Mother Nature and Heredity conspired long ago, to give me the lifelong ability to entertain headaches. I can always attribute my headaches to sinus trouble, migraine, or a medley of the two. Yet, this past Tuesday, I was convinced my discomfort was a symptom of vacation withdrawal. I had linked two vacation days to the July 4th holiday, for a grand total of five days away from the office. Obviously, the distressing pressure in my forehead was a manifestation of brain trauma, caused by an abrupt re-entry into the work atmosphere.
In my weary, muddled state of mind, I decided the best treatment was a trip to the Golden Arches. I tend to self-medicate with saturated fats. As I walked into the fast food joint, I started to question my choice in grub. I nearly turned around. But then, I saw a plastic case, displaying Minions from the movie DESPICABLE ME2. I was tired, hungry, and mourning my dearly departed vacation when I rushed to the counter and breathlessly ordered a Happy Meal. I could barely wait to return to the office and exhibit my new objet d’art.
Normally, I keep my workspace uncluttered and free of personal souvenirs. Life – and work – can be messy enough without extra junk all over the place. Geniuses, of course, are allowed to cultivate all manner of rubbish to aid the creative process, but I am an average employee working in an average office.
Unless you are a genius, I have some suggestions for a productive workplace:
- Leave the birthday cards at home. Your mother sends them to your home address, not to your work, for a reason other than the fact that you refuse to tell her where you work. There’s no reason to pretend that every day until retirement is your 30th birthday.
- The same goes for obituaries and those saintly-looking cards you collect at funerals. We’ve all suffered losses, so please leave the morbidity at home. I trust you are capable of acting appropriately somber at work, without the constant reminder that your favorite neighbor croaked five years ago.
- When a coworker returns from maternity leave and distributes wallet-sized photographs of her new bundle of joy to even the newest temp, it’s ok to display your copy, temporarily. When she leaves the company to be a real housewife of Chattanooga, you can retire the memento. You needn’t find a new place in your cubicle every time your department moves.
- On the topic of photographs, let’s keep it to a bare minimum. A touching reminder of your spouse or children, who you miss dearly while at the office is fine, but that picture of you and Father Whats-His-Name at your First Communion is just weird.
- Even if you live in your car or a gas station bathroom, there must be a better place than your desk to keep spare shoes and clothing.
- Most places of employment allow people to leave at the end of the day, so there really is no need to have a month’s worth of groceries in your desk drawer. Dispose of the stale crackers immediately.
I practice what I preach, and I do solemnly swear that my cute, plastic minion will only reside on my desk for a short while. He’s not there to stay, and I am not rummaging around my house for Noids or California Raisins to keep him company.