No Room Numbers

I’ve worked in and around the Provincial Government complex — the Shaw, Sullivan and Jones buildings here in Charlottetown — for almost a decade now. It only just dawned on me today that none of the offices or other rooms in any of those buildings have numbers on them. If you want to know where someone works, the best they can tell you is “Shaw North, fifth floor, down at the back.”

It’s only in the past year or two that people even had their names on or beside their doors.

There is a simple, small-scale elegance to this absence that I enjoy, even if it does make finding people difficult sometimes.

And I think it’s another example of how, traditionally, Prince Edward Island has been a relative rather than an absolute society. On PEI, the relationship of something — person, building, whatever — is almost always described in terms of its relationship to other things.

So I live in “Bill Reid’s old house,” which is “around the corner from Province House.” Our old house was “on the Kingston Road across from the church.” And so on.

I would hazard a guess that the decay graph of “the Island way of life” would parallel a graph of the move from relativism to absolutism.

Comments

Alan's picture
Alan on September 13, 2003 - 01:19

Good subtext.

Ken's picture
Ken on September 13, 2003 - 16:57

The island way of life is decaying from your point of view?
I think absolutism is an inland thing, relativism is coastal due to the nature of the sea. This is why the Dutch and Belge broke away from their inland kingdoms who were absolutists. I think Russia is the height of absolutism, Jamaica the epitomy of relativism.

Alan's picture
Alan on September 13, 2003 - 22:22

Ken’s got good subtext, too. I got my BA in Eng Lit in 1985 and I have 17 more lifetime “good subtext” statements to use up.

Will's picture
Will on September 14, 2003 - 17:46

I’m fine with describing where I live as “across the street from the backyard of Bush Dunville’s old house”, but for the love of God would room numbers be useful in the Provincial Government buildings.

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