historic Landmark. It defines the Southern barrier of the Loop. It was once the tallest building in the city. There’s a bar on the first floor that neglects to put mixers in any of its cocktails. It is also 80 years old. As are some of the grizzled floor traders (not my company’s business) that work within its walls.  These men, with whom I share an elevator every day, are driven by sweat, years of tobacco abuse, and greed-fueled adrenaline. Gordon Gekko is nowhere to be found. This is down-and-dirty bartering and the man with the loudest voice (and tallest genes) often wins.

But I digress. Part of the “charm” that comes with working in a relative fossil of a building is similar to what a home-owner faces in a pre-war fixer-upper. Sometimes, no matter what you clean, pretty up, and modernize, old problems seep in. And run deep.

We just moved into a new space in “The Board.” My company is now housed on floors four, five, seven, and eight, and those hippies on six better feel surrounded. I’m on seven. Four days in and there have already been several cockroach sightings – how do they CLIMB? Mice are rumored squatters as well. This place was just gutted and, true to their theorized nature, the vermin survive all.

Outside of the confines of our office suite, sleek and modern and full of original art and ergonomically optimized chairs, lies an Eisenhower-era bathroom. I spend a decent chunk of my workday wrestling with ill-functioning flushing devices. The path to said washroom is also unsettling. If you can escape small rodents and insects, you still have to face this view:

Would you like to play a game?

It’s part Cuckoo’s Nest, part Saw. The office space itself is Xanadu in comparison. (Over-saturation of movie titles unintentional). And once I’m back behind my desk, feet propped up to avoid unwanted critters, I enjoy my company-subsidized Diet Coke or LaCroix and feel somewhat insulated until my next bathroom trek … which is to say, 20 minutes or so.

There are plenty of arguments for living in a home with “character” (and character flaws). But does the cache of working in a historic building outweigh the discomforts?  I kinda think it does.  Yeah.

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