Follow-Up To Smell Memory

General Ramblings comments edit

I suppose this sort of falls into a similar vein as my previous smell memory post, regarding the way certain smells trigger memories (and wouldn’t it be nice if we could really capitalize on that?).

I have fond childhood memories of visiting my dad’s office. He’s a central office engineer at an independent phone company and has worked there for, I think, longer than I’ve been alive. While he’s been in actual offices and so on, most of the time he’s sat at a desk in the central office itself, surrounded by the equipment. When I was a kid, going to visit his work fascinated me. There were teletypes and huge racks of equipment with all sorts of wires sticking out; stacks of paper and books everywhere; sliding ladders attached to rails in the ceiling; blinking lights and buttons and VT100 terminals; spinning magnetic tape reels and cables running in tracks all over the place. The amount of cool stuff packed in there was astounding, especially when you’re in grade school. Overwhelming, almost, because you can’t touch anything, you just have to look.

Honestly, I think that sort of contributed to my fascination with technology and gadgets. Some could argue it’s a genetic thing - guys like gizmos with buttons - but I’d like to think Dad had some good influence there.

One thing I remember very vividly from visiting Dad’s office is the smell. I’ve never really been able to put a finger on what it is that smells, just that it’s very distinctive. It smells like paper and wire and electronics all combined in a sterile aroma that really can’t be described precisely. Regardless, that smell is Dad’s office. I tried to explain it to him one time but I think he’s been working there too long and doesn’t notice it anymore. He also doesn’t notice that his lunchbox smells like overripe bananas and mint chewing gum, but I guess that’s neither here nor there.

A couple of weeks ago they painted the concrete stairwells at my work with some sort of industrial-strength paint that can stand up to foot traffic. After they finished, allowing a couple of days to let it air out, they let people back into the stairwells. You know what?

It smelled just like Dad’s office.

I had to stop and stand there for a few seconds to get myself back together. It was an odd feeling, standing on the stairs and smelling Dad’s work. Like a miniature transporter had temporarily beamed me to his office and back again really quickly. Like I had just reclaimed about five seconds of my childhood.

I called Dad and asked him if they have concrete floors at his work that get painted, but they have tile floor. The walls are concrete, so that might be it, or it might be the metal support beams - if I remember right, those have paint on them, too. Maybe it’s not even paint at all, but some similar chemical that the paint has that’s also in something at Dad’s work.

Crazy how something like that can make you remember things.