Coming clean on cluttered desk

So, I decided to clean up my desk this morning. OK, I’ll rephrase that so I don’t shock my mother too much — I decided to shift my monitor around so I am not squinting at it with the morning sun in my eyes.

So, I decided to clean up my desk this morning. OK, I’ll rephrase that so I don’t shock my mother too much — I decided to shift my monitor around so I am not squinting at it with the morning sun in my eyes.

In the process, though, I ended up tidying up my desk, partly out of necessity, partly because the accumulation of papers that I had saved for one reason or another was threatening to overflow onto the intern’s desk.

Her desk, as you might expect for a 20-something student, eager to impress, is the neatest in the place… just so tidy, a place for everything and everything in its place. I tend to look longingly at all that open space, thinking of how I could fill it up with my stacks of papers, so my desk would look neat.

I should mention that if hers is the neatest in the office, mine is far from the worst. How the sports editor finds anything in the slowly shifting mass of papers that surround him on three sides, I will never know. Bruce’s desk is always good for a snack since one side of it holds an array of fresh (and not so fresh) fruits. I think there’s some tea and cereal in there too, but what I really wonder is whether or not the piles of fruit are really just a cover to hide stashes of chips and cookies…

But back to my desk, which is now a model of calm and order. Maybe, I should bring in a mandala to help reinforce the sense of quiet contemplation … but no, Bruce is reading into his dictaphone again. Sigh. Back to the headphones and loud music.

Don’t get me wrong. I tend to be obsessively organized — my e-mail and the files on my computer are models of efficiency, but when it comes to all the reports, agendas, letters, notes etc, that still arrive in hardcopy on a daily basis, I hate to throw anything away. C’mon, you never know when it might come in handy, even if it is only one sentence out of that 300-page report that sounds interesting. Besides, it helps prop up my monitor.

Cleaning a desk makes me feel like an archaeologist. For one thing, you have that wonderful sense of adventure as you uncover long forgotten and lost items. And then, when I can’t decide why in the world I was saving that particular file, I can again be just like an archaeologist, and say the item must have held religious significance.

Let’s see, the oldest thing found is probably an original copy of Weaving a Tapestry, the report from the Literacy Task Force, back in 2008, not long after I started at the paper — it’s gathered dust for a while, but it’s still too valuable and interesting to recycle. I think I’ll have to move that one into a file folder, so I know where it is.

Well, someday I plan to move it to a file folder, that is. For now it can rest in a pile of other interesting reports I found that I am not ready to part with yet.

Oddest item found? Unfortunately there wasn’t anything too odd at all, which is kind of disappointing. Now I am looking at my colleague’s desks and wondering if they’ve got anything more interesting hidden under their piles of papers. I bet they do. Sigh.

Well, at least I know what happened to all those pen caps I’ve lost over the three years I’ve been at this desk. They’ve been having a party behind the phone books!




Steve Kidd is a reporter with the Penticton Western News.



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