Twenty Seven percent of Holland is below sea level. Schiphol air port (the main airport for Amsterdam) is five meters below sea level. It’s only due to Dutch ingenuity that passengers don’t have to snorkel through passport control or dive to baggage reclaim.
A lot of the land that makes up Holland has been reclaimed from the sea by building dykes and pumping the sea water out. Dykes are like dam walls, except they also run through the sea and not just rivers.
This has worked for hundreds of years and is still done today. However, the water slowly seeps back in over time and it is a constant battle to keep the sea back. Since the country is slowly sinking and the ground is shifting frequently a lot of damage can occur to buildings. This is why a lot of homes in Holland lean and might also explain why the office I work in is slowly starting to fall apart.
At the start of this week we discovered a large chunk of plaster had fallen from the ceiling during the weekend. After it was cleaned up the white dust left behind gave the impression that a rather excessive cocaine party had taken place.
It is not the first time this has happened either (the cave-in, not the cocaine party). About a year ago a large mass of plaster fell directly onto a co-worker’s chair only a few moments after they had gone home for the day. The falling debris also damaged one of the over head cable trays and caused a small electrical fire a few days later. It was like being in the plot of a ‘Final Destination’ movie. A domino effect of seemingly random events was taking place just like the incidents in the film but luckily for us no one died as a result.
After finding the most recent cave-in, other patches of plaster started to randomly fall from the ceiling during the course of the day and yet more cracks were forming (including one above my desk). At this point the decision was made to move us to another room and call in the builders before any more of the ceiling came down and we found ourselves unexpectedly working much closer with the team on the floor above. In an unrelated event the lift has also been breaking down almost every day due to the heat (but no one has beaten my record yet).
It is because of these events and the fact that the country is slowly sinking that I will be suggesting a new office safety strategy and dress code to the management. Under the new guidelines every employee will be required to wear a hard hat, snorkel, water wings and/or life jacket at all times. Inflatable escape slides will be installed on every window of every room and Ray Mears will be hired to give a speech on office safety and survival in extreme conditions.