The Office: A Shocking Situation

Denizens of new office buildings have not only grown accustomed to the loneliness of the operatorless elevator, they have also developed a conditioned reflex. They instinctively slap any metal object—typewriter, watercooler, doorknob—with the flat of the hand before using. Otherwise, little blue sparks fly from fingertips and a nasty, if harmless, jolt runs up the arm. In fact, even the most cautious palm-slapper sometimes yields a small tingle.

Chief villain is the rich wall-to-wall carpeting, without which no new office is self-respecting. The deeper the pile, the worse the shock—particularly if the material has a high synthetic fiber content, which...

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