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The Office Haunt

Updated on October 28, 2019
Gerry Glenn Jones profile image

I write on a wide variety of genres about people, places, things, and animals. I also write factual and fictional articles.

Manual typewriter
Manual typewriter | Source

An Introduction - Nancy Thornton-Waterhouse

A prolific writer, Nancy Thornton Waterhouse has sent me two articles to appease the readers' palettes during the Halloween season. The first, which has already been published is "A Haunt in the House" https://hubpages.com/literature/A-Haunt-in-the-House and then this one, "The Office Haunt." According to Nancy, both are true stories that happened to her.

Busy office
Busy office | Source

Old House Converted Into Offices

Several years ago, I worked for a real estate development company in one of the few remaining old houses located near the heart of the city's downtown area. It was a very simple two-story L-shaped brick bearing many coats of paint applied over its lifetime. Its tall windows shed good light into an interior that had undergone very few renovations other than those required to make it functional office space.

The bright and cheerful well-appointed spaces were tastefully done with very functional and comfortable furnishings. Many of the floor surfaces were the original wood nicely refinished. Access to the upper level was by a centrally located interior stair and an external stair leading from the upper veranda to the private parking area at the back. The front street entry was rarely used except by postal or delivery services. All in all, a very pleasant working environment.

Old house
Old house | Source

Phantom Tobacco Smoke

Weeks, then months passed of busy but very satisfying days of interesting and creative employment. As I demonstrated my abilities, more tasks and responsibilities came my way. Being well paid and thoroughly enjoying the work this was no burden. However, it did require me being in the building up into the evening on numerous occasions.

One evening as I studied notes and sketches, applying them to the design at hand, I noticed the very strong and distinct smell of tobacco smoke. Smoking in our office was not permitted at any time. Besides, it had a somewhat exotic aroma, rich, herbal, and a touch spicy, but not heavy like pipe or cigars I had experienced before. Thinking this odd I chose to investigate to find the source. I walked about the upper story without success. Descending the interior stair, I sniffed inquiringly confident whiffs must have drifted up from below. Nothing but ordinary office air. As a smoker myself, I dismissed the sensation as no more than trace elements of my own habit.

Two weeks passed and I again found myself working late into the evening. Even though in deep concentration over my task, I got the strange sensation someone was standing close at my back peering over my right shoulder. Thinking it mere fatigue, I rose, stretched, and glanced about me. Alone of course. I returned to my work with renewed focus, as I wanted this design completed for our morning coordination meeting. In short order, the sensation returned accompanied by a very strong smell of tobacco smoke as experienced before. I sat there a bit annoyed and decided it was simply time to go home. Folding up my papers and turning off my computer, I retrieved my purse and left.

Pipe smoker
Pipe smoker | Source

Don't Blow Phantom Smoke in My Face

The experience lingered in my mind just enough to make me ponder on this building and wonder about its history. Who had lived here? Had something or someone left lingering traces in the floors and masonry? Normalcy continued for some time until again alone in the office one evening, the presence and smoke smell returned. By then I had concluded there was an entity of some kind wishing to make itself known. Growing up in a haunted house had prepared me for any future encounters such as this. I turned in the direction of the presence and said, “I don’t mind you watching me work, but is it really necessary to puff smoke in my face?” The presence receded and the smell dissipated. I said, “Thank you”, and returned to my task with no further interruption.

Keeping the knowledge of the entity to myself, workdays continued at a regular and steady pace. Future late-night office hours came to include the entity, who would stand at my shoulder apparently interested in my work or drift about the office investigating other areas. For some reason, I got the impression it was a he. This was proven later to be correct. He made no attempt to conceal his location, as I could hear light thumps, steps, or papers moving in other adjacent spaces. His company was not objectionable until he overstepped familiarity by following me home. His presence in my house was discovered by that distinct tell-tale smoke. I informed him in no uncertain terms he was to stay at the office and not invade my privacy. Besides, no one was allowed to smoke in the house, not even me. I was obliged, as the incident was never repeated.

Conference room
Conference room | Source

Determining Who the Poltergeist Might Be

My curiosity about our resident grew. I even did some research to see if I could glean anything about the house and its previous occupants. A background in architecture and historic preservation gave me an advantage in this endeavor. I researched online records of every kind, but to no avail. I scanned the structure with an inquiring eye but detected nothing out of the ordinary for a building of that age. All except one thing. The southeast corner office, formally a bedroom, had one door opening to the central hall and a side door to the main conference room.

This conference room had previously been a sitting room with a hall entry and another bedchamber adjacent with its own hall door as well. This was not an unusual configuration. However, the door from the front bedroom to the conference room bore deep black penetrating scars over two-thirds of its surface obviously from a past fire. These were to the bedroom side and I could find no evidence of the door ever being hung differently. This door was a match to others throughout the building so deducted it was original. If floor or walls had ever suffered the same damage there was now no evidence. All appeared to be original or repaired in the building's early history. Having no success gaining additional knowledge I abandoned the effort.

Poltergeist
Poltergeist | Source

Others Having Contact With the Spirit

Our occupant gradually began hanging near me even during daylight business hours. I couldn't help wondering if anyone else was aware of him. General awareness gradually came to light starting with an upper management person asking who was burning a scented candle or something in the office. When I asked what it smelled like she couldn't quite describe it other than spicy and herbal. I smiled to myself at this.

Over the next several days I casually inquired of coworkers, privately mind you, if they had ever noticed anything odd around the office. Bit by bit details came to light. One related footsteps in another part of the office when they knew themselves to be alone. Another heard soft laughter under similar circumstances. Another reported items on their desk not being where they left them.

