Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Moving Desks

We’re changing desks at work once again, moving from the north side of our building to the southeast corner. You may recall we did this about six months ago, but in the world of newspapers -- where jobs come and go like cars on a freeway -- people and space are in constant flux. So here we go again.

Last time my boss and I just shifted over to adjacent desks. This time the move is a little more complicated, because it’s farther away and we need to take our files, our printer and our fax machine. I’ve been trying to convince my boss to ditch the fax -- we have a central fax on our floor, and besides, who faxes documents these days? -- but she’s not quite on board with that idea.

My boss, while maybe technically not a “hoarder,” definitely shares characteristics with hoarders. Perhaps “nester” is a better term. She likes to fill her cubicle with stacks of paper, books she never opens, tchotchkes and mementos. It gives her a sense of comfort to be surrounded by stuff. Her desk is her nest.

Moving violates her sense of nesting. She hates being asked to go through stuff and throw things away. She is highly resistant to the act of purging.

I, meanwhile, am the king of the purge. Nowadays the vast majority of what we do occurs on a computer and never translates at all into paper form. So why hold on to antiquated files from conferences that were held in, say, 1994? (My boss would say they’re “archival.”)

Anyway, as you can tell, there’s fodder for conflict in this process. But I usually bow to her wishes. If she really wants to keep something I acquiesce, and I never try to clean out her personal files. (As much as I’d like to.) Every once in a while I just throw something away, and she never notices. Slow and steady wins the race!

(Photo: Meatpacking District, Oct. 2009)


  1. Your boss sounds a lot like my husband. The real question is whether she can easily find something in her "nest". People are so different in how they deal with things, aren't they?

    I'm hoping your new view will be better than the photo!

  2. If you are the king of the toss, then I am your queen.

    My boss at the Symphony felt it was important to save EVERYTHING which meant neither he nor I could ever find ANYTHING. I always waited till he went on summer vacation at which point I always recycled buckets full of paper. He never seemed to even notice. Go figure!

  3. I was the boss to two hoarders in my day (not at the same time).

    I warned them that saving junk for junk's sake was unacceptable to me.

    Since they didn't share my vision of a productive workspace, when they went on vacation, I made it a point to help them clean up a bit.

  4. Reya, Washington, The Bolt Bus.....
    The Meatpacking District.
    I think we have lots of connections.......
    Anyway greetings from 23rd Street.
    Can I be the princess or dowager of toss.
    I have one pair of boots, one pair of clogs,
    my daughters ex-gym shoes
    and 2 pairs of respectable shoes.
    More than I thought.
    Minimal is it.

  5. So glad to have found you (via Reya).
    My #2 daughter used to keep everything. Every object that was attached to a memory had to stay. She worried that if she passed on the item, her sweet memories would disappear. She recently completed a massive purge. She now says that she knows that her memories are right were they should be, in her heart.