I work in an office in the basement, right off the loading dock. Most days the scent of second hand smoke wafts into my space from the assortment of mail distribution, environmental and cafeteria workers who use the dock as their personal club house. I freeze in the winter and am constantly swatting bugs away from my face in the summer. But I don’t complain about these things. Really, I can take it.

But, about a year ago, I started asking Ray in plant services for a new desk. The one I work on these days is older than I am. It is heavy metal, with a fake wood laminate top. When they turned the heat on last fall, the warmth and moisture encouraged the glue holding the laminate to the metal to go on permanent strike. The corners all peeled up and I was forced to implement a careful and expertly designed system of “crap placement” in order to keep my desk semi-usable. The worst part is that it’s too old to have a keyboard return, so my keyboard sits prominently on the surface of the desk. It is an awkward and uncomfortable way to work, if I type or use the mouse too long, I start getting a numb spot in my right shoulder blade.

So, with all these things in mind, I started asking for a new desk. I asked and asked. Ray kept telling me that he had just the desk for me, but that it was in a different building, or that another department had just ordered new furniture and I could have my pick of their old desks. (I wondered why I couldn’t just have a new desk, but around here, we’ve learned not to ask such questions. Especially after they just ordered $20,000 in new furniture that no one actually sits in to artfully scatter around the building (in order to create am image of “warmth” for the LCME inspectors). Three weeks ago, Ray came into my office and said, “there are a couple of desks sitting outside or G48, go take your pick, just label the one you want with a post-it.”

So I went. I measured and I marked. And then I waited. I reminded Ray several times and he always replied that he didn’t have the man power to move the desk, but that he was working on it.

This morning he came to my office door and said, “how ’bout if we move your desk today? Clear out your stuff and we’ll be back in a hour.”

I was thrilled and started emptying drawers, throwing shit out and generally making my workspace ready to accept a new surface.

An hour later, Ray did return, but with a glum expression on his face. Now, remember that this man is the director of the physical plant around here. He’s supposed to be in charge of all things, well, physical. He proceeds to tell me that “they took your desk.” (Who took my desk? I thought you were in charge of all desks. And who waited three weeks to move it?). He tells me this, while standing in my mess of an office, an office that is now almost unusable because of all the displaced shit.

I think the only way I’m going to get a new desk is to get a new job. But really, we knew that already.

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