Square foot (or feet): an affliction, sadly all too common

by Paul Carder on October 25, 2013

“What do you do, Paul” asked my doctor, many years ago. In those days, I could never be bothered to explain what Facilities Management was – it is more well known now – so I said “I’m a surveyor”….and jokingly asked, “do you have any advice, specific to a career in property?” (that’s real estate, btw). Rather to my surprise, he said, “Yes – watch out for Square Foot….or Feet, if you are unlucky!”

Now, to be fair, I had heard a lot about Square Feet. But, I thought it was something that particularly affected the Brokers/Agents. I was therefore surprised, as I said to my doctor:

But, I’m in corporate real estate. Its not so much about land and buildings; it is more about people – if I don’t spend too much time with Brokers/Agents, will I be OK?

He looked over his spectacles, as only a doctor can do (they do an elective at medical college, on how to look serious, using commonly available ‘props’ – like spectacles). He replied:

It is not catching. There is a nerve that runs from your heel, up the back of your legs, across your back, and up your neck into the brain. It’s the same nerve you feel if you step off something and land heel-first. So, walking around buildings, every day, for many years, on hard surfaces, tends to deaden the nerve endings……called Square Foot (or Feet).

I said to the doctor, I cannot see how that is going to affect me. I tried to explain that corporate real estate is different – we are more likely to be in plush corporate offices with thick carpets to protect the heel…! And we don’t spend much time with Brokers/Agents, or in West End wine bars.

That was all a long time ago, and I had forgotten about it. Until, last night, I entered into a Twitter debate (I’m @occupiers ) with some late night revelers on their way home from a wine bar. To my shock, there was a psychologist talking about square feet…..I was taken aback. I joined in, but they were all worse for wear, and I was sober, like the nominated driver at the office party – it wasn’t as funny.

I have spent my 20 year career saying that Square Feet was an affliction that only gets surveyors – property/ real estate people. It seems to have spread, even to experts in the human psyche. Square Feet seems to be a pernicious condition.

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