Sunday, July 1, 2012

Idea Garage Sale: The Desk

No idea why I suddenly thought of this one, out of the blue. But here it is.

Long, long ago I acted as teacher's aid to a teacher with no organizational skill whatsoever. This was my first experience of office work and I had no idea how to go about it, but I did my best. I seem to have blotted most of the experience from conscious memory, but I do remember that I started playing with a story in my head, about a desk that ate papers, office supplies, books, purses, bookbags, and, ultimately, teachers' aids. The only sign of them remaining would be a single hair hanging from a drawer, and a small burping sound.

I've gotten a lot of office experience since then, temping and permanent and personal, and I believe the core idea is probably valid. I remember the professor who, when talking to the person who was supposed to help him pack his office, led with: "Okay, the stuff in the chairs - that's current." I remember the restauranteur who got angry that a menu typist had gotten the price of a wine wrong in a new list, and the enormous stack of photocopies of old wine lists necessary to prove that the price hadn't changed once since he originally set it, several years before. (Why we had to photocopy the wine lists rather than just show him the file, I don't recall, but this is the same guy who got so angry he ranted for fifteen minutes with flecks of foam in the corners of his mouth without completing a sentence, over stamps on a mass-mailing being put on sideways). I remember bosses who would never keep anything, bosses who would never throw anything out, bosses who would never let anyone touch their desks and could never find anything, and desk after desk after desk that could easily have swallowed any number of teachers' aids.

The thing about horror is that it is so close to parody, I often can't tell the difference. And that pretty much sums up my attitude toward office work, too; I can't tell it from horror, or from parody.

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