For the workers, it was a lonely holiday week at the office

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By Monica Hesse
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 31, 2009

"You know what I'm doing? For me, it's really bold."

Seaton Smith is a rebel. He threw caution to the wind this week; he tasted freedom and now he cannot be stopped. He's a maverick, a wild man.

How wild is he? What bold, scandalous choices has he made this week?

"I've been coming in at 8:30 instead of 7:30," Smith brags. "I am not wearing a tie. And I am wearing sneakers. The sneakers thing is amazing. Geez, I want to do this all the time."

Ha. He wishes. He wishes. One can only get away with this type of renegade behavior on special occasions, like when everyone else is on vacation, like when it seems as if you are the only schmo in Washington working between Christmas and New Year's.

It is the Twilight Zone of the empty office.

The Dupont Circle nonprofit where Smith works as an audiovisual manager was in full ghost-town mode all week. "I've seen, like, five people today," Smith says, out of the hundreds normally in the building.

He wanders out of his office. He carefully admires every painting in the hall. He spots a friend tapping away at his computer, the lone worker in a cluster of empty cubicles. "Wearing sneakers today," Smith tells the colleague proudly, pointing down at his shoes.

"That is rebellious."

Smith wanders back into his office. It's 1:45. It's only one-bleeping-forty-five.

Dangit.

Why are we here, in our empty office? Why did we not more judiciously allot our vacation time? Did we really need to take off the Tuesday after Labor Day? Did we really think that working this week would gain our boss's respect? (Our boss isn't even here.) Did you know that you can watch all of "Degrassi: The Next Generation" on Netflix Watch Instantly? If we shoot this rubber band at exactly the right angle, do you think it will ricochet off the wall and into the garbage can?


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