The most enlightening was from a very serious-minded young man who, when asked, grew very grave and quiet. Taking a deep breath, he responded saying he had told no one this before and requested my discretion. He related to me an incident that occurred before my employment there where, working late one evening, he dozed off at his desk. He was suddenly roused to a bolt right position by three very distinct and firm taps on his shoulder. He promptly left and never worked late alone again.

Ghost
Ghost | Source

Country Gentleman Ghost

Being in a mischievous mood and having no fear of our occupant, during a lunch gathering in the small conference room, I relayed my personal experiences. Honestly, I was expecting a negative, if not downright cynical reaction, but got neither. Instead, each party began to relay their own experiences in expressions of actual relief at realizing they were neither foolish nor crazy, and especially not alone. Listening and nodding, I reassured all that I believed our "haunt" had no ill intentions and was simply interested in our activities. All agreed as there was never anything really unpleasant or threatening in all our encounters. And, in all fairness, he was there first. Even the young man now felt comfortable enough to again work late hours alone.

So, our haunt became an accepted and normal part of our surroundings and given little more heed than the other furnishings. He was polite and considerate for the most part and we spoke to and of him occasionally. However, I did have to remind him one day that if he was going to hover that close to please refrain from smoking so heavily. I mean, really, even a fellow smoker can take only so much! He also required reminding to not startle people with sudden sounds of movements. This came to a head one evening when a young assistant, rising from her desk, spotted a man looking in the door glass of the upper lever rear entry.

The figure remained long enough for her to take in all his features before vanishing. He was a lean middle-aged man of medium height, fair-skinned and clean-shaven wearing a brown oddly cut wool sportscoat, dark modest brimmed fedora of heavy felt and a patterned silk cravat. Not exactly attired in current fashion. More like a country gentleman rather than a city dweller of times gone by. Recovering from her initial fright, she concluded quite rationally it was our haunt and the image was his reflection. Afterwards, care was requested of him to monitor actions so to not be mistaken for a living person. Yes, this may sound odd to the casual observer, but the possibility of an uninvited human in our space was far more upsetting than his familiar presence.

Ghost hand
Ghost hand | Source

My Boss Reprimanded the Ghost

Being in a mischievous mood and having no fear of our occupant, during a lunch gathering in the small conference room, I relayed my personal experiences. Honestly, I was expecting a negative, if not downright cynical reaction, but got neither. Instead, each party began to relay their own experiences in expressions of actual relief at realizing they were neither foolish nor crazy, and especially not alone. Listening and nodding, I reassured all that I believed our "haunt" had no ill intentions and was simply interested in our activities. All agreed as there was never anything really unpleasant or threatening in all our encounters. And, in all fairness, he was there first. Even the young man now felt comfortable enough to again work late hours alone.

So, our haunt became an accepted and normal part of our surroundings and given little more heed than the other furnishings. He was polite and considerate for the most part and we spoke to and of him occasionally. However, I did have to remind him one day that if he was going to hover that close to please refrain from smoking so heavily. I mean, really, even a fellow smoker can take only so much! He also required reminding to not startle people with sudden sounds of movements.

This came to a head one evening when a young assistant, rising from her desk, spotted a man looking in the door glass of the upper lever rear entry. The figure remained long enough for her to take in all his features before vanishing. He was a lean middle-aged man of medium height, fair-skinned and clean-shaven wearing a brown oddly cut wool sports coat, dark modest brimmed fedora of heavy felt and a patterned silk cravat. Not exactly attired in current fashion. More like a country gentleman rather than a city dweller of times gone by.

Recovering from her initial fright, she concluded quite rationally it was our haunt and the image was his reflection. Afterwards, care was requested of him to monitor actions so to not be mistaken for a living person. Yes, this may sound odd to the casual observer, but the possibility of an uninvited human in our space was far more upsetting than his familiar presence.

I didn't know what the boss looked like, so I just added this guy to Nancy's story.
I didn't know what the boss looked like, so I just added this guy to Nancy's story. | Source

Conclusion

When one young woman, the same one from the interview, was hired it was noted quickly that she had a serious terror of haunts. We all tried to reassure her, even telling her of his activities at her interview, that he obviously found her most acceptable. To her, this was no comfort. She stated emphatically that if she had witnessed the manager's rebuke to a non-visible presence, or even had an inkling the place housed such a thing, she would never have accepted the position. Being an otherwise calm and stable professional person, she stayed and did her work in a more than satisfactory manner. We all refrained from discussing our haunt in her presence, and he by all appearances stayed well out of her way. The workplace as related to him went on in a smooth and orderly manner.

Shortly thereafter changes in the economy began to severely impact business. As months passed, clients dried up, and productive activity gradually ground to a standstill, all were far more concerned with the state of the company and their given position that with the haunt. One by one, employees were dismissed, including me, until only five people remained. The office finally moved to smaller accommodations and the building was sold. It was kind of a sad and anticlimactic ending to this tale.

But then again, it may well not be the end. Some other party purchased that building and got the haunt as part of the package. The place is still there, so even after all these years, some office workers may again experience that exotic fragrance and once more take up investigating its origin.

© 2019 Gerry Glenn Jones

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    • Gerry Glenn Jones profile imageAUTHOR

      Gerry Glenn Jones 

      7 months ago from Somerville, Tennessee

      Thank you!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      7 months ago from Sunny Florida

      The experience of this or these ghosts was felt by so many that you tend to believe this really happened. This is another very interesting, haunting story.

